December 12, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The Imbler School Board might ask voters to approve a bond levy to build a new elementary school.

The board will measure public support before deciding whether to request the levy.

We are in the early planning stages. This is a long-term project. It is not something we will rush into, said Imbler School District Superintendent Larry Glaze.

The school board made its decision Tuesday after its members earlier examined a report written by RSS Architecture of Woodburn. The report was prepared because of concern about the condition of the aging elementary school. The report indicated it would be much less expensive to construct a new school than to renovate the existing buildings.

RSS said it would cost about $6.5 million to fully renovate the school.

Most of the renovation work would be focused on the schools main building, constructed in 1912. The building has many problems. There are cracks in the foundation, the library floor is weak, roof work is needed, windows need to be replaced, the heating system is inadequate and inefficient, and much more.

Renovation work would not only strengthen the building but also allow it to meet handicapped accessibility and building codes.

The cost of constructing a new school would be between $3.5 million and $4 million, the architect said.

Glaze said the board opted to pursue constructing a new building because of the projected cost savings.

Before beginning work on the project, members of the school board will attend a Bonds and Ballots workshop in Beaverton put on by the Oregon School Boards Association Jan. 17-18. The workshop will provide information on how other school districts in Oregon have been able to get bond levies passed.

Should a new school be built, it is not known what would become of the present elementary school. Imbler Elementary consists of three buildings:

The 1912 building that has classrooms for students in grades four through six, a library, computer lab, art room and cafeteria. The building housed high school and elementary school children until 1977. Imblers present high school was completed then.

A wing constructed in 1954. The section has classrooms for students in kindergarten through third grade plus the elementary schools office.

Wade Hall, the schools gym which was built about 70 years ago.