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Scappoose school officials gauge growth outlook, readiness

School officials want to be prepared for growth given signs of development in community

In an effort to keep up with development in Scappoose, the Scappoose School District is seeking bids from architectural firms to perform a facilities assessment to determine what needs the district has, or potentially will have, in the near future.

Superintendent Stephen Jupe said the request for quotation, or RFQ, is the first step in a campaign spearheaded by the district's long-range planning committee that began meeting last month. Members of the committee include Jupe, several Scappoose School District staff, school board members and one teacher.

Jupe explained that when the $33.3 million capital bond passed in 2008, board members suggested trying to pass another bond in 2018. Less than two years down the line from that suggested date, Jupe recommended the board begin its evaluation of district needs.

“With the realities of recent housing growth, housing planned growth and tangible predictions of Portland Community College & the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center development in our city, the District is determined to be prepared for any future student population growth,” a press release from the Scappoose School District stated Tuesday.

Student enrollment has increased in the district by roughly 60 students this school year, Jupe said.

Data from the Oregon Department of Education shows enrollment steadily increasing every year since the 2009-10 school year, except in 2012-13. Data from the Portland State University Population Research Center shows a population growth of 115 people from 2010 to 2015 in Scappoose, a 1.73 percent increase.

After speaking with city officials and based on his own observations, Jupe said he was seeing, “more and more urgent signs that we were going to be growing in student population and we didn't have anywhere to put them.”

Laurie Oliver, the associate city planner for Scappoose, said 150 subdivision land use approvals for houses to be built have been awarded as of this month.

“You're always trying to anticipate need, but that need doesn't necessarily always come,” Jupe said. “However, I think there are more signs than normal about the fact that Scappoose is expanding and is about to expand faster.”

While data indicate the district is steadily growing, Jupe said there is no way to predict with complete accuracy how much future growth the district will experience. Being at maximum capacity with too many students, however, is equally as worrisome as potentially having new buildings with no students in them, Jupe explained.

“I think you have to be proactive and do, and then just be prepared to be flexible about what actually transpires,” Jupe said.

In order to keep lines of communication open, the district is also collecting public feedback through a survey on the district's website and Facebook page. The purpose is to evaluate how well they are currently communicating with the public before any serious discussions about building, bonds or development take place.

“Obviously, one of the most important things for any district to do that's doing long-range planning, is to receive true input from their patrons,” Jupe said. “And when we say patrons, we're not just talking teachers, not just students, not just support staff, administration, but also the community, and that goes for any age group.”

Proposals for facilities assessments are due Friday, April 1. Jupe said he expects the board to review the proposals and potentially approve a contract by May.