BAKER — The Baker School Board got a look at architectural plans Tuesday night for a new, scaled-down high school to replace 50-year-old Baker High, which was damaged in the historic 2016 flooding.
Construction should begin by the end of the year with the goal of the new school being ready for students by fall 2021, Manning Architects representative Jonathan House told the board.
Since the flood, Baker High students have been attending classes at Baker Middle. Middle school students occupy the Bakerfield Elementary campus, and Bakerfield and Baker Heights share the Baker Heights campus.
The new school will be smaller than the old Baker High, which was built to accommodate 1,500 students. Baker High currently has about 563 students, and the plans call for the new school to hold 675.
The old school was 163,000 square feet and consisted of 16 permanent buildings, a central plant and four modular buildings.
Plans for the new school call for one large, new central building containing a cafeteria, classrooms and labs.
The new building will be connected to the old building containing the old gymnasium, locker rooms, media center, administration, special education area and weight room. A courtyard will connect the new building to the athletic area and a planned new concession stand.
McConnell Auditorium, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Eskridge Shop Building, the Fieldhouse Building and the Griffin Building will remain standing, along with the gym.
The other old Baker High buildings will be torn down.
All of the old buildings slated to be kept will be renovated and will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, House said.
The new building will be built 4 feet higher than grade to make it less likely to flood than the old buildings, and landscaping and other site adjustments will also be made to minimize the chances of the school flooding again, House said.
Last month, the district received word that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two loans totaling $14.6 million to rebuild the school.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also approved $5 million for school repairs as well as $1.2 million to be used for building contents, including furniture and other supplies.
Former Baker City Councilman Robert Young voiced concern Tuesday that the plans call for only one gym, which he said could cause scheduling issues between girls and boys sports.
Having two gyms could also bring in extra revenue, since it would allow for more tournaments to be held at the school, he said.
“We don’t want to be taking a step backwards,” he said. “The old school had two gyms.”
In other business, the board conducted in a closed door session the annual performance review for Superintendent Herman Brister, who has led the Baker school system since 2015. After the review, Board President Shona Boxie reported that Brister received a rating of “above expectations.”