Sequim School District considering changes to capital project plans

School District Public Forums

9-10:30 a.m., 5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 10,

9-10:30 a.m., 5-6:30 Thursday, Jan. 11

9-10:30 a.m., 5-6:30 Wednesday, Jan. 17

9-10:30 a.m., 5-6:30 Thursday, Jan. 18

Noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20

All forums will be held at the district office boardroom, 503 N. Sequim Ave.

Hold the hammers.

Sequim School District and its Board of Directors are considering several options that could change the district’s long-term capital project plans.

At the Sequim School District Board of Directors regular meeting on Jan. 2, Sequim Schools superintendent Gary Neal announced the district will hold nine public forums over the next two weeks to look at a number of options that could modify the plans for demolition of the unused portions of the Sequim Community School built in 1949, and renovating the district’s central kitchen.

The public forums are scheduled for 9-10:30 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, Thursday, Jan. 11, Wednesday Jan. 17 and Thursday, Jan. 18, as well as noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at the district office boardroom, 503 N. Sequim Ave.

“I hope we will get a lot of people involved and a lot of input,” board president Heather Short said.

“We didn’t want to make a decision on something this big without community input.”

Neal announced that the regular board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 16, would be moved to Monday, Jan. 22, to accommodate time for the district to hold these listening sessions with the public.

Short said while two weeks notice is not a perfect time frame, the nine sessions and Jan. 22 board meeting would give the public some time to give their input.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have,” Short said.

Capital project levy passes in 2017

In a special election last February, voters approved the district’s capital project levy that will generate about $5.75 million over three years and pay to demolish the unused portions of the Community School and renovate the central kitchen facility in the same building.

Voters also passed a renewal of an Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy and combined the two levies will cost taxpayers $1.68 per $1,000 assessed home valuation starting this year, $1.90 in 2019, $2.36 in 2020 and $1.57 in 2021.

Neal said the decision to hold these public forums came after an executive session was held in December when the district’s project manager Vanir Construction Management, Inc., came to board members and the superintendent, presenting additional options for the district’s capital projects plans.

“As the owners of the property, (Vanir) felt it was in our best interest to know what’s out there and what we might possibly be able to do,” Neal said.

“We can still do what was originally planned; that’s on schedule and on budget,” he said. “But there are some things that might save us some money in the long run.”

Neal said these forums will give the public opportunities to ask questions and the district will consider the community’s feedback in its decision. He said the forums will include detailed plans for each option and include how much each option would cost.

“We enjoyed our listening sessions that we had from that last construction bond and learned so much from the community,” Neal said. “I threw it out to the board if they would be interested if I went out and did some more forums with this to see what kind of feedback people might have.”

Potential changes

Neal said the contractors ran into some problems as they prepared for demolition of the Sequim Community School and renovations for the central kitchen, such as load bearing walls and the HVAC systems not installed in an ideal place.

The district’s original plan of demolishing the unused portions of the community school and renovating the central kitchen is still an option, Neal said, but there may be an opportunity to move the kitchen to the northwest corner of the school.

With the City of Sequim’s Fir Street construction about to take place over the next 18 months, Neal said that opportunity also presented options to the district in moving sewer, electricity and HVAC systems along Fir Street next to the northwest corner of the Sequim Community School, where the kitchen could be constructed.

“Along with Fir Street construction, it’s really going to provide us with some opportunities because (the city) is going to have some connections available for us,” Neal said.

“It’s going to be much smoother and more efficient and cheaper for sewer, electricity, etc.”

Matt Klontz, city engineer, said the City of Sequim is keeping in close coordination with the district’s capital projects during Fir Street construction.

“In regards to street design, we’re keeping in mind future development so that it’s forward-compatible,” he said.

Klontz said that entails leaving connections available along Fir Street so that if/when construction goes in, the roadway wouldn’t need to be dug up significantly to access utilities.

Neal said instead of demolishing the northwest corner of the Community School, it would be gutted and the kitchen would be moved from its current location near Olympic Peninsula Academy (OPA) to there.

He added that part of the Sequim Community School near where OPA and the central kitchen are held was built with an inverted roof which makes it difficult to install HVAC systems where they should be.

“The sticking point of the commons area was it had that inverted roof,” Neal said.

“Because you have that inverted roof, you don’t have room to put your HVAC units or electrical,” he said. “Typically that stuff would run above but because of that inversion you lose that space.”

Neal said the district checked with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to see if it could move the central kitchen to a different site while still abiding to what the school can do within the levy jurisdiction. He said OSPI confirmed it would be possible to move the kitchen under the levy guidelines.

“Our cafeteria can continue services with the kids while this kitchen is being built,” Neal said.

“Then once that kitchen gets built they can demolish the other kitchen and get that out of the way.”

Neal said moving the central kitchen is just one of several options to be presented in the public forums. He would not disclose details of how much each option would cost and said that information would be available at the forums.

After the district completes the public forums, the options and feedback will be presented at the regular Board of Directors meeting on Monday, Jan. 22, at the District office board oom.

Information about the public forums are available on the district’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Sequim-School-District-352922704825305/ and is available on the district’s website at http://sequimschools.org/.

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