The Ridgefield School District has acquired the site for its next school.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, board members approved the district’s purchase of 27 acres that will most likely be used for a new elementary school.
The property is located in the Claiborne Acres section of the city, south of Northeast 279th Street and east of North 65th Avenue. The property is on the northeast side of the city, just east of Clark County Fire & Rescue’s Station 21, 911 N. 65th Ave.
“There’s residential going in on that side of the city,” Superintendent Nathan McCann said. “Of available land in Ridgefield, we feel it’s some of the best available land in a part of the city we’re interested in.”
The district purchased the property for $2.2 million from the Gerald and Beverly Jones Trust. McCann said the property is currently an empty field.
The district plans to build a K-4 school, which is currently being designed, McCann said. The district plans to run a bond vote in the February 2019 election to pay for the school, with hopes of opening it in August 2020.
The district recently had a similar fast turnaround with the combined Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and replacement View Ridge Middle School 5-8 campus. Design work on the school started before the district ran a bond vote. When the $78 million bond vote was passed in February 2017, constructions started soon after. The new 5-8 campus opened for the start of this school year.
McCann said he expects the school board to hold a vote on Nov. 27 on whether to put a bond issue on the February 2019 ballot. Earlier this year, McCann said if another bond is up for vote, it would most likely be less than the 2017 bond.
Ridgefield has been rapidly growing in recent years, and was named the fastest-growing city in the state by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year. According to the Census data, Ridgefield’s population grew 13 percent between 2016 and 2017. The city earned a similar distinction from 2013 to 2014.
To deal with that growth, the district shuffled some building configurations around this school year. With the opening of the new 5-8 campus, South Ridge Elementary School and Union Ridge Elementary School both became K-4 schools instead of also housing fifth-graders. McCann said Union Ridge is still full, with an enrollment of 793 as of Oct. 1. South Ridge’s enrollment as of Oct. 1 is 481 students, McCann said.
“Most of our growth is happening near South,” McCann said. “Opening Sunset Ridge helped out South a lot.”
In previous years, South Ridge’s enrollment was around 800, just like Union Ridge. Sunset Ridge’s enrollment is at 540 as of Oct. 1, while the replacement View Ridge has an enrollment of 462 during that same time period, giving the district’s newest campus an enrollment of 1,002. The 5-8 campus has a capacity of roughly 1,200 students. Ridgefield High School’s enrollment as of Oct. 1 was 875.
The district is currently working on expanding the high school as part of the 2017 bond, and this next phase of work could also include more expansion. One plan by the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee calls for the 200 Building to be razed and replaced with a two-story building. It would be the first two-story building at Ridgefield High School, and could increase its capacity by 400-500 students.
If the bond is put up for vote, it could also include money to construct covered play areas at each of the elementary schools and safety upgrades throughout the district. This is the third phase in the district’s four-phase plan to deal with growth. The first phase was the 2012 bond issue, which allowed the district to add classrooms and services to the high school, Union Ridge and South Ridge. Phase II was the 2017 bond issue, and Phase IV would increase K-12 capacity by possibly building a new K-4 school, 5-6 and 7-8 buildings and a small specialty or alternative high school.