New cafeteria for Marysville Pilchuck on track for 2016

MARYSVILLE — It took a few weeks before state Rep. Hans Dunshee called the Marysville School District headquarters.

He understood he would have been low on the priority list in the aftermath of the Oct. 24 Marysville Pilchuck High School shootings that took the lives of five freshmen, including the boy with the gun.

They didn’t need a politician bothering them. So he bided his time.

When he reached the superintendent’s office in November, he was referred to the district’s finance director.

Dunshee’s question was simple: Did the district want a new cafeteria to replace the one closed after the shootings?

The short answer, after an online survey of students, parents and the community, was yes. Students didn’t want to ever go back into the old building.

“We were very anxious to come up with a plan and some resources to replace our cafeteria commons on a completely different location on our campus with the intent to come back and demolish it,” said Jim Baker, the district’s finance director. “We have absolutely no intent of using that space ever again.”

Quietly, Dunshee and the district worked with the state Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office. State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn in early December toured the 84-acre campus, walking through the closed cafeteria and a makeshift eating space in the MPHS gym.

Dunshee, chairman of the House capital budget committee, said he told his colleagues: “I wasn’t going to do a budget without it in there. This is a statewide tragedy, not just one place.”

Today, the pieces are falling into place for a new $7 million to $7.4 million cafeteria and commons area to open by the fall of 2016.

The Legislature set aside $5 million in its most recent session. The district expects within the next month to get another $2 million to $2.4 million in matching money from the state.

It already tapped into a capital improvements account to hire the Kirkland-based architectural firm of Hutteball &Oremus to design the new building and a project manager to oversee the work. It plans to go to bid for a contractor in the fall. If all goes well, construction would begin in mid-December.

Plans call for a 16,000-square-foot, steel-framed building with many windows.

“We really want this to be a destination for students, more than a cafeteria open two to three hours a day,” Baker said. “We are not building a typical 1960s, ’70s square box. It will be energy efficient and as tech savvy as possible.”

The cafeteria and a few other structures, including the gym, pool, auditorium and stadium, would fit into the footprint for a future new Marysville Pilchuck High School, which now has an enrollment of 1,200 students. The school was built in the early 1970s.

An advisory committee has been studying building needs for the entire school district. It could make a recommendation to the school board this fall for a future bond measure proposal after gathering community input.

By design, the committee of more than two dozen does not include school administrators, district Superintendent Becky Berg said.

“If we pursue something, it will be what the public wants and this is our best way to see what the public wants,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-33-3446,

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