PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the start of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Scappoose built a schoolhouse. Ninety-two years later, Scappoose children still rely on the building to receive a middle school education.

Nearly 100 years later, Scappoose voters will decide if they should spend $110 million to replace the Depression-Era building, which has become a major safety concern. Scappoose School District Superintendent Tim Porter told KOIN 6 News that the school still uses its original boiler system, doesn’t meet modern earthquake standards, has an inadequate fire sprinkler line and contains enough asbestos to warrant serious safety procedures for minor repairs.

“In a building that old, there are a lot of [problems],” Porter said. “One of the major ones is heating. The boiler is basically as old as the building. Sometimes that doesn’t work. A couple of times each winter it goes out and that leaves the classrooms pretty darn cold. There’s no air conditioning inside the building.”

A computer rendering of the new building proposed for Scappoose Middle School. (Scappoose School District.)

In response to these issues, Scappoose residents have been given the option to vote on Measure 5-296 in the Nov. 7 Special Election. If passed, the general obligation bond would tax property owners an additional $1.22 per thousand dollars of assessed property value per year for the next 30 years. The bond would be tacked onto the city’s existing bond passed in 2008.

Roughly $87 million of the $110 million generated by the bond would go toward the building of a new middle school in an empty field behind Scappoose High School. The rest of the funds, Porter said, would go toward district-wide asbestos abatement and increased educational opportunities for district students. 

The new school would also allow the district to change its structure and include 6th grade students in its middle school system. Currently, the school holds 312 7th and 8th grade students. If the measure passes, the new school would house around 450 students.

If a new schoolhouse is built, Porter told KOIN 6 News that there are no plans to destroy the current building. Instead, the City of Scappoose is expected to consider the building as a new location for its city hall.