Woodland has site, considers high school

District will pick committee to study issues of cost, size

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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The Woodland School District chose a 40-acre location off Dike Access Road to be the site of its new high school during its Monday meeting.

Now for the hard part: Figuring out how to pay for it.

A soon-to-be selected ad hoc committee will study and then make recommendations to the school district on what the new high school would cost, how many students it would serve and the size and expandability of facilities such as offices, library and gym, superintendent Michael Green said.

The district hopes to bring a bond before residents in the near future, but when that might happen depends on what the committee tells the school board, Green added.

Woodland High School suffers from a lack of classroom space and inadequate other facilities, such as its gym, at its current campus on 757 Park Ave, officials said. Population growth in the district over the past 20 years has stretched the building far past the uses for which it was intended, Green said.

“It’s been updated, but it’s still a 1950s building,” the superintendent said, explaining that roughly one in four classes at Woodland High is taught in portable classrooms.

During the first-day assembly in the gym, students had to stand along the walls because there was not enough space in the stands, Green noted. The school, which teaches grades 9-12, has around 600 students.

Woodland voters passed a $3.75 million bond in 2005 to purchase land with the intention of building a new high school. The district bought land off Dike Access Road after doing soil and traffic studies.

Voters narrowly rejected a similar bond in spring 2008 that would have gone toward building a high school. It remains to be seen whether the district can convince voters a new high school is needed.

Low interest rates and construction costs make now the ideal time to build a new high school, officials said.

Paul Cline, the chairman of the ad hoc committee, taught music and band at Woodland High for 30 years. The need for a new high school became more and more evident as the years passed, he said.

The rest of the ad hoc committee will likely consist of two directors and nine representative members, including businesspeople, parents and school boosters, according to the school board’s resolution for the site.

“There’s a lot of questions — more questions than answers at this point,” Cline said. The committee’s mission, he added, was to give the school board “a clearer direction, wants and needs.”

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.