VIDEO: Architects and school officials favor constructing a new high school at the site over renovating the old building

When North Clackamas School District voters passed a $433 million capital bond in November 2016, the largest project they authorized was at Milwaukie High School.

A community meeting was held May 24, in the MHS library to discuss the project.

PHOTO COURTESY: NCSD - A three-story Milwaukie High School is planned at the location of the current MHS building.Given the limitations of the current 90-year-old structure, architects and school officials favor constructing a new high school at the site over renovating the old building.

The current building's striking Art Deco design will be missed, however, and an effort was made by local preservationists in parnership with statewide nonprofit Restore Oregon to save the beloved structure in which John F. Kennedy campaigned for president. Annabella Gelmetti, who will be a senior at the school this fall, was named a Pamplin Media Group Amazing Kid in part due her eloquent advocacy, ultimately unsuccessful in preserving the structure, but landing her a spot on the MHS Design Team for the new high school.

Replacement of the MHS building was determined to be more economical and more popular in the community. North Clackamas School District spokeswoman Cindy Quintanilla said that preserving history and environmental impact were two main concerns about replacing the main building.

"There will be opportunity for staff and community input to help guide what aspects of the building might be preserved and/or repurposed to honor the historical construction," Quintanilla said. "In addition, opportunities for repurposing and recycling of materials are considered in projects like this. A new facility will also provide more energy efficiency and updated building materials that are better to meet today's health, seismic and environmental standards."

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Restore Oregon tried to help local preservationists save Milwaukie High Schools main 1925 building, which features a beautiful Art Deco design.Construction will cost about $500 per square foot, officials estimate. Preliminary plans are for construction to begin in fall 2018 and take 27 months to complete. Construction will be planned in phases, and students will attend classes in portables on campus while other parts of the building are unavailable. Officials say the disruption to students would be even greater if a renovation of the old building were planned.

Wider hallways, communal learning spaces and brighter classrooms are among the features of the new building. Many of the planned design features are subject to change, so it's a good time to provide your input.

Milwaukie High School is among the bond projects that architects are beginning in early 2018. Other projects starting soon include the Putnam Health & Wellness Center, a four-classroom addition at the Clackamas High School East Campus, a six-classroom addition at Happy Valley Middle School, a four-classroom addition and cafeteria expansion at Mt. Scott Elementary, and major remodels of Whitcomb Elementary, Sunnyside Elementary and Rowe Middle School.

Quintanilla said the best place to keep abreast of NCSD projects will be at a new website,

There, you will find information about each of the district projects under the "Bond Projects" tab at the top. Hover over it, then select the feeder system for the schools. Under the "Overview" tab is a timeline that will have all projects listed.

"The site is still very new and not very content rich," Quintanilla said. "We are adding things weekly."

Learn more

Another community meeting to discuss plans to raze and rebuild the school is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 27 in the library at Milwaukie High School, 11300 S.E. 23rd Ave.

Here's a video of the May 24 event:

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