School district leases building

INDEPENDENCE -- Central School District will lease classroom space inside the Oregon Childhood Development Coalition's facility on G Street in 2006-07.

Move keeps Henry Hill operational

INDEPENDENCE -- Central School District will lease classroom space inside the Oregon Childhood Development Coalition's facility on G Street in 2006-07.

The move will help alleviate overcrowding issues that could have prevented the district from opening Henry Hill Elementary School in September, Superintendent Joseph Hunter said.

Officials have also discussed the possibility of acquiring the building from the not-for-profit organization, which administers care and education programs for low-income and migrant worker families, in the next couple of years. (See Related Story.)

"It's huge for us," Hunter said. "It's on the same campus; the kids can walk there through a breezeway.

And, he added, "It means we don't have to look at boundary changes, putting in modular classrooms or any of those complications."

OCDC director Donalda Dodson said her organization was open to the deal because its Head Start program for migrant workers slows considerably during the months outside of the summer harvest season.

Officials commissioned an analysis in 2005 of the district's facilities and enrollment. The district is expected to grow by 80 students annually during the next 10 years. Independence Elementary School and Central High School already exceed capacities by 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively, the study said.

Hunter said Henry Hill needed additional rooms to meet projected enrollment growth this year.

There were 252 K-4 students at the school in 2004. More than 300 are expected this fall.

Hunter said the district is still negotiating a lease price, but said it would be "phenomenally more affordable than buying portables (classrooms)."

Doing that would cost more than $80,000 for a pair of portable units, and another $40,000 to build the concrete pad to site them and move the units into place.

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