Despite initial plans to give southeast Bend’s new high school a grass field stadium for football, soccer, lacrosse and more, the soon-to-be-built campus will have an artificial turf field instead. This will make it the second school in the Bend-La Pine district with a turf field when it opens in fall 2021.

Turf was chosen for the new school, which will be located at the corner of Knott Road and SE 15th Street, because of its year-round usability beyond athletics — physical education classes and community activities will also use the field, according to district spokeswoman Julianne Repman. The district also felt it could afford turf, which is more expensive than grass, because local construction company Kirby Nagelhout’s bid for building the school was lower than expected, Repman added.

The original plan was to have a grass field at the new high school, like at Mountain View and Bend High. Summit is the only high school with turf, as former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe led a parent fundraising effort for it 12 years ago after a sinkhole destroyed Summit’s original field.

At last week’s school board meeting, then-school board member Peggy Kinkade said she could “reluctantly support” a second turf field in Bend, despite its lofty price tag. According to artificial turf vendor FieldTurf, the estimated initial cost of a turf football/soccer/lacrosse field in Bend — including the cost of installing a sub-base for the turf — would be about $660,000.

Kinkade brought up that many of the schools in Salem-Keizer Public Schools that Bend athletes play against have turf fields, and turf can handle repeated, year-round use better than grass.

“I’ve finally come to this grudging place where I think I could support it and see the value,” she said.

Kinkade and board member Carrie Douglass brought up the issue of equity between schools in regard to turf — is it fair for only some high schools to have the turf fields? Although Kinkade said she “wrestled” with issues of equity, she felt it wasn’t a major problem if a second high school received turf.

“Different schools have different facilities,” she said. “I don’t know if every school needs to have identical facilities.”

Superintendent Shay Mikalson said he was “thrilled” to have turf at the new campus.

“From my lens … it’s the right step to move forward on,” he said.

The school board last week approved a $113.6 million bid from Kirby Nagelhout construction to build the school, parking lots and athletic fields, along with other on-site improvements. The Bend-based company — which has worked on 70 to 80 projects with Bend-La Pine over the years, according to Kirby Nagelhout’s president, Jeff Deswert — was the only company to bid for the project. Mike Tiller, Bend-La Pine’s facilities director, said the district wasn’t concerned that Kirby Nagelhout was the only bid received, as the company’s offer was lower than the district’s estimated cost.

In April, Bend-La Pine’s board approved a separate bid with Jack Robinson & Sons, another Bend-based construction company, for $8.1 million for off-site work near the new high school campus. This will include building street improvements, such as a roundabout at Knott Road and 15th Street and a new road connecting Brosterhous Road and 15th.

According to the school district, off-site work began in the spring. Deswert said Kirby Nagelhout will begin on-site construction this month, and he expects to have crews working on concrete foundations and underground utilities by the school district’s groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 19.

The new school is expected to host 1,600 students and include about 59 classrooms and a 600-seat auditorium. It’s meant to ease overcrowding at Bend’s three existing high schools. According to the district, Mountain View will likely be close to capacity in the fall, while Summit is expected to be over capacity by more than 100 students. Bend High, the oldest of the three, has a projected population of more than 1,760 students next year, just over its 1,750 capacity. Bend-La Pine is already planning a major remodel for Bend High’s 60-year-old campus.

According to IMPLAN, a provider of economic impact data and analysis, for every $1 million spent on school construction, an extra $564,000 of gross economic activity will be generated in Deschutes County.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

23554639