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School bond would build Art Rutkin Elementary School

TTSD bond measure would build school named after longtime educator, board member

Art Rutkin devoted his life to education. Now, a school bond would pay to build a new elementary school in his honor.

As a principal, office administrator and school board member, Rutkin spent over 25 years of his life dedicated to families in the Tigard-Tualatin School District before his death in 2010 from lymphoma.

Six years ago, the school board decided to honor Rutkin’s legacy by naming a future school after him. A resolution was passed, a site was chosen and dedicated, and an outpouring of public support ensued.

This year, that school could receive the funding and official public backing it requires to finally be built.

A new elementary school named after Rutkin on Bull Mountain is one of the major components of a $291 million school bond measure that will appear on the November ballot.

The school board officially approved the bond measure this month after nearly a year of deliberation.

Board member Barry Albertson, who was a close friend of Rutkin and served on the school board with him, said the new school would honor Rutkin’s legacy of personally investing in the well-being of students.

Albertson, a doctor, remembers the day Rutkin called him at his clinic and said he needed to talk. Albertson could tell from his voice that it was bad news.

They immediately met at the old Tigard Library, where Rutkin pulled out a pathology report explaining his cancer diagnosis.

He stayed on the board through much of his illness.

“It was a big loss when he left,” said Albertson, whose kids attended Mary Woodward Elementary when Rutkin was the school’s principal.

Rutkin also served as principal at Byrom, Phil Lewis and Bridgeport elementary schools, as well as at Hazelbrook Middle School.

At Mary Woodward, Rutkin was a “kid magnet” who waved goodbye to kids after school and knew them all by name, said Albertson.

Rutkin was rarely in his office, said Albertson. Instead, he could be found in classrooms, where he encouraged teachers and students alike.

“He did his principal stuff at night,” said Albertson. “He saw his job as being there for teachers.”

If voters pass the school bond measure, the new school would be built in an area ripe for expansion.

The site off Beef Bend Road in Tigard sits on land that the district has owned for years, purchased in anticipation of the west Bull Mountain area’s increasing development and influx of new families.

With the three elementary schools serving that area — Alberta Rider, Deer Creek and Mary Woodward — reaching full capacity, a new elementary school would reduce projected overcrowding by enrolling 600 students.

Rutkin brought his lifelong experience as an educator to the Tigard-Tualatin school board, always guiding discussions towards what was most important — never losing focus on teachers, students and parents.

Albertson says that philosophy has stayed with him and cemented his own commitment.

“His approach was, ‘I want these kids to be successful, I want these kids to like coming here,’” said Albertson. “That’s why he was so popular.’”