Cordie: Bringing the capital improvement bond to a close
Four years ago, in November 2016, our voters approved the passage of a $247.5 million capital improvement bond that provided the Sherwood School District with the opportunity to build a new high school and transform several other schools, in order to add capacity at all levels.
After lots of hard work, the vision at the heart of that bond has come to fruition, and the projects funded by those bond dollars are coming to completion.
This past summer, our final round of significant construction work on bond projects occurred as we moved to transform the former high school building to our new Sherwood Middle School campus and our former middle school buildings to new elementary schools.
The planning for these projects was largely informed by our Transformations Visioning Advisory Committees (TVACs). These advisory committees were made up of parents, staff, administrators and school board members, and these volunteers did amazing work as they helped guide the primary considerations as we worked on the building transformations. The work of the TVACs included identifying what teaching and learning should "look" like and "feel" like in those transformed buildings — those priorities then influenced the remodeling done to the actual physical structures.
Construction began prior to spring break at the former Sherwood Middle School building, and during spring break at the other three Transformations buildings.
The spring closures that occurred in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic came with many challenges for our students, staff and families; however, without school in session at the buildings, our construction teams used the opportunity to begin work early on these buildings, an approach that helped to offset later delays such as reduced work crews or limitations in supply chains.
The foresight shown by our teams in pursuing an earlier construction schedule helped to ensure that pandemic-related delays did not prevent the buildings from being completed as close to the original schedule as possible.
Over the past two months, the completion of work on our Transformation projects has resulted in amazing new spaces, and we look forward to the time when our students return to in-person learning and enter these new and improved buildings for the first time.
As a district, we recognize how fortunate we are to receive the support of our community. A key goal of the Sherwood School District was to ensure the bond was delivered as promised and within budget. The district is happy to report that as our many bond projects begin to reach completion, we were able to deliver more than planned and we remain under budget. Our team was able to leverage resources from the state of Oregon, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and the bond premium to achieve more than we had hoped for.
One of the main ways in which these additional resources were utilized is reflected in the size of the new high school site — which is larger than originally expected, providing space for even more growth in the future if needed.
While we are excited and thrilled to see the work of the last four years come to completion, this final stage of the bond work is not what we dreamed of as we planned in 2016. A global pandemic and forest fires were not expected for the week we opened the new Sherwood High School and reopened four transformed buildings, and we certainly never expected the doors to "open" while remaining closed to our students and families. However, our enthusiasm for the outcome and the appreciation to our community for the gift they have given the students of Sherwood is not diminished, and we look forward to the day when our students, families, and community members can see firsthand what has been achieved due to their ongoing support of our schools.
We are so grateful to our voters for the passage of the 2016 bond and all of the incredible work that has been achieved as a result — work that will benefit the students of Sherwood for generations to come.
Heather Cordie is superintendent of the Sherwood School District.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.