As of Wednesday, May 23, 2018
To the editor:
Here are three mistakes that we need to beware of as we start looking at a facilities plan for District 21.
The first mistake is to think that it is always cheaper to renovate than build new. When a building gets too old, replacing the plumbing, updating the electric service, creating an HVAC system and making the upper floors accessible for everyone ends up costing more than starting over.
Currently, Portland Public Schools is renovating several of their old high school buildings at a cost that is running $46 million over budget. This should be a warning for us because our high school was built-in 1941, 10 years before the high schools in Portland.
Portland Public Schools didn’t have much of a choice but to renovate because there are no large vacant spaces available in the city.
Fortunately, however, we do have room in The Dalles and we can even fit all the sports fields on the same campus.
The second mistake would be to build something that looks incredible but doesn’t work well. Several of our neighboring communities have recently built very functional new buildings where we can see tried and true school designs in service. So far, the planning process is going in the right direction. The design goals are a school that is safe, healthy, maintainable, a good place to learn and a resource for our community.
A third mistake would be to put off construction any longer. Patching up obsolete systems and adding on portable classrooms just puts off the inevitable day when what used to be good enough doesn’t work any more.
Of course, this will cost money. However, the only thing worse than paying taxes is paying even more taxes because the cost of construction increased while we were procrastinating. Let’s get started now and let’s do it right.