New School to Serve Youthful Offenders in Oregon Community

The new $9.7 million facility was designed by Oh Planning+Design of Portland, Ore. Photo Credit: Oh Planning+Design
The new $9.7 million facility was designed by Oh Planning+Design of Portland, Ore. Photo Credit: Oh Planning+Design

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Construction began in late September on a new school located on the site of the existing Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility (RVYCF) in Grants Pass, which currently serves 80 youthful offenders. Work on the project is expected to last between 12 and 14 months, resulting New Bridge High School, which will emphasize education and rehabilitation.

In March 2016, the Oregon Youth Authority released architectural renderings that show New Bridge High School as a modern, angular facility accented by a slanted roof, large windows, wooden pillars and beams and outdoor gathering spaces — a distinct departure from more traditional juvenile detention spaces. When complete, the school will span an estimated 13,740 square feet and include four separate classrooms. Additionally, students will have access to more traditional education spaces such as a computer room and a digital media room as well as more vocational spaces such as a wood shop and barber training space. Outside, the school will offer sports and recreational fields. The new $9.7 million facility was designed by Oh Planning+Design of Portland, Ore.

The RVYCF main facility will next year turn 20 years old, and is showing its age. In 2015, administrators estimated the structure was in need of upgrades totaling roughly $1 million, The construction of New Bridge High School, as well as improvements to the main RVYCF structure, will serve as an important component in the Oregon Youth Authority’s (OYA) 10-year plan to improve youth facilities.

OYA’s 10-Year Plan was developed in response to a 2013 budget note directing the department to develop a facilities plan that evaluated facilities in terms of capacity, operating and maintenance costs, and deferred maintenance needs; and created a timeline for implementation. OYA currently owns nearly 100 buildings spread across 10 locations, the majority of which provide secure residential spaces for youth, as well as spaces for treatment, education, vocational training, recreation, and medical care.

OYA contracted with the Portland office of DLR Group Architecture, a national leader in justice facility design, and Chinn Planning of Long Beach, Calif., with more than four decades of experience in public sector juvenile justice consulting. The firms recommended investing $97.4 million over 10 years for capital renewal work to bring OYA’s aging structures up to modern seismic and ADA standards, and to align with best practices in juvenile justice facility design.

In addition to the construction of the new school, the consultants also recommended that RVYCF resolve critical deferred maintenance issues, install new security fencing, renovate control rooms, build a new multipurpose room for treatment activities, renovate living areas and create new areas for outdoor recreation.

The RVYCF cost $9.2 million to build in 1997 and was one of five new state juvenile facilities to open in that period thanks to a $46.5 million allocation authorized by the state Legislature, which then sought to provide better, more tailored services for a growing population of youthful offenders and youth violent crime.