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Guest column: Astoria schools seek public input on facilities


Published on February 16, 2018 8:41AM

Astoria Middle School

Edward Stratton/The Daily Astorian

Astoria Middle School

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Astoria High School.

Wikimedia Commons Astoria High School.

Craig Hoppes

Craig Hoppes

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In our continued support of the Astoria School District’s mission, we are in the process of evaluating our school facilities.

The school district has received grants from the Oregon Department of Education to complete a facility assessment, long-range facility plan and an evaluation of seismic needs; the district began this evaluation process in August 2017. The district has hired BLR&B Architects to assist.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the Board of Directors approved a strategic plan in support of the school district’s beliefs, mission and goals. Staff and community members also created a mission statement, which is to prepare each student to his/her fullest potential for a life of learning, citizenship and work.

The strategic plan embodies six core beliefs — statements that school staff strongly believe in, and that guide the work we do with our students. One states that our schools will be a safe and healthy place for students to learn. This is a challenge in our district due to the age and architecture of many of our facilities. They were built with a different set of priorities, compared to the educational needs of today; 20 years ago, safety and security were not at the forefront of school-facility design.

Through the facility assessment process, we have learned the importance of every angle of school safety, and have made it a requirement to ensure our schools are a safe place for students to learn and for staff to work. We have also learned of the profound impact school facilities have on both staff and student outcomes. Facilities affect staff recruitment, retention, commitment and effort, and have been shown to affect student health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement. The school district is determined to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to teaching and learning in modern and safe facilities.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the architects from BLR&B have worked with school staff and a district facility committee of more than 30 community members, parents and staff to review education research concerning facilities and student learning, and to research our school facility security and current needs thoroughly.

As part of the charge, the district facility committee has created several guiding principles help guide the work of the committee and architects. They will help to evaluate the greatest facility needs and prioritize facility projects within the district.

Astoria School District Schools will:

• Be healthy environments that support physical, mental, and emotional wellness

• Be flexible and adaptable

• Be learner-centered environments

• Promote meaningful collaboration

• Celebrate the uniqueness of Astoria

In 2000, the Astoria community passed a bond for district facility upgrades; that bond ends in 2020. The school board will make a decision whether to pursue a new bond this spring. They will consider many factors when coming to this decision — the completed facility assessment, the long-range facility plan and recommendations from the district facility committee, as well as input from the community.

The board has placed a special emphasis on what the public thinks. There are two planned opportunities for you to attend, learn, and share your opinions about the district’s facilities.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, the school board and interested community members will tour school facilities as part of a special school board meeting. Attendees will take a look at Astoria High School and use district transportation to see Astor Elementary and Astoria Middle School. If you plan to attend, please meet in the library at Astoria High School at 5:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m., there will be a community facility engagement event at Astoria Middle School. The architects from BLR&B will provide a short presentation and lead a public discussion concerning our school facilities. As part of the event, the architects have planned a building tour. Dinner and child care is complimentary to all attendees.

All information will be available in English and Spanish at both events.

Our school facilities are an integral piece of student learning. It is vital that the district receives community input as we review our needs. I look forward to hearing from you on both Feb. 21 and 22.  

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the facilities, please call me at (503) 325-6441 or feel free to email me at

Craig Hoppes is superintendent of the Astoria School District.


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