Building the future

When complete, Camas High expansion will allow up to 2,200 students on campus

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Camas High School Principal Steve Marshall's favorite aspect of the new construction is the expanded commons, which will add more than 6,000 feet of space to the school. Inset, Heidi Rosenberg, Camas School District capital programs manager, and Doug Zimmerman of Corp. Inc look over progress of the library addition.

When complete, the expansion at Camas High School will allow for a more streamlined campus and room for future growth.

But getting there has been a bit tricky, as much of the work has been occurring during school hours.

“I’m very excited about having a larger campus and the construction being finished,” Principal Steve Marshall said.

Heidi Rosenberg, district capital programs manager, said the contractor, Corp. Inc. has tried to work around issues such as state testing and traffic flow in and out of the school.

“Since most of the construction is going on outside the school, that has been successful,” she said, but also recalled a few incidents that may have been a bit jarring for students.

“There was a time when the crew was removing a pane of glass and it shattered right while students were taking a test,” she said.

Marshall agreed that things have not always been completely rosy, but that the contractor has been diligent about working with the school on issues and vice versa.

“Because a lot of it is taking place outside, it has not impacted learning on many occasions,” he said. “It’s an inconvenience, but it’s been a cooperative effort. When we’ve needed work to stop due to state testing, they did. When they’ve needed flexibility, we’ve reciprocated. It’s helped the entire process go smoothly.”

Construction of the nearly $7.4 million project began last June and is expected to wrap up in August. It is part of the 2007 voter-approved bond. When complete, it will include;

o A 12,276 expansion to the southern classroom wing with seven new classrooms, including two for chemistry.

o A 768-square foot computer and work area in the library, freeing up more space for teaching areas.

o A new 6,438 square foot student commons to accommodate more students

o A remodel of the girls and boys lockers rooms, and new wrestling and training rooms.

o A remodel of the technical classroom wing to create three classrooms for the school’s magnet program.

Some of the work has already been complete. It included a remodel of the central special education area, 81 new parking lot spaces, and purchase of new fitness and weight training equipment.

“Some of the additional classrooms will be used by our Freshman Academy, which really creates a space for that program,” Marshall said. “Right now it doesn’t have a physical home. We’ve had to have the freshmen using the computer lab to meet in, and now that there are new classrooms, there will be a central meeting place.”

Freshman Academy is a program to help students make the sometimes difficult transition from middle to high school.

Another aspect of the construction Marshall is excited about is the additional commons area: It is located where the school courtyard used to be, right next to the main gym. It also includes a covered waiting area outside, a ticket area, concessions stand and cafeteria. The design allows simultaneous events to take place in the commons and the gym without either being interrupted.

“It has been transformed from a dead space into one that is useful,” Marshall said. “The courtyard was a nice idea but it wasn’t being used most of the year because of the weather. Now, it’s an attractive area that can be used for everything from concerts to meetings to business functions. It’s something that can bring the school and the community together.”

Marshall said the addition of a new dance and wrestling room, along with the weight room remodel and new fitness equipment, will cut down on time students spend standing around during P.E. classes, waiting to do something.

“We now have five interior exercise locations,” he said. “We can accommodate many more students than before and be very versatile with the space. This expansion, as a whole, enables us to accommodate students and future growth.”

The $113 million bond has included construction of Grass Valley and Helen Baller elementary schools, replacement of Doc Harris Stadium, and improvements to Liberty and Skyridge middle schools. These projects are now complete.

Other projects in the works include:

o A $3.8 million remodel of Dorothy Fox Elementary School, which includes a seven classroom wing addition, gym expansion, a remodel of the library and an expansion of the student drop off and pick up areas. This is expected to be complete in August.

o Construction of Woodburn Elementary, a 600-student school north of Lacamas Park on Crown Road. Construction will begin in August and the school will open in fall 2013. The district purchased $15 million in Qualified School Capital Bonds to pay for the project. The bonds are low interest, but the money must be spent before Dec. 31, 2012.