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District ready to remodel Snoqualmie Middle School

Renovations of Snoqualmie Middle School could begin this spring. The main component of the remodel, enclosing the central courtyard of the 65,000 square-foot building, would add about 6,000 feet of space to the school, and cost about $2.5 million.

Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Joel Aune updated the school board on the project at its Dec. 1 meeting. Funding for the project is already in place, a budgeted $3.1 million from a voter-approved bond in 2009, he said. The district has been hesitant to pursue renovations, though, while the building's future is unsettled.

Since September, 2010, the district has been considering the annexation of SMS into Mount Si High School, as a freshmen-only campus, and holding the bond funds for any needed changes to the building to support that concept. After voters rejected two bonds to build a replacement middle school earlier this year, however, the board is reconsidering the annexation.

Aune told the board the district is ready to proceed with the courtyard project by this spring, saying "whether we have middle school students in the facility or freshman students in the facility… this particular upgrade to the facility is going to be a great benefit to the students."

He added that the district was anticipating a positive bid climate in the spring.

Board President Dan Popp asked whether the district didn't have more pressing needs in any of its buildings, or projects where the money might be better spent. Clint Marsh, a project engineer with Hill International, and contraction consultant for the district, said the $3.1 million was approved by voters for SMS renovations, and so had to be used for that purpose. District Finance Manager Ryan Stokes added that the district could redirect the funds, but would have to first hold a public hearing on the process.

Parent Steven Kangas asked if SMS was experiencing the same type of crowding that prompted the construction of the Wildcat Court at Mount Si High School. Aune replied that the board had discussed the space restrictions at SMS several times in the past, and said it was a real need.

The remaining components of the planned remodel were additional science labs, upgraded locker rooms, and converting the wood shop into space supporting a proposed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum for the freshman campus.

"Those are essentially on hold… until we get a better sense of the timing on the annexation of the facility," said Aune.

Marsh said that putting the project up for bids by May would allow most of the disruptive work, such as earth moving, to be done in the summer, before school resumed. He estimated that the project would continue through the school year, and be finished some time in January, but added that during the school year, work would general be limited to after 2 p.m.

 

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