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|Tuesday, April 01, 2008|
Faced with aging buildings and growing needs, schools struggle to find suitable new locations, and discover the necessity of partnerships with business and the community.
By J. David Santen Jr.
One view of Portland’s Lincoln High School can be found in a recent seven-page assessment of its 1950s-era facilities.
The consultant’s report ticks off an estimated $23.5 million in needed repairs and upgrades — a fraction of the more than $1 billion in costs districtwide — that include replacing the athletic field bleachers (closed midway through last fall’s football season) and the school’s roof, along with fixing significant plumbing and electrical problems and accessibility issues. Not to mention the “modular classrooms” eyesore necessary to accommodate the school’s 1,400-plus students.
As demand for land intensifies, with supply constrained by state land-use laws and urban growth boundaries, school districts find themselves even more limited in where they can place new schools. Most districts build where everyone else is building: in town and in the ’burbs. Traditional standards for schools call for flat parcels of 10 acres for new elementary sites, 20 acres for middle schools and 30 acres for high schools — plus an additional acre per 100 students. In growing urban areas, those large sites can be few and far between.
So schools have become motivated to reconsider what they already own: building a new middle school on an “oversized” elementary school site, for example, or replacing smaller schools with larger (and taller) ones at the same location. The land that school districts are purchasing today may still be flat, but more than likely the parcels are smaller and awkward configurations, acquired and developed in conjunction with multiple partners, such as parks and cities, or condemned from private owners. Or it’s property that the district has managed to stockpile through long-range planning. However they come about it, property is at a premium.
A separate but equal challenge is explaining to neighbors why the district might close older schools and sell land it already owns. Even in the face of declining enrollments, it’s an easier decision financially than socially and emotionally. Schools are de facto recreation centers and parks, meeting places and historic sites. Their zoning is often conditionally approved for school-use only in otherwise residential areas, and rezoning for a new development can be fraught with community input and politics.
To top it off, the school boards and superintendents facing these decisions to buy and sell land, to build or shutter schools, rarely come from a real estate background — particularly the superintendents. So schools, driven by the challenge of managing real estate, have developed new partnerships with cities, counties, parks and libraries, developers and community organizations.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON
Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy. “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”
Friday, May 08, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
A Power Lunch at Oswego Grill.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.
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