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COOS BAY — Construction of the new $28-million Marshfield Junior High School is on budget and on schedule.

And the school already has a new principal.

The assistant principal at Marshfield High School, Floyd Montiel, is moving down the hill to take over what he calls “a true junior high” once construction is completed in the summer of 2021.

“I am happy and excited, but it’s bittersweet,” Montiel said. “I won’t sugarcoat it. Leaving Marshfield (High School) was not an easy decision. You put your time and life up here.

“But it’s an exciting opportunity to be part of something new.”

Montiel has been working in the Coos Bay School District for more than two decades, most of that time teaching Spanish at the high school.

Now, he’s helping create a junior high culture, something the district hasn’t had in a while because of a lack of space. The district had to bring eighth-graders up to the high school campus as a result, although eighth grade will be relocating to the new junior high once it’s open.

“Next year, our seventh-graders from both sides of town will go to Blossom Gulch Elementary,” said Montiel. “In 2021, the new junior high will open and the eighth-graders will move down the hill…

“When we made the move to have (eighth grade) at the high school, a lot of folks were concerned how that would work with 14- and 13-year-olds, maybe 12,” said Montiel. “How would they do with these older kids on the same campus?

“It worked fine. We did a good job in separating them.”

Even so, Montiel will be excited to have the middle grades in one spot. “There will still be a lot of collaboration with the high school, though. We haven’t picked out a mascot yet, but it’s all the same district. We’re just ‘junior Pirates.’”

School district Superintendent Bryan Trendell said the new school’s construction is “going well,” with the demolition work now completed. That included removing trees from the hillside under Marshfield High School — which caused some community outcry — but Trendell said it was necessary for a variety of reasons.

“We’re putting a $28-million building on the site and the prospect of one of those trees tumbling onto the building in a windstorm is not something we wanted to entertain,” he said. “Those trees also shed a lot of needles, and the new roof will have solar panels, just like our new Eastside School.”

Removing the trees, said Trendell, has opened up the Marshfield High School campus. “It was getting dark back there with needles and mildew,” he said.

The district plans on replanting that hillside now that the trees are gone. Trendell said the new trees won’t grow to the same size, but it will be a “pretty hillside when it’s said and done.”

Knife River Materials is grading the site where Harding Learning Center once stood. The company is putting in backfill, though no pilings.

“We got out of having to do pilings, because we’re building it back on the lot closer to the stadium,” Trendell said. “There is good soil and it doesn’t need to have pilings.

“It’s nice that we’re able to not put money into pilings and more money into the building itself.”

By May, Trendell said, the foundation should start going in. And by June or July, precast concrete walls will be put in place.

“It’s different from Eastside School,” he said, referencing the nearly finished elementary school that has also cost nearly $28 million. “(I)t ended up being cheaper for us to have the walls precast in concrete in Eugene and trucked down here. They will get them down and take a crane and tilt them in place.

“It’ll be exciting to watch and see walls actually go up this summer.”

A $59.9-million Coos Bay BEST Bond is giving the district renovations at most of its buildings, while the brand-new elementary school will open this fall and the new junior high in 2021.

“We know it’s a difficult time on a lot of people, but being able to get a glimpse of the future of what our schools will be … is something to look forward to,” said Trendell.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or by email at worldnews1@countrymedia.net. Follow her on Twitter: @je_wardwriter.

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