Public comment sought on Roosevelt designs

EUGENE, Ore. - Residents are being given an opportunity to comment on some new designs being proposed for the aging Roosevelt Middle School site.

Citizens are invited to comment on the new designs being released by the Eugene 4J School District.

In May 2013, Eugene voters approved a bond measure to support the school district's reconstruction and renovation of several schools:

- Roosevelt Middle School

- Howard Elementary School

- River Road Camino Del Rio Elementary School

- Arts & Technology Academy

Eugene 4J communications director Kerry Delf says these schools are about 60 years old.

Along with the replacement of the schools, the district will also be replacing technology, buying new school busses and updating outdated curriculum and learning materials.

There are five considered designs; most envision the new Roosevelt Middle School moving west of the current location.

Eugene 4J School District is also looking to make the middle school two stories.

Principal Chris Mitchell says safety, accessibility and efficiency are major concerns.

Built in the 1950's, the current building lacks a safe drop-off, pick-up location on 24thAvenue.

Mitchell says the visitor's parking lots are in the rear of the building, making it difficult to monitor who is coming in and out of the building.

"The main parking lot for visitors is in the back. It's very difficult to lock the school up during the day."

He says classrooms sit on long hallways, isolating students and faculty from one another.

Even though he's only been a principal at the middle school for two years, he says the main goal is to create a safer and better learning environment for its students, focusing on collaboration.

"The current building has supported an academic program for 60 years," he says. "But the new structure will support a great academic program and also be a state of the art facility for high efficiency, accessibility, safety."

More than 60 graduating classes have moved through the building.

"It's time to upgrade! I'm concerned about the safety of the building and of our students."

Of course, there is one more question. Will 4J share the site with a new YMCA?

Kerry Delf says it's a bit early in the discussion, but the district is interested in maintaining its relationship with the Y.

In February, the 4J School Board chose the City of Eugene over Eugene Family YMCA and Fred Meyer - Powell Development for the Civic Stadium site.

She says the district is also considering putting in athletic fields, to keep the site open for any future development on the site.

Delf says students are going to see a big difference after the new schools are built.

She says groundbreaking at the Roosevelt site may begin as early as 2015, with construction slated to start in the fall of 2016.

4J will continue to use the current Roosevelt Middle School building until the new building is opened.