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home : education : schools January 17, 2018

11/21/2017 12:26:00 PM
Citizens question new school bus facility
The size and location of a proposed bus barn at Sisters High School has raised concerns from some citizens.
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The size and location of a proposed bus barn at Sisters High School has raised concerns from some citizens.
By Sue Stafford

A new transportation facility is slated to replace the aged bus barn housed at Sisters Elementary School. Monies received from a state matching grant to the district will fund the project, utilizing approximately half of the $4 million windfall.

There is general agreement among Sisters School District personnel and the community that a new transportation facility is needed. What seems to be open to scrutiny by some community members is the location and safety of the planned facility.

According to site plan documents submitted by the school district to the City of Sisters planning department, the enclosed area, most of it in chain-link fence, is 270 feet in length from west to east and 175 feet wide from north to south.

The metal building is 10,356 square feet, larger than the current 10,160 square foot Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) building, and 38 feet high at the highest point. It would face in toward the student parking lot. The site plan shows removal of 23 ponderosa pine and juniper trees along the southern edge, including some in the Hyzer Pines disc golf area, to be replaced with a chain link fence.

The gated compound would be situated 310 feet from the scenic McKenzie Byway, Highway 242, with the backside and bus parking area clearly visible from the scenic byway.

The traffic flow for student drivers, visitors to SPRD and its bike and skate parks, the disc golf course, deliveries, and users of the sports fields will be required to negotiate a revamped traffic pattern that some citizens think might prove confusing.

Technical education students attending classes in the new transportation facility would be required to cross multiple active traffic lanes.

The site plan includes 23 spaces for buses and 15 regular vehicle spaces. The building would include a 2,808-square-foot transportation shop with tool storage, a 1,086-square-foot fabrication shop with a tool room and two restrooms, an 815-square-foot classroom and a 731-square-foot training room. A district shipping and receiving department would occupy 1,121 square feet, creating more traffic in and out of the new facility.

Other spaces provide for a transportation office, secured storage, custodial storage, key and parts storage areas, staff workroom, mechanical room, and two staff restrooms.

The complex would require the removal of parking spaces from the south side of the student parking lot, requiring construction of a new student parking section of 78 spaces north of the existing lot.

School district leaders have indicated they are working from an old plan, and may consider updating the overall vision for an education campus that includes plans for a new elementary school building near the high and middle schools.

The funds from the matching grant don't need to be obligated until August 2019, which would provide adequate time to revisit the education campus plan before proceeding with the currently proposed transportation facility, perhaps allowing for a different location to be found.

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