Sequim schools look to next era

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Sequim School District’s Board of Directors may get its first look at the scope of a proposed overhaul of school facilities in mid-December.


On Monday night, Robert Lindstrom of BLRB Architects gave directors an update on progress the design company and a community facilities committee is making on narrowing the scope of a plan that may be the basis for a multi-million dollar bond proposal for area voters in early 2014.


Initial suggestions from that facilities group, Lindstrom noted, include building a new elementary school east of downtown Sequim and a major renovation of Sequim High School, among other projects.


Those suggestions will likely come before the school board at its Dec. 18 meeting, Sequim schools superintendent Kelly Shea said.


“We’re going to lay it all out there and give you a price tag,” Shea told the board members. “This is going to be expensive (because) this is the whole thing.”


Elementary move

On Monday, Lindstrom detailed changes the committee would like to see at each of the district’s five schools. That includes possibly adding an elementary school, allowing the district use one of its current grade schools — Helen Haller Elementary — to transition into more of a community school and allow growth for programs like Olympic Peninsula Academy.


That move also would allow the district to tear down the current Sequim Community School, a site targeted for destruction for years after district officials determined much of it is unsafe for student use.

Shea said Sequim’s two elementary schools — Greywolf and Helen Haller — are nearing capacity and, like the high school, are using portables for overflow.


He said research indicates that elementary school populations should be at about 400 students with a maximum of 600; Greywolf is at about 520 students while Helen Haller is closer to 600.


School board member Virginia O’Neil noted that Greywolf, located in Carlsborg, was built with the idea that the district’s population would grow there.


Paul Haines, the City of Sequim’s public works director, said Carlsborg hasn’t really built infrastructure to support that kind of growth.


Instead, steady growth on Sequim’s east end has pushed the district boundary for students closer to Haller; that is, many students who live close to Helen Haller are being transported to Greywolf to keep school populations relatively even.


Haines said an elementary school on the east end of Sequim would be beneficial for a number of reasons.


“The city already has services (water and sewer) there,” Haines said. “From a community development standpoint, schools … are important to building communities, including open space and parks.”


An east-end school also would ease congestion away from Sequim Avenue, Haines said.


The school district doesn’t own any property on the east end. Lindstrom said a new elementary school would need about 10 acres of space.


BLRB architects plan to meet with Shea and Sequim High School principal Shawn Langston about possible modifications to SHS.


That, Lindstrom said, may include making a two-story high school and possibly shifting the campus closer to the northeast corner of the property where Sequim Avenue and Hendrickson Road intersect.


Years in the making

Lindstrom said new buildings and major remodels such as the ones Sequim is considering take up to two-and-a-half years, with one year dedicated to design and 18 months for construction.


Depending on how that construction is phased — and if the bond passes right away — the district’s capital projects in total could take up to seven years to complete, Lindstrom said.


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