The $65 million bond proceeds will not fund a new turf field at Centennial but the district hopes to get it done another way
The $65 million bond proceeds will not fund a new turf field at Centennial but the district hopes to get it done another way

[Editor’s note: The idea behind “Alphabet Stories” is to write one noteworthy athletics-related story about each OSAA-member school. We started with Adrian HS on Sept.18. Today’s story, more than three months later, is about Centennial HS. The goal will be to write two per week. While we will be relying upon athletic directors to furnish story ideas, anyone may offer suggestions by emailing [email protected]]

On May 19, in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Centennial School District managed something extraordinary: It passed a $65 million facilities improvement bond with a narrow majority.

The District had determined that it would need $137 million to fund all of the most important needs of the schools, but was mindful that an $80 million bond proposal in 2016 failed after garnering only 44 percent support. It settled on the $65 million figure and passed the bond on the promise that property taxes would not increase, instead matching the assessments of the expiring 2001 bond.

Given that school buildings and athletic facilities desperately needed repairs or modernization, the bond’s passage was most welcome news!

Part of the bond proceeds will fund improvements to athletic facilities throughout the Centennial School District, one of three districts that serve the city of Gresham. The four elementary schools will each get new gymnasiums. A primary school will be converted to a middle school and receive a brand new gym floor and track. Centennial Middle School also will get a new track.

At Centennial High School, the Eagles have had a facilities deficit for years compared to wealthier school districts. That may explain why the school, which opened in 1959, has captured only five state titles in 61 years and none since the girls soccer team won 20 years ago.

Six new tennis courts will replace the existing courts, which are cracked and unsafe. The swimming pool will be newly renovated. The gymnasium will get a new floor. New LED lights will be installed at the stadium. Finally, Pixellot cameras will be purchased for the gym and stadium to facilitate live streaming of sports contests.

“We are excited about our athletic facilities upgrades, and hope that once we are through the pandemic and these projects are complete, we can enjoy these facilities,” said Centennial athletic director Terrance Schloth.

One project the bond will not fund is a new synthetic turf field at Centennial. The turf field was next on the list, Schloth explained, but due to the total expense, it came in just below what the Facilities Improvement and Bond Committee thought could pass the bond.  

The Eagles are one of only a couple of 6A schools who still play on grass. With football and boys and girls soccer all using the field during the fall, even pristine August sod becomes a muddy mess late in the fall.

Schloth said that the school district is considering alternate funding sources to install a turf field. 

“The district has not forgotten about the need and desire that the community has voiced to install turf field, and are exploring all financial options to fund it,” he added.

Schloth noted that the closure of school facilities due to COVID has allowed the school district to get started on the middle school tracks. Most of the bond work will begin in earnest this coming spring.