by: DAVID F. ASHTON - First Grader Bao Troung checks out a new drinking fountain at Marysville School.First grade student Bao Troung doesn’t remember the fire that tore through Marysville Elementary School, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood, three years ago. Nor does he remember the school district’s continued grousing that a failed bond measure prevented Portland Public Schools (PPS) from completely rebuilding the entire school.

“It’s like it’s all new,” Troung told THE BEE, as he checked out a new high-tech drinking fountain in a once-charred hallway during the family “walkthrough” on December 8th. “I’m happy I’ll be going to school here. It’s close to home.”

Looking into a classroom, parent Phil Barrows said, “We’ve got one who’s been going to Rose City Park all this time, and two more kids who will be coming here. It will be really nice to have our school back again, in our neighborhood.”

On hand to answer questions at the casual open house was the PPS Director of Capital Operations and School Modernization, Jim Owens.

He began by recounting how the school district would have completely rebuilt the school from the ground up, had it not been for that bond measure failure.

“They looked at moving the students to Kellogg School, but in public meetings, it became clear that the community wished to return to Marysville School,” Owens said.

Although insurance paid to restore the burned part of the school, “There’s also a relatively small contribution through the District to bring the science classrooms up to our standards. We brought in some extra power supplies, some new lab tables, and provided some utility support for the space. The Technology Lab was upgraded, providing a configuration for students to use computers.”

One of the concerns by teachers and parents, Owens recalled, was that the old and new sections of the school would be significantly different.

Instead of bulldozing the incinerated sections of the building, workers took meticulous care to remove and preserve undamaged doors, molding, window frames, built-ins, and other features that were originally installed when the school was built in 1921.

“I think the project team was able to connect the old and new together very well,” Owens remarked. “I know the Principal and the teachers who have been to the school say they feel that what was accomplished here was definitely consistent with what they were expecting.”

Reactivating a facility after it was dormant for three years was particularly challenging, Owens said. “But, it was also the most rewarding part, from the standpoint of being able to put solutions in place and complete construction on time, on budget, and with our specified quality.”

Following the year-end Holiday break, its students will be welcomed back into Marysville School, just south of S.E. Holgate Boulevard, a little west of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, on Monday, January 7th.

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