News

Community School programs seek new homes

By MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

The Sequim School District may soon “reconfigure” its campuses, making room for programs that will be left without a home when much of the Sequim Community School, 220 W. Alder St., is abandoned.

 

Sequim School District’s Facilities Improvement Committee recommended the closure of the 60-year-old facility in a Feb. 4, 2008, report, pointing out that it is leaky and expensive to heat and that rehabilitating it would cost more than building a new facility.

 

The board has since asked Superintendent Bill Bentley and the facilities committee to determine the best solution to the loss of the Community School.

 

This week the committee issued a new report saying the best solution is to reconfigure existing district facilities, plugging current programs into existing space in other district facilities.

 

The plan calls for closing the Community School building, with the exception of “the base kitchen area, the Commons area, the 1979 addition and the Community School Gym.”

 

These areas would continue to provide housing for programs operated by the district. The report notes, “This option has the added benefit of maintaining the base kitchen in place as no viable replacement site exists for that facility.”

 

The cost of replacing the kitchen would be substantial, the report says, and likely would require “the support of a capital projects levy or bonded indebtedness.”

 

Grounds facilities, including playgrounds and sport courts, also would remain open.

 

Though the immediate plans call mostly for moving programs, it won’t be easy or cheap. The report says the board will be required to spend $409,500 remodeling other spaces for the new uses to which they will be put.

 

Committee member Dave Brasher said there is belief among committee members that the estimate is too high. “We’re hoping some of that work can be done internally at a reduced cost,” Brasher said. He added that John McAndie, maintenance and operations supervisor for the district, has estimated that the space could be prepared for as little as $150,000.

 

Additional plans, which call for rehabilitating approximately 12,700 square feet of the existing facility and demolishing the rest, will be considerably more expensive — enough to require a bond or levy, the report says. To remodel the interior and exterior of the facility, expand the base kitchen and redevelop the site would cost approximately $3.2 million.

 

Brasher said in the end the committee reached a consensus that funding shouldn’t be spent on rental payments but rather on “putting money into something that has long-time worth for the district.”

 

Patsene Dashiell, community liaison for the district, said the school board will discuss the plan at a workshop scheduled for Nov. 21. The public will have a chance to comment on the plan at a meeting to be held in late November. Only then will the board vote on the plan, Dashiell said.

Moving day

The Community School houses a number of district-operated programs, including the Alternative School, Developmental Preschool and Special Programs Administration. The report provides details on where they will move.

 

One program, the Olympic Peninsula Academy, is on thin ice. The report says OPA, “while a popular program with students and parents, is not a required program like the Alternative High School. Absent the acquisition of optional space, the district may be compelled to cease operation of OPA.”

 

The Community School also has space leased to a number of outside programs, including Head Start, First Teacher, Snap, Peninsula College and Clallam County Department of Health.

 

The committee has determined that, “While the District would desire to continue to provide space for each lessee, the opportunity and availability of space to house these programs does not exist.”

 

The board says saving money is just one of the considerations they looked at, saying the recommended reconfiguration “causes the least amount of disruption to student learning while adding value to our own facilities and setting the stage for future building improvements. “

 

The report also notes that enrollment in the Sequim schools will be going down, not up, which relieves the pressure toward building a new and expanded facility. “At this point, we anticipate K-12 enrollment to stay within a range of 2,650 to 2,670 full-time equivalents through the 2018-2019 school year,” the report concludes.

Who goes where
The report recommends the following changes:

• The Developmental Preschool currently serves 25 students and occupies two classroom at theCommunity School. Haller Elementary was chosen due to location and the link to early childhood services provided at this location. The proposed space is occupied by the Title 1program.

 

• The Alternative High School serves 30 students housed in two to three classrooms. Freeing up two classrooms above the high school auditorium “would provide ample space for the alternative high school.”

Classes meeting in those rooms can utilize an existing portable.

 

• Olympic Peninsula Academy serve 95 students in grades K-12 and occupies six classrooms at the Community School. The committee decided that the 1979 addition to the Community School “would afford adequate space and is an ideal location, near the high school campus and central proximity for participating families.” It would be necessary to install restrooms in the renovated space.

 

• Special Services Program Administration consists of four employees housed in four offices in the Community School. Services include Special Education, Title 1, LAP, Section 504, McKinney-Vento, State Transitional Bilingual Services, Migrant Services, Health Services, Home Hospital and the Indian Education Program. The plan is to continue renovation of spaces within the old high school building for this purpose.

 

• The existing reception area at the District Office will be relocated to the newly renovated reception room on the south side of the building. The current technology room is scheduled to be renovated in the summer of 2012. The committee feels the combined space of the current reception area, the current technology room and the former administration building would adequately house Special Programs administration.

 

The complete report is available on the Sequim District website at www.sequimschools.wednet.edu.

 

 

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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