MYRTLE POINT — The condemned half of Myrtle Point Junior and Senior High School is going to be demolished.
“The school board decided there will be no work on the condemned part of the high school,” said Nanette Hagen, superintendent of the Myrtle Point School District. “It will be demolished and shored up so school can start in the fall.”
The crumbling 1920s half of the building has “creep cracks” that can’t be fixed and are believed to have been caused by a change in soil composition. The district was told by surveyors that the cracks would continue to grow until collapse, which led to closing that part of the high school permanently just before summer began last year in what Hagen described as “Phase One” of the crises.
Phase Two is demolition.
“At some point we do need to rebuild that facility in a full capacity, but part of what we’re dealing with is the district is bonded out until 2033 and that makes it difficult to think about how to pay for that,” Hagen said. “That is the struggle right now.”
The bond that the district is already collecting on is from 2013. The bond has paid for seismic upgrades, new flooring and lighting on the 1950s portion of the high school, the half that is still operational.
“The bond gave a general facelift on the newer portion of the high school,” Hagen explained. “Nothing was done on the other side of the building because it was determined then to be near the end of its life.”
She explained that the board made the decision to demolish the crumbling half of the school now before it does damage to the portion of the high school still in operation.
“The board, rightfully so, are concerned about the structure and its integrity,” Hagen said. “They don’t want to get to a place where it is so structurally unsound that it damages the building that has been seismically upgraded.”
Now, the district has brought on a surveyor to gather details needed for the architectural firm to finish its drawings. The district will then open up for bids and award the project to a contractor in April. Hagen said that the district hopes that by April 20 fencing can start being put up and debris removed.
Operating without half a school
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The condemned portion of MPHS contains the cafeteria, library, woodshop, print shop, as well as several classrooms and restrooms. It also is the location for the boiler room and utilities for the rest of the building.
“HGE is did a walk through recently over winter break and saw that the electrical portion of the utilities comes into a different area than the water and natural gas,” Hagen said, meaning that the boiler room structure will be maintained rather than demolished. “We will remove the two decrepit boilers we’re not using, potentially add laundry services and put in a new electrical panel.”
In total, the electrical work will cost $200,000.
Hagen has applied for several grants, though is looking at career pathway dollars and Measure 98 dollars to help pay for the new metal shop and woodshop building that was constructed after that part of the high school was condemned. She has also applied for a Career and Technical Education revitalization grant that she hopes will help reimburse the district’s capital funds for the metal shop and woodshop building, while also leaving some capital dollars “to do our pre-demolition work in this current fiscal year,” she said.
“The bulk of the cost for demolition comes from the student investment account dollars, from the Student Success Act for year one,” she said. “We will do what we can afford this year before July 1 and when those funds come through after July 1 the abatement will start.”
The district’s goal is to have the demolition project done by Aug. 22, giving two weeks of extra time in case it goes longer than planned or something else comes up before school starts Sept. 8.
Though the new metal shop and woodshop building is expected to be finished in the next few weeks, the district had to shuffle students around to accommodate the missing facilities in the condemned part of the high school. The library was moved to the building under the bleachers while the cafeteria and some classrooms were moved to the Davenport Building on the Coos County Fairgrounds.
Hagen said she sees this setup lasting for as long as needed.
“The county has said we can have an annual lease for four years or beyond if we need it (at the Davenport Building),” Hagen said. “I’m working on a technical assistance program grant with the state for dollars to do a long-range planning and facility needs assessment, which will tell us the state of our district and what we really need based on our programs and enrollment.”
From that assessment, it would determine what a new building would look like to replace what is being demolished. If that does happen, sometime down the road when the district has more funds, Hagen said the process would be “very community-oriented.”
“We want to thank the commissions, fair board and contractors who have been great to work with so far,” Hagen said. “I’m excited to see what the process of the long-range planning looks like for the district.”