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Board ready to rebuild fire-damaged Marysville School

Superintendent's proposal up for debate Monday night

Nearly two years after the fire that damaged a third of Marysville School, Portland Public Schools is finally ready to rebuild it.

The Portland School Board is set to discuss Monday night a plan to use the $450,000 in fire insurance proceeds - plus another $300,000 in district funds to build three new classrooms and a science lab - to rebuild Marysville at its original site, 7733 S.E. Raymond St.

Superintendent Carole Smith favored that option instead of another that arose during a round of community meetings in September: to move Marysville students closer to their community at the shuttered Kellogg Middle School, 7737 S.E. Powell Blvd.

The board will discuss Smith's recommendation at 6 p.m. Monday night. A vote on the plan is expected Nov. 7.

Smith says her decision returns a cherished school building to the heart of Marysville neighborhood, lets students walk to school, provides enhanced seismic and ADA compliance, increases the value in insurance funding, provides some enhanced ability for enrollment balancing and resolves the issue of the site's use.

Also, relocating to Kellogg would have cost $2 million to get the building in shape, plus up to $850,000 more for a partial demolition of the Marysville site.

As drafted in the board's resolution, it would take 14 months to rebuild Marysville School. The rebuilt school could reopen in January 2013. It includes: rebuilding the fire-damaged portion of the school; rebuilding the burned Discovery Zone as a half-sized middle school gymnasium, with the opportunity to expand it in the future; relocating the media center and computer lab to the old west gymnasium; reconfiguring the media center to house two new classrooms and the old computer lab to house one classroom; painting the building's exterior and replacing siding to match the new one; and installing gas lines and lab tables to a classroom for enhanced use as a science lab.

Since the November 2009 fire, Marysville School has been operating from the former Rose City Park School building in Northeast Portland, with all but a handful of students riding buses to the new location. Marysville-area residents and neighbors have clamored for their school to be rebuilt, and were disappointed when voters rejected the PPS capital bond measure that would have rebuilt Marysville into a 21st century school. The board had leveraged the fire insurance proceeds to draw up schematic designs and construction documents, in anticipation of the bond passing. Those plans have since been tabled.

The latest resolution also examines enrollment at Marysville. After the fire, the school dropped from 450 to 363 students, which is below the threshold of 500 students Smith has set for K-8 schools to operate a viable program. In all, 17 of the district's 31 K-8 schools fall short of the 500.

Once Marysville is rebuilt, district leaders expect the school's enrollment to rise again, and 'could be accelerated with a boundary change from nearby Harrison Park' School, according to the board resolution.