Look behind the scenes of Lake Oswego school bond work
Every school in the Lake Oswego School District will be touched by construction this summer, in one way or another.
Lakeridge Middle School is the site of the largest construction project currently underway, as crews are hard at work building the new school from the ground up. Westridge Elementary School is also an active site, and workers only have nine weeks to
finish some substantial construction.
The $187 million school bond was passed by voters in May 2017 to address deferred maintenance issues that had accumulated over the years. The funds are to be used for capital investments at all schools, improving earthquake preparedness, expanding or upgrading Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) equipment and facilities, and replacing Lakeridge Middle School (formerly Lakeridge Junior High).
At Lakeridge Middle School, construction crews are working to bring the building out of the ground. Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg said there were some issues to overcome with the site, including its expansive soils and large underground boulders.
"The expansive soils can cause buildings to move and shift over time. We came in with a geotechnical engineer, because we knew there were going to be issues with the soil," Vandenberg said. "One way of dealing with this is by excavating three feet below the footing of the building, and cement is tilled into the dirt, making it extremely hard." Vandenberg said not only is this the most cost-effective way to mitigate expansive soils, it's also the best approach for the site.
Vandenberg's team also spent a considerable amount of time excavating boulders in the way of construction. "You don't realize how big they are until you're standing right next to them," Vandenberg said. "We were digging one big one out, and about eight feet of land started to move around it. It turned out to be the size of a VW Bug."
Many of these boulders will be repurposed and used for landscape decoration and seating. The same goes for select trees which had to be removed — many have been shipped offsite to be treated, and will be incorporated into the structure of the new building as columns and beams.
Many trees on the campus will not be removed, and construction crews have set up fences around them to keep them protected from damage. One large tree on campus, which Vandenberg described as the "focal point" of the campus, has been harder to work around, but necessary. Vandenberg said many of the building's windows face the tree, and there will be lights installed under it for further grandeur.
At Westridge Elementary crews are working on a major interior and exterior renovation and a small addition to the building, which will be used by students in the DELTA student services program. Crews only have nine weeks to complete the work, according to Vandenberg, so that the building is ready for the start of the school year.
Construction at Westridge began in June, and will be finished by the end of August, except for the addition. "The new space may or may not be open at the start of the school year, but they will be doing intermittent work on it during off hours and non-school days," Vandenberg said.
According to information presented at a May School Accountability Meeting (SAC), "Westridge staff has identified temporary locations for programs that will eventually be housed in the new addition while it is being completed."
The school is also getting a brand new roof for the first time in the building's roughly 40 year history. "Over the years we've done patchwork on issues, but this is the first time we've done a whole new roof," Vandenberg said. "The new roof should last about 40 years."
Other construction includes seismic retrofitting, including upgrading the gym to level 4 seismic capabilities, meaning it could be used immediately as a place to gather for shelter after an earthquake. "We're trying to create at least one space in each school that is a seismic level 4 for immediate occupancy, so there are plenty of places of refuge," Vandenberg said.
There have also been plumbing and mechanical upgrades, as well as safety and security improvements. One such security improvement (which will be eventually be installed in every elementary school) is a secure vestibule entrance. Secure vestibules help control the flow of people in and out of schools, and include secured-access doors, fixed windows and a transaction counter located between the existing front doors and interior hallways. Visitors must check in before passing through the second set of doors and entering the halls.
Some interior design changes have also been made, and Westridge will likely look much different when students return in the fall. The entryway, which leads into the library, has gotten a redesign, and will feature small "cubbies" where students can gather and read or study, as well as a versatile workspaces.
For more information on bond-funded construction in the district, visit www.losdschools.org/Page/2198.
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