Port Angeles School District to ask public what it wants in a new high school at Tuesday forum

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Students, parents and members of the public will be asked to help develop an architectural design for a new city high school at a forum Tuesday in a step toward the district’s plan to ask voters to approve a construction bond in 2015.

The capital facilities planning forum will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Port Angeles High School Library, 304 E. Park Ave.

It will be the first of three forums that will be scheduled for public input on a building to replace the aging high school.

Michael McGavock of McGranahan Architects of Tacoma will host the forum, asking community members what they want to see in a new high school.

The firm was selected by the Port Angeles School District Board of Directors to provide capital facilities planning services for the bond effort.

An early, preliminary concept is to construct a single, large structure on the corner of East Park Avenue and Peabody Street — where tennis courts, staff parking and a district-owned house are currently located — to avoid displacing students from existing classrooms on the 33-acre campus until the new school is complete.

Multiple-story buildings are less expensive, due to the economy of stacking bathrooms to reduce plumbing needs and other systems that are more efficient when built vertically, Nolan Duce, facilities supervisor, has told the School Board.

The School Board voted in January to shoot for a February 2015 date for a bond election but to push the date back if members see that more preparation is needed.

To place a measure on the February special election ballot, the board must approve a resolution by Dec. 26.

The amount of the proposed bond has been estimated at between $80 million and $100 million, but the amount won’t be known until the architects draw up preliminary plans.

The $154 million Sequim School District bond proposal, which failed in April, included $87 million to renovate and expand the existing Sequim High School, to update existing buildings and expand the capacity to 1,200 students — approximately the same as the proposed Port Angeles High School structure.

Only one school district in Clallam County has built a high school this century — Quillayute Valley School District in Forks.

Forks High School, completed in two phases in 2000 and 2013, replaced a 1923 school that had aged far past its usable life.

The $32 million school was built to house 300 students.

In 2009, Forks-area voters approved a Quillayute Valley School District bond issue for $11.5 million for the construction of the Forks High School Addition Project, and in 2010, the district received $8,808,711.27 in state assistance.

The 47,500-square-foot east wing of the school was replaced in 2000, and the 39,000-square-foot addition and a 3,000-square-foot vocational training building were completed in 2013 for $12 million.

With the addition of the west wing, the new Forks High School reached its final size of 86,500 square feet, designed for the district’s brick-and-mortar high school enrollment of about 300 students.

The Port Angeles School District’s Long Range Facilities Task Force, a 60-member committee made up of district staff, teachers, parents and community members, recommended in December that the district replace the high school as soon as possible and consider replacing two similarly aging elementary schools and a middle school at a later time.

Port Angeles High School is a collection of 10 main structures, most of which were built in 1953, and six portable classrooms still in use.

School district officials have said that the 61-year-old school was constructed for a usable lifespan of 30-40 years and has increasing expenses for maintenance because of the age of the structure and systems.

A 2007-08 survey of the buildings showed that one major classroom building, which was constructed in 1963, scored 25.5 percent of a possible score of 100.

The two newest buildings, built in 1978, each scored 56.4 percent.

District officials said they are uncertain how the buildings would score in a new survey as some systems have continued to deteriorate and others have been replaced.

Failing machinery is so old that replacement parts are no longer made, pipes buried in concrete under the buildings are leaking or are being clogged with minerals, and the electrical system is incapable of meeting the needs of the age of digital education, Duce has said.

Fire detection protection systems are also inadequate, the survey found.

The structures also fail to meet the current seismic codes and are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the open layout of the campus makes it nearly impossible to secure the school in case of an emergency.

Even if the existing buildings were renovated to meet current codes, the buildings would continue to age, remaining systems will continue to deteriorate and maintenance costs would continue to escalate, officials have said.

For more information, contact Kelly Pearson at 360-565-3755 or kpearson@portangelesschools.org.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 22. 2014 6:47PM
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