Oak Harbor Public Schools considers new buildings

Oak Harbor Public Schools contracted with NAC Architecture to conduct a long-range facility planning study for the district’s elementary schools.

Philip Riedel, architect for the company, presented a robust plan for expansion and construction of district facilities at a school board meeting Tuesday night.

The study found that Oak Harbor Elementary’s buildings B and C are eligible for state match modernization dollars, as well as Hillcrest Elementary. Oak Harbor Elementary’s Building A is a historic structure and will remain standing regardless of any planned improvements.

Lance Gibbon, superintendent of Oak Harbor Public Schools, addressed the school board, giving the community a preface for Riedel’s presentation.

“What you’re going to hear tonight really is a range of possibilities with no action items and no specific recommendations,” Gibbon said. “These are resources and things to begin thinking about, but certainly no decisions have been made.”

In a proposed project timeline, Oak Harbor Elementary’s Buildings C and B would be replaced between 2021 and 2024, making use of matching dollars and the 2022 bond election.

Between 2023 and 2026, a possible new elementary could be built on district-owned land at a variety of locations, including Fort Nugent Park, Volunteer Park, Oak Harbor Elementary play field, Memorial Field or North Whidbey Middle School Field.

According to the timeline, the modernization of Hillcrest Elementary would occur between 2026 and 2029. Improvements to Crescent Harbor Elementary, Broad View Elementary and Olympic View Elementary have time slots ranging between 2028 and 2033.

Riedel pointed to the growth in the student population as one reason to consider moving forward with the plans. He said the upcoming grade reconfiguration has purchased the district some time, but the district’s capacity will have to expand eventually.

“In the meantime, to absorb this capacity, you have been putting in portable classrooms, which I don’t think are anybody’s first choice,” Riedel said. “Maybe I am a little biased because I am a school architect, but I’m not a big fan of portables.”

In addition, NAC Architecture discovered an interesting opportunity for the school district while evaluating the site of the Transportation Center as a potential spot for a new elementary school, Riedel said.

“The Transportation Center’s buildings are not in great shape,” he said.

“The state has a higher level of matching funds that they do for what they call ‘cooperative transportation centers,’ and Oak Harbor is currently operating as a cooperative transportation center because of the partnership you have with Coupeville.”

What this means, Riedel said, is that a new transportation center could be built for a “relatively modest local investment.”

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