Workers putting finishing touches on new high school

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

White River High School opened two days later than anticipated, and there are a few bugs to be worked out, but for the most part everything is great, capital projects manager Milt Tremblay told the school board Wednesday at its regular meeting.

Superintendent Jay Hambly thanked the staff for "hanging in there. They're doing a good job and it's getting better every day."

Tremblay said contractors are concentrating their efforts on the unfinished performing arts center during school hours and switching gears to the rest of the campus after 3 p.m. where there is still work to do in the labs and vocational technical classrooms. He noted the heating system is not fully functional and there are other odds and ends that still need to be complete before the board can sign off on it.

Traffic, Tremblay said, is still a challenge as construction continues at the intersection of 120th and Mundy Loss Road. The contractor is not working during high traffic times before and after school and the Pierce County Sheriff's office is lending support directing traffic at those times.

Board member Jean Lacy wants to remind visitors to the high school and students the speed limit leading to the school is 25 miles per hour and will be enforced.

Going hand-in-hand with the new facilities, the board discussed revision of the fee schedule it uses to allow the community to use the school. Tremblay and district business director Susan Smith Leland said calls are already flooding in about the performing arts center and the stadium.

They presented the board with a proposed fee schedule to help cover wear-and-tear, and additional procedures for prequalifying applicants that check insurance and references. The board tabled further discuss for its next meeting.

Tremblay updated other work going on in the district by announcing the central kitchen should be cooking by Oct. 1; the roof at the middle school is complete; Foothills Elementary will soon get a sport court and various locations around the district will see HVAC, lighting and insulation work.

In other business, the board:

€ reminded visitors Friday is an early release day for elementary and middle school students.

€ changed the date for the board's study session on graduation requirements to 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at the district board/conference room.

€ set 6 p.m. Oct. 8 for its next regular meeting.

€ heard first-day-of-school reports from every principal in the district. Principal Fritz Gere at Elk Ridge Elementary reported the new parking lot is wonderful and the move to two half-hour lunches is freeing up more time for reading.

Principal Carolyn Rembert reported Wickersham School of Discovery is enjoying its extra space and library. The Lighthouse Program has also moved in and is running well.

Principal Keith Banks said the staff has been very flexible with all the changes and the new building at the high school. He reported the glitches are working out of the five-lunch system and consensus is the food is better.

Principal Gary Benedetti and Glacier Middle School planning principal Teresa Signay reported a good turnout in White River Middle School's school preview program and the new student planners are working as a great communicator between students, staff and parents.

The site reorganization is a big plus at Collins Alternative Programs, Principal Marcie Polin said. She said the CHOICE program had 70 families of 115 kids represented the first day and feedback was positive.

Wilkeson Elementary Principal Harley Ruff said his school was off to the smoothest start in years except for a few transportation problems largely associated with the city's road construction in front of the school.

Mark Cushman, principal at Foothills Elementary, said 670 students showed up for school the first day and the ice cream social before school started was well attended by parents and students.

For the first time since it opened, Mountain Meadow had to send extra kids to Foothills Elementary, said Principal Janel Keating. The school has also added a second preschool.

The board praised each principal and their staff for creating strong connections with the community.

€ approved the following change orders: $56,124 and $3,142 to Bailey Construction for new high school and $9,097 to Looker and Associates, Inc., for Elk Ridge parking lot work including a catch basin, relocation of flag pole, a replacement fire hydrant, electrical conduit and sleeves for later irrigation.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at

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