Schools in Focus: Facilities in focus

Recent community survey results show that the condition of Sequim School District school buildings and facilities is on many people’s minds. Have you ever wondered about the future of our district’s facilities?

Since my arrival I have heard many questions such as:

What’s the plan?

When are our buildings going to be renovated? Replaced?

Other districts have modernized buildings, and why can’t we do this for our students, too?

What has been done in the past to maintain or improve the facilities we have?

The buildings have stood for years with thousands of students graduating from them; is there really a need to update them?

Does the district realize that many professionals consider relocating to the Olympic Peninsula only to tour the schools and depart wishing the schools were more up to date?

These questions and more will be in front of the district’s newly established Long Range Facilities Planning Group. The group, established in March through an application and nomination process, has gotten underway and will be tackling the job of determining school facilities’ needs for our current and future students.

The group will make recommendations to the Board of Directors for a multi-year facilities plan — recommendations for how to approach needed improvements, renovations or new construction and suggestions for how to pay for these projects under Washington state’s laws relating to school construction financing.

Such possibilities include accessing School Construction Assistance Program funds through the passage of a school construction bond or passage of a capital projects levy. (To learn more about these avenues for funding school facilities improvements and construction, please scan the QR code.)


Student concerns

In March, about 100 Sequim Middle School and Sequim High School students were gathered and asked for their perspectives regarding the current and future education needs at their schools.

The students spoke passionately about aspects of our district’s aged facilities that have adversely affected their learning, from roof leaks to building temperatures to antiquated science classrooms in need of modernization.

The school district track was noted by students as being woefully inadequate and a safety hazard. Track competitions are not held in Sequim due to the pitted and deteriorated running surface.

Campus improvements

The good news is that in 2021, our community passed a $15 million capital project levy to address these issues. The scope of work is vast, as our schools range from 25-100 years in age!

Roof replacements have either been completed or scheduled for summer 2024. An extensive HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) project will be completed across Sequim High School’s campus this summer. HVAC replacement just concluded at the Olympic Peninsula Academy gymnasium.

High school science teachers will be involved in evaluating modernizations that must be present for a high-caliber science education program. Science classroom improvements are the goal within the scope of what renovation can occur.

Unfortunately, the construction style of the current high school science building limits the reconditioning that can happen, but the district will be working to improve what it can for the science programs, students, and teachers.

The high school track will be resurfaced this summer starting immediately after graduation in June. Safety systems in our schools will be updated including fire protection systems at Helen Haller Elementary and Sequim Middle School.

A sewer lift station replacement will occur at Helen Haller Elementary. Intercom, clock and surveillance systems will be updated at some schools and building management systems for the new HVAC systems put in place in others.

Wear and tear

One thing to note is that utilization of our school facilities by outside community groups is significant, perhaps at an all-time high. Gym space and athletic field access are at a premium as youth sports grow in our region. Our auditorium is scheduled for use by our own drama and music programs, but also for outside theater and dance groups in our community on a regular basis.

As our community grows, so will the need for the school district to continue to help support the demand for quality and accessible facilities.

Toward this end, we have become increasingly attentive to the need to improve accessibility for people with disabilities on our campuses. Parking, entrances, and restrooms are just a few of the accessibility projects currently underway at our auditorium site.

The district looks forward to the Long-Range Facilities Planning Group starting the conversation about the future of our school facilities.

Our school website ( will have updates as the group learns more about the history of our buildings, past school bond and levy election results, and facilities needs for the modern education environment.

We invite you to follow us on our website and watch us build our future!

Regan Nickels is superintendent of the Sequim School District. “Schools in Focus” is a recurring column featured in the Sequim Gazette. See For more information or to comment on this column, email to