When Oregon City voters approved a $158 million school bond in November 2018, the biggest projects promised to the community were construction projects at the district's two public middle schools.
On June 17, the school board approved Pence Construction as the builder of a new Gardiner Middle School, an estimated $90 million project, and P&C Construction was selected for renovation of Ogden Middle School, which district officials expect will cost about $20 million.
"Pence brings a diversity of experience to the project," said Stephen Wasserberger, Oregon City bond senior project manager. "They built new schools in Salem, Silverton and McMinnville, and we appreciate the technical expertise and careful attention to detail that they bring to a school that will serve the community for generations."
P&C Construction specializes in school renovations, having completed recent projects in the North Clackamas and Tigard-Tualatin school districts. In 2016, P&C helped Oregon City build a $10.5 million library expansion/renovation and helped the school district build a $13 million transportation and maintenance facility on time and on budget.
"P&C brings the experience we need to transform the existing space into a school that provides the same opportunity for education innovation as the new Gardiner school building," Wasserberger said.
For the past six months, the school district has worked on the middle school design process for both buildings. BRIC Architecture has teamed up to design the schools with 12 middle school students, along with eight teachers and specialists.
"This is not just about transforming middle school buildings, but also about changing middle school instruction into a more engaging, student-directed, project-based model," said Assistant Superintendent Kyle Laier.
To fund the projects, Oregon City voters will be paying about an extra $30 a year in taxes, an added cost of about $2.50 per month for the owner of a home assessed at $300,000.
By fall of 2021, the district will celebrate the grand opening of the new Gardiner building, and the completion of Phase 1 of the Ogden project. Ogden's renovation will be complete by September 2022.
Safety and security
Security improvements at every school were promised in the bond measure Oregon City voters approved last November.
"The district identified needs through two districtwide safety and security assessments in recent years," said Wes Rogers, Oregon City bond program manager. "The first phase of these projects rolls out this summer, with the installation of internally locking doors for every classroom. The next two summers, we will move forward to complete the remaining components in each school."
School officials plan perimeter fencing, directional signs and lighting to provide "territorial enforcement." Another component planned is "natural surveillance" by providing clear lines of sight to enable staff to identify approaching threats and respond quickly. Landscaping is being designed to maximize natural surveillance, and playgrounds are being located in secure, controlled areas.
Officials say that every school needs a single-point secure entry vestibule with a set of double doors. This allows staff to observe and control who goes in and out of the building through a buzz-in entry system and video monitors.
Every classroom door will have a lock and a window to allow visual surveillance of the corridor, but each classroom must include a secure space for students out of sight of the hallway, officials say.
"Security needs to be a balance between target hardening and design that supports creation of cultures of care in schools. Building design can be helpful in making schools places where students feel safe and act safely," said BRIC Architecture Principal Karina Ruiz. "Lower rates of violence and aggression are reported in school buildings built using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED strategies."
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