New SHS planning on fast track
The Sherwood School District is going full speed ahead with plans to build a new high school while simultaneously negotiating to purchase a site for the facility as part of a $247.5 million bond measure approved by voters last November.
District officials and the design team of DOWA-IBI Group Architects held a community input session March 9 at Laurel Ridge Middle School, where they presented three different design scenarios – A, B and C -- and fielded questions from parents about traffic, security, saving trees on the site, the size of the auditorium, parking and adding a swimming pool.
Officials said they considered 12 different sites but kept coming back to a 50-acre parcel located off Elwert Road between Kruger and Haide roads. The Sherwood School District Board of Directors on Nov. 9, 2016, approved a resolution authorizing acquisition of property for the construction of a new high school.
In addition, the school district is negotiating with the city of Sherwood to purchase most of an adjacent 20-acre parcel southeast of the 50-acre property that would create more of a square-shaped site while allowing the city to add a round-about for traffic flow.
Karina Ruiz, principal-in-charge at DOWA-IBI, led the meeting and noted, "This is probably the last time you will build a high school in this community."
The site's elevation ranges from 290 feet to 365 feet above sea level, creating a 70-foot grade over 2,220 feet. All three scenarios call for two-story structures to be located in the middle of the site with parking lots and playing fields around the edges.
One limitation is a 24-inch gas line easement that cuts through the northwest part of the property, and while vehicles can drive over it, nothing can be built over it, according to Ruiz.
Also, the site is not in the urban growth boundary, but Sherwood is in the final stages of applying to the Metro Council to expand its urban growth boundary to include the school site; the Metro Council will vote in 2018 on requests by cities for UGB expansion.
The schedule calls for construction to start in the summer of 2018 and for the high school to open in the fall of 2020.
Ruiz clarified following the meeting that the new SHS "will be one of the largest public, comprehensive high schools in Oregon."
She added, "When complete, we will be around 360,000 square feet, and that would certainly rank very high compared to other districts."
The current SHS, which occupies 46 acres, was built for 1,550 students, while today it serves 1,727 students, and demographic projections show that there will be more than 2,000 high school students by 2025. The core facilities of the new high school will be built for 2,400 students while Phase 1 includes a classroom capacity for 2,000 students. Phase 2 would add classroom capacity for an additional 400 students.
Several dozen people showed up for the meeting, and a man in the audience asked, "What can we do to get a pool at the high school? I want my kids to play water sports."
Superintendent Heather Cordie explained that "the operational costs are exorbitant and would take away from paying teachers."
School board President Jessica Adamson added, "You would need to create a special district with its own taxing authority to operate a pool. There is not a school district in our league that operates its own pool."
A woman said, "We need your help to figure out how to make it happen," and others asked that the plans include a place for a pool.
Others raised concerns about safety with so many vehicles and pedestrians crossing 99W once the school opens and were assured that there will be traffic impact studies and conversations about the issue.
When the audience was told that a 600-seat auditorium would be build, a man said, "More than 600 would be better," which was followed by applause.
A woman raised the issue of building security and wondered if office personnel would be able to monitor people walking into the building or if visitors would be buzzed in.
Ruiz pointed that that LRMS and Edy Ridge Elementary have entry vestibules that are locked when school is in session, so visitors have to enter through the office. "But high schools are more porous," she added.
A boy asked about saving trees on the site, and Ruiz responded, "We see the trees on the site as an incredible asset and will try to save as many as possible."
Regarding traffic, a man asked, "How are you going to get people in and out? There is going to be a huge bottleneck because everyone's going to 99W."
Ruiz replied that a traffic impact study will be done for 10 intersections around the school.
A woman asked about constructing a multi-story parking garage and was told that they cost about $10,000 per parking space.
Several people commented negatively about the cost overruns and architecture of the new Beaverton high school being built at Scholls Ferry and Roy Rogers roads and wondered if the new Sherwood school would go over budget.
Ruiz explained how expenditures will be reviewed and monitored very closely at several levels to prevent that from happening.
A man asked if local sub-contractors would be able to work on the project and was told that the project will be publically bid.
Ruiz was surprised at the end of the meeting when someone asked her which was her favorite scenario – A, B or C?
"There are pros and cons to every scenario," she answered. "The one with the most potential is B, but A and C have elements we'd like to bring in. It will probably end up being a hodgepodge of the three."
The next community input session is set for April 3, and much more information is available at bit.ly/SSD_Bond.