When renovations at Oak Grove Elementary School in Medford conclude in late 2009, Principal Julie Evans will be able to walk from her office to all of the classrooms in the building within about the same time.

When renovations at Oak Grove Elementary School in Medford conclude in late 2009, Principal Julie Evans will be able to walk from her office to all of the classrooms in the building within about the same time.

Finalized plans call for centralizing the fragmented campus, built piecemeal since 1891 on West Main Street at Oak Grove Road.

"Our building was built in so many phases, there are a lot of open spaces you have to wind around," Evans said. "The new design centralizes the campus around the office. It's going to be really helpful."

Meanwhile, the designs for replacement schools at Medford's Jackson and Roosevelt elementary schools are nearing completion. Gymnasiums, which Medford School District officials first thought might not fit in the construction budget, will be included at both schools.

"Teachers and parents were involved in the redesign last May," said Jackson Principal Tom Ettel. "I was very impressed; the architects actually matched what our desires were."

The three projects are part of the $189 million school bond issue voters approved in November 2006.

Plans for the $9.3 million Oak Grove project call for razing the existing rickety wood gymnasium and building a new circular commons that will help connect and centralize the campus.

"The overall project takes the hodgepodge and creates a core commons area that brings everything together and simplifies movement," said Alec Holser, of Portland-based Opsis Architecture.

"The existing gym is in the dead center of everything and interferes with the flow of traffic," Holser said. "You have to walk around it to go across the campus. It's like an ocean liner in the middle of a little harbor."

The gymnasium will be replaced with a more modernized version that will be nearly 20 percent smaller.

The existing gymnasium has no insulation, no natural lighting and a room attached to it for use by some classes is not accessible to some people with disabilities.

The commons will open into a courtyard, the media center and a new multi-purpose room, which will be used primarily for music classes. A check-in window will link it to the main office.

A new main office will be constructed on the east side of the campus to give administrators a view of the parking lot.

It will hold a teacher work room, health room and laundry facilities.

The existing main office, which allows almost no supervision of incoming visitors, will be transformed into classroom space.

"We are happy about the idea of having supervision of the parking lot," Evans said.

The parking lot and pick-up lanes will be reconfigured to allow more traffic, which now often backs up onto West Main.

Like prior additions, the new addition doesn't match the historic portion of the school built in 1891 most likely by Claud Freeman who also was the architect of the historical site, Wagner Creek School, and Bellview Elementary in Ashland.

"From a preservation standpoint, it's not necessarily desirable to try to match the historic building," said George Kramer, a historic preservation consultant. "You want the historic building to be the dominant feature on the site."

Asbestos removal at Oak Grove is scheduled for early June.

Ashland-based Adroit Construction Co. will begin renovating four of the existing buildings in the summer. During the same time, the Kids Health Connection building will be moved from behind the cafeteria to a space next to the parking lot on the northeast side of the campus.

Construction of a new gymnasium and administration/commons building is set to begin in the summer and will continue through summer 2009.

"Because this will be an occupied school during construction, it's more complex in terms of phasing," Holser said.

The north classroom building and the cafeteria will be renovated in summer 2009. The renovations and replacements will wrap up in late 2009.

The full architectural design for Jackson and Roosevelt by Opsis and Medford-based Abell Architectural Group will be completed in the summer, with bids accepted in the fall.

The projects at $12 million each will replace dilapidated portions of the schools, both built around 1911.

Both schools were vacated in June because of structural deficiencies, and there was doubt until January whether the schools would ever reopen. The School Board in January decided they would be.

Kindergarten through third-grade students from Jackson were moved to the Westside School, formerly the Naval Reserve Center. Fourth through sixth grades were relocated to McLoughlin Middle School.

Kindergarten through third-grade students from Roosevelt will attend Hoover until their school reopens. Roosevelt's fourth through sixth-graders were relocated to Hedrick Middle School for the interim.

Demolition of the 1911 portions and gymnasiums of the schools is set for May. Construction at both schools to build new classrooms and gymnasiums is slated to begin in the summer and wrap up in late 2009.

The libraries and classroom wings built in 1949 will be renovated.

Like Oak Grove, Jackson and Roosevelt will have a circular commons area to keep the campus centralized and secure, Holser said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.