School renovation is another priority for $219 million bond

March 20, 2012

By Tom Corrigan

Susan Mundell, Apollo Elementary School principal, checks some deterioration on a two-unit portable classroom dating from 1995, the oldest of three on the school grounds. By Greg Farrar

For Liberty High School, passage of the April 17 Issaquah School District bond would mean completion of the reconstruction and modernization plan now under way thanks to a 2006 voter-approved bond.

At the same time, Apollo and Issaquah Valley elementary schools would receive sizable space additions, making room for 120 additional students at each building. Both schools would benefit from some much-needed maintenance, according to the principals of each school.

Outside of schools being rebuilt or transplanted, Liberty, Apollo and Issaquah Valley are the three individual school facilities that would receive the most attention in terms of dollar value should the district win passage of its current bond proposal.

Liberty High School

Still under construction, Phase 1 of the Liberty project includes creation of a performing arts center similar to the still-new facility at Issaquah High School. The Liberty center is supposed to be finished this summer, according to Steve Crawford, district director of capital projects.

“That’s an exciting piece for us,” Liberty High Principal Mike DeLetis said.

The new facility will put his school’s performing arts department front and center, he added.

While not an all-inclusive list, Phase II could include revamping Liberty’s commons, relocating and modernizing facilities for the school’s culinary arts program and reworking some classroom spaces. Plans would add an auxiliary gym and modernize the school’s locker room.

Deconstructing the bond

A four-part series about the Issaquah School District’s proposed $219 million bond.

Part 1 of 4: How the bond could impact schools

Part 2 of 4: The plan to rebuild schools

Part 3 of 4: The plan for renovation

Part 4 of 4: The plan to upgrade stadiums

The building’s existing roof, outside of the modernization areas, would be repaired or replaced.

At one point, DeLetis referred to one targeted portion of Liberty as “the bunker.” Classrooms there have no windows, he said. In regard to the commons area, DeLetis said it would become more open. The L Café, the retail outlet for Liberty’s culinary arts program, would be located off that commons, greatly increasing its visibility.

The bond proposal also calls for creation of TV labs and production and editing facilities. That might seem a frill to some, but not to DeLetis. He said media is now largely electronic, that the Web and video is a key portion of any print media operation, even a school newspaper. School announcements are often done via student-produced videos, he said.

The total cost for Phase II of Liberty’s remodeling is $39.7 million, not including $4.8 million for revamping the school’s football stadium.

Issaquah Valley Elementary School

Like many principals spoken with about potential capital improvements, IVE’s Diane Holt is not exactly a fan of portable classrooms. The school has four classrooms in portables, but that number is due to increase if the school does not receive what Holt described as a much-needed expansion.

For now, the school has room for 25 classes, including those being held in portables. But student enrollment is on the rise and Holt said she will need room for roughly 31 classes next year.

As for those portables, Holt does not like the isolation they create. But even more importantly in her mind is that students and staff members must go outside anytime they leave those outdoor classrooms, even to use the restroom. She also talked about the portables being horribly inefficient in terms of energy use.

There are other problems at the school in addition to capacity issues, according to Holt. She talked about using buckets and wastebaskets in various spots around the school to catch water from a leaky roof.

“They patch it,” she said, “but the building is old.”

On another front, IVE runs three lunch periods and each is filled to capacity even without any additional students.

District plans call for the addition of six new classrooms and the conversion of an art room into a seventh, according to Holt. She noted the school would not be the recipient of a new gym or a new library. Those facilities within IVE are sufficient, even with new students, and the bond committee that originally wrote the capital improvement plan recognized that fact, Holt said.

Overall, the price tag for improvements at IVE is $8.5 million.

Apollo Elementary School

Like Holt, Apollo Principal Susan Mundell would enjoy doing away with the portable classrooms at her school for essentially the same reasons cited by her IVE counterpart.

Apollo has six classes using portables. Mundell would like her school to have a more unified feel, something she said just doesn’t seem possible with portables.

“There is a sense of isolation,” she said, her words echoing those of Holt. “I’d like to build a community feeling.”

Mundell talked about students and staff members being forced to walk outside to use restrooms or to reach the main building.

“Everyone wears coats around here,” she added.

As with IVE, passage of the bond would mean far less use of portables at Apollo and construction of six additional, indoor classrooms.

The school also would receive new restrooms and an expanded commons area. The central office would be remodeled. Exterior walkways would be enclosed. Drainage would be added to the school’s outdoor play field. When the rain is heavy, as it was recently, Mundell said the field becomes little more than a mud pit and is totally unusable.

Lastly, for Apollo, the bond proposal calls for new carpeting. Some might see the latter as at least a bit of a luxury. Mundell does not.

“Our carpet is really worn. You can see that it is in need of replacing,” she said, adding the new carpeting is supposed to be easier and cheaper to clean and maintain.

All in all, Apollo would receive some $7.2 million in attention if the bond issue passes.

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One Response to “School renovation is another priority for $219 million bond”

  1. The Issaquah Press: School renovation is another priority for $219 million bond » Volunteers for Issaquah Schools on March 21st, 2012 5:43 pm

    […] The Issaquah Press: School renovation is another priority for $219 million bond […]

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