New year brings increased school building construction

Enumclaw, White River, Sumner and Carbonado school districts will see construction in coming months

With roughly $314 million guaranteed by property owners, local school districts are planning for enhanced facilities at all grade levels – or, in the case of Enumclaw, watching a new building take shape.

It was Feb. 9 of this year when the Sumner, White River and Carbonado districts celebrated passage of bond measures. That was 10 months after bond boosters in Enumclaw had their measure approved. In each case, the district requests received at least 60 percent support.

As the first to take action, Enumclaw School District patrons are the first to begin paying for new facilities. The district’s property owners approved a request of about $68 million and began paying, in the form of property taxes, at the beginning of this year. Combined with an $18 million state grant, all the work is expected to cost about $86 million.

Property owners in the other three districts will begin paying in a few weeks, with the beginning of 2017. In Sumner, voters authorized a request for $145.6 million; in White River, the total was nearly $99 million; and in the small Carbonado district gave their blessing to a $1.75 million request.

Here’s a look at where the dollars will be spent and an anticipated timeline.

Enumclaw School District

Of the four districts with bond money to spend and schedules to keep, Enumclaw is the furthest along – having proposed its bond nearly a year ahead of the rest.

As soon as it was possible, the district leveled the old Black Diamond Elementary building and prepared the J.J. Smith building in Enumclaw to house students this school year. Now, a new Black Diamond Elementary is springing to life in anticipation of greeting students in the fall of 2017.

Exterior walls are up, roofing is an ongoing project and mechanical/electrical work is progressing.

Total project cost – including demolition of the old school and construction of a new 51,190-squat-foot facility – was estimated at somewhere between $12.2 million and $13.5 million.

The other major project has started at Enumclaw High School, where work isn’t quite as dramatic as in Black Diamond. But the biggest part of the EHS project is still to come.

The first step was billed as Phase 0, with work primarily occurring in the 1000 building. Additionally, portables were made ready for students who will be displaced during coming demolition.

Beginning with the new year, work crews will tear down the 100, 200 and 300 buildings and Phase I of construction will begin. The heart of campus will emerge as a two-story on the south side of the EHS campus, with construction blending into areas that were remodeled in 2000. Phase I construction will continue into 2018 and Phase 2 will stretch into 2019.

White River School District

The back side of the White River High campus will be home to major work beginning next month. The stadium – which was built without extras, due to financial constraints – will see serious upgrades. It’s anticipated the work will extend throughout much of the year, but be finished in time for the fall 2017 season.

When Hornet fans head to the first home football game in the fall, they will see additional paved parking and a new ticket gate. Once inside, guests will notice new, covered grandstands on the “home” side of the field. Under the stands will be a new concession stand and new restrooms. Also under the stands will be a storage area, a training room and a team room where players can watch video and meet.

A major element in the White River bond measure was additions and upgrades to both Elk Ridge Elementary School and Glacier Middle School. Both are in the heart of Buckley and come in response to both aging facilities and a coming demand for additional students.

Architects are drawing up plans to add 10 classrooms at Elk Ridge, with construction expected to begin in the summer of 2017. Phase 2 of construction should begin in the summer of 2018 with completion slated for the spring of 2019.

Construction at Glacier Middle School should begin during the summer of 2018 and will be phased to allow students to remain on campus during construction. Work includes the replacement of about 75 percent of the existing buildings.

Additional parking and improvements to Sheets Field will also be part of the project.

The biggest impact on students is likely to come at Wilkeson Elementary, where the historic nature of the sandstone structure provides an element wrinkle to construction plans.

To expedite the process and save money, students will be transported to the former White River Middle School during the 2017-18 school year.

Sumner School District

As the fastest-growing school district in Pierce County, Sumner promoted its bond measure as a way to keep up with educational demands and provide adequate space for perhaps 2,000 additional students during the next decade.

Early on the agenda are the Valley Early Learning Center, a new elementary school to primarily serve the Tehaleh development and the replacement of Emerald Hills Elementary School. They are to be completed by fall 2018. The ELC has a projected price tag of $19.2 million and the elementary school projects are estimated at $28 million each.

Also with a fall 2018 completion date is an expansion project at Bonney Lake High School, a $14.6 million project.

A few years down the road – but still financed with bond money – are expansion projects at Sumner High and Mountain View Middle School.

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