The Astoria School District's offices, currently located in the Northwest Regional Education Service District building on Marine Drive, will move to Capt. Robert Gray Elementary by the end of September or beginning of October.

The move is part of a district restructuring plan the school board approved last spring.

"It was always my plan to wait until after school was in session to start the move so there would be consistency with people being able to access the district offices and students and teachers," Superintendent Mike Sowder said.

Reports that the district renegotiated its rental contract with the ESD and plans to remain in the building are untrue, school officials said.

Some Gray parents had received information otherwise, and one district parent asked about the move's progress during Thursday's board meeting.

"We have not changed our plans to move," Sowder said.

Marilyn Lane, curriculum director and Gray School principal, said not moving was a possibility at one point.

"There was a point at which the ESD said, 'Gee, I wish you weren't leaving,'" Lane said. "It was a consideration."

Any such change would have needed approval from the school board, she said.

The issue has not been brought before the school board.

Lori Bettineski, ESD communications specialist, said the ESD board and its new superintendent, Jim Mabbott, will discuss the building's lease terms at the next ESD board meeting, Sept. 21.

"It's up in the air at this point and being considered by both (the Astoria and ESD) boards," she said.

However, Astoria School Board member Ken Chapman said the Astoria board has never formally discussed staying in the ESD building and, to his knowledge, the topic is not on future agendas.

"As far as I know, and as far as the board has discussed, we're still moving the offices to Gray," he said.

Chapman said the board is looking to save as much money as it can, and that the decision to move the offices to Gray was purely economic. He said that if the ESD offered the building to the district for free then leaders might take a look at it.

During the restructuring debate, the move was a point of contention among many parents because the elementary school was remodeled for students in 2003 as part of a taxpayer-approved $21.5 million bond measure.

Sowder has said he expects the move to save the district approximately $25,000 in yearly rental costs.

Gray, which houses all of the district's kindergarten students, is under continued construction to update the sprinkler systems in some areas, Sowder said.

He said that work will be completed before the district's staff moves in.


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