The Sherwood School District plans to break ground on its new high school site next month.
The new school, which will be funded by the district's 2016 bond measure, has a projected cost of about $186 million. It will replace the current Sherwood High School, which will in turn be transformed into a middle school. The district's two current middle schools, Sherwood Middle and Laurel Ridge, will be converted into elementary schools.
The new high school, along with the transformed buildings, are set to open to students in the fall of 2020.
"They want to get the foundation down and start getting walls up, and, once that happens, it's going to feel very quick," Jim Rose, the district's chief operations officer, said about plans to break ground in June. He added that, as of early May, the district was in the process of securing a conditional land use permit for the new school site.
Until recently, the district was in a legal battle with Metropolitan Land Group, the former owner of the sites where the new high school will be located, to determine the price of the land. A spokesperson with the school district confirmed that the issue has been resolved.
The new high school was designed by BRIC Architecture, with the help of a design committee that consisted of teachers, classified staff, district board members, parents and students. SKANSA will be the general contractor.
"That's really noteworthy, because this is something that a diverse group worked on together, and we're really proud of that," Superintendent Heather Cordie said about the design committee.
Cordie and Rose said that the new school will include several "state of the art" features, including: a career and technical education wing; "extended learning areas" where students from different classes can collaborate; a skybridge to reduce congestion in the courtyard near the center of campus; and a mostly glass hallway with "amazing views" of Mount Hood and the Cascades, which they plan to call Cascade Point.
Cordie said that, when designing the school, the design committee aimed to ensure that students in different classes and with different focuses were "always mingling, and always seeing the work of each other."
The new school's performing arts center will have a capacity of 600 people; more than double the current center's capacity.
The general capacity of the new school will be higher as well. The existing Sherwood High has about 1,700 students, and is said to be crowded. The new school's common areas are being designed to accommodate 2,400 students; although to start, classrooms will fit just 2,000 students.
"Someday — probably down the road, with the passage of another bond years from now — Phase 11 will be added, which will be additional classrooms," Cordie said. "What's really great about that is, the common areas will already be built out for that maximum capacity."
And one feature at the new school likely will be noticed by virtually everyone in Sherwood: unlike the current high school, where buses, staff and students all use the same traffic entrances and exits, the new school will have a separate entrance and exit for buses. Cordie said this should reduce traffic during school start and end times.
As the district prepares to break ground on the new high school, Cordie already is looking ahead to the next challenge: combining two middle schools into one larger school.
"This is going to require us to host a conversation where we talk about what's important at a large middle school," she said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that the Sherwood School District was still in land price negotiations with Metropolitan Land Group. It has been updated to reflect that those negotiations have come to an end.
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