Perhaps one day, they’ll be able to harness the seemingly endless energy of its elementary school students.
Until then, Forest Edge Elementary School (FES) will perhaps make a name for itself as the first “Net Zero” school built in the state, meaning it will produce more energy than it uses.
Construction is set to be mainly completed in July, with staff slated to move in during late August to prepare for the students’ first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 1. That work has continued steadily throughout the winter months, with both construction and budget on schedule, Oregon School District superintendent Brian Busler told the Observer last week
“The weather has been terrific from a construction standpoint,” he said.
The building is designed to efficiently use energy, featuring solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and being strategically located to take advantage of natural light. In the past few weeks, work on those modern features has begun in the bowels of the foundation, with operators drilling out boreholes for the geothermal equipment, according to the latest update from J.H. Findorff & Son construction company.
As its form slowly takes shape, workers have been installing fiber cement siding in the west courtyard, which will continue through the rest of the building exterior. Interior, ceiling tile and light fixtures are being installed on the second level, with carpet and final finishes underway. On the first level, drywall is being hung at the administration office.
Construction aside, it’s been a busy nine months getting the school ready for students since groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the school, 4848 Brassica Road, on June 6, 2019.
In September, the district hired Brooklyn Elementary principal and long-time OSD educator Kerri Modjeski as the new school’s first principal.
During the fall, the school board started whittling down a group of names from more than 200 submitted. In December, more than 2,500 voted on the name, with Forest Edge defeating Nine Springs in a landslide, with around 72 percent of the vote.
Also this fall, the school board approved new boundary agreements with three basic parameters: students would go to the school closest to their home, with an exemption process available to families and simplified busing zones for each attendance area.
Busler said the next step in the process to fill the ranks of students and staff is sending out letters this spring to parents and guardians about which school boundary they’re in, and start the process of exemptions and determining numbers.
While some preliminary hiring of staff has been done in the past few months — given a general idea of how many sections will be needed — he said the remainder will be hired once it’s known how many students will attend each school.
And while he’s excited about how the new building is coming along, Busler — retiring at the end of June after 14 years of leading the district — said he is most pleased about the new opportunities the project is bringing students, staff and the community in the northern part of the district.
“It’s a very rare opportunity to build a new school and a school culture,” he said. “It is going to be a tremendous learning facility for young people and for generations to come.”