If you don’t think that school employees have tough jobs, you should try joining them on a school bus or while they fix a broken toilet during the school day, suggested Wes Rogers, the Oregon City School District’s director of operations.

PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City School District Board Chairman Cameron Seward cuts the ribbon as other district officials look on at the ceremony last week.Rogers said those jobs will get a little easier in Oregon City with the opening of the school district’s new Transportation and Maintenance Facility. He and more than 100 other OCSD officials celebrated the completion of the $13 million facility at 14551 Meyers Road at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week.

“This is going to be a game-changer for us,” Rogers said.

PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - The new Transportation and Maintenance Facility is larger and has improved working conditions for school employees.At the “deeply inadequate” old facility, OCSD board member Chris Storey described horrid toilets for employees. Due to inadequate parking there, bus drivers were faced with the ridiculous necessity of having to park their personal vehicles at the high school before being bused en masse to the school buses they would drive for students from the old site.

Plans that had been in the works for a new facility for more than a decade had to be shelved during the Great Recession. In 2014, a redevelopment firm called Historic Properties LLC, owned by former mayor Dan Fowler and his business partner Mike Foley, submitted an offer for $1.675 million to purchase the old transportation-facility site, a price that district officials characterized as “above market value.”

PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - School employees leave OCSD's new Transportation and Maintenance Facility. “They went above and beyond, not just with dollars, but also with time and commitment,” said OCSD Superintendent Larry Didway.

The state will reimburse the district for 70 percent of the capital costs of the 30,000-square-foot concrete tilt-up and structural-steel building designed by BBL Architects. P&C Construction, also the general contractor for Oregon City’s library renovation/expansion, started work last fall on the facility.

Didway pointed out the “irony” that there is no such state contribution for construction of schools.

“I hope to see a lot more of these [ribbon cuttings] in the next five to 10 years for schools,” Didway said. “This facility is absolutely transformational; we should let this be the catalyst for what happens with classrooms.”

Just south of the new maintenance facility, the city is planning the new Glen Oak Park. A new connecting road eventually will link Clackamas Community College’s South Douglas Loop to the Meyers Road extension. The school district paid about $200,000 to extend the road a block south of High School Avenue, but there’s still a dead-end where there’s a few more blocks of street to be built.

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