The Central Valley School District now wants to replace Ponderosa Elementary school rather than renovate and expand it—a move that district superintendent Ben Small claims would save on construction costs, speed up the project schedule, and eliminate the need to bus students to another facility during construction.
The Ponderosa project originally had been planned as an $18.5 million renovation and expansion to be constructed starting in the fall of 2017 as the final major project to be funded through a $121.9 million bond measure that district voters approved last year.
“We took a look at budget to renovate the school and determined if we used the design we already had for Liberty Creek and modified and adapted it, we could build a new school and save $1.4 million and do it sooner,” Small says.
He says he anticipates the updated Ponderosa project would go to bid in November, and the new school building would open to students in spring 2018.
Under the original renovation and expansion plan, construction had been scheduled to begin in August of 2017, and the school was scheduled to re-open to students in January of 2019.
He says the district is hearing mostly positive responses following an April 23 community meeting regarding the updated construction proposal, although there were some concerns about the proposed building’s proximity to neighboring property lines.
The school district has scheduled a second community meeting for 6:30 today, May 5, at Ponderosa Elementary.
“I think we have a good plan to present,” Small says. “We’ll get feedback and make adjustments and move forward.”
The current Ponderosa facility, which Small describes as a rectangular building, isn’t configured to be compliant with educational building standards, which require a certain amount of daylight for each classroom.
“In order to create classrooms with daylight, we would have had to tear down 10,000 square feet and add 25,000 square feet,” he says.
That would negate potential cost savings of improving and reusing portions of the building, he contends.
Small says the district would realize some savings in design costs by adapting the design for the Liberty Creek Elementary project to the Ponderosa site.
The Liberty Creek project was designed by MMEC Architecture & Interiors, of Spokane. T.W. Clark Construction LLC, of Spokane, is the contractor on the project, which has a construction cost of $14 million and a total budget of $21.6 million.
The Liberty Creek project is scheduled to be completed in August 2017.
Another advantage of constructing a new building, is that the original Ponderosa school building would remain intact during construction of the new building, meaning students could stay in place.
Under the original renovation and expansion plans, students were to be transported to the former Keystone Elementary school facility, at 612 S. McDonald Road, roughly in the center of the district, about four miles northeast of Ponderosa Elementary.
“That’s a fair distance away,” Small says.
Chester Elementary students, for example, are being taught at the former Keystone school, while Chester undergoes a $19.3 million renovation and expansion.
Chester Elementary is nearly 2.5 miles south of the former Keystone facility.
Lydig Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the Chester project, which is scheduled to be completed in June 2017, and Architects West Inc., of Coeur d’Alene, designed it.
After looking at a number of potential site plans, the district currently is considering constructing the new school just to the east of the current Ponderosa Elementary building, Small says.
The project temporarily would reduce playground space until the original school would be demolished in the summer of 2018.
Small asserts the proposed site layout wouldn’t change current traffic patterns on the streets surrounding the school.
Ponderosa Elementary currently occupies 51,400 square feet of space and serves 430 students.
The new school would be 12,000 square feet larger than the current school and would have a capacity of 502 students.
In addition to Chester and Liberty Creek projects, bond-funded work also is underway on the $32.1 million Evergreen Middle School remodel and addition; the $21.4 million Greenacres Elementary remodel and addition; and the $21.2 million Sunrise Elementary remodel and addition.
Work was completed earlier this year on the $11.9 million Mica Peak High School and Central Valley Early Learning Center acquisition and remodel.
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