Out with the old, but not entirely.
Sisters Elementary School is moving to a new building in fall 2024 thanks to money from a bond measure passed in May 2021.
It’ll be 80,000 square feet — almost double the size of the current building. But the former building has a chance for a new lease on life.
“It’s been, I think, a 10-year goal to consolidate the campus for services for our kids,” Sisters School District Superintendent Curtiss Scholl told Central Oregon Daily News on Monday.
Sisters boasts a population of 3,400 people. Maybe not the largest town in Central Oregon, but it’s grown by more than 1,000 people over the past decade.
The impact on the schools is evident.
“Five years ago, the elementary school was about 330 students and we’re at 395 right now,” Scholl said.
At the time the $33.8 million bond was passed, the current elementary school building was operating at 106% capacity, a percentage that’s only increased since then.
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Thanks to the bond measure, the new building with a larger library and gym will take shape on a plot of land next to Reed Stadium.
The current school, a 50-year-old red brick structure, will then be open to a new purpose.
The city recently partnered with Masters of Community and Regional Planning program students from the University of Oregon in order to “look at the city, look at the demographics, and give some suggestions and recommendations.”
Following the study, three potential pathways stood out from the rest.
“One is this Park and Recreation idea, and that was one of them. The other one was an age-friendly Sisters,” Scholl said. “So if you look at our demographics, we have a large aging community as well, and so there was a plan to really focus on that. And then the other was affordable housing, and so there was a plan to focus on that as well.”
Feedback sessions, open houses and community surveys narrowed down the needs to a likely winner.
“Park and Rec has a small facility and they actually are leasing more space to accommodate all the the programs that they run,” Scholl said. “And so currently getting all that feedback about what the needs are, it looks like our primary partner in this process will probably be Park and Rec.”
Keeping the building in the family while making room for new members.
“The opportunity to build a K-5 Elementary gives us room for growth, consolidates our campus. It’s going to be built between our middle school and high school. So all of our facilities will be together at the west end of town. So I think there’s a really outstanding opportunity,” Scholl said.
The Sisters School Board will have to make a decision about the building’s future sometime this spring.
They will have a work session sometime next month to discuss all the feedback they’ve received and the various ideas on the table.