School provides low rent spaces for education and community organizations

by: PHOTOS BY JEFF SPIEGEL - Shannon Powell and Bonnie Erickson are the two people in charge of renting out the new River Mill Community Resource Center. The building even features conference rooms like this available for nightly or monthly rent.It’s definitely a talent turn a tough situation into a positive outcome.

For the Estacada School District, the closure of now former River Mill Elementary was essentially the definition of a tough situation, but a re-purposing plan has materialized that may put the building to wise use on into the future.

Ask any school administrator across the state and their biggest issue will always be the same: funding. Well, in Estacada, it seems they’ve just turned a funding problem into a partial funding solution.

Enter Shannon Powell, Bonnie Erickson and others who have found new uses for the school building.

Powell, the director of special services at the district, was charged with renting out the recently empty school in an effort to generate a bit of income for the district. Erickson, the high school athletic director, is in charge of handling applications and reservations.

Turns out, there were a number of organizations happy to apply.

“We are very grateful to the school district for finding a place for us,” Susie Tracy, the director of Drug-free Estacada Families and Youth (DEFY), said. “We love our classroom.”

DEFY is now housed in what used to be a sixth-grade classroom that features a number of educational furnishings Tracy has found helpful.

In addition to office space, DEFY uses the space to hold its high school coalition meetings.

While there are 14 classrooms for rent at $250 a month, the district also is renting out open rooms and special spaces like the library, multipurpose room and conference room on a daily basis as well. Utilities are all included in the rent.

Among the tenants already in the building are Estacada Community School, Estacada Daycare, Estacada Head Start and more.

The community school is actually renting out the old computer lab for its GED classes.

“We offer better facilities and lower rent than other places,” Erickson said. “This is an educational facility and all these programs that step up know that this is the prime place to be for education.”

All of the tenants have signed year-to-year leases with a chance that terms of the lease could change after one year. At the moment, however, Powell is just focused on filling the remaining classrooms.

“We hope to have everything filled by winter break,” he said. “We’re calling this building the River Mill Community Resource Center.”

The school was built in the 1960s but had an entire wing and library added in 2003.

Anyone interested in renting out space can contact Powell or Erickson through the district office at 503-630-6871.

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