Sharp property could be site for new high school

Public hearing will take place at School Board meeting June 27

The Camas School Board has decided further discussion is needed to determine if the Sharp Laboratories of America property is a viable site for the district’s new project-based high school.

There will be a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 27, at the board’s next meeting.

Board members listened to information from Chuck Stiller, project manager; Heidi Rosenberg, capital programs manager, and Jeff Snell, deputy superintendent, during a work session Monday night.

They also received the feedback from 409 district patrons who participated in an online survey and two listening posts last week.

Of those who participated, 76.8 percent were in favor of moving the project-based high school from the CHS campus to the Sharp campus. Only 23.2 percent wanted it to remain at CHS, as originally planned in a voter-approved bond.

The district is in the final stages of closing the $12.5 million transaction to purchase the Sharp Laboratories of America property to house its middle school project-based learning program. It includes a 55,000 square foot building and surrounding 31 acres.

“Logically, it makes sense to have the middle school and the high school project-based programs at the same site,” said board member Julie Rotz.

Added board member Connie Hennessey, “Having the opportunity to partner with the middle school program has enormous potential. It’s a rich opportunity.”

Funding for the purchase would come from bond proceeds and other money generated from impact fees. The $120 million bond passed in February’s special election.

Originally, the plan was to locate the project-based high school on the CHS campus, so that students would have the opportunity to share staff, ease transportation costs, and allow students to easily participate in “crossover” courses such as Advanced Placement, electives and P.E.

The possibility of using the Sharp campus for the high school program as well as the middle school program, is a question that came up during the purchase discussions.

“As the design team for the new project-based learning high school met with architects this spring to plan out the new school, the idea of placing the school at the Sharp campus instead of the Camas High School was raised,” Snell said. “The more we investigated the option, the more it seemed like the location for the new project-based learning high school was something we should consider.”

Snell doesn’t anticipate any cost savings by potentially building the high school on the Sharp campus.

“We will work with the existing budget for the new PBL high school allocated by the bond to build the school at either site,” he said.

The building and adjacent property are located at 5750 N.W. Pacific Rim Blvd. It has been on the market since mid-2013, when employees moved next door, to the Sharp Microelectroincs of the Americas building, 5700 N.W. Pacific Rim Blvd.

A project-based pilot middle school program is planned at the Sharp building in the fall of 2016.

The program will begin with a team of two teachers each for sixth and seventh grades. The following year, the district plans to add two eighth-grade teachers and possibly additional sixth- and seventh-grade teams.

Within five years, the program is intended to be a self-contained, autonomous school with approximately 400 students.

The new project-based learning high school is set to open in the fall of 2018. There will not be a qualification process for either of the programs.

If the high school program is also housed on there, potential advantages include having both programs at the same site, close proximity to industry for partnerships, traffic reduction at the CHS campus and more opportunity for outdoor learning.

Potential disadvantages include changing the location from what was originally planned, limited access to CHS and the possible difficulty of recruiting students to the new campus.

Students who want to participate in after-school athletics and activities at CHS, Skyridge or Liberty middle schools, will be provided with an activity bus.