REDMOND — Ridgeview High School won’t be the only new high school in Redmond next year. Earlier this month, the Redmond School District hired a contractor to begin $9.3 million in renovations on Redmond High School as the district prepares to put two “new” high school campuses in operation next year.
Superintendent Shay Mikalson has made it clear over the past few months how the district views the 2012-13 school year.
“We’re offering two new high schools,” he told a group of close to 100 community members at an October meeting explaining the district’s plans for the next year.
That sentiment of “two new schools” has long been reinforced in the district’s plans to split curriculum between Ridgeview and Redmond high schools. Courses such as auto shop, construction and agricultural science will be at Redmond High along with the International Baccalaureate program.
Ridgeview will offer the Advanced Placement program along with courses tailored for the new $75 million building, such as a dental clinic and television production studio.
But with more than $9 million planned in improvements to Redmond High, originally built in 1974, the district is looking to market two distinct and complementary options for students.
“It’s not just all about Ridgeview,” said Mike McIntosh, the district’s operations director. “When we have the remodel complete, Redmond High will look like a much more modern facility, almost like a new school.”
Big changes to the school include an identifiable entrance and welcome center. The school also has few windows, so introducing natural light into revamped classrooms is a priority.
Other changes include ADA upgrades and improvements to the building’s utilities.
“When it was designed and built in 1974 it was created as an open classroom model,” McIntosh said. “Since then the classrooms have been closed in. Walled in. But things such as the heating has never been upgraded. So, while it does work, some of the function isn’t great. Some rooms get real hot and some don’t.”
The school board unanimously voted to award the bid in 2009 to Skanska, the firm currently managing construction at Ridgeview. Critics wondered if the firm would hire many locals to work on the project.
John Williamson, Skanska’s Central Oregon operations manager, was in attendance at the board meeting on Nov. 16 and said “around 75 percent” of work had been contracted out to local workers.
“Skanska has been amazing in that regard and deserves every amount of credit for going local,” McIntosh said. “They bid those packages (at Ridgeview) in small enough chunks that local groups were able to get involved.”
The district is paying for the Redmond High remodel using the $110 million bond passed in 2008 that created Ridgeview. Earlier this year the district slowed construction on the Ridgeview campus and found ways to save around $5 million in building costs. Other savings across district projects allowed the district to upgrade additional facilities.
Construction on Redmond High is expected to begin on June 15. McIntosh said he hopes the project will be completed shortly after school begins in the fall of 2012.
“I have high expectations,” McIntosh said. “But I think Skanska will be able to deliver.”