Sewer upgrades set at Sequim schools

Pumps to be replaced at elementary facilities

SEQUIM — Sewer systems at Sequim’s elementary schools are getting more attention among current capital improvement projects after Sequim School Board directors agreed to prioritize the projects.

Michael Santos, Sequim School District’s director of facilities, and Chris Marfori, senior project manager with Wenaha Group, detailed the need to replace several components of Greywolf Elementary School’s system and relocate the antiquated sewer system at Helen Haller Elementary at Monday’s school board meeting.

Greywolf’s sewers, which are divided into three distinct segments, were inspected by the state Department of Health in June 2023. Two pumps on the north portion, one in the central segment and piping on the southern end need to be replaced, Marfori noted, as does pump control systems at all three segments.

Cost of the work is about $75,000.

Sequim school officials have for several years considered connecting the school to Clallam County’s sewer system in Carlsborg, but connecting would mean a significant upgrade along with connection costs that would total north of $1.2 million, Santos said.

“It’s not throwing away good money after bad,” he said of the suggested improvements to Greywolf’s sewers, a 25-year-old system.

“It’s simply the lifespan. We have no reason to believe it would not go another 10 years if needed.”

At Helen Haller Elementary, the system — located and accessed in the school’s main courtyard — was built in 1972 and is antiquated, Marfori said.

“It was fine in 1972; it is no longer fine today,” he said.

He urged school board directors to approve the project that not only would modernize the system but also would move its access point away from students.

Modification of the existing system rather than relocating and replacing it is cost-prohibitive, he said.

Marfori said the project at Helen Haller would cost about $115,000 and could be completed in two weeks, starting during spring break in 2024.

Board directors also agreed to prioritize upgrades of its building management systems (BMS) throughout the district as it upgrades heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) at various school buildings.

Other board action

• Board directors agreed to sign a letter of support for the Sequim-Shiso Sister City Association’s efforts planned for 2024. Founded in 1993, the friendship and cultural exchange has facilitated student, city official and community member exchanges for several decades — with 66 students participating from 2012-2019 — until the program went on hiatus from 2020-2023 during the COVID pandemic.

Following a visit from ninth-grade students from Japan in September 2024, as many as 10 ninth-grade Sequim students will be invited to be ambassadors, accompanied by chaperones, for a reciprocal 11-day visit to Shiso, Japan, in October.

Sister City Association representatives Jim Stoffer and Annette Hanson noted that this is not a school-sponsored event but will follow the same procedures.

“It’s really a life-changing experience and opportunity,” Hanson said.

• School district officials are looking at a two-tiered busing system, Superintendent Regan Nickels said. The change could mean a later start for secondary students, she noted. Directors plan to consider this change at a study session scheduled from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Sequim High School Library, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

• The district is gauging interest in transitional kindergarten (serving 4-year-olds) but has received limited interest so far, Nickels said. Sequim schools will advertise the program once more to see if there is any interest among Sequim residents for the service.

• Directors re-elected Eric Pickens as the board’s president and Maren Halverson as its new vice president.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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