A decade from now, Bend High School could look radically different, as the beginning of a near-complete overhaul for the campus could start as early as next summer.
Bend-La Pine Schools staff and Bend-based BBT Architects have developed a master plan for rebuilding most of Bend High’s aging facilities, with the goal to eventually replace every building on campus except the auditorium, the production kitchen and the technology building. The football field would remain.
Built in 1955, Bend High has received 19 renovations through the past six decades, but large chunks of the original building remain intact. In comparison, Mountain View and La Pine high schools were built in the late 1970s, and Summit High was completed in 2001.
Renée Alexander, the principal for BBT Architects, told the Bend-La Pine School Board at its Tuesday meeting that her team’s plan for the Bend High campus would be a cure for the constant patchwork renovations.
“They were always fixing a situation, but never looking at the big picture,” she said. “It’s time to start looking at this as a whole again.”
In BBT’s master plan, which was shown to the school board Tuesday, Bend High will have five separate buildings.
One would be the existing technology building at the south end of campus, which could see work space additions for career and technology classes.
Two all-new buildings will have administrative offices and classrooms, one of which will be three stories tall and feature a commons area.
Another new building closest to the football field will serve as a two-story athletics building.
A fifth building will be built around the kitchen and auditorium, and add extra class space for music, drama and culinary classes.
In the plan, Bend High’s new main entrance will be on NE Ninth Street, rather than NE Sixth Street. The school will have separate baseball and softball fields in the campus’ northwest corner, along with new tennis courts, across from the football field.
Bend High’s campus has a capacity for about 1,750 students, but the campus also uses portable classrooms. Once finished, the new campus will have approximately the same amount of instructional space, according to Lora Nordquist, Bend-La Pine’s assistant superintendent.
On Tuesday, Alexander said she and her team toured many high schools in the Puget Sound and Willamette Valley areas in the fall, specifically those that were recently remodeled or rebuilt, or were brand-new. The school that particularly inspired BBT was Snohomish High School, in a suburb of Everett, Washington. Alexander said she liked Snohomish High’s layout, which is a tight, enclosed space with multiple buildings, where students walked outside between classes.
Nordquist said in a Thursday interview that although the school district’s $268.3 million bond, passed in May 2017, has reserved about $9.5 million for modernizing Bend High, overhauling the school wasn’t the original plan. In fall 2017, the district discussed moving Bend High to a new campus on Knott Road, while the existing building would serve as a magnet school or for special programs. But backlash from Bend High staff and parents made the district reconsider.
The Knott Road campus will serve as a new high school starting in fall of 2021.
Nordquist said looking into rebuilding most of Bend High instead of remodeling buildings seemed like a smarter long-term plan.
“We were getting a conception of what would be the long-term vision on this school, so we didn’t spend $9.5 million on something that in nine to 10 years, we might have to tear down,” she said.
The first stage of construction — a small, two-story building with four classrooms and larger, multi-purpose rooms — is being designed, and Nordquist and Alexander said they expect to have the project out for construction bids by spring 2020. Construction could begin in the summer of 2020 at the earliest, with most of the $9.5 million from the 2017 bond going toward the new building.
The 2017 bond will be able to finance about two-thirds of the new building, Nordquist said, and completing it will depend on a site-review recommendation in the spring of 2021. The school district’s facilities team reviews the district’s buildings every five years and gives the school board its opinion on whether to pursue a capital project bond, she said. The school board will make the final decision about asking voters to pass a bond.
Nordquist said she didn’t want to speculate about when a new bond could go to Bend-La Pine voters, but she said keeping the public informed about the school district’s plans for Bend High is a good start.
“If you want people to support funding for renovation and repair of schools, having an idea of where you want to go, and (saying) that we have a long-term plan, is helpful,” she said.
Bend High Principal Christopher Reese said he was “absolutely stoked” about the plans for Bend High.
“By the time it is completed, I might be long gone, but at least we have a vision for the future of Bend High and future Lava Bears to come,” he said.
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