Parents, school staff and other community members listened to and discussed concepts for the rebuild of two aging Tigard-Tualatin School District facilities Saturday at Twality Middle School.
Twality, along with neighboring James Templeton Elementary School, is set to be mostly torn down and reconstructed, after voters approved a $291 million bond measure last November. The schools are more than 50 years old — Twality was built in 1960 and Templeton was built in 1966.
DOWA-IBI Group, the architectural firm leading the design process, set up Saturday's workshop as an opportunity for community members to learn more about what is happening with the schools and provide some input as work gets underway.
DOWA-IBI's Karina Ruiz said her group is following a set of "guiding principles" established in collaboration with school staff. They include creating school spaces that are "safe, open and welcoming," supporting student achievement, and accommodating every student, among others.
The schools will also be built with sustainability in mind, Ruiz said.
"We're not going to pick materials that have what are called VOCs, volatile organic compounds, to put into schools," Ruiz said. "Bringing in natural light, and through the use of that natural light, allowing for energy use to come down, right. The mechanical and electrical systems being such that you can open a window when the time is appropriate, and therefore again gain efficiencies. But the lens through which we like to look at it is, 'Where can we use sustainable elements … in a way that contributes to the teaching and learning?'"
The audience was split into table groups to discuss their priorities and ideas for the new schools.
"This is an amazing opportunity," said Carrie Ferguson, who took over as principal of Templeton Elementary this school year and is already involved in planning for a new school building. She added, "I'm very excited about all of it."
Amy Reilly, a parent involved in Tigard's "Safe Routes to Schools" program who attended Saturday's workship, has children at both Templeton and Twality schools.
"Both of these schools are just really old," Reilly said.
A significant improvement for Templeton will "come naturally," Reilly suggested. The school was build in what is often called the "California style," in which its classrooms open to the outside. That model is no longer in vogue, in large part because of concerns about student safety.
"I know that's been a concern for some people," she said. "So I think that's kind of just a standard redesign (solution)."
Ferguson said her staff has been discussing the idea of "flexible learning spaces" that could be used for a variety of purposes. She is also interested in having outdoor areas and a "Makerspace" to facilitate learning for her elementary school students.
Current plans call for part of Templeton and Twality to be preserved while the remainder of each building is demolished. For Twality, that part of the existing building — including a 2004 addition — will be incorporated into the new structure, while at Templeton, the "core" left standing will be used for the school district's early education program, according to Ruiz.
The parking lots at each building will also be reconfigured.
Construction on Templeton Elementary is expected to start sometime in 2018, with work at Twality following in 2019.
"Essentially at Templeton, we're building a new school while students are either housed in existing portions of the school or in portable classrooms," Ruiz said. "Twality's a little harder, because there are portions of the building that are remaining for use as middle school … so that one will have be phased. But the idea is that everyone that is enrolled at Twality and Templeton stays on campus, and they have adequate facilities for teaching and learning during that year that we're in construction."
This was the first public design workshop in the process, and Ferguson called it "the first of many opportunities" for community members, staff and students to get involved and have a window into what is going on.
"I'm happy to see some of my families here," Ferguson said. "I feel like the people who are here are people who are really engaged in the process and want to be a part of it. I'm happy to see them having a voice and participating."
The combined project budget for the schools is $65 million, a sizable chunk of bond dollars.
The bond will also pay for the construction of Art Rutkin Elementary School on Bull Mountain and renovations and improvements at other district schools and facilities.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times