Earlier this year, Vancouver Public Schools announced it was exploring the feasibility of building a new elementary school in downtown Vancouver at C Street and East Eighth Street (known as Library Square). The school district now is considering a new location for the school at 1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd., the site of the old main library.

The city of Vancouver owns the property at 1007 and 1301 E. Mill Plain Boulevard and leases part of it to Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries for use as administrative headquarters. Vancouver Public Schools owns the property directly to the east, which is used for recreational soccer and track and field. The proposed new school campus project could optimize the use of these properties.

“This new preferred location for the downtown elementary school offers many benefits for our students and staff members,” said Dr. Steve Webb, Vancouver Public Schools’ superintendent. “I am grateful to our city and library partners who have worked with us to identify a creative and thoughtful solution to meet the needs of this community. I’d also like to thank Killian Pacific for its generosity and commitment to the community in offering the initial location at Library Square for the project.”

The Mill Plain Boulevard site offers several advantages for the new school while still fulfilling the school district’s need to serve the growing number of families who live and work in the downtown area. Advantages include access to nearby play fields; ample parking; and proximity to other schools, the Historic Reserve and Marshall Community Center.

The school district, city and library have been collaborating in a joint planning process to determine if it would be possible to create a multi-use campus for education, arts and innovation. The project could include a grades K-5 school as well as other complementary uses such as facilities for performing and visual arts and a community center for knowledge, arts and innovation.

“The school and library districts are tremendous partners,” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes. “The concept of a downtown arts and innovation campus is a unique opportunity that offers a lot of potential for our community. This partnership holds the promise of creating an inspiring place where people and organizations can come together in support of children and education, innovation and the arts.”

“The library district is pleased to collaborate with the city and school district on a tremendous opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the old library building,” added Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries Executive Director Amelia Shelley.

The new elementary school is one of the projects included in the Vancouver Public Schools bond measure approved by voters in February 2017 and is planned to open in the fall of 2021. Work on developing a master plan for the property is anticipated to be complete by the end of this year.