On February 9, 2016, our community approved a bond to address a growing student population and care for existing facilities. The ballot measure presented to the community was the product of more than a year’s worth of investment and outreach. A committee comprised of community members and district staff developed recommendations based on a review of existing facilities, enrollment forecasting, and educational programming. The committee shared ideas for the plans with the community and ultimately presented their recommendations to our school board for approval.
Bond Project Overview 2016
Projects Recommended by the FACTSS Committee:
- Build a new, standalone, 600 student capacity high school next to the CHS campus.
- Improve traffic around CHS by creating new entry points and traffic flow patterns for drivers, and increase parking capacity on campus.
- Replace the 50 plus years old Lacamas Heights Elementary with a larger new school north of Lacamas Lake near new housing developments.
- Purchase property for future schools.
- Improve student safety and security by remodeling the entry/office areas of Prune Hill Elementary, Dorothy Fox Elementary, Skyridge Middle School, Liberty Middle School, and Hayes Freedom High School.
- Improve student safety and security across the district by upgrading fencing, lighting, and security technology.
- Make repairs to major building systems such as roofing, flooring, HVAC, lighting, ADA access, and mechanical systems in schools throughout the district.
- Renovate Garfield Building to house community education programs and preschool programs.
- Restore historic Garver Theater within the Garver Building for community use and school performances.
Bond Questions explored by the FACTSS Committee with Updates
How will the Garfield Building be used?
It will be a versatile, mixed-use building for the community. Use would include district and community programming for ages 3 to adult, rental to outside organizations, and school and community performances.
Why renovate Garver Theater when it would cost about the same to build a new theater?
The Joyce Garver Theater is a treasured landmark in our community and was home to the first Camas High School. However, what some may not know is its acoustics are very high quality. Its use as a home for fine arts programs will pay tribute to its namesake and strengthen community bonds.
Planning for the Garfield Building/Garver Theater project will begin in the fall of 2018. It will be the last major project of the bond with a targeted completion date of fall 2020.
How will the old Lacamas Heights Elementary building be used?
The old elementary will be reconfigured and modernized for additional education opportunities, which could include robotics, science programs, and other extracurricular activities. The gym space will be maintained and available for school and community use.
A classroom pod at Lacamas Heights will be utilized as a home for the Camas High School program Integrated Arts & Academics beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The school has a few infrastructure upgrades that are needed which will be done in 2018-19 as well. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, two classroom pods will be used for district preschool programs. The gym will continue to be maintained and available for use.
Why not build a second, traditional, comprehensive high school? Is it because we don’t want separate sports teams?
The district currently doesn’t have enough student enrollment to support two comprehensive high schools that would offer the depth and variety of educational and extra-curricular opportunities our students now enjoy. Additionally, a comprehensive high school would require at least 50 acres of land, which the district hasn’t yet had the opportunity to purchase; however, property acquisition is a component of this bond. Also, if we built another high school, it would require all of this bonding capacity, which would make us unable to fund any other important needs throughout the district. Athletics played no role in the FACTSS Committee’s recommendation to build the smaller high school.
The district was able to purchase 80 acres from the Department of Natural Resources for $1 million. This site is located on the north side of the district and could be used for a future comprehensive high school.
Our district and community believe in extra-curricular learning opportunities beyond the school day. As schools of choice in our district, students from Hayes Freedom High and Discovery High will be able to access programs such as athletics and theatre through Camas High School. Each school will have their own clubs, activities, and student leadership opportunities. We have also expanded opportunities for students through our community education program including a new intramural sports program.
With the possible addition of a new high school, what are the current high school options for students?
Currently, students can select Hayes Freedom High School, a smaller learning community with a “block” schedule that allows for more time with fewer classes per grading period, or Camas High School, a comprehensive, traditional, model with a wide variety of courses and smaller programs within it. The smaller programs include the MST Magnet, with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and a research-based internship; Integrated Arts Academy, which has an integration of selected classes using visual and performing arts as a common theme; and Cam Tech, a program of study within Camas High School focused on career and technical education. This new high school, focused on project-based learning, would provide yet another option for students.
One of the goals of the bond was to purchase property for future schools. Originally, the project-based learning high school was to be built on property the district-owned adjacent to Camas High School. After those plans were made property became available on what used to be the Sharp Campus became available. The district went through a public process during the spring and summer to change the location for the school to that campus. The new high school, Discovery, is scheduled to be open in the fall of 2018.
What are the plans for accommodating middle school growth?
Middle school growth is projected to be significantly slower than high school and elementary growth over the next five years. However, we are in the early stages of addressing current overcrowding through learning opportunities in other locations.
A benefit to purchasing property from the Sharp campus was an existing building on the site. This 55,000 square foot building was converted to a project-based learning middle school, Odyssey. Students began attending Odyssey Middle School in the fall of 2016 with over 300 students planning to attend in the fall of 2018. The addition of the middle school was not in the original plans for the bond because the cost of a new middle school far exceeded bond capacity. Our district was very fortunate to add this resource for our students and community.
Will these projects eliminate the need for portable buildings?
The use of portable classrooms for instructional space will be reduced on the CHS campus, but as we continue to grow, portables could continue to be used to relieve overcrowding throughout the district.
There continues to be a need for portables across our district. As cohorts of students are added to Discovery High School the intent is to rely less on portables for our students.
Why are we spending money on turf and lighting for CHS?
The new secondary school will be located on the site of two CHS sports fields. The new turf will be installed in the baseball/softball fields and some surrounding area. This installation will replace the fields previously located at the new high school site. The addition of lights allows the fields to be used later in the day and several more months out of the year, which means the fields will be used more widely by schools and Community.
With the change of location of the new high school, Discovery, we have greater field capacity. We will review existing fields to determine the best placement of turf and/or lights.
What is the plan to address traffic and parking issues at CHS?
We are currently working with the City of Camas to develop the best traffic flow pattern for the high school. In addition, we have just completed a parking study and will be constructing two new lots; one will be completed next fall and will include an estimated 191 new student parking spaces, the other will be completed when the new school is constructed.
An additional parking lot and another entrance/exit to Camas High School were both completed and are in use.
A New High School, A New Way to Learn: Project-Based Learning
The world we are preparing students for is changing. After graduation, students will be asked to collaborate, create, design and problem-solve more than ever before. And because the world is changing, the learning experience of students must evolve as well. In Camas School District, we’re tackling changes head on—and leading our students into the future.
Addressing Growth While Enhancing Opportunity
No one can deny that we must address the growing population at Camas High School. In considering how to do this, the facilities committee discovered there was an opportunity to do more than just provide additional space: we found that creating a new secondary school gives us a chance to build on the success of our current models by developing another option for the students of Camas. Through in-depth research, intense analysis of data and statistics, numerous brainstorming sessions, consultation with nationally recognized education leaders, and conference with pioneering, high-achieving schools in our region, the facilities committee, and district team believe a solution is in sight.
Merits of Project-Based Learning
The new school will be centered on a powerful teaching and learning concept called “project-based learning.” Through project-based learning, students will acquire knowledge and skills by collaborating on complex questions, problems, and challenges, rather than largely independent work. Projects generally take place over an extended period of time, like a quarter or semester, rather than wrapping up in a single class period or two. Additionally, projects integrate multiple subject areas and address real-world problems. Instead of learning biology for one period and then moving on to math, students who are learning about colonization and migration patterns, for instance, might construct a model of a ship (art, math), compose a journal from the perspective of the fictional persons aboard the ship (literacy), and conduct experiments to determine the point at which seawater becomes drinkable (science). In this way, students are engaged, inspired, and invested in learning—together.
We envision that many of the projects undertaken will propel students to explore real-world problems such as improving water quality at Lacamas Lake or tackling traffic patterns in our growing community, ending in actual recommendations being proposed to a live city council or relevant organization. Beyond the projects, students will also have the opportunity to connect with our community through mentorships, partnerships, and internships, further enriching their learning experience. While students will experience more in-depth, hands-on learning, they will also experience traditional classroom instruction like taking notes, writing reports, and working math problems. Additionally, instructors will have the flexibility to adjust the daily schedule to ensure that the deep inquiry of project-based learning can take place.
Continuing a Legacy of Excellence
Make no mistake, students of this new secondary school will be held to the same high academic standards, participate in the same assessments, fulfill the same national and state requirements, and graduate with a “real” diploma—just like all of our high school students, wherever they are enrolled.
In the Camas School District, we are extremely fortunate to support our students with diverse academic and extra-curricular offerings led by world-class educators who are committed to preparing their students for the world, equipped, energized, and excited to take part. In turn, we are excited to add another choice to the menu of options available for our high school students and ensure that each student has the opportunity to thrive wherever their dreams take them, in their career, college, citizenship, and beyond.
With your support, this new secondary school will be open to any Camas students based solely on their interest in attending. If interest exceeds capacity, a fair system of enrollment will be developed. What’s more, because a great deal of the school’s focus and framework would be developed by its staff members, a team would begin planning and be making the school come to life during the time of construction, with a target opening in September 2018. We truly believe the possibilities are endless.
Bond = Building, Levy = Learning
A bond is a request by a school district of voters to sell bonds to raise cash for capital expenses, usually substantial projects. Bonds are the only means through which districts can build schools.
State matching funds help supplement local bond and capital levy dollars to build, remodel, and renovate K–12 schools. For example, if a district needs to build new school buildings and remodel others, voters are asked to approve a construction bond. The bond, once approved by voters, may be supplemented by state matching dollars to help the district fund facilities needed.
Only after a district passes its bond or capital levy is it eligible to apply for a matching grant from the state. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) approves projects and administers the state matching funds to K–12 school districts based upon a mix of factors, such as the need for space, building conditions, project timelines, as well as local and state funds available.