Enumclaw school construction smooth, no big issues

The start of a school year is always an exciting and interesting time, with students returning to classrooms, teachers preparing lesson plans and homes suddenly much quieter.

The start of a school year is always an exciting and interesting time, with students returning to classrooms, teachers preparing lesson plans and homes suddenly much quieter.

But the launch of the new academic year had special significance in the Enumclaw School District, where the impacts of a voter-approved bond measure are now in full effect.

According to Superintendent Mike Nelson, everything went smoothly Sept. 6 when the buses rolled, school doors opened and teachers greeted new faces.

There was plenty going on that day to impact the lives of students, teachers, administrators and parents.

Most notably, elementary students living in Black Diamond no longer made the short trek to a school in their own town. Rather, they hopped on one of the buses in a district fleet that journeyed south, crossed the Kummer Bridge and delivered youngsters to the district’s J.J. Smith building.

As part of the $68 million bond issue approved by district voters in April 2015, Black Diamond Elementary school was razed and a new school is spring to life in its place. Demolition was quick and occurred soon after the final day of school in June.

Black Diamond students will be housed at J.J. Smith this entire school year, then return next fall to a new, larger, modern Black Diamond Elementary School.

During the summer months, Nelson said, workers spruced up J.J. Smith with new paint and carpet and upgraded the kitchen facilities. The building housed elementary students for decades before being taken out of commission several years ago.

In Enumclaw, students at the high school were adjusting to life on a campus under construction. The district’s bond issue contained money to remodel much of the existing campus and the first day of school found one wing of EHS completely gutted. The current work is part of the project’s “Phase Zero.”

The biggest impact, Nelson said, is on students in the school’s band, choir and orchestra programs. They are walking off campus, crossing McDougal Street, and meeting at Enumclaw Middle School.

After three days of classes and transition to the move, there were no significant issues, Nelson reported.

The bigger changes, he added, will come with the beginning of “Phase One” after the first of the year. Construction on the central part of campus will begin, prompting a move by many students into portable classrooms that were transported from Black Diamond Elementary to the grounds of EHS.

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