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Renovation nears for high school

It’s back to elementary school for Oak Harbor High School’s freshman and sophomore classes next year.

Beginning in fall 2008 ninth- and tenth-graders will spend half their day at the old Clover Valley Elementary School, which was closed last year. Next year, the building will become the “north campus” for Oak Harbor High School.

Between 400 and 450 students will be displaced during the $72 million high school renovation project. Work is scheduled to begin in May and take three years to complete.

When they attend Clover Valley, the high school students will take the core classes that they normally would as part of the school’s “Islands” programs, where freshmen and sophomores are divided up and take the same classes together. Freshmen take math, science and English together and sophomores take math, social studies and English together.

Those students will spend the other half of their day at Oak Harbor High School and take such classes as chemistry, PE, NJROTC, and career/technical classes.

“The idea is we wanted the kids to have full access to our programs,” Principal Dwight Lundstrom said in an interview Thursday morning.

He emphasized that he wants the students to have a full high school experience.

The other option to the north campus concept would be to install portable classrooms at the high school, but Lundstrom said the school would need nine or 10 of them and it would cost an additional $1 million. It would be difficult to find space to place portables. Oak Harbor High School is on a small property compared to other 4A schools. Typical schools are on 60 acres of land while Oak Harbor High School sits on approximately 40 acres.

If portables were used, it could interfere with the athletic practice fields. Some of the space around the high school is also needed as the staging area for the renovation project.

Next fall, half of the freshmen and sophomores will start their day at Clover Valley Elementary and return by bus to the main high school for lunch and their afternoon classes. The other half of the students would be bused to Clover Valley for their afternoon classes.

Relocating students is nothing new to the school district. When the elementary schools were remodeled, the school district used the old North Whidbey Middle School building as temporary space and also used rooms in local churches as classroom space.

The school district will hold a meeting Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m., at Oak Harbor High School’s Parker Hall to inform parents, students and community members about how classes will be structured during the renovation.

Joe Hunt, communications director for the school district, said the district is making a big push to inform families with children at the middle school, since they are the ones most affected by the change.

The “north campus” will likely be used by the high school for the next three years.

After that, no decisions have been made on Clover Valley’s future, Hunt said. There are several options. It could be used by Midway High School or HomeConnections. If the state decides it’s going to fund all-day kindergarten, the school district would need the classrooms because the number of kindergarten students would basically double.

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