Eastside School Construction

A contractor works framing interior walls at the future Eastside School in Coos Bay in February.

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COOS BAY — Not every student from Blossom Gulch Elementary will be transferred to the new Eastside School in the fall.

The new elementary school is slated to be completed this summer, built with part of the $59.9 million Coos Bay BEST Bond approved by voters in 2017. Its main reason for construction was to get students out of Blossom Gulch Elementary, which is sinking little by little every year and causing major structural issues.

At the end of the current academic school year, Blossom Gulch was home to 600 students from kindergarten through third grade.

However, Eastside will only be able to house around 380 students, said Bryan Trendell, superintendent of the Coos Bay School District.

The remaining students will be sent to Madison Elementary in Empire. Meanwhile, all third graders will either go to Millicoma School, situated next to Eastside, or to Sunset School near Madison Elementary.

“We already had boundaries for Sunset and Millicoma (schools),” Trendell said, referring to lines in the district that determine which buildings children attend.

He explained that in the past, after students moved on from Blossom Gulch, some would go to Millicoma and a few always went to Sunset due to that boundary being different than the elementary school boundaries.

“Now we are essentially two campuses on either side of town," he said.

Because third graders will no longer be in the district's elementary schools after this year, Trendell estimates that roughly 75 students from Blossom Gulch will move on to Madison Elementary in the fall.

Meanwhile, Eastside will open with 380 students from Blossom Gulch.

“We communicated with families upfront,” Trendell said of the school boundary change, which was decided just before the pandemic shut schools down two months ago. “Starting next (school) year, the zone will be straight down the middle — an east side and a west side.”

Trendell acknowledged that some families will want to be part of the new school in Eastside, with a few having put in for an out-of-zone transfer request. All applications were due May 20 last week and will be looked at in June. If any meet the transfer criteria, they will be granted. That criteria includes educational or medical reasons for the transfer.

“There will be some disappointed families that wanted to go to the new school in the fall who are in the west side, but we can’t overload Eastside and Millicoma with kids,” he said. “There is a capacity and so we will do our best to maintain that. There are great things on the west side too. I recognize the new school is a shiny new object drawing everyone’s attention, but it’s not built to accommodate everyone at Blossom Gulch.”

On Wednesday morning, Trendell visited the Eastside School construction site to help make decisions regarding flooring in the common area and in some first floor classrooms.

“Eastside is going along on schedule and looking good,” he said of the visit. “We’re anxious to get the keys turned over to us in the middle of summer and get furniture moved into classrooms. ... There might be some folks that are maybe thinking they were going to Eastside because they were already at Blossom Gulch, but that’s not going to happen. The new boundary had to be drawn.”

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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