Facing overcrowded classrooms in 2020 due to a recent boom in student population — mainly in the northern part of the district — the Oregon School District has focused on building a new elementary and middle school to serve the growing area.

This year, that process — funded by $47 million from the successful November 2018 referenda — started in earnest, with site work starting in March, followed by a June 6 groundbreaking on a K-6 elementary in Fitchburg’s Terravessa Development. Construction is on schedule for the building to open in August, and be ready for students to arrive Sept. 1.

The school is on 4848 Brassica Road, off the Lacy Road interchange east of U.S. Hwy. 14. The approximately 130,000-square-foot building will include several playgrounds, three inner courtyards and a butterfly garden, and will be the first”Net Zero” school in the state, with its solar panels and geothermal features taking in more energy than expending.

The building will initially be grades K-6, with plans to switch to a K-5 once a planned middle school is in place, likely in the mid-2020s. Land for that middle school was purchased earlier this year, off the Hwy. 14/County MM interchange just outside the village, though the district would need to hold another referendum to fund the building.

In September, the district selected veteran OSD educator and Brooklyn Elementary principal Kerri Modjeski as the new school’s principal. This fall, staff submitted applications for the new school, and once that’s sorted out (including filling spots in existing schools that open when teachers leave for the Fitchburg school), the list of students who will attend will be determined in the spring.

And the school finally has a name.

Last week, the long-called “elementary school number four” was given its name by a district K-12 student vote after a public submission process, with “Forest Edge” Elementary winning in a runaway over “Nine Springs,” with a 72-28 margin, and nearly 2,500 students casting ballots.

— Scott De Laruelle