Reardan school remodel, expansion project looms
Work on hold while district waits for matching fundsJuly 20th, 2017
A Reardan-Edwall School District project that will include extensive elementary school and gym renovations and construction of an addition connecting the elementary school and nearby high school is waiting only on action by the Washington state Legislature to proceed.
The Legislature late last month avoided a partial government shutdown by approving an 11th-hour operating budget for the next two years, but passage of a capital budget that includes $4 billion in new construction projects is being held up by a dispute over water rights, published reports say. That capital budget includes tens of millions of dollars for projects in Eastern Washington.
More than $10 million of the money for the $18.8 million Reardan-Edwall School District project will come from a bond measure that school district patrons approved in February 2016. However, the district still needs $7.9 million in pledged state matching funds for the project to move ahead.
“It’s been 1978 since we’ve had any bond work here in our community, so we’re pretty excited about it after 11 attempts,” says Marcus Morgan, the district’s superintendent, of the project’s long-anticipated launch.
However, he adds, “We’re on hold right now, because the law says we have to have all of the money in our account before we can award bids, so that’s a bit of a worry on our part.”
The planned school district project would take place in the town of Reardan, about 23 miles west of Spokane. It would include a complete renovation of the district’s 38,100-square-foot elementary school there and the nearby 14,300-square-foot Smith Gym, Morgan says. It also would include construction of a 6,000-square-foot elementary school addition that would serve as a student commons area and the central kitchen and cafeteria for the entire campus and would connect to the high school, he says.
The project also would include various safety- and security-related improvements, including revisions to the bus loading and unloading zones to make them safer, he says.
The Pullman office of Meridian, Idaho-based Design West Architects PA is the architect on the project. A general contractor hasn’t been selected yet.
Morgan says the district was hoping to award a construction contract at the end of this month, but that won’t be possible due to the state capital budget holdup. It would like to have the project completed by the beginning of the 2018 academic year, he says.
The district encompasses portions of Lincoln and Spokane counties and serves about 560 students, with about 60 percent of those students living in Spokane County. Its enrollment had peaked in the 700s, and then fallen to 550, but now is on the rise again, Morgan says. “We should hold at around 600 for the next few years,” he says.
The district has struggled to get bond measures approved partly because of its scattered population base and lack of a central core, Morgan says. “We bus in 93 percent of our kids, so we don’t have that real community,” he says, adding that many of the property owners in the district commute into the Spokane area to work.
The district’s elementary school that will be renovated, located at S. 245 Aspen St., has portions that were built in the 1950s, and a wing that was added in 1978. Of the planned modernization, Morgan says, “It’s a strip-down to the walls. It’s as extensive a remodel as you can get without tearing the building to the ground.”
Smith Gym—the primary gymnasium for the elementary school—also will be extensively modernized. It was built in the late 1950s and is “a step back in time,” Morgan says.