Reedville Elementary School outside of Hillsboro has begun a series of long-awaited construction updates at the nearly century-old building.
Last year, Hillsboro-area voters approved a $408 million construction bond to make improvements at schools across the Hillsboro School District over the next five years, including a new Brookwood Elementary School and two new schools in North Plains and South Hillsboro.
The first major project included in that bond is Reedville Elementary. Crews started demolition several weeks ago and construction is expected to continue through the summer. When finished this fall, the $7.8 million upgrade will include security and seismic upgrades, new floors, remodeled classrooms, a new library, playground and roof.
"The great thing that our facilities department is doing is really trying to make sure we maintain the historical significance of the building," said Reedville Principal Robin Farup-Romero. "Reedville is known as a historical building for the Reedville and Aloha community. And so the floors within the entry way and the first part of the rooms that currently have hardwood flooring, they we will be putting in flooring that maintains that look."
Built in 1920, the elementary school has expanded several times over the years, but has struggled to keep up with students' needs in the past century, Farup-Romero said.
While some community members have expressed sadness in seeing much of the historical building replaced, Farup-Romero said the changes are necessary.
"Our building has a wonderful charm to it, but although it has a wonderful historic charm, we have to be able to maintain the historical charm while providing a positive learning space," Farup-Romero said. "A remodeled building really, I think, can impact how students feel about being in a classroom because it's newer, it's modernized."
The school will have a new parking lot and a new modular building will boast a large cafeteria as well as five extra classrooms. The bond will also pay for 80 new Chromebook computers for students.
While several of the old portables are being demolished, two of the newer and usable ones have been given to North Plains Elementary School and Paul L. Patterson Elementary School.
The school's previous cafeteria wasn't big enough to allow all students to eat together. Instead, administrators cycled students through four different lunches each day. Some students currently have to eat lunch in their classrooms, Farup-Romero said.
"By having a new cafeteria, that's really going to enhance kid's daily experience at school to all be able to eat together in the cafeteria," she said. "Our building really was beginning to show the years of student use, which is really positive, but we need to maintain and upgrade those areas."
Farup-Romero said the initial construction disruptions have been minimal, but said most students are aware of the changes coming.
"My counselor and myself, we are going to be going to each classroom and do a slideshow, so that students feel excited about what's happening," she said, "and that they're not worried, (but) really are excited and they can see all of the great changes that will happen for them."'
Farup-Romero has been the principal at Reedville for six years. She said she looks forward to upgrading the school. In turn, she said, those changes will make students more excited about being in school in general.
"Some of those basic things (we take for granted,) such as having air conditioning and air flow and upgraded bathrooms, it really sends a message to our kids in terms of the experience that we want them to have," she said. "Particularly when we are thinking about college and career, we want a level of them to understand that sense of respect and responsibility and leadership within not just their own lives but their spaces."
Reedville isn't the only school that will receive some major enhancements in the coming years. Next year, Brookwood Elementary School in Hillsboro will be completely replaced. Many other district schools across Hillsboro will also see some big changes between now and 2022.
"We are just appreciative of the Hillsboro community for investing in our schools and in our students by passing the bond," Farup-Romero said. "We really want to acknowledge that they are part of this process. (We are) feeling grateful for that sense of community commitment to all of our schools in the Hillsboro School District."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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