Plans for school portables underway

SEQUIM — As Sequim School District readies for the next school year, several programs and schools are looking at portables as temporary solutions for housing students.

The district received the remaining two portables — in late July and last week — out of eight from Central Kitsap School District. The portables will be used at Helen Haller and Greywolf elementary schools to ease student crowding.

Each portable creates two classrooms.

The other six portables — one single-classroom portable and five double portables — are to temporarily house Olympic Peninsula Academy (OPA) students as the district builds a new central kitchen and deconstructs the remainder of the Sequim Community School.

Superintendent Gary Neal said all eight portables were bought at market value for $800. The cost to deliver the portables was about $152,000 with $114,000 covered from the Capital Project Levy funds voters approved in February of 2017 and about $39,000 came from the district’s general fund to cover moving costs for the elementary school portables, according to Steve McIntire, the district’s interim business and financial director.

The portables used for OPA will give the alternative learning program about 11 classrooms, Neal said, with the single portable supposedly to be used for office space. Neal said OPA requires about eight classrooms and that he will leave it up to OPA staff to decide how they want to arrange the classrooms for the next school year.

Several OPA portables were placed next to the high school’s band and choir room and across from the high school’s tennis courts, while the remaining portables are on the corner of West Alder Street and North Second Avenue, across from the community school.

The district is aiming to have the portables ready for OPA by the start of the program’s Otter Days, scheduled for Sept. 6, but Neal said the district is preparing to have a back-up plan in case it is not able to have them ready by then.

John McAndie, the district’s maintenance and operations supervisor and director of facilities, said the portables have been stitched together and are on their permanent foundations, but much work remains: The district still needs to install ADA-compliant ramps, finish some roofing, establish electricity hookups for each portable and clean the portables.

The district also awaits permit approval from the city of Sequim.

Neal said the back-up plan in case the portables are not ready by the start of OPA’s program is using classroom space at the Sequim Worship Center, 640 N. Sequim Ave.

“The priority is to get OPA up and running as soon as possible,” Neal said.

The district also is working on where to put parking and pull-in and drop-off areas for OPA parents.

McAndie said parking could be put along West Alder Street near the portables and a possible pull-in and drop-off area could be on West Alder and North Second Avenue. OPA’s current pull-in and drop-off area is in front of the program’s building on West Fir Street.

“We’re keeping OPA close to [the high school] campus where they will have access to its fields, food service, etc.” McAndie said. “Anything else would have been logistically difficult.”

Neal said the district is doing its best to get the portables ready for staff and students but at this point it’s hard to say if they will be ready by Sept. 6.

Parent Teacher Organization President Julie Carrizosa and Vice President Kaylene Byrne said they and other parents have questions about student safety, where parking and the pull-in and drop-off areas will be, where students will use the restroom and where students will play at recess, to name a few.

Before deconstruction of the Community School, OPA students played at the playground next to the school on West Fir Street and North Second Avenue that is now gated off and closed indefinitely for safety, district officials said, as the new central kitchen is built and the rest of the building is deconstructed.

District officials said OPA students could use the restroom facilities in the high school’s band and choir room, but Carrizosa and Byrne said they have concerns that the distance might be too far for younger students to travel unattended and with mixing with possible older students at the high school.

Carrizosa and Byrne said if the district must locate its program temporarily off-site as the portables are being finished they are willing to accept and embrace it.

“We have confidence in our teachers and staff that they will make it happen,” Carrizosa said.

The new kitchen space at the west wing of the Sequim Community School is being cleaned out and abatement will start next week, district officials said. Abatement and deconstruction will follow through in the rest of the building from late August through September. Some of the surplus inside the community school is being sold or salvaged and recycled.

District officials said the new central kitchen should be done and the community school demolished tentatively by mid-December with a ribbon-cutting tentatively set for Jan. 11.

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected].

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