The vote wasn’t unanimous, but Sequim school leaders are moving ahead with the Tacoma-based Wenaha Group to oversee a $15 million capital projects levy plans voters approved in February.
In a 3-2 vote Monday night, board directors voted to select Wenaha Group over Vanir Construction Management, Inc., a national construction firm that led the district’s previous capital projects levy in 2017 that built the central district kitchen and deconstructed the unused Sequim Community School.
Directors Larry Jeffryes, Eric Pickens and Jim Stoffer voted for the Tacoma firm.
“The professionalism, the attentiveness to how to proceed … there was a difference there,” Pickens said.
“This is a very tough decision … I think that our district will be well served by either one of those groups.”
Jeffryes said making site visits with both groups — the Wenaha Group is leading the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic in Sequim, and Vanir is leading the Field Arts & Events Hall in Port Angeles — helped make up his mind.
Directors Brandino Gibson and Brian Kuh voted against the motion, both asserting Vanir would be a better choice based on previous work.
“I think there was a clear (choice): we’ve done amazing work with Vanir,” Gibson said. “If I had someone do my roof and they did a great job … I’m going to go back to the company I did the roof with the first time.
“Because of our experience with them (I’d vote for Vanir).”
Kuh said Vanir exceeded expectations with the 2017 capital projects levy, particularly in pivoting and changing plans as needed.
“We have a known quantity (with Vanir); they have excelled in their work before … on time and under budget,” Kuh said.
“The taxpayer has entrusted with no small sum of funds. I cannot in good conscience roll the dice when we have a known quantity that has excelled (for) the district.”
Gibson also noted he was hesitant to go with Wenaha Group because of their connection to the MAT clinic, a contentious project over the past several years.
“That piece concerns me a little bit,” he said. “What will the community think about that choice?”
Other board business
School board directors announced their next student board representative will be Calem Klinger, who will serve on the board in an advisory role representing the junior class next fall alongside senior-to-be Alisa Bibaj. Sequim High senior Olivia Preston was lauded for her year of service on the board at her final board meeting.
Board directors viewed a staff-created presentation honoring 18 staffers who are leaving the district following the 2020-2021 school year. Those staffers, who account for 245 years in education include:
• Sue Alden, paraeducator, Sequim High School;
• Teresa Barrett, paraeducator, Sequim Middle School;
• Kathleen Boyce, paraeducator, Greywolf Elementary School
• Terry Brundage, counseling secretary, Sequim High School
• Cheryl Daniels, teacher, Helen Haller Elementary School
• Matt Duchow, school psychologist
• Vern Fosket, band director, Sequim High School
• Carol Harms, math teacher, Sequim High School
• Kayana Harrison, registrar, Dungeness Virtual School
• Teresa Iversen, teacher, Greywolf Elementary School
• Linda Jacobsen, teacher, Greywolf Elementary School
• Victor Lancheros, paraeducator, Sequim High School
• instructional coach Pam Landoni
• technology technician Richard Seiler
• Teresa Thorson, teacher, Helen Haller Elementary School
• school psychologist Monica Wells
• Jolie Will, paraeducator, Greywolf Elementary School
• Kerry Wyman-Webb, paraeducator, Greywolf Elementary School.