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School board gives go-ahead to demolish 80-year-old, district-owned school building

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - On Feb. 4, demolition of the Crook County School District-owned building on Northeast Third and Northeast Holly Streets began. The project is forecasedt to be completed by the end of February.

After careful consideration, Crook County School District Board members gave the go-ahead to demolish the district-owned building at the corner of Northeast Third and Northeast Holly streets in Prineville that most recently housed Pioneer Alternative High School.

The CCSD Board declared the building as surplus and gave permission to start demolition of the 3,700-square-foot building at the Dec. 9, 2019, board meeting.

The process began Tuesday, Feb. 4, and should be completed by the end of the month, said CCSD Facilities and Safety Director Leland Bliss.

"The building is not a good learning environment and is beyond its useful life," Bliss said. "The building shakes from the traffic going by. It is in poor condition, has environmental concerns, and would be expensive to maintain."

Bliss has worked with local government agencies to secure the demolition permit. Bliss said district maintenance staff is doing the work and noted that two employees have heavy equipment experience.

The building was acquired in 1940 by the Crook County School District. It has housed various school district programs over the years, including a high school woodshop, a maintenance shop annex, instructional services and the information technology department. Pioneer Alternative High School occupied the building in 2005 and remained there until moving to the renovated Pioneer South building in April of 2017. Since then, the building has been used for storage and the NJROTC shooting range.

Removing the building from the corner of the district-owned city block will give the school district options for future land development and safer traffic flow for the new theme school and Pioneer Alternative High School.

"We will have that land available," said CCSD communication and event specialist Holly Scholtz.

She added that it will allow better access as the district begins the remodel of the Pioneer Complex. "We can start planning the traffic flow pattern," she said.

For the next phase, after the demolition, plans call for renovating the vacant Pioneer North building and moving Pioneer Alternative High School across campus from the Pioneer South building to Pioneer North.

At the Jan. 14 CCSD board meeting, the board also authorized the use of the design-build management form of contracting for the renovation of Pioneer North and associated buildings. This method of contracting is useful when the construction needs to be completed on a short timeline and can also save money, the district said.

The students in the Therapeutic Learning Center elementary behavior program will move from Pioneer South into the Barnes Butte and Crooked River elementary buildings. The district's technology department will remain in the northwest wing of the Pioneer South building for the time being. The central kitchen will also stay at Pioneer South.

The new theme school will open in September with two classes for each grade level, totaling 240 students, and will use all 10 classrooms in Pioneer South. CCSD Superintendent Sara Johnson has named current Barnes Butte Elementary Principal Jim Bates as principal of the new theme school.

"With a servant's heart, I want to do this. I love my town and the families," Bates said. "I am thankful to have the skills to be able to help. It's not about ambition; it's my desire to serve the district, the kids and families."

Johnson acknowledged that there is much work to be done before the school opens in September, however, "We are still on target with project planning," she said.

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