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WL-WVs historical office gets a remodel

by: Vern Uyetake Director of Operations Tim Woodley rings the bell from the original Stafford School, which now houses the district office for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.

The fan-shaped window in the logo of West Linn-Wilsonville School District is emblematic of a district with strong historical roots that stands looking forward to the future. With the remodel of the district office, where that window logo has its origins, the central building is now set to lead the community for the next 40 to 50 years, said Tim Woodley, director of operations.

'(The window) has become the cultural emblem of the district. It really speaks to our deepest culture,' said Woodley. 'It's the people's building where they come to engage with the educational experiences. This is for the people, so we can respectfully serve them… and accommodate all their individual needs.'

The building, which was actually moved to the current location in 1896, got a major overhaul using the district's 2008 capital bond funds. The remodel should save the district on maintenance costs and utilities. The district spent just under $5 million for a complete remodel of the central office, which houses the superintendent, personnel, business, curriculum, student services (special education), instructional technicians and the school board room.

Since the original historical building still stood at the core of the building, a number of structural issues needed to be addressed. There was no original footing and the building had unreinforced concrete.

'While we were constructing, part of this front wall actually collapsed into the building,' said Woodley.

The building also got a new roof, windows, insulation and siding.

Originally 14,000 square feet, the new office gained an extra 3,000 square feet and has all new utility systems. Since the building is located outside of city limits, its utilities are all off the grid. Once burdened with aging systems and constant maintenance issues, the district office now has a new sanitary sewer, storm water management detention, domestic water treatment and electrical systems. It even has air conditioning.

'A big part of this is operations - we need to have operations out at schools,' said Woodley, explaining that maintenance workers spent too much of their time fixing issues at the central office.

Additionally, as the hub for the entire school district's network of computers, the office now has a backup generator and a fire suppressant system protects the technology room.

As per Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Department, the district also installed a 17,000-gallon fire water storage and a building sprinkler system. And it got a fire alarm system and building security system.

The remodel made the building safer and more accessible. Another part of the cost was the removal of an underground storage tank and asbestos abatement. With the many changes, the building was brought up to modern day seismic requirements, and it also got an elevator as part of an update to new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) code.

The district also removed the metal building behind the office that used to be used for maintenance. The extra space was used to expand the parking lot and move the driveway to a safer location on Stafford Road. Now community members attending late night board meetings should have enough space to park in the lot instead of on unlit Stafford Road.

The boardroom also got some technology updates with three ceiling projectors and corresponding screens as well as new recording equipment.

With the remodel, the district viewed its role as a steward of a historic resource, while also looking to save the community money.

'The cost to build this building on a similar site in town was $8.5 million,' said Woodley.

Because the district has owned the land where the building sits for years, its use is grandfathered into county land designations. The area is designated as exclusive-use farmland, so 'rhe value of this is greatly diminished to anyone else but us,' Woodley said. But 'at the end of the day, it was maybe more of a political move - it's just the right location,' he said. 'It's between the two towns ... and the historic (significance) is the heart and culture of the school district.'

History

Originally, the district office building was given to the district to be used for Stafford School in 1896. When the current building for Stafford Primary School opened in 1966, the district offices moved to the site and did a small remodel. The latest addition was the boardroom in 1990. In 2001, Clackamas County awarded the school district the Stewardship Excellence Award.