By Kailey Fisicaro
Bend-La Pine Schools announced it will build its new $33 million elementary school in north Bend at a board meeting Tuesday evening.
The site of the school, located at the intersection of O.B. Riley and Cooley roads, meets the district’s need for more elementary space in northwest and northeast Bend. Bend-La Pine Schools considers the property to be in north central Bend.
The new, yet-to-be named elementary school will be built on 10 to 12 acres the district still needs to purchase for about $1 million to $1.2 million, paid for with bond money approved earlier this year.
The district had hoped to find a property for its new elementary school in city limits in north Bend. But according to Mike Tiller, Bend-La Pine’s director of facilities and maintenance, the school district was having a tough time finding property in north central Bend within existing city limits.
“What we found is there isn’t any land in that area to purchase that’s suitable for an elementary school,” Tiller said.
The property the school district plans to purchase is within the new urban growth boundary, but has not yet been annexed into city limits.
The school district has an agreement in principle with the Brownrigg family, the owners of the property, to buy it for $100,000 per acre. Bend-La Pine Schools will purchase between 10 and 12 acres from the Brownriggs.
Vicki Brownrigg, who owns Cascade Disposal, Kelvic Disposal, Sun Country Disposal and Advanced Systems, and her daughter, Kendall Erickson, were at Tuesday’s meeting. Tiller, who said the family has been in Bend since 1965, pointed out the mother and daughter and thanked them for working with the district. Superintendent Shay Mikalson also thanked them.
“Vicki and Kendall are a true pleasure to work with — they really are,” Tiller said. “And they know that we have many challenges in front of us from a development standpoint, but I’m confident that we’re going to be able to work through that.”
Representatives from BLRB Architects in Bend presented conceptual designs for the new school. It will be based on the same plan as Silver Rail Elementary, which opened in 2015. The school will be two stories and feature open common areas surrounded by classrooms. Architects plan to include more wood in the interior design than it did at Silver Rail, but keep features that teachers at Silver Rail love, such as window seats in some classrooms.
Mikalson said Bend-La Pine will work on how it will re-zone the district to fit in the new neighborhood school next year, although it isn’t expected to open until fall 2019. Mikalson said the district will begin considering principal candidates for the school soon.
School board member Cheri Helt had concerns and detailed questions about the new school’s traffic and parking configurations, but Mikalson and board chairman Andy High reminded her the plans are in the early stages. Overall though, Helt and other school board members seemed pleased with the property Tuesday evening.
“It meets where our growth is,” Helt said.
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