Board approves new high school site switch

Project-based program will be located at Sharp campus

The Camas School Board decided to locate its project-based high school on the Sharp campus, next to the new middle school program.

The vote was 4-0. Board member Casey O’Dell was not present at the Monday night meeting.

“I have heard from multiple people who support this and in fact, said that they would have voted for the bond if we had known then that the new satellite high school could be located on the Sharp campus instead of on the Camas High School property,” said board member Connie Hennessey. “I am in favor of this change.”

The Camas School District now owns the former Sharp Laboratories of America building and surrounding property.

District officials signed closing papers on the $12.5 million transaction July 5, and the deed was recorded later in the week.

The possibility of using the Sharp campus for the high school program, as well as the middle school program, was presented during the purchase discussions.

“My only concern would be that administration be mindful of how easily students from each program can move freely from building to building,” said board member Julie Rotz.

Board member Mary Tipton noted that during tours she took of different project based programs, it wasn’t unusual to see elementary, middle and high school students all together.

“My impression was mainly all the great mentoring going on,” she said. “It’s very natural, and the younger kids love having the older ones around.”

Funds to purchase the property came from the voter-approved, $120 million bond. The property, located at 5750 N.W. Pacific Rim Blvd., will house the district’s new middle school project-based learning program. It includes a 55,000-square-foot building and surrounding 31 acres.

When the bond was presented to voters, the proposed site for the 500-student high school was on the campus of Camas High School at 26900 S.E. 15th St.

In June, the district received feedback from 409 patrons who participated in an online survey and two listening posts. Approximately 77 percent were in favor of moving the project-based high school from the CHS campus to the Sharp campus. The new school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. A pilot middle school program will open this fall.