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School district hires teams to complete Beaverton bond projects

$1.2 million in salaries part of $680 bond measure approved by voters in May


With large chunks of the $680 million Beaverton School District bond measure going toward the capital costs of construction, maintenance and various physical improvements, the funding also brings a new batch of employees on board to steer the projects to completion.

With 19 bond-measure project employees hired, the district will ramp that number to 29 as more capital improvement projects get underway in the next couple of years. The bond-management positions are covered by a total of $1.2 million in annual salaries derived from $20 million in the bond program budget to cover an eight-to-10-year period.

“Altogether, we’re implementing between 100 and 200 different projects,” said David Etchart, the district’s administrator for facilities development. “The short-term horizon is eight years, but may stretch into 10 years depending on how quickly they can address a project.”

The bond measure that district voters approved in May will cover building three new schools, replacing four schools, comprehensive building renovations, $98 million in building repairs and $56 million to update classroom technology.

With work winding down from two previous bond programs, the district is moving a few current managers over to cover the new projects, while hiring about 16 external employees. Several of those have had previous experience working with the district.

Bringing internal staff to manage the projects, which Etchart said worked well with previous bond cycles, also helps to keep costs down while enhancing continuity and familiarity with the district’s culture.

“We couldn’t hire anybody until the bond passed in May, so we’ve (recently) started hiring a few people externally,” Etchart noted. “A few people have come over from maintenance operations, and probably another two or three of those will come over, maybe a few more. The rest have been external hires, but within the community.”

One of those is Ryan Hendricks, who served as a Westview High School drama teacher from August 2010 to May 2012. He was invited back to the district for his extensive theater-design experience.

“We try to recruit people with the right skill set for the management functions,” Etchart said. “In Ryan’s case, he brings a deep understanding of theater design. He can help us with design as well as construction.”

About 10 hires include management or coordinator responsibilities, while others are in support staff roles.

The five project managers — and a sixth to be hired in the next budget cycle — will direct projects in a role comparable to a chief executive officer, with five project coordinators carrying out their directives.

Managers will cover several projects at once, except for the new high school planned for the South Cooper Mountain development area, which will have a dedicated manager, as will the middle school planned for 18 acres in the Timberland development near Southwest Cornell Road and 118th Avenue.

Scheduled to be completed in 2016, the middle school will initially serve as the temporary school building for the four schools planned for demolition and rebuilt one-by-one during the bond-measure work. When the replacements are completed, the building will become the district’s ninth comprehensive middle school.

The new South Cooper Mountain high school, planned for an area near Southwest Scholls Ferry Road and 175 Avenue, is scheduled to open by September 2017.

Although the bond measure passed in May, substantial work is already underway. New turf was installed at Aloha High School’s athletics field, and Sunset High School has a new roof just in time for rainy season.

“There’s quite a bit of activity going on,” Etchart said. “This spring (2015), it will intensify.”

During the winter, work will commence on repair projects with a focus on areas that are less intrusive to classes or student activity.

Etchart, who came on board in April 2013, said he enjoys the responsibility of moving district infrastructure to a new level while exercising fiscal responsibility in a still-uncertain economic recovery period.

“I’m feeling a lot of optimism,” he said. “I’m very pleased with my given responsibilities and the opportunity to fix a lot of the physical challenges the schools have in a sustainable way. We have to be really effective and do a great job with our community, because they trusted us.”

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