The White River School District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony last week, formally kicking off a project that will last nearly two years and result in a largely-new Glacier Middle School.
With Superintendent Janel Keating Hambly presiding, the Dec. 12 festivities attracted a crowd of about 40 people, including district personnel, contractors associated with the project and supporters from the community.
Roughly 75 percent of Glacier’s existing structures will be replaced with new construction. In addition, site work will improve bus circulation and student drop-off areas, as well as improvements to the adjacent – and historic – Sheets Field. The part of the current building that will be left standing includes the primary gymnasium, an auxiliary gym and the music room.
The construction schedule calls for a 22-month timeline.
An integral part of the overall plan is to phase things in a way that will allow students to remain on campus during construction. Assistant Superintendent Mike Hagadone has noted that portable buildings will not be required. While the existing building sits in a north-south configuration, the new construction will be oriented east-west. Students will be able to stay in existing classroom space while the new space is created.
The extensive renovation on the Glacier Middle School campus is part of a multi-project plan of action taken by the district, all made possible by White River voters. In early 2016, citizens approved a bond measure that sought nearly $99 million, to be collected in the form of additional property taxes.
The Glacier Middle School project accounts for a large piece of the financial pie, about $41 million. Work at nearby Elk Ridge Elementary School totals about $21 million and a project at Wilkeson Elementary claimed between $12 million and $15 million, Hagadone said.
Construction in Wilkeson is essentially complete and students will return to their school Jan. 3, when they head back following winter break. Crews reconfigured space inside the historic, sandstone building to make things more uniform; also, the school library was turned into classroom space. A new addition to the school houses a library, multipurpose room and kitchen on the ground floor; upstairs are three more classrooms and the school’s mechanical systems.
Since school opened in fall 2017, Wilkeson students have been transported to a district facility on 120th, which formerly housed White River Middle School.
A project at Elk Ridge Elementary is ongoing. A new, two-story building is being used and an older part of the school is being renovated. Already finished – and paid with bond money – is a major improvement to the White River High stadium.