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Horizon Christian School buys land for new campus

Three become one in an almost Scriptural development for Horizon Christian School.

The school has purchased the first five acres it needs to build a new campus in the Heights, enabling them to consolidate all students and programs on one site, instead of the three current locations. The 125-student school currently teaches grades K-4 at Valley Christian Church, grades 5-12 at First Baptist Church, and fine arts at Church of the Nazarene.

“Horizon has fully utilized the available space at these locations,” said Horizon board chairman Stan Love. “In order for the enrollment to continue to grow, a new consolidated campus was needed.”

The school’s 8.66-acre property is at the corner of 8th and Pacific in Hood River. Under the current timeline, construction would start in 2003. The school would open in the fall of 2004. The total project cost is $6 million including site acquisition, building permit and other city fees, building construction, and athletic field development. The building itself will cost approximately $3.8 million. Horizon project advisor Don Hoffman said the school will investigate purchasing industrial revenue bonds to be paid off at a staggered three-year, 10-year and 15-year schedule, as well as mount a community fund-raising campaign.

“Our goal is not to raise $6 million in the first year,” Hoffman said.

The new school will be a two-story building with a gymnasium and outdoor playfields. It will allow the school to expand from a current enrollment of approximately 170 to a capacity of approximately 550 students. At full capacity, the school would employ 50 people.

The new school will be six times larger than the total space now used. It will have a library, cafeteria, computer room, music and science labs, and full-size classrooms.

“To say this is exciting is an understatement,” said Carol Yates, business manager and development director for the school. “In the future we will be able to grow and enhance our teaching and programs and give the school the opportunity to become the kind of school we want it to be.”

Love said, “Good facilities create a climate for excellence.” Staff and parents had input in the schematic designs last fall, he added. Next, architects will develop working designs for the project.

The purchase is the culmination of a process that began last year with a purchase agreement being signed with the sellers, Sieverkropp Orchards, Inc., according to Hoffman.

The city issued the school’s Conditional Use Permit in October 2001. Hoffman said the school will purchase the remaining 3.66 acres by July 2003.

The school entrance will be on Pacific and the building will face south towards the new Hawks Ridge Assisted Living facility. DCA Support Group, a professional architecture firm located in Ogden, Utah, has been working with Horizon to customize one of their “Affordable School” layouts to the needs of the school.

Construction will be a Butler steel building; the outer shell costs approximately one-third less than conventional framing systems, according to Hoffman. Fabrication of the building occurs in a factory, making it less expensive to build than the site-built method.

According to Dan Cook, founder of DCA, “Our designs have been developed so that these would be a great addition to any community. The classrooms are attractive, and special purpose rooms such as the computer labs, the science lab and the library add to the functionality of the building design. The full-size gymnasium also has a stage area that can be used for fine arts performances. In addition, we benefit from the cumulative experience of multiple users of this design.”

Shepherd of the Valley Bible Church will be leasing approximately 4,500 square feet of exclusive use space in the new building and will also have access to school facilities during non-school hours. The site has been designed with the community in mind and has extensive landscaping at the south and west entrances to the campus and community access is provided on the north, west and south, according to Hoffman.

The site will accommodate regulation baseball and soccer fields that will be open to the public during non-school use daylight hours. Horizon Christian School is an interdenominational school educating kindergarten through 12th grade, with a staff of 15 and more than 170 students, representing over 25 churches in the Columbia Gorge. Contributions to the new campus fund may be sent to Horizon Christian School, 1889 Belmont Dr., Hood River, OR 97031.

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