School Board votes to form a K-8 school at Damascus Middle School

With Deep Creek Elementary and Damascus Middle School at 50 percent capacity, the Gresham-Barlow School Board has agreed to combine the schools.

Beginning next fall, the schools will operate in a K-8 model in the Damascus Middle School building.

The decision comes on the heels of a failed school bond in November 2013 that would have remodeled and expanded Deep Creek Elementary School into a K-8 school.

“If the school bond had been approved, providing funds to significantly remodel and expand the school, it would have made for a better K-8 facility in the longterm,” Superintendent Jim Schlachter said in a news release.

“In the short-term, the middle school facility is better suited for a K-8 grade configuration without a need for significant remodeling or additional investment of general fund resources.”

While Deep Creek is newer, the school board determined Damascus Middle was more easily adaptable to a K-8 school.

Damascus has more than one gym and computer lab, a larger library and a science room, an art lab, band room and student lockers.

District Spokeswoman Athena Vadnais said the merge will allow the schools’ principal to operate from one building instead of traveling between both schools. There also are other teachers who have worked between both schools.

She said the district would have some reductions in staffing at the schools as they combine to form a K-8 model.

Built in 1929 with significant renovations and additions since 1940, Damascus Middle School is home to 171 students.

Before Deep Creek Elementary was built in 1975, Damascus Middle housed students in grades 1-8. Deep Creek is now home to 250 students.

The school board is amid revising a school bond proposal to put forth to voters in an upcoming election. Eventually, the school board said it hopes to re-open Deep Creek Elementary School, potentially remodeling the facility so it can operate as a K-8 school.

“The school board is committed to maintaining a high-performing school in the Damascus community,” said Chairman Matt O’Connell in a news release. “Transitioning to a K-8 model will allow that to continue in a manner that is financially sustainable.”

The district will hold a parent information meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in Damascus Middle School’s media center, to provide information about the transition to a K-8 school.

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