By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Port Angeles High School, Stevens Middle School and Franklin and Hamilton elementary schools, which vary in age from 52-59 years, are past their useful lifespans, and the district cannot wait any longer to start the process to replace them, the board agreed at Monday’s meeting at Dry Creek Elementary School.
“If we have just one more waterline break at Franklin, we can’t do that. We need to come up with alternatives,” said School Board President Patti Happe.
The amount of work necessary to bring the schools up to current seismic and Americans with Disabilities Act standards would cost almost as much as replacing them, Happe said.
More discussion on how to proceed with the replacement of the schools — including in what order the schools would be replaced, their configuration and how to fund the new construction — will be continued at a School Board workshop Nov. 19.
“I’d like to have well-researched options,” Happe said.
Happe said closing Franklin is not currently under discussion because of a reversal in the district’s pattern of declining enrollment and because the state is under a Washington Supreme Court order issued in January to restore funding to public schools.
Port Angeles’ share of that funding is expected to reduce class sizes and restore all-day kindergarten, which would fill existing schools — including Franklin — to capacity, she said.
But properties at which the district no longer conducts school will be put up for sale.
The board instructed Superintendent Jane Pryne to begin the process of selling Fairview Elementary School, 166 Lake Farm Road, and begin emptying out Monroe Elementary School at 106 Monroe Road.
An official vote to declare Fairview as surplus is expected at the next regular board meeting Nov. 13.
Monroe was closed in 2004, and Fairview was shuttered three years later.
Fairview students were moved to the newer and larger Roosevelt Middle School building, which was converted to Roosevelt Elementary.
Roosevelt middle students transferred to Stevens Middle School, 1139 W. 14th St.
The Fairview property about 5 miles east of downtown Port Angeles could be on the market as early as mid-December, board member Lonnie Linn said.
The Monroe building currently is used for storage, and most of the stored items have been declared surplus but are unlikely to find buyers because of age and condition.
“There are three or four companies who will pay to take it off our hands,” said Nolan Duce, the district’s maintenance and buildings manager.
Those items would be recorded to meet state legal requirements, then sold to the highest bidders. Once the building is empty, it, too, will be sold, the board said.
Another possibility the board will examine is selling one of the currently operating elementary school properties and building a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school at Stevens, or build an elementary school next to the middle school on the 39-acre Stevens property.
Funds from the sale of the properties would be put into a capital building fund to pay for the studies and architectural plans for new schools.
The new high school building might be three stories tall instead of two, and other schools could be two stories tall, Duce said.
The taller schools’ smaller footprints and stacked restrooms and water-walls are cheaper to build, he said.
One of the board’s concerns will be how to manage the building process and plan school alignments with minimal disruption to students.
“We don’t want too many transitions for the little ones,” said board member Sarah Methner.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.