School construction on pace

Lacamas Lake Elementary campus is 75 percent complete, will open for 2018-19 academic year

Camas School District’s new Lacamas Lake Elementary school building is on track to open for the 2018-19 school year, and the district plans to repurpose the former Lacamas Heights Elementary building off Northeast Garfield Street for continued use.

The district has budgeted $1.6 million of the $120 million bond passed in 2016 to make updates to Lacamas Heights, which will house Camas High’s Integrated Arts and Academics (IAA) program next year.

The Lacamas Heights building will be used for the district’s blended preschool for typically developing students as well as those who have special needs, now housed at Woodburn Elementary, at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

The budget will cover the addition of a fire sprinkler, plumbing upgrades, restroom modifications, furnishings and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible walkways from Camas High to Lacamas Heights and from the parking lot of the former elementary school to the main building, to provide better access for preschool children with special needs.

The Lacamas Heights building meets safety standards, but the district is making updates so that the 50-year-old building can continue to be used, Heidi Rosenberg, capital programs director, said.

During the 2018-19 school year, it will house the IAA program and allow Camas High students to express ideas through visual or literary art, acting, music, dance, film or design.

“The thing that’s really cool for (the IAA) program is that they’ll have more flexibility,” Rosenberg said.

The program currently follows the Camas High bell schedule, but the move to the Lacamas Heights building allows the IAA students more control over their class times, she added.

The students in the program will attend Camas High for half the day, eat lunch there and use the school’s parking lot before attending the pull-out IAA program, Rosenberg said.

The community told the district that the older Lacamas Heights building had outlived its use as an elementary school, Doreen McKercher, director of communications, said.

The district responded by putting the bond for the new Lacamas Lake school in front of voters who supported it in 2016, she said.

Lacamas Lake is located at 1111 N.E. 232 Ave., Camas.

Cathy Carlson, project manager, said in early May that the new Lacamas Lake is about 75 percent complete, and will be able to house 600 students compared to the former building, which housed 450 students.

“The district tries to make all of its elementary schools equitable in terms of offerings and a 50-year-old building is hard to provide the same kind of offerings as our newer schools,” Rosenberg said.

The former elementary school had the gym, cafeteria and commons in the same room and the new school will have a music room with a stage, and a separate commons and gym area that will all be able to connect to each other through moveable partitions to create a larger area, Rosenberg said.

The new school design also provides one larger building with no outside portables, she added.

Lacamas Lake will have more tables than desks in the new building to provide a more flexible space for teachers in their classroom, Carlson said.

The substantial completion of Lacamas Lake is Aug. 17, Carlson said. Teachers will be able to move in around Aug. 20.