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Woodburn School District offered a glimpse at construction improvements at several schools these past few months

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley, left, leads a walk through of construction improvements ongoing at Nellie Muir Elementary School on Friday, Oct. 23.Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley depicted the importance of current district construction projects as something that extends beyond the students.

"Our schools are like community centers; they're hubs," he said.

As for the students?

"When we put the (artificial) turf field in and the new weight room at the high school, you can see kids wanted to be at school," he added.

Woolley and the district's Facilities Supervisor Ivan Leigh led a walk through of a number of district schools on Friday, Oct. 23. Among those on hand were WSD Board Vice Chair Linda Reeves, board member Noemi Legaspi, former board member Linda Johnston and Superintendent Oscar Moreno Gilson.

The building tours provided a glimpse at all stages of project construction at Valor, French Prairie, Nellie Muir, Lincoln and Heritage schools; from finished classrooms to partially-completed full building annexes, with many projects in full swing as the tour passed through. Construction hats and high-visibility vests were necessary tour equipment.

"It was enjoyable to view the projects at different levels of completion," Reeves said. "Classrooms are light-filled and spacious with storage space and features teachers love."PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley, right, explains construction details to WSD Board members Linda Reeves and Noemi Legaspi during a walk through at the Lincoln Elementary and French Prairie Middle schools on Friday, Oct. 23.

Washington Elementary and Success High School are completed elements of the overall project, which was instituted by a voter-approved facilities school bond in 2015.

"These changes have created opportunities in our district for students to learn and grow in new educational areas," said former WSD Board member Linda Johnston, a lifelong Woodburn resident. "I'm very proud of this district and the forward thinking of parents, staff and school board."

Many staff and administrators were working at the schools Friday, and at least one teacher at Valor Middle School was conducting a Zoom class from his classroom. Noticeably missing were the students, per COVID-19 protocol, shifting lessons to an online-learning format this term and possibly beyond.

A tricky component at Lincoln and French Prairie is the temporary modular classrooms, which necessarily need to remain intact should a hybrid learning plan be implemented. Those modular classrooms could provide the required spacing for social distancing. Yet, there is work scheduled on the playgrounds where those buildings are situated.

Eventually, they will be removed, and Leigh said at that point they would likely be donated to another school district with a need.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley, center, and Ivan Leigh explain some of the construction improvements at Valor Middle School to WSD Board members Linda Reeves, Noemi Legaspi and WSD Superintendent Oscar Moreno Gilson, right

Needs within the district that are being addressed by the bond include overcrowding at Valor, where a two-story addition provides overdue additional classroom space. French Prairie's makeover includes library and classroom renovations and material abatement.

A spacious, high-ceiling gymnasium has been constructed at Nellie Muir, and Woolley anticipates the gym floor will be added in the coming weeks. The school also has a new modular annex under way, with improved classroom space along with a new office and conference area.

Construction of Lincoln's modular annex is also full swing, and that work also provides for expanded classrooms, restroom, cafeteria and kitchen upgrades and a secure vestibule.

Heritage is getting much-needed classroom space with its new annex, along wtih upgrades similar to those at the other schools. It was the most overpopulated school in the district from the onset of the project.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley, right, and Ivan Leigh, center, explain construction details to WSD Board members Linda Reeves and Noemi Legaspi during a walk through at the Lincoln Elementary and French Prairie Middle schools on Friday, Oct. 23.

Board members mused that the busy construction arena in Woodburn, which includes considerable housing, makes these bond-provided additions, upgrades and improvements especially vital. They also feel the vastly improved facilities will be a welcome boon for students and the overall educational experience.

"How gratifying to see the visions of the planning committees become a reality," Reeves said. "All schools in the district are being upgraded. Bond dollars approved by taxpayers in 2015 are being well spent, providing safe schools students will thrive in and facilities the community can be proud of.

"I cannot wait until we can bring our students back and invite the community in for open houses, all after the virus is defeated," she added. PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn School District Director of Safety and Operations Casey Woolley, left, leads a walk through of construction improvements ongoing at Nellie Muir Elementary School on Friday, Oct. 23.


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