School board considers middle school options

Current building in Washington is 100 years old

One option for the middle school is to completely remodel the interior without any new construction. (Courtesy of Washington Community School District)
One option for the middle school is to completely remodel the interior without any new construction. (Courtesy of Washington Community School District)

WASHINGTON — The Washington school board is discussing four different solutions to the middle school building. Representatives from SVPA Architects and Carl A. Nelson Construction presented the options to the board.

The four options presented were: repairing the building, rebuilding a portion of the building, adding on to the high school or building an entirely new building.

The first option presented at the school board meeting on Jan. 13 was renovating the building. A few of the main improvements include updating the mechanical and electrical systems, making the building ADA compliant and updating classroom layout.

Other main points of renovation include:

• Site parking, drop off and ADA improvements.

• Lighting system replacement.

• Secure entry.

• Restroom renovations for ADA compliance.

• Plumbing domestic water system and new fixtures.

• Address moisture infiltration and insulation at exterior walls.

• Replace exterior windows and doors.

• Replace older sections of roof.

• Renovate interior walls to improve classroom and support space.

• Address foundation settlement issue.

This option would have the most disruption to the middle school student learning, Hines said.

Vitus Bering, president of SVPA Architects, said the building is long standing in the community and this option would restore it. He said there may be greater support for a bond issue.

Another positive to remodeling the building is how large it is compared to the student population. Hines said there is more than 550 square feet per student. A new building is around 180 to 220 square feet per student. This does have the negative impact of extra heating and cooling, he said.

The cost of renovating the current building is estimated between $22 million and $26 million. Bering said the cost could vary greatly depending on what happens during the reconstruction.

“It could take a lot of money to get it to what a modern learning facility would be,” Perry Hines with Carl. A Nelson Construction said. “We’re renovating a building from 1918, so there’s a lot of unknowns.”

Hines said the district could end up putting 60 percent to 70 percent of the cost to build a new building into a 100-year-old building.

The second option would maintain the gymnasium section of the building, add a new cafeteria to the north of the gym and complete reconstruct to the east section. This plan would add a parking lot to the west.

Bering said this is an option to stay on the location, but it is one of the most challenging options.

This plan includes:

• Adding dedicated ADA parking stalls near front of entrance.

• New cafeteria, kitchen and restrooms to north of gym.

• Adding on-site parking for staff.

• Replacing roofs of gym, kitchen, cafeteria and locker room area.

• Maintain and renovating existing 1952 portion of the building.

• New parking and parent drop-off on north side.

• Demolishing the 1918 portion of the building and reconstructing 65,300 square feet over two floors on the east side.

• Add on-site loading zones for students and parent drop-off on south side.

• Correct settling foundation at south entrance.

This plan would require the school to set up portable classrooms during construction, Hines said, and there would be challenges with having students in the area while the building is being reconstructed.

This plan would cost $26 million and $30 million. Hines said considering dollar per square foot it would be the most expensive option.

Superintendent Willie Stone said the addition of a parking lot to the west of the building will result in a tree with significant importance to residents being torn down.

The third option is to add on and renovate a portion of the high school campus. The old middle school portion of the school would be remodeled and 57,070 square feet be added.

The addition would include a new two-story wing for the high school, a new gym and an extension of the eastern wing.

Bering said a positive of this plan is it eliminates the oldest, most expensive building the district owns. It allows more shared use between middle and high school students as well as more efficiency in transportation if parents have middle and high school students.

This option would cost $29 million to $32 million.

The last option would be building a new middle school on a new site.

Hines provided a generic example of what a new middle school building could look like. Bering said the team looked at how much space would be necessary for the student population. The new building is recommended to be 82,004 square feet, either single story or two story. This would result in around 200 square feet per student.

The cost is estimated to be $30 million to $34 million. This cost is a range based on future construction costs and what the cost has been for other buildings of similar size.

A positive is the opportunity to start from the beginning and plan for future growth, Bering said. He said it also will be the least disruptive to students during construction.

A negative to the new building is having to select a new site and pay for new roads and utilities.

“It can create some disagreement,” Bering said.

The last two options do not have cost planned for what happens to the current middle school. Board members felt there should be input from the school as to what happens to the building.

Stone said the next step is to present information to the community and receive feedback as to what option is preferred.