Lot Whitcomb Elementary School was the site of a big celebration last week as North Clackamas School District officials broke ground on the first major project being funded by a bond passed in November 2016.
Local voters passed NCSD's $433 million capital construction bond measure by 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent. Nearly $15 million of the funding will go to Lot Whitcomb, a school just east of Milwaukie city limits.
At the Dec. 12 groundbreaking ceremony, School Board President Rein Vaga pointed out it says a lot that the NCSD bond passed with an overwhelming majority, when most of the local registered voters don't have kids attending public schools.
"I couldn't be more happy," Vaga said. "I couldn't be more proud to be part of this community."
Built in 1958, Lot Whitcomb has made a lot of good memories and helped inspire the dreams and imaginations of thousands of students, said Principal Cathy Lehmann.
"For those of us who are approaching that age, we need a little refresh at 60," Superintendent Matt Utterback joked of the Lot Whitcomb building's age.
Lot Whitcomb fifth-grade teacher Katie Morgan said the portables have remained constant in her more than a dozen years teaching at the school. Morgan said the construction project represents the rededication by staff members to create a place where Lot Whitcomb students can grow and learn.
We've been looking forward to this for a long time," Lehmann said.
NCSD officials have committed to repair, construct and update schools and classrooms accross the district, as well as maintain accountability for how the bond money is spent. A new high school will be built in Happy Valley, along with the reconstruction of Milwaukie High School.
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 Sunnyside Elementary and Rowe Middle School.
After the requisite scoops with golden shovels by district officials, third-graders proudly sang their school anthem. A party with hot chocolate and cookies afterward served as a goodbye to the old library room.
None of the students will be required to be in portables after the construction of a four-classroom addition. With the current library no bigger than a classroom, a major renovation of the existing building will create an expanded library and a new community room at the front entrance, where visitors will be required to go through the front office as part of security enhancements funded by the bond.
Whitcomb's current "cafetoruim" no longer serves as a gym/cafeteria, with the addition of a new gym building a few years back. The cafeteria will become smaller with the renovation carving out a new music room on the side of the "cafetorium" that currently has a stage.