School bonds fuel construction boom in Washington County
The changes in the Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school districts have come thanks to school bonds voters in all three districts approved earlier this decade.
In Beaverton, William Walker is the latest school to be rebuilt using 2014 bond money. The $680 million bond measure was the largest in the school district's history.
The Tigard-Tualatin School District celebrated the passage of its own $291.3 million bond measure in 2016. In the same election, voters in the Sherwood School District approved a $247.5 million bond measure.
Both the Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school bonds include money for all of their neighborhood schools, as well as the construction of new campuses.
The Tigard High School renovations are budgeted at $66 million. Tualatin High School is getting a more modest set of upgrades, with a $16.8 million project budget.
Over the last year, portions of the Tigard campus have been gutted and renovated.
Now, the principal's office and other administrative offices are directly in the front where students enter, facing Southwest Durham Road.
"The first phase is done, almost," said Darren Barnard, director of operations and bond for the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
Meanwhile, Tualatin High School renovations are wrapping up as well. They include added flex space, including cheer and dance rooms, remodeling of girls and boys locker rooms and 2,000 square feet added to the commons area, according to district officials. Tualatin High also received new batting facilities, along with a multi-purpose athletic field.
Change in the air at Tigard and Sherwood high schools
Over at Tigard High School, Brian Bailey, the school's newest principal, welcomed a little more than 400 freshmen to a school that is just finishing the first phase of a massive Tigard-Tualatin School District bond renovation and construction project.
Bailey, a Tigard resident who most recently spent five years at Sherwood High School, said he's looking forward to the new school year.
"So I've lived in Tigard for 20 years, and for the first time, I get to serve the community I live in," said Bailey. "It's exciting."
In addition, he said, he's looking forward to getting to know all of the estimated 1,850 students expected to populate the halls of the school.
Bailey said coming in halfway through the renovation has brought home the fact, "It's going to be so worth it when it's done."
One of the teachers who was setting up her classroom on Tuesday was Kelli Lafferty, a digital media and graphic arts teacher. "I think it's beautiful," Lafferty said of her new space. "I think (students) will enjoy it."
At Sherwood High, Tuesday's first day of school was actually the final "first day of school" — at least for high school in that building. A new, larger Sherwood High School is under construction now on Southwest Elwert Road. It's scheduled to open in fall 2020.
Freshmen started a day earlier than sophomores, juniors and seniors at Sherwood High this week. On Tuesday, excitement could be felt all around, as faculty and administrators, many dressed in matching pink T-shirts, greeted their new students.
"Oh, I love it," Sherwood math teacher Dave Kilian said. "I get excited, getting the kids back. Summer kind of winds down, and I'm ready for my kids to get back to school and I'm ready to get back to school and I just love having the students here."
For Kilian, who is starting his fifth year at Sherwood High School, the first day of the new school year was something he's been anxiously anticipating.
"Once August starts, I'm ready," he said. "Once we flip that calendar, I'm ready for September to hit. I'm ready to get back in rhythm, back in routine. I teach because I love working with the kids, so it's fun to get back with them."
For Matt Collins, the new associate principal, Tuesday marked his first ever school day at Sherwood High.
"I've known most of the staff for just about a week, but they all seem really passionate about the kids, about building relationships with them, and just doing their best to help each and every kid succeed," Collins said. "I'm excited to be here in Sherwood. We moved over from Bend, so we're excited to be in the district. My kids start school today as well (at Middleton Elementary School)."
Meanwhile, Matthew Verkamp and many other Bowmen freshmen were starting their first day of high school.
"It's normal. It just seems like middle school, only in a bigger school, with more people," Verkamp said. "Yeah, I'm excited for today, a little bit. I just want to see how high school works, getting a new experience."
"The excitement is awesome," Collins said. "I like getting to meet everybody and see all the students. And, as much as students deny it, they love coming back. They love catching up with their friends and seeing their teachers. Some even say they love getting back in the books."
And, while he's maybe a little apprehensive, Verkamp added that he's positive about high school.
"I'm looking forward to all the different classes you can take," he said. "I'm going to do basketball and track. I'm looking forward to that, too. It's been fun so far."
For Kilian, knowing that this is the last year of Sherwood High School in its existing space — the campus will be converted to a middle school next year — makes this first day "a little extra-special."
"There's an excitement," Kilian said. "I met with some of my club last night, and we talked about that — about what legacy you're going to leave, and how are you going to prepare this school for the middle schoolers next year."
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