Everett School Board OKs new building

  • By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, July 6, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

EVERETT — The Everett School Board has given final approval to a new $23.3 million administration building which could open by fall 2013.

The 62,000-square-foot building will be constructed on school district property at the south end of Everett Memorial Stadium on Broadway near 41st Street.

The issue of whether to approve a new administration building has been discussed and debated on and off for more than two decades.

It was approved by a 4-1 vote Tuesday evening. The lone dissenter was board member Jessica Olson.

The new administration building was bundled together in one vote with approval of up to $2 million in funding for upgrades to the cinder tracks at Cascade and Jackson high schools.

Two long time former school board members, Roy Yates and Shirley Vandermeer, came to Tuesday evening’s meeting to explain their reasons for supporting the new administration building.

Yates said he served on the board for 19 years. Board members had thought of constructing an administration building on land near Memorial Stadium as long as 25 years ago, he said.

“I’m here to encourage you,” he said. “I think the timing is right.”

However, others raised questions about his premise.

Jacob Wohlenmaier, a 2007 Cascade High School graduate, told board members that he could speak from personal experience about the conditions of the Cascade and Jackson tracks.

“I ran on those tracks and it was terrible,” he said. “When I finally got to college and ran on those tracks, the difference was immense.”

He acknowledged that the school district’s two current administration buildings are old, but noted that the proposal to replace them came during a time of budget cuts.

The school district is reducing its budget by $4 million for the upcoming school year and will likely trigger increases in school lunch prices, fewer bus stops for high school students and perhaps increased class sizes.

Amy Torpey told that board that she volunteers in her daughter’s school and has worked to support previous levy proposals.

“I am deeply disappointed to know … we’re spending $23 million on an administration building,” she said. “It breaks my heart.”

Ed Petersen, school board president, said the administration building, which also is being called a community resource center, will have significant benefits. They include providing a “welcoming environment” for board meetings and a place to debate future steps to improving education; serving as a model of environmental construction that can be useful for science classes, and being a place to foster better pre-school education.

The school district will look at plans for the administration building drawn up two years ago and see what changes, if any, are needed, said Mike Gunn, director of facilities and operations. Any proposed changes would be discussed with the school board, he said.

The project could go out to bid in the spring, he said, and district staff could move into their new quarters in the fall of 2013.

Students and parents have pushed for replacement of the cinder tracks at Cascade and Jackson high schools with synthetic surfaces, turning out at school board meetings and initiating letter writing campaigns.

Just how fast the improvements get under way depends on whether just the tracks are replaced or whether the projects might also include lighting, seating and perhaps even artificial turf playfields, Gunn said.

Those additions would require contributions from the community and perhaps even the cities of Mill Creek and Everett, he said.

If the projects involve just replacing the tracks with synthetic surfaces, they could be completed by next summer, Gunn said.

A decision on how to proceed with the projects at the two high schools is expected in the next three to six months, he said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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