By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The task force met for the first time Tuesday night at the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center, a day after the Port Angeles School Board finalized the 61-person membership Monday night.
The group has been asked to consider how to replace Port Angeles High School, Stevens Middle School and Franklin and Hamilton elementary schools, which are from 53 to 60 years old.
“We’re going to have some difficult discussions to wrestle with,” Michelle Reed, deputy superintendent and task force facilitator, told the assembled group.
A year of work
The committee’s work will continue for about a year as the group tries to design school buildings for what education will look like in 10, 15 or 20 years, and last through 2050 or longer, she told them.
Reed encouraged committee members to talk with their neighbors, co-workers, friends and family about what the task force is doing, and to bring feedback from those people to the committee.
The district’s four oldest schools were built in the 1950s with a planned lifespan of between 30 and 40 years, and are past the point when they should be replaced, the School Board determined in 2012.
Each school has been refurbished, most recently in 1978, but the cost of maintenance has increased, the board said.
None of the schools meets Americans With Disabilities Act or seismic standards.
The cost of updating the schools to meet ADA and seismic standards alone would cost almost as much as replacing the schools, said Nolan Duce, district facilities supervisor.
That cost does not include upgrades to electrical, plumbing or other systems, and maintenance costs of the buildings will continue to increase as they age, Duce said.
State matching-funds programs to replace deteriorating schools could pay half or more of the estimated $70 million price tag of replacing the four schools.
Typically, schools must score at 60 percent or lower in a building inspection to qualify for matching funds, Duce said.
In 2007, the four schools’ inspection scores ranged from 25.5 percent for older buildings to 58.2 percent for newer additions.
Duce warned the task force that if the district takes state matching funds for refurbishing the existing buildings, it cannot ask for more money from the state for those campuses for 30 years.
Board members said they expect to use a single design for both Franklin and Hamilton, to save on the cost of architectural plans and to use two- or three-story designs to reduce the cost of construction and materials.
An initial membership list was approved at a School Board meeting Jan. 14, with additional members confirmed Monday.
■ An administrator, a staff member and a parent from each of the nine schools in the district.
■ Seven representatives from district unions.
■ One representative each from the city of Port Angeles and Clallam County governments.
■ 11 representatives from area organizations and businesses.
■ Eight concerned citizens who do not have children in school.
■ Six district staff members.
A parent is still needed to represent Lincoln High School, Reed said.
In December, the board declared Fairview Elementary School at 166 Lake Farm Road, about 5 miles east of Port Angeles, to be surplus and instructed schools Superintendent Jane Pryne to begin the process of selling it.
“There are several groups that have toured the school,” Pryne said.
Fairview has been cared for, including heating the empty buildings to protect plumbing, and the roof and grounds have been maintained, she said.
The new owners of Five Acre School in Dungeness have expressed interest in the property as a new, larger home for the independent private elementary school.
Fairview was closed in 2007 due to declining enrollment, and students were moved to the newer and larger Roosevelt building.
Middle school students from Roosevelt transferred to Stevens Middle School, 1139 W. 14th St.
The Fairview property was scheduled for an appraiser’s visit Tuesday.
Appraisal at $1 million
An appraisal in 2010 set the school property’s value at $1,055,000.
Funds from the sale of the property would be put into a capital building fund to pay for the studies and architectural plans for new schools, the school district said.
Pryne also was told to begin emptying out Monroe Elementary School at 106 Monroe Road, closed in 2004, for future demolition.
Monroe is on the same property as Roosevelt Elementary School, and board members have suggested that the property be used as playing fields.
The Monroe building is boarded up, has no heat and is currently used for storage. Most of the stored items have been declared surplus, Pryne said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.