By Abby Spegman

The Bulletin

Summer vacation may have just started, but the clock is ticking on crews wrapping up major construction before the start of the school year in districts across Central Oregon.

Bend-La Pine Schools will soon finish work on two new schools in Bend: Pacific Crest Middle School off NW Skyliners Road near Mount Washington Drive and Silver Rail Elementary off SE Reed Market Road near American Lane. Officials say both are expected to be ready in time for teachers to move into their classrooms in late August.

They are the largest projects covered by the district’s $96 million bond passed in 2013 — $36.9 million for the middle school and $17.3 million for the elementary school.

Officials say the new schools are needed to relieve crowding at the district’s middle and elementary schools.

Aside from the new schools, crews at Bend High School are adding four classrooms that will replace three modular classrooms. They are also renovating an art classroom and adding an athletic field off SE 15th Street near Ponderosa Park. Elsewhere, crews are remodeling science classrooms at La Pine High School, restrooms at Jewell Elementary School and classrooms at the Kenwood building, which houses Highland Magnet School.

On top of this planned work, crews may have to add to the list roof repairs at La Pine Middle School caused by a fire early Wednesday morning. The roof was already slated for repairs, but the work will likely be more significant now, according to a district spokeswoman. Officials cited four teenagers on suspicion of arson, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing in connection with the fire.

In Prineville, crews are also wrapping up work on the new 700-seat Barnes Butte Elementary School on NE Ironhorse Drive, part of a plan to consolidate three elementary schools into two. The Crook County School District closed Ochoco Elementary School at the end of the 2014-15 school year, and students there will be split between Barnes Butte and Crooked River elementary schools.

Next the district plans to renovate Cecil Sly Elementary School to house more students and eventually close Crooked River Elementary.

Teachers will move into Barnes Butte in mid-August. The district will hold a ribbon cutting and tours of the new school at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 21.

“It’s rush time, you know, but we’ll get there,” said Jerry Milstead, the district’s project manager.

That district is also remodeling Crook County High School this summer to address accessibility and security issues. And at Crook County Middle School, crews are redoing the gymnasiums, removing asbestos and reconfiguring the front entry and administrative offices for added security.

Farther north in Culver, crews are in the second of three phases of construction after the district passed an $8.8 million bond in 2013.

In phase two, which started this spring and is expected to wrap up in late fall, crews are working on a nine-classroom addition for the elementary school to replace two wings that were built in the 1960s and “had outlived their useful life,” said Superintendent Stefanie Garber. Those wings were demolished in phase one, and third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes are currently held in modulars.

In the third phase of construction, crews will build an addition for the high school, remodel the school throughout and do districtwide technology and security upgrades, according to project manager Brett Hudson.

That work is expected to begin in March.

— Reporter: 541-617-7837,