In light of crowding problems for students, the Crook County School District facilities committee will be examining expansion options for the high school at their next meeting.
>Facilities committee will review plans for either adding on to current high school or building a new facility entirely
Steve Olson, who is a principal, part owner and architect for the Portland firm Dull, Olson and Weekes, will be on hand to give committee members a tour at the Aug. 7 meeting.
"And specifically the work we would be doing is facility planning work, what facilities basically they would need in the future," he said of his company.
Crook County High School was designed for 1,000 students and is right at capacity, or just over that amount now. The architecture firm did the design work in 1994 and the new school opened in 1996.
Olson said the building was designed so that it could be expanded and he said there's also space on the school grounds for expansion.
"The regular classrooms could be expanded on the north side," he said. Additionally, the athletic facilities could be expanded to the east and south.
"And also, they're (facilities committee) looking at expanding the cafeteria," the architect said. That expansion area would be in the courtyard on the southwest side of the building.
"What the community is looking at is expanding to 1,400 or 1,500 students," Olson said. "And in terms of numbers of classrooms, that hasn't been determined yet, but it was designed to be an expandable school."
Jeff Landaker, the facilities committee chairman, said all of the expansion options make sense.
"He's right," Landaker said of Olson. "We could expand the classroom side of it. We could expand the cafeteria."
But Landaker said the district needs to look at the issue of dollars and cents.
"Does it make more sense to retrofit or build a new facility?" Landaker asked. "The classrooms are where we're going to be running into problems."
Landaker said that on the last day of school for the 2005-2006 school year, there were 946 students at CCHS - almost to capacity.
"The other thing is we are out of classrooms. I know the teachers had to give up their breakroom and convert that into a classroom," said the facilities committee chairman.
Superintendent Steve Swisher has been working with CCHS Principal Jim Golden and others to expand the school's curriculum and make it more relevant to students, including in math and pre-engineering, arts and communications and other areas.
"We will not have the classroom capacity there when we start expanding curriculum," Landaker said.
There's also a philosophical and logistical question of, if CCHS is expanded, how long it would serve the community's needs.
"That's the whole thing," Landaker said. "I personally think we need to build something. That high school is only 10 years old and look where we're at. I don't want that to happen. I want us to look out 20 years."
Olson emphasized that "this was the way the master plan was originally envisioned, based upon the way it was planned in 1994 with the design committee that was working on the project at the time."
Another big question is how much an expansion would cost.
"That's something that we haven't even looked at yet," Olson said. "That's something I'm sure that we will be looking at in the next couple months."
Costs would be determined by a variety of factors, including the size and configuration of an addition.
"Then it's important to note that construction costs have risen considerably in the last 10 years since the high school was originally built," Olson said.
One area that is particularly overcrowded now is the Commons and cafeteria.
"I'm guessing that their general classrooms are getting larger and larger and that they would like smaller classes," he said in general of the overcrowding challenge.
"All this is obviously based upon everybody's best guess in how quickly the community is going to grow," Olson said. "I think anybody that lived in central Oregon in the last 10 years realizes that growth has come a lot faster than anyone has expected."
It's been a case in other regional communities of finding places to educate children.
"In the case of Prineville, that's just starting to happen with some of the recent developments that are starting to happen in the county," he said.
The growth is happening all around.
"Bend-LaPine is looking at a bond in November," Olson said. "And Redmond will be opening two new schools this summer. Madras just expanded their high school and opened another elementary school within the last two years."