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Central School to Chehalem Cultural Center: Part Five

By Barbara Doyle

This is part five of a multi-part series on the history of Central School, look for new installments in the weeks to come! Installments in this series are adapted from Barbara Doyle's book on this topic: From Then 'till Now: Schooling in Newberg, Oregon.


Part Five: Central School Closes

Photo courtesy of CPRD.


There wasn’t space in the schoolyard for another addition. So the old
wooden gymnasium was razed in 1959 and a new brick one was attached to
the northwestern side of the building. Any additional work on Central School
fit into the maintenance/repair category and that work was postponed as
long as possible. Asbestos removal could not be ignored. A few portable
classrooms were gradually placed in the playground area.
Student population continued to increase, special student needs had to be
recognized and accommodated, kindergarten was added. All of these
increases led to increased costs which led to increased property taxes which
led to a revolt by property owners – nationally and locally. In Newberg,
school budgets were repeatedly defeated. A local resident said, “Run the
schools until the money runs out, ... then close the schools.” To add to the
long-running financial turmoil, there were six school district superintendents
in six years.
The last of those superintendents created a Long-Range Facilities
Development Task Force in September 1990. Sixteen months later the 
report stated that the entire school district was over-crowded and under-
repaired; $34,500,000 was the cost of repairs/replacements. Central
School’s deficiencies totaled $1,000,000; but that money would not solve the
two main problems – the building and the site were too small. They did not
meet the current standards.
Almost miraculously, Newberg residents approved a $36,400,000 school
bond measure for capital projects only in May 1993. There wasn’t any
money to repair Central. A 5.7 earthquake in March 1993 did not seriously
damage the school building but its structural integrity was questioned. These
two events, which happened within a few months, sealed Central’s fate.
Antonia Crater Elementary School – just a few miles away – was built in
1994-95 on a large tract of land. The new school was designed for 500
students. Central’s doors closed for the last time in June 1995 – just three
months short of sixty years of service to the community.

What’s next?

Read the rest of this story:

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