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4J Seeks Input on Facilities

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EUGENE, Ore. — The 4J School District says it’s time for serious discussions about updating not just its long-term facilities plans, but the facilities themselves.

The district will hold the first of four community forums Thursday night to talk about the issue. The district says many of its buildings are really starting to get worn out. And while they still function as schools, they aren’t doing so, as best as they could be.

“The average age of our school buildings is about 56 years old,” said 4J spokesperson Kerry Delf.

Built in 1949, Howard Elementary School is 63. But don’t let the age fool you, it’s actually a technology immersion school.

“We have 21st technology here in the building, but a 19, 20th century building that we’re trying to do it in,” said Allan Chinn Howard, Howard Elementary School Principal.

The keyword here is “trying”.

“Cords are strung across classrooms for kids to be using laptops,” Howard said.

Cords are also across the ceilings and on the desks to keep everyone connected. Howard’s dark, segmented classrooms are a stark contrast to the recently built Bertha Holt Elementary on the other side of town.

“It was exciting to be able to design a school that addressed the educational needs of the current world as opposed to the needs 50 years ago,” said Kevin Boling, Bertha Holt Elementary School Principal.

Time has shown that things such space and even natural light make a difference on how effectively children can learn. Classrooms fitted with glass windows and pullout teaching areas facilitate collaborative learning between students and teachers. Holt’s building is also designed to keep kids safe. Despite its many doors, there’s one entrance for guests.

At Howard, fences were put up to keep the grounds closed, but despite efforts to maintain these old campuses, staff say it may be time to start fresh.

“We have done all sorts of retrofits, and there’s really not much more you could do to upgrade this building to bring it to where it should be,” Chinn said.

The first of the four meetings will be Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Cesar Chavez Elementary cafeteria at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it, you can check out the online input form by clicking here.

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