New school site still uncertain

By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

VALE – Despite representatives of the architects, the construction company and the Vale School Board in one room for discussions Monday, the final location of the new Vale Middle School remains unsettled.

Vale school officials requested Steele Associates Architects of Bend to study anew the placement of the new school. Presently, plans have been drawn up to build the new school on ground owned by the district behind the high school. The district requested a cost analysis for building on the existing middle school site.

Vale district voters passed a bond providing $8 million funding for the new school. The state matched an additional $4 million for a total budget of $12 million.

In the last few months, questions have arisen over the placement of the new school. Original plans were to place the school on land owned by the district behind the high school. Some have questioned the location, asking if the school could be built next to the existing middle school.

In a one-page document, Steele stated the old middle school site is much narrower and moving the site at this point would require a “partial to full redesign of the building.”

Scott Steele of Steele Associates said moving the building at this point would require new designs, new testing and surveys, and a plan to demolish the existing middle school.

He also warned changing locations could delay the project by up to one year.

“We have 15 to 20 architects working on the Vale project,” Steele said. “New reports would cost and with the budget we are working with, the school would end up being smaller.”

School Board member Jeff Mendiola said he has been approached by people in the community urging building next to the existing school.

“People don’t want 13- and 18-year olds together like that,” said Mendiola.

In response, Logan Hamilton, a member of the building committee, explained the location next to the high school was picked with an eye on the future.

“We want, somewhere down the road, the middle school to have programs like wood shop, auto shop or music and be able to share resources with the high school,” Hamilton said.

Vale School Board member Michael McGourty asked for a cost analysis of construction on the two sites.

Steele said he didn’t have those numbers, but could put together an analysis. He did warn about a delay this late in the process.

“The construction of the middle school could be delayed by probably one year if we change now,” said Steele.

After Vale School Board member Randy Seals also asked for firm numbers on the difference between the two sites, the school board decided to delay any action until its next meeting, two weeks away.