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Rebuilding Marysville School approved; to take one year

by: Rita A. Leonard The most severely damaged portions of Marysville School remain boarded up and fenced off until repairs begin.

Although the 2009 fire at Marysville School destroyed about a third of that historic structure, staff and students escaped unharmed, quickly finding a temporary home at the former Rose City Park School in Northeast Portland.

Portland Public Schools and the community had hoped that passage of the capital bond measure proposed last May would afford funds to modernize and update the entire Marysville building. However, voters turned down that proposal, and a new plan was required.

Following community input and Board planning, Superintendent Carole Smith announced in mid-November that a final recommendation had been reached: The new plan is to rebuild only the damaged portion of the school, along with code upgrades, allowing the building at 7733 S.E. Raymond to reopen to students - hopefully, by January of 2013.

Insurance funds, plus reimbursement for code updates, brings the total for rebuilding to approximately $4,500,000, plus additional money from Capital Funds. No further borrowing is feasible at this time. Work will include painting, science class enhancement, and the addition of three classrooms through the relocation of the Media Center and Computer Lab.

There are also plans to convert the burned 'Discovery Zone' room, where the fire apparently started, into a new half-sized middle school gym, leaving an option for future expansion. The plans will be completed with installation of a new school-wide fire alarm and sprinkler system, the upgrading of the school for seismic and ADA compliance, the addition of a security camera, and increasing the entryway visibility for security purposes. Better insulation and lighting in the formerly-burned area will provide a small reduction in energy costs.

The one-story wood frame school was built in 1921, and the structure is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The entire site comprises 5.2 acres, but it is impractical for modular classrooms, if enrollment increases significantly.

About 430 K-8 students are estimated to return when the school reopens - less than the District's target figure of 500 students for a K-8 school. Consequently, the District will monitor growth goals and consider possible school boundary changes with nearby Harrison Park, to balance enrollment figures. The community has expressed an interest in maintaining the school as a K-8 program.

The new park just to the north, designed for both school and community use, was completed in partnership with the Portland Development Ccommission in 2009 - shortly before the fire occurred. Renewed use of the park and school, and a reduced need for student busing, are expected to address community healing and sustainability concerns. Renewed school activity is also expected to minimize any issues in the Park.