COOS BAY — Eastside School is the first new and improved building for the Coos Bay School District.
The BEST Bond project, approved at $59.9 million in 2017, took its first visual step forward when the old Eastside Elementary was demolished. Since then, over 100 pilings have been driven into the ground and a new foundation is now being poured.
“We’re on schedule,” said Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “Once that foundation is down, things will move quickly and walls will go up. It will start getting exciting.”
Right now, the plan is to open the new elementary school in the fall of 2020. It will house every student and staff member from Blossom Gulch Elementary, which will be left behind for storage and some community events. The urgent need to remove people from that school is what put the Eastside School at the top of the BEST Bond list.
Blossom Gulch is located in the tsunami inundation zone, not to mention that it is sinking. For years, the district and staff have fought the shifting foundation, fixed stairs that separated from the ground, and worked around the slanted hallways and tilted floors.
“This new school will have all the state-of-the-art technology and wiring, wireless ports, everything that is current and needed,” Trendell said. “Technology changes so we will have wiring ready for when that happens so we can adapt as time goes on.”
Teachers who got used to taping down extension cords along the floors in their classrooms will now enjoy having quality technology access in every classroom. There will also be better lighting, ventilation, and heating.
“We will also have solar panels to provide solar power as well,” Trendell said. “This is a state-of-the-art elementary school as far as what’s being built around the state right now. It’s going to be nice to move into and the kids are going to enjoy it, I think.”
As exciting as it is for Trendell to talk about the new amenities at Eastside School, personally he said he is most looking forward to the improved safety both staff and students will have at the new location.
“Back when our buildings were built in the 1950s and 1960s, they didn’t think about what we do now,” he said. “There were multiple doors built to the outside. You look at Blossom Gulch and there is a door to the outside in every classroom.”
At Eastside School, there will just be the main entrance that is controlled.
Though teachers will have to adjust from working in a dated, sinking building to the newest and brightest in the district, Trendell said it does lack the “bells and whistles” other school districts are putting into new schools.
“But those additions end up being outdated and not used as much as you might think, but sure look nice,” he said. “We went with functional things in this new building. Don’t get me wrong, it will look beautiful, but our goal was something functional and that’s what it will be.”
When the school is finished in the summer of 2020 and teachers start moving in before the first school year at the new location, Trendell said it is an exciting but anxious time.
“Any time you move your classroom, speaking from experience, it is nerve wracking,” he laughed. “It’s a lot of work, but there’s also a ton of excitement because this is a new facility. It is a little sad to leave an old building that’s been around the district forever, but it’s time. It’s past time to have these new facilities and we feel fortunate that the community passed the bond.”
For Trendell, watching the progress at Eastside has been both busy and exciting. He plans on spending much of this summer checking up on the progress as Eastside goes up by meeting with contractors and the construction management team.
“Integrity Management Solutions have been a great asset for us and Chambers Construction has been great to work with,” Trendell said. “We also got a lot of local folks doing some plumbing, electrical, concrete and foundation work, so we’re pleased about that.”
Once Eastside School is finished, Trendell said there will be a ribbon cutting and grand opening for the public to view before school begins at the new facility.
“I’m looking forward to being around to finish all these projects and see things our community invested in before passing the baton,” Trendell said. “I will be on into retirement when these buildings are functional, but I want to see this project through and be able to say our district is in great shape. That was a goal of mine coming into this job to pass a bond and upgrade our facilities. We’re seeing that through.”
Though he isn’t sure when retirement will happen, he did express how grateful the district is to the community to allow these projects to happen.
“Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said. “They will be great schools.”