CCSD has begun discussions on what to do with the Ochoco and Crooked River elementary school buildings once they are vacated

by: KEVIN SPERL - Jerry Milstead, project manager for the construction of the new elementary school, speaks during a working session of the school board as School Board Chair Patti Norris listens.

Groundbreaking for the new elementary school, Barnes Butte, is scheduled for Monday, June 2.

Before the first brick is laid, the Crook County School District has begun discussions on the future of the Ochoco and Crooked River elementary school campuses, as well as a number of other facilities.

On Tuesday night, the school board held its first working session on developing a plan to manage those properties that will be closing over the next few years.

Jerry Milstead, district project manager for the new school, opened the meeting by explaining what he hoped to accomplish.

“The bond for the new school approved $33 million for the purchase of land, the construction of the new school and capital improvements to other aging?school facilities,” he said. “In my mind, the term 'aging school facilities' is ambiguous to me. I would like us to start talking about how to spend those dollars.”

When the new school opens, the students housed at Crooked River and Ochoco Elementary will relocate to that school and Cecil Sly. Milstead reminded those in attendance that dollars have been allocated to the two aging properties and questioned if money should be spent on buildings that are being closed.

The Crooked River school property represents a significant challenge as it houses other facilities used by the district.

“The Crooked River complex is four city blocks,” said Milstead. “What do we want to do with that property that includes the maintenance shed and Pioneer High School?”

High School principal Michelle Jonas responded by suggesting that no further money be put into the current Pioneer building, saying that the school should be moved to another location. She added that she would like to have four classrooms and very much wants any new location to look and feel like a school.

Crooked River principal Cheri Rasmussen remarked that she is very reticent about disposing of the Crooked River school buildings too easily.

“We will be almost at capacity when the new school opens, and hopefully we will continue that trend,” she said. “ All of a sudden in four-to-five years we might need another bond to build another school.”

Board Chair Patti Norris responded by saying that part of the reason for the new school was the poor condition of Crooked River.

“I'm not against keeping it for future capacity but it may not be the best option,” she said, suggesting that they continue to gather information about the property before reaching a decision.

The working group's discussion also included the future of the Ochoco Elementary school property, the Paulina School and upgrades to the Cecil Sly campus.

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