Families tour restored Marysville School

Ravaged by fire three years ago, see why parents are enthusiastic about their neighborhood school’s reopening …

1st Grader Bao Troung checks out a new high tech drinking fountain at Marysville School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
First grade student Bao Troung doesn’t remember the fire that tore through Marysville Elementary School in the Foster-Powell Neighborhood three years ago. Nor does he remember the school district’s continued grousing that a failed bond measure prevented Portland Public Schools (PPS) from completely rebuilding the entire school.

“It’s like it’s all new,” Troung told East Portland News as he checked out the high-tech drinking fountain in a once-charred hallway during a “walkthrough” on December 8. “I’m happy I’ll be going to school here. It’s close to home.”

Project Manager Michelle Platter takes leads a tour through the soon-to-reopen Marysville School.

Looking over a classroom, parent Phil Barrows said, “We’ve got one who’s been going to Rose City Park all this time; and two more kids who will be come here. It will be really nice to have our school back again, in our neighborhood.”

> See our story about the November, 2009 fire: CLICK HERE.

Christine Gilman leads a tour of parents and kids through the rebuilt halls of Marysville School.

On hand to answer questions at this casual open house was PPS Director of Capital Operations, School Modernization Jim Owens.

Owens began by recounting how the school district would have completely rebuilt the school from the ground up, had it not been for a bond measure’s failure.

“They looked at moving to the Kellogg school, but in public meetings, it became clear that the community wished to return to Marysville School,” Owens said.

Although the insurance proceeds paid to restore the burned part of the school, “There’s also a relatively small [financial] contribution through the district to bring the science classrooms up to district standards, so we brought in some extra power supply, some new lab tables, provide some utility support to the space. The Technology Lab was converted, providing a configuration for students to use for using computers.”

One of the concerns by teachers and parents, Owens said, was that the old and new sections of the school would be significantly different.

> See our 2010 article: “Deconstructing Marysville School: Preserving the past, for use in the future”: CLICK HERE.

Instead of bulldozing the destroyed sections of the building, workers took meticulous care to remove and preserve undamaged doors, molding, window frames, built ins, and other features that were originally installed when the school was built in 1921.

“I think the project team was able to connect the old and new together very well,” Owens commended. “I know the principal and teachers who been to the school say they feel that what was accomplished was definitely consistent with what they were expecting.”

Once ravaged by a multi-alarm blaze, Marysville School is set to open next week.

Reactivating a facility after being dormant for three years was particularly challenging, Owens said. “And, it was also the most rewarding, from the point of being able to put solutions in place and complete construction on time, on budget and at our specified quality.”

Following the Holiday break, students will be welcomed back to Marysville on Monday, January 7th.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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