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Community members tour Heritage Elementary, largest K-5 school in Oregon

Officials say the largest elementary school in Oregon will get even bigger if a proposed bond alleviating space restrictions isn’t passed.

Heritage Elementary School in Woodburn by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Heritage Elementary co-principals Sherrilynn Rawson (from left) and Irene Novichihin lead a tour of the school for community members, including Lin Reeves and Connie Lum.houses 930 students this year, but the core facility was practically at capacity when it was constructed 15 years ago, along with Valor Middle School, which sits on the same campus. The last bond to pass in Woodburn was in 1995 and was used to build those two schools.

“We were on a 20-year plan and it was full in two years,” said David Vancil, Woodburn School Board chairman.

A group of seven Woodburn residents, including Vancil, toured Heritage Wednesday with principals Irene Novichihin and Sherrilynn Rawson, in light of the bond Measure No. 24-358 on the May 20 ballot for $65 million to renovate, expand capacity and increase security at the district’s 11 schools.by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Visitors to Heritage Elementary School got a glimpse of the hectic passing time between kindergarten classrooms.

Most classes at Heritage are averaging 30 students. The school has a total of 13 teacher’s assistants, including for special education classes, and none of them are full-time employees.

“No one has a full-time assistant, so that’s one of the challenges teachers are facing,” Novichihin said.

The cafeteria staff, which consists of four full-time and five part-time employees, serves both Heritage and Valor students with 2,300 meals per day.

“The school was crowded the first day we came in here, really,” Rita Foltz, longtime cafeteria employee, said. “The kitchen was actually adequate until three years ago (with the increasing student population).”

While grades K-2 are housed in the main building of Heritage, third- through fifth-graders are housed on unattached prefabricated buildings. The third-graders are in modular classrooms with no running water. Those buildings sit on the former employee parking lot on the east side of the main building, so a steady stream of students is often seen walking to and from the main building for a restroom break or to visit the office.

“I can’t imagine myself having a classroom with no running water, just for sanitary reasons,” Connie Lum, a resident of The Estates who toured the school, said. “You need to be able to wash, not to leave the classroom.”

Fourth- and fifth-graders are housed in an annex building, which does provide running water and restroom facilities. This building is similar to what the district is proposing to add to the Heritage/Valor campus. If the bond passes, a 400-capacity school building would be prefabricated and housed on a back piece of the property that is currently fenced off but is district-owned.

“Having it stick-built would cost $160 per square foot instead of $40 per square foot for a prefab building,” Vancil explained. “It’s all in the name of saving money while having the needs of the kids met.”

The bond would also provide security upgrades to Heritage and the district’s other schools, including keyless entry for staff, a redesign of the front entrance and wireless access throughout the building.

Lorin Stanley, maintenance supervisor for the district, also noted that there will be maintenance performed on old windows, boilers and even the heating and air conditioning system.

“Keep in mind, we’re trying to look 20 years out,” he said. “One of the problems (in Heritage) is they’ve stopped making the components (of the HVAC system), so they need to be upgraded. It’s like a computer: You get a computer and it’s only good for so many years. As for the windows, we’ve had leak issues with those windows since the building was new.”

After touring the building, Lum said she’s convinced of the need for space.

“The growth here is huge, and with the construction, the interchange will be opening things up more,” she said. “I had no idea it was as large as it is. It was eye-opening.”

She said seniors often hear the negatives about children, but she’s hoping to spread the word that students in Woodburn are thriving despite overcrowding issues.

“Communication is the key to making things better,” Lum said. “The more we can do to communicate and interact, that’s what makes a huge difference in Woodburn.”

Proposals under Measure No. 24-358

All schools

Repairs and maintenance: Replace old windows, HVAC systems and improve accessibility for disabled persons.

School safety: Keyless entry lock systems, wireless access throughout the building, improved security lighting and redesign of school entrance.

Washington Elementary

Repairs and maintenance: Replace building siding, remove doors with lead paint and asbestos flooring in cafeteria.

Capacity: Add classroom space for 400 students plus cafeteria, gym, media center and parking.

School safety: New fencing, fire alarm and intercom systems.

Lincoln Elementary

Repairs and maintenance: Replace building siding, remove doors with lead paint and asbestos flooring, demolish existing portables and replace with a new annex.

Nellie Muir Elementary

Repairs and maintenance: Replace building siding, remove doors with lead paint and asbestos flooring, demolish existing portables and replace with new modular annex.

Capacity: Add gym and conference area.

School safety: New fire alarm and intercom systems.

French Prairie Middle School

Repairs and maintenance: Replace roof, building siding, upper bleachers and ceilings, remove doors with lead paint and mercury flooring in cafeteria.

Capacity: Remodel district office to add classroom space.

School safety: New fire alarm system.

Valor Middle School

Repairs and maintenance: Replace roof and flooring at cafeteria hall.

Capacity: Add a two-story classroom annex at the back of the building.

Woodburn High School

Repairs and maintenance: Replace roof, add sprinkler system to interior of building.

Success High School

Repairs and maintenance: Remodel, furnish and equip a building to relocate school along with Welcome Center and district office.

Capacity: Relocate from current rented location.




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