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Aug. 15, 2022

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Mountain View High School construction to be complete in time for fall classes

By , Columbian staff writer
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Sean Walker, senior project manager for general contractor Skanska, right, leads a tour of the new Mountain View High School building on Tuesday morning. Evergreen Public Schools is rebuilding the school as part of the last phase of construction initiatives in its 2018 bond measure.
Sean Walker, senior project manager for general contractor Skanska, right, leads a tour of the new Mountain View High School building on Tuesday morning. Evergreen Public Schools is rebuilding the school as part of the last phase of construction initiatives in its 2018 bond measure. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

With little more than a month left before 2022-2023 school year, major construction at Mountain View High School in east Vancouver is moving rapidly.

“It’s nothing but a stress-free situation for us,” joked Sean Walker, the senior project manager for the rebuild, as the noise of backhoes and construction equipment drowned out his voice.

The new school is expected to be complete in time for the first day — a highly anticipated opening for a school community that’s dealt with the noise and lackluster visuals of the project since the summer of 2020.

With an estimated capacity of 2,000 students, Mountain View will retain its position as the second-largest high school in Evergreen Public Schools.

Security is a top priority for the new school. It will have a single point of entry and a clearly marked front office near the door.

“The original Mountain View was a California-style, open concept school — meaning individual buildings with lots of separate entrances,” said Sue Steinbrenner, Evergreen’s executive director of facilities. “The main office was in the heart of campus, so you’d have to walk all the way through the buildings to get there.”

Mountain View’s new main entry features a wide hall flanked by administration and counseling offices, then spills into a large open space that will serve as the school’s new commons and cafeteria. Previously, the school was a one-story building and didn’t feature such a large space for students.

During a recent tour, a small army of workers fastened handrails on the staircase, transported appliances and laid flooring — largely cosmetic work that will dominate the last few weeks of the project.

“We’re in the final 10 percent of this phase of construction. You have to remember we started all this two years ago,” Walker said. “The classroom wing is just about good to go.”

Pasted on doors throughout the site are QR codes that link to a constantly updated informational database that displays what’s needed for the variety of tasks going on at any given time.

“There’s so much to do throughout the building and we have so many workers coming in and out and subbing for one another,” Walker said. “With the codes you can have someone new walk in and know exactly what there is to do.”

Integrated technology, revamped spaces

The new Career and Technical Education wing of the school features wood and metal workshops, as well as outdoor learning spaces and a greenhouse.

“I’m looking forward to the new spaces,” said Luis Avila, a construction intern helping on the project and a soon-to-be senior at Mountain View. Last year, he and his friends would look through the chain link fence at the construction, he said.

Throughout the school, screens will display information: what’s for lunch, today’s bell schedule and upcoming events. The content will be moderated by administrators in cooperation with the Associated Student Body.

On the third floor is a lounge with soft seating and furniture for students — featuring a view of Mount Hood and the surrounding terrain.

“Mountain View actually has a mountain view now,” joked district spokesperson Craig Birnbach, remembering how even on sunny days the old single-story building offered limited views of Oregon’s tallest peak.

District officials and project contractors are hoping to seek occupancy permits from the city of Vancouver as soon as possible, with the hope of teachers and administrators moving in by the last week of August.

Demolition of the existing school building — which held Mountain View students until the final day of school last month — will be completed by Labor Day.

By New Year, the footprint of the old building will be repurposed as a parking lot and baseball fields.

The 2018 bond’s final stretch

The rebuild is part of Evergreen’s $695 million capital facilities bond passed by voters in 2018. Combined with matching funds from the state, the renovations and rebuilds throughout Evergreen cost a little more than $800 million.

The last of the 2018 bond projects are expected to be completed by 2024. A rebuilt Wy’east Middle School and an addition to Heritage High School are expected to be done in time for the upcoming school year.

“We’re really getting down toward the end of this bond project,” said Steinbrenner, the facilities director. “It’s a huge relief in our office. Had we waited to do the design on this project, I don’t think we would have been able to get it done in this timeline.”

Steinbrenner said Evergreen managed to avoid supply chain issues following the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Due to private jobs being shut down and utilizing hard-bidding to maintain project costs, they were able to avoid any critical issues in cost and time. Glass, however, proved to be an issue — something that was cited by other project leaders in construction throughout Clark County.

“It’s super-exciting to be at this point,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s been a rewarding project. I can’t wait to see how people are going to react to it in the fall.”

A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for Aug. 26.

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