The plans are approved, the land is set to be purchased, and the students will soon be on the way.
Now, it’s time to starting building a new school.
A special, sparsely attended meeting of electors before the regular Oregon school board meeting Monday night unanimously approved a pair of district land purchases stemming from the Nov. 6 referendums. The district will purchase around 106 acres (street address 4930 County M) and around 1 acre (street address 1772 County MM) in Fitchburg for $926,080 for a planned middle school; and will spend around $2.1 million for around 12 acres in the Terravessa development along County MM in the City of Fitchburg for a planned K-6 elementary school to open in fall 2020. The district will also spend $250,000 for road development for the elementary school.
Board members later unanimously approved the purchases at their meeting.
“This sets us up really well for our future planning and creates a great flexibility,” said board president Steve Zach. “We can undertake the appropriate steps to purchase that land.”
District superintendent Brian Busler, speaking before the votes, said the elementary school site, near the Lacy Road interchange, is near a nature conservancy that will be deeded to the City of Fitchburg, which will provide some “natural connections to our environmental programs throughout the district.”
“The district will have conservancy space immediately adjacent to our school property,” he said. “There is a lot of green space (in the Terravessa subdivision).”
After nearly two years of research, the district identified the fast-growing northern section of the district in the northeast part of the City of Fitchburg as the most effective location for new schools, with the student population expected to jump from around 4,000 to more than 6,000 by 2030. Busler said the goal of the referendums were to “maintain the quality of classes,” as some students would be shifted there from the existing elementaries to reduce class sizes and prevent overcrowding in the elementary schools.
The K-6 elementary near the Lacy Road interchange was seen as the most pressing need, with a new middle school planned for the mid-2020s to address the expected increase of students in that age group. The middle school would require a separate referendum for voters to approve funds for construction, which the release said would likely be in 2022 or 2024, based on enrollment projections.
The first referendum asked for $44.9 million for the K-6 school and all equipment, as well as land for that school and a future middle school. The second asked for $2.1 million in annual operating and maintenance expenses for the elementary school, which would open for the 2020-21 school year.
According to district releases, the maximum tax impact of the first part is around $112 per year for the owner of a $200,000 home and around $132 per year, starting in 2020, for the second.
OSD officials recently presented renderings of the new elementary school to the City of Fitchburg Plan Commission meeting last month for an architectural design and review. The renderings, from Bray Architects, included site demolition and layout plans, landscape designs, erosion control and grading plans, lighting and other details.
The plans for the approximately 130,000-square-foot building include several playgrounds, three inner courtyards and a butterfly garden.