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Powell Butte school committee outlines proposals

The local school committe outlines needs of Powell Butte School for the community to preview before they take the final draft to the school board in December
Powell Butte School is a quaint little building. The exterior style is reminiscent of the era in which it was built, 1930. Stepping into the foyer is like taking a step back in time. The echoes coming from down the halls from children in classrooms could easily be something one would have heard a half a century ago.
   Powell Butte School has been a bone of contention for parents of students and staff as well as the school district for some time now. The building itself though structurally sound is outdated and some of the operating systems are in peril of collapse.
   Its location near to passing motorists traveling on the highway has been a topic of concern for many years, though according to local school committee member Tina Welch, children are well educated on the dangers posed by traffic.
   The school sits on a slightly more than ten acre site and has adequate facilities to accommodate up to 250 students. Enrollment is on a decline which some expect not to last. This year there are 149 students enrolled, down by 10 from this same time last year.
   Following a feasibility study conducted by Dull Olson Weekes Architects earlier this year, the school committee has been putting together a proposal which they plan to present to the school district board in December.
   A draft of the proposal is being sent to all Powell Butte residents asking for reactions and feedback before the committee makes its December presentation. Impact stemming from possible board actions would most certainly be felt county wide and so committee members are eager to hear from citizens not living in the immediate area.
   "This will have a Crook County wide affect, especially if the board asks for a $1.6 million bond for improvements," explained Welch. "Although we're sending this out to the Powell Butte residents specifically, I am personally interested in making sure everyone in the county knows about it, because it will concern them as well."
   Basically the committee has outlined four major considerations not the least of which is $1.6 million to bring the existing building up to standard.
   Pressing improvements on the list include a sewage system that is threatening to be overwhelmed; a mechanical system requiring complete replacement; a fire protection system needs to be installed, parking for staff and parents is a problem; and the facility needs to be made earthquake proof or capable of withstanding a seismic event.
   The hope is that future construction will include classroom space to accommodate grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The school presently houses a student population up to sixth grade. According to the committee virtually all Powell Butte residents who were approached emphasized the need to provide for students up to eighth grade at the school.
   The committee points out that any improvements to the current facility would serve to increase the value of the property thereby increasing resale value should the district decide to build a modern facility at a different location at a future time.
   The proposal also seeks to have 20 acres transferred to the school district from property owned by Crook County on Reif Road. The report states that the current site is adequate in size for expanding the facility, but that all available sites should be inventoried and compared before making a final recommendation for construction.
   "We feel that any bond to provide funds for new construction could take years to pass," states the committee. "That coupled with the feeling that the rate of change of student enrollment may be more predictable in the next few years, makes us feel that the next task is to determine the best site(s) for an expanded school, then to make a recommendation on the size and funding needed [at that time]."
   Copies of the Facility Needs Study are available at the district office, the Powell Butte School and the county library. Comments in writing on the committe's proposal can be faxed to 548-7635 or left at the school. Call 447-7998, 416-0425 or 408-5548 for more information.