Graphic contributed by Hermiston School District
The Hermiston School District will add six temporary classrooms at Hermiston High School next month.
The classrooms will provide a stop-gap solution to the district’s rapid enrollment growth.
Although the district planned for more students, January enrollment almost doubled those predictions: The district forecast an increase of 112 students from January 2015 to January 2016, but actual enrollment came in at 212 more students over that time period.
Of district schools, Hermiston High School has the most students. The school’s current enrollment stands at 1,471; however, the senior class of 2016 has 289 students, and next year’s freshman class is expected to be about 375. Those extra 100 students could put the high school over its 1,600 student capacity — which does not include participants in the online and alternative school programs, who may use high school facilities.
Facing that crunch, the Hermiston School Board discussed the rental of three modular buildings that could each house two classrooms. Funded from the district’s general fund, the rental was expected to cost about $150,000 in its first year and $60,000 for any additional years. In the coming weeks, the three modular buildings will be erected between the HHS parking lot and the Weber Field parking lot. The classrooms will remove 21 parking spaces.
“The district is experiencing record student growth, and modular facilities are necessary to accommodate the added students,” said Mike Kay, district executive director of operations. “We realize the impact the buildings will have on parking and appreciate the patience and flexibility of our students, staff and community.”
The location of the classrooms had been used as a bus route. Traffic patterns within the parking lots will be rerouted for student safety.
All buses will enter in the northern First Street entrance and exit out the southern First Street driveway. The district asks parents dropping off students to enter from Highland Avenue and either drop students off in front of the school — exiting out the southern First Street exit — or on the southern side of the high school along Highland Avenue and exiting out the western Highland Avenue exit.
In addition to the traffic changes, the district will make the northern lot in front of the school available for staff only. Staff vehicles will be identified by a permit on the window. The staff parking lot is the most impacted by the traffic changes, and school staff arrive before and leave after peak bus traffic.
The handicapped, police and visitor parking spaces at the front of the school will remain unchanged, according to district staff. Students will be able to park in the Weber Field lot, in the southern lot in front of the building, and along Highland Avenue.
The district has stated it will place the classrooms during spring break to avoid summer construction impacts on high school graduation, the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo.