Forum set on name for school; Port Townsend board delays decision so it can hear from public

PORT TOWNSEND — The public will have a chance to weigh in on a name for the new school that will replace Grant Street Elementary.

The Port Townsend School Board on Monday decided to wait on choosing a name until after it hears from the public Feb. 27.

During the school board meeting Monday, Grant Street Elementary Principal Lisa Condran presented the board with a final list of names to choose from.

The top five names where Chetzemoka Elementary, Kah Tai Elementary, Salish Coast Elementary, Salish Sea Elementary and Salish Trails Elementary.

After a short discussion, school board members agreed that more public input was needed and scheduled a public forum for 5 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Gael Stuart Building, 1610 Blaine St., before the regular school board meeting at 6 p.m.

Board members hope to make a final decision at a meeting scheduled March 13, said Superintendent John Polm.

“We want to get this part done by late March,” said Polm during Monday night’s meeting. “We want to start using the name on signs and paperwork for the project.”

The project is a brand-new 68,000-square-foot school that is expected to be open for the 2018-19 school year.

It will be located at 1637 Grant St., just up the street from the current Grant Street Elementary School.

According to Kirk Robinson of Robinson Co., primary contractor and project manager for the new school, the land use and building permits for the new school will be submitted to the city in February for approval.

Construction is scheduled to begin near the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Construction of the new school is budgeted at $26.5 million. The total cost — including permit fees, furnishings and other costs — is $40,085,000.

Funds will come primarily from a $40.9 million bond voters approved in February to fund construction of the new elementary school and make improvements to Port Townsend High.

The new school will be twice the size of the current Grant Street school and will house students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Fourth and fifth grades will move to the new school, and Blue Heron Middle School will adopt the traditional middle school configuration of sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The current building, built in 1956, doesn’t support the current student population, school officials have said. The district has had to use portable classroom units to house classrooms for several years.

Once the new school is constructed, the old school will be demolished.

The five finalist names were selected by a naming committee from more than 130 submissions from community members. The school board will make the final decision.

On that committee was Condran; Grant Street Elementary teachers Peter Braden and Jason Lynch; Port Townsend School District Director of Instruction and Technology Ann Raymond; Port Townsend Library Director Melody Skye Eisler; parent and Jefferson Healthcare executive chef Arran Stark; parent and PTA President Kassandra Swindler; Blue Heron teacher Amy Wilson; and Grant Street attendance secretary Jess Winsheimer.

While the Grant Street school will get a new name, the board does not have a policy on mascots, so, according to Condran, the school will keep its eagle mascot.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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