EAST WENATCHEE — The dance will soon begin at Eastmont School District.
Students will shift between several schools in the district this school year as a result of ongoing three-year, two-phase construction project. Demolition and remodel work at Eastmont High School will continue all year.
But jackhammers, concrete chainsaws and backhoes won’t stand in the way of education come Sept. 4. High school students and pre-schoolers will still attend classes in completed wings of the revamped school. Most high school students will hike back and forth along a more than quarter-mile path between the high school and Sterling Middle School. About 1,300 students attend the high school.
“We may have to give them some extra credit for P.E.,” joked Mark Marney, Eastmont School District director of secondary education. “All our kids will be fit.” Passage time for students to get from one class to another will be expanded from 6 to 10 minutes.
High school students will attend most classes at Sterling, which was remodeled last year along with Grant Elementary School as part of the $75 million project’s first phase. Students will walk back to the high school for P.E., science and vocational education classes. New art classrooms should be ready for classes by October.
Voters narrowly approved a $30.8 million bond in 2010 and the district received another nearly $44 million in state matching funds to remodel the three schools.
The construction affects nearly every school in the district. Sterling Middle School students won’t get a chance to enjoy their recently completed building for another year. Most sixth-graders and seventh-graders will go to Clovis Point Middle School this year. The district’s elementary schools will absorb fifth-graders from both Sterling and Clovis Point. Some students will attend classes in portable buildings.
“It’s been quite the logistical challenge. It’s a dance,” said Marney, who also made a move, from Eastmont High School principal to his new position this year. And he and other district employees are all moving from the old district office on 9th Street NE to the remodeled former Kentucky Fried Chicken regional office building a short distance away at 800 N. Eastmont Ave. Efficiencies on the school projects left enough money to buy the foreclosed building to expand the school district office.
“We’re working anywhere we can as long as it’s out of harm’s way,” said Les Bridgewater, superintendent for Petra Construction. “The good thing about a renovation is that we can work anywhere we want at any time. Our challenge will be working while keeping the school open, to transport kids to classes safely and not to make too much noise so kids can learn.”
“Good luck with that,” quipped Marney.
The high school remodel will be completed by August 2014, Marney said.
“September 2014,” corrected Bridgewater.
“August,” insisted Marney, continuing the dance with a smile.