Most of Sequim Community School to close

SEQUIM — Accepting a Sequim School District facilities committee recommendation, the district will close most of the aging Community School building in the fall, a move that could save it as much as $90,000 a year.

The unanimous School Board decision came Monday night after the five-member panel had discussed its options over the past year.

“The resolution says we agree with what the committee recommended but don’t want to move forward until the board sees plans for actual construction,” board President Sarah Bedinger said.

“We don’t want to actually start spending money until we see plans for construction or demolition.”

In September, when the school year commences again, only Olympic Peninsula Academy will remain in two classrooms in part of a 1979 addition to the 71,000-square-foot post-World War II-era Community School building at 220 W. Alder St.

Programs the district is responsible for under state law will be relocated to other district facilities.

They include the alternative school, the developmental preschool and special programs administration, which will be relocated to the remodeled historic Sequim High School building that fronts North Sequim Avenue.

Programs relocated

Programs not affiliated with the district that have to move before the new school year in September are Head Start, First Teacher, the Snap Program for those with disabilities, Peninsula College and the Clallam County Department of Health.

“We’d like them to be out of the building by June 30,” said school district business manager Brian Lewis.

The board chose not to demolish and rebuild the Community School building, with an architect’s estimate of more than $3 million to perform the work on the structure.

Staff members were working with an architect to come up with a new design and cost estimate to present to the School Board.

After that, Lewis said, the district could call for bids to remodel the space to remain in use, sealing it off from the rest of the Community School building, which eventually could be demolished.

The district had considered a Community School second-phase project that would require voter approval of a capital projects levy or bond issue to finance it.

Affordability

Instead, the district’s facilities committee and board members looked at the affordability of securing a $200,000 to $300,000 loan to remodel the aging and energy-inefficient structure so it could still be used, albeit temporarily, with improved energy efficiency and other upgrades.

Reconfiguring existing district facilities to absorb programs now housed in the Community School building was the preferred option, the facilities committee’s report states.

The staff report states that fuel oil to heat the building soared in cost to nearly $61,000 during the past school year.

That would be the biggest savings, Lewis said, with other operation expenses roughly amounting to an additional $30,000.

The facilities committee reviewed the issue and identified and explored options, including leasing Fairview Elementary School, which was shut down by the Port Angeles School District in 2007 and is on the Sequim district’s western boundary; establishing shifts outside of normal scheduling; leasing other space; or buying or leasing portable buildings.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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