Construction nears completion at Mountainside High School
This September, Mountainside High School will open its doors to around 800 freshmen and sophomore students for the first time.
The sixth comprehensive high school in the Beaverton School District sits at the intersection of Scholls Ferry Road and 175th Ave., and the crew of nearly 500 workers from Hoffman Construction is nearing the final months of construction on the 342,000-square foot school.
The project's total cost is $185 million, and it is funded by a 2014 bond measure passed in the district.
"It's just really well designed and thought out in terms of details," said Todd Corsetti, the planning principal at Mountainside, at a media tour of the school on Monday morning.
Corsetti, who was principal at Southridge High School for six years, was named planning principal at Mountainside last March. Since then, he has met regularly with a planning team of about 20 educators to develop curriculum and hire faculty and staff.
The tour included stops inside the school's student union, a black box theater and scene design shop, and a community room near the front entrance, which will be used by school organizations as well as groups from the outside community.
"It's unusual for high schools to have this room," said Chris Linn, lead architect on the school from Bora Architects. "Beaverton puts a lot of emphasis on community involvement. It's a great resource."
The campus also includes a counseling center that is easily accessible from a stairway at the front entrance, something Corsetti said was useful for "security and safety and also convenience for parents."
The school is designed for 2,200 students, and will add a class each year until it is at full capacity for the 2019-20 school year. It has 53 general classrooms, five special education classrooms, and 11 science classrooms. Many of the general classrooms are conjoined by a collapsible white board wall, allowing for easy collaboration among students and teachers.
General classrooms also include spaces for flat-screen TVs, which students can connect to with their district-provided Google Chromebooks.
One of Beaverton School District's main goals is to become "future ready," and Mountainside's features reflect that. There is a makerspace with a 3-D printer in the media center, and the school will offer many different career and technology classes, including culinary training, flex engineering and robotics, digital film and more.
The school also was built according to stricter codes than is necessary for a high school, in preparation for a possible major Cascadian Subduction Zone earthquake. It is more aligned with the construction quality usually found in a fire station or hospital.
Mountainside was built over about three years, though Linn said that it would usually take around four years to complete a similar project. The district put the project on a fast track to help with school crowding.
"Beaverton continues to grow, and we need to alleviate some of that crowding in our schools," said Superintendent Don Grotting. "This project's definitely going to do that."
Grotting went on to say that although Mountainside will help with crowding, it also brings up issues of equity within the district.
"We've had schools built in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and this one's being built in 2017, and this school will have some amenities that other schools do not have," he said. "It behooves the district to start looking at ways that we can update our existing infrastructure, so that all students in the Beaverton School District have the same opportunities."
In addition to problems with crowding, the Beaverton School District is expecting to cut about $15 million from its budget for the next school year, and that has affected Corsetti's planning process.
"This is a year where our state and the district is going through budget reductions," Corsetti said. "So when you're opening a school, and you're also reducing the overall budget, that means that instead of being able to hire your entire staff, there's going to be transfers. There are teachers coming to Mountainside that might not have planned to come here, because of the transfer process. The planning team and myself are going to have to do a good job of incorporating people into the mission that we have for the school,"
Corsetti plans to welcome the whole staff, which will include about 40 teachers and 15 classified staff members, to Mountainside when construction officially ends in August. Students will start a new school year in September, and their mascot will be the Mavericks.