Since Vancouver voters approved a bond measure in 2017, every school in VPS has been or is currently being upgraded. Here are a few recent highlights as remodeling and construction continue throughout the district.
New Jim Tangeman Center
This summer, staff members from the current Fir Grove/Vista are moving into the new building on Norris Road and 18th Street. Among the amenities of the new center are two enclosed learning courtyards, a school garden, media center, fitness area, Family-Community Resource Center and individual and small group rooms. The school also is undergoing a name change. The new facility will welcome students in fall 2021 as the Jim Tangeman Center. The late Dr. Tangeman was a respected, longtime VPS administrator and advocate for students with special needs and their families.
The new Jim Tangeman Center
Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
Remodeling and expansion work are underway at VSAA. Highlights of the improvements include a two-story addition that will accommodate 200 more students, a new commons area and black box theater, six new classrooms, a new entry off of the courtyard, increased parking, new points of entry and exit to allow for better traffic flow around school, a dedicated dropoff lane and a new quarter-mile paved walking path with ADA access. Pending any unforeseen construction delays, students and staff will begin using the addition in late 2021 or early 2022.
New Walnut Grove Elementary
Construction of the new Walnut Grove Elementary is nearing completion. Staff will move into the two-story building later this summer, and the school will open in fall 2021. Highlights of the new facility include approximately 40 classrooms; a Family-Community Resource Center located near the main entrance; spaces for creative movement, music, art, performances and fitness; areas for projects and hands-on activities; and a large central staircase for presentations and learning activities. The building also features a secure entrance and courtyard as well as a larger parking lot with expanded space for dropoff and pickup.
The new Walnut Grove Elementary
Work on the stadium includes seismic upgrades, a secondary press box, improvements to the existing seating and new visitor bleachers. These upgrades are expected to be finished by the end of August. A new fieldhouse also is planned for Kiggins Bowl. The fieldhouse will add a secondary concession stand, public restrooms and rooms for teams and officials. A second phase of the project will include the creation of a new track and synthetic turf field just north of Kiggins Bowl. Work is expected to begin this summer.
Columbia River High School
Construction work is in progress to upgrade Columbia River High School with a new 500 wing. The work will expand the school’s capacity for 200 more students. New classroom spaces also will be added into the existing building, and construction of a new 800 wing will start later this summer. Additional upgrades include improvements to the parking area, sealing the exterior brick and securing the entrance. The school’s stadium will be restored and receive new seating and restrooms.
The new 500 wing at Columbia River High School
The current Lieser Campus, home to programs that serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade, will move to the former site of Marshall Elementary, on MacArthur Boulevard. Moving is expected to take place over winter break 2021. The former Marshall building is being updated and will be renamed Heights Campus. The new name reflects the location in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood and the school’s commitment to helping students reach new heights of personal achievement. The Early Childhood Evaluation Center will move to the former site of one of McLoughlin Middle School’s pods. The pod is being renovated. Staff will move in this winter.
New elementary schools
Vancouver, Innovation, Technology and Arts Elementary School and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary (pictured above) are under construction. Both schools are expected to open in fall 2022, pending any unforeseen construction delays.
Jennifer Blechschmidt, currently principal at Eisenhower Elementary, has been named a planning principal for the new schools. Over the next year, she will work toward developing an instructional vision, creating the schools’ cultures and building strong partnerships with families and the community.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary School
Parents, students, staff and community members suggested more than 250 names for the elementary school that will open at NE 25th Avenue and 88th Street in fall 2022. Among the suggestions, one name appeared more than any other: that of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Submitters cited her work to advance gender equality and human rights, as well as her demonstration of the importance of physical fitness at all ages. The VPS board of directors voted unanimously in May to approve the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary. Construction will begin this summer. The design will highlight the natural environment and offer opportunities for indoor and outdoor learning. It also will incorporate natural light and energy-efficient features. The school’s projected enrollment is 410 students.