News

Redesign in works for Community School

by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Sequim Gazette

In their vision for the future of the Sequim schools, district officials hope to see most of the Sequim Community School torn down.

 

But until then, parts of that school — two rooms added in 1979, plus the school commons area — will be renovated and become home to the Olympic Peninsula Academy.

 

School board directors last month approved plans to turn rooms formerly housing wood shop and home economic classes and the commons area into multiple classrooms for the academy, Sequim’s parent partnership program for part- or full-time homeschooled students.

 

Plans call for construction of a hall and entranceway between two portions of the community school that will account for much of the $300,000 price tag. The board approved the non-voted debt in February.

 

The initial plans also call for creation of an “open” design where walls divide the room into two or four spaces, with room left to walk around those walls instead of having the space segmented by doorways.

 

The design details two classrooms, an art room and a library in the former wood shop room.

 

“It’s a creative way to use that space,” Sequim schools superintendent Bill Bentley said. “If we were building this new, we wouldn’t build it like this. But that’s not the hand we’ve been dealt.”

 

Bentley said a more traditional design would be cost-prohibitive because of design standards.

 

The school’s commons area also would be divided into two classrooms.

 

The rest of the community school, used now by numerous community groups, would be closed off.

 

“The savings we will realize by closing down a major portion will pay for cost of renovation,” Bentley said.

 

Olympic Peninsula Academy currently serves about 100 students, not all of them full-time; this design would accommodate 90-100 students at the same time, said Randy Hill, Sequim Community School co-principal and Olympic Peninsula Academy principal.

 

“This (design) limits the number in the program,” Hill said.

 

But, Bentley noted, the design also leaves room for expansion if the district chooses to add space.

 

The district’s timeline for renovation of the community school is imminent, Bentley said; construction could begin as early as May this year and open as early as September, along with the rest of Sequim schools.

Rooms left vacant

With much of the Sequim Community School left empty for the foreseeable future, Bentley acknowledges a possibility that, left unprotected and unmanaged, such a building could become an eyesore.

 

“Anytime a building is closed, (that) has to be a considered,” Bentley said. “We would not let it become an eyesore. We will replace broken windows. We’ll continue to maintain the outside of the building.”

 

The Sequim superintendent said that the district will have staff members in one part of the building, plus custodians and security on campus, to watch for any signs of vandalism.

 

“We will provide (those things) around the building as long as it’s there,” he said.

 

The renovation is Phase 1 in a plan of at least two phases, the second being the tear-down of the unused sections of the school.

 

Demolishing those sections now is cost-prohibitive, Bentley said. According to Brian Lewis, Sequim School District business manager, the tear-down of the community school’s unused portions would be about $340,000.

 

Included in Phase 2 is a renovation of the district’s master kitchen at the community school.

 

“It’s quite antiquated; we are going to have to do something with that,” Bentley said.

Sequim schools to accept debit, credit cards for fees

In a move district officials think will help cure the headache of handling of more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash and checks, the school board agreed in March to begin accepting debit and credit cards for meals through an online program.

The board unanimously approved using RevTrak, a company that provides online payment services to school districts nationwide.

 

The idea, Lewis said, is first to accept debit and credit card payments for meal plans and then to expand the district’s use of RevTrak for late fees, athletic fees, AP tests, uniforms and more. Debit and credit card users would be able to make payment for fees through a website any time of the day.

 

Students won’t be able to use debit or credit cards at the end of the lunch line, however.

 

Lewis said district personnel handle about $340,000 in cash for food service alone each year. That, he said, takes too much time from staff who could be working on other projects.

 

Because users would be directed to a RevTrak site rather than a school site, the district avoids liability in disputed and security issues, Lewis said.

Snow day waiver

Bentley said the school district also is asking state officials for a waiver for a fourth snow day that would throw a proverbial wrench in the 2011-2012 school year.

 

School officials built three “snow days” into the academic calendar, but an extended storm wiped out four full school days.

 

With all three snow days filled, Sequim schools face the possibility of extending the school year a full weekend to June 18 for the last day of school — traditionally a half-day.

 

Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.
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