Originally published December 30, 2017 at midnight, updated December 30, 2017 at midnight
School may be out, but workers are in.
The winter break is a busy time for crews hired by Hood River County School District to accomplish myriad projects funded by construction bonds two years ago.
The historic Coe Building and neighboring District Office building are at the cusp of a significant transformation. So much so that within a few months the District Office building will no longer be called that: it will become the Alternative School (currently housed in a portable at Hood River Valley High School) and the superintendent’s office.
The district board room is now used for storage; the board is borrowing Port of Hood River meeting room for one of its monthly meetings and for its other monthly meeting continues the traditional practice of convening at the schools on a rotating basis.
Abatement of hazardous materials will be the first major order of business after the move-out between Dec. 22 and mid-January. On Thursday, technology department employee Will Murray and others in Coe were boxing up items for the move.
“We’re taking advantage of the break to have a less disruptive move for the staff,” said Dale Kuykendall of Weneha Group, hired in 2016 by the district to oversee all projects.
Klein Architecture and Engineering has the Coe/Alternative School contract, with Jeff Dellis handling the design. Dellis also designed the batting facility at Westside Elementary; see below for details on other bond-financed projects.
Coe/Alternative School construction sub-contractor bids are due by Jan. 11, at which time project managers, architects and district officials will figure out project specifics based on the bond budget, according to Kuykendall. Major work on the new Alternative School starts in June, for readiness by fall 2018.
Until then, District office workers and some of those housed at Coe will either double up at District Office, or have been moved permanently or temporarily. For example, the facilities department will be in the basement of freshly-renovated Hood River Middle School until June, and Community Education has moved to the Aquatic Center, sharing space in that facility, which also serves as headquarters of the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District. Hood River Community Foundation will move to the Alternative School building and will likely remain there along with Arts in Education of the Gorge.
The biggest changes at Coe will be creation of a vestibule and handicapped access on the main (west) entrance. As Kuykendall explained, “The interior stairs at either end chop into the space, so they are going to be pulled out.” The basement will be mostly unchanged, though restroom facilities will be upgraded and expanded since more people will be using the building. Accounting and other offices will be housed in the basement, along with a breakroom.
Upstairs will be reconfigured to allow for a new board meeting room on the north side, expanding existing meeting space in a room with one of the 102-year-old building’s designing features, a half-round window. The superintendent’s office will adjoin the meeting room. In addition, a smaller conference room will be created on the south side of the hall. The curriculum department, which had been in disjointed spaces, will be consolidated on the upper floor.
“It’s intended to absorb a few more folks and designed to have good functional team space,” Kuykendall said.
Preparations have already begun for what will be the most dramatic of all bond projects: the construction of a new May Street Elementary followed by demolition of the existing one. As Kirby Nagelhout Construction begins mobilizing for the project, most of the existing playground will be eliminated in January.
Some playground equipment has been dismantled over winter break for the move to concrete pads poured on the northeast corner of the campus. At other locations, boulders and other features will be added for kids to play on, and Weneha and Principal Kelly Beard are figuring out what other areas of campus can be used for recess, including possible use of the courtyards between the side wings.
Plenty of bark dust will be brought in, to keep down the tracking of mud into the school. To free up more room, one of the portables is being relocated to the district transportation site in Odell.
Sub-contractor bids for the May Street Elementary project were due Dec. 21; project managers and general contractor Kirby Nagelhout Construction are going through them and will submit a bid proposal to the School Board on Jan. 17.
Superintendent Dan Goldman noted, “Much of the playground and field space will not be available again until the summer of 2019.” In a Dec. 28 email, Goldman said, “This will be challenging for everyone involved — kids, staff and community members who currently use the school property for their own recreational use.
“While challenging, the long-term benefits for the school children and community will be sizeable,” Goldman said.
Other bond projects
•Westside Elementary — Concrete has been poured for the softball batting facility; completion due in March.
• Wy’east Middle school — Electrical and plumbing are being installed in the laboratory side of the Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics wing; completion expected at the end of spring break, followed by work on the enclosed commons connecting the Performing Arts Center and main building.
• HRVHS — work begins this spring on extensive re-roofing, and replacement of 50-year old heating and ventilation appliances and infrastructure; reconfiguration of entryway and reception area in main northside entrance.
• Various schools — this spring and summer, Wy’east and Mid Valley along with HRVHS will see upgraded lobby-office areas. “Generally, the approach we’re trying to do at all schools” is creation of vestibules for security, according to Kuykendall.