Opening of new Lake Stevens elementary school delayed

LAKE STEVENS — Construction continues on the new elementary and preschool campus, but the timeline for opening the elementary has been pushed back four months.

Originally, the goal was to open the Lake Stevens School District’s seventh elementary school between Soper Hill Road and Lake Drive, just east of Highway 9, in fall of 2017. That has been extended to January of 2018.

Construction is being paid for as part of a $116 million bond passed by voters in February.

Site work started in June to clear and set up building pads and access on the 38-acre property. There’s room for a middle school, too, though it’s not part of this project. The elementary would include students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

The district in early August sought bids from potential contractors for the second phase of construction, which includes the buildings. Companies told school officials that the timeline for the elementary was too aggressive. There’s been an increase in construction across the state and there’s competition for workers and supplies.

“There is an awful lot of construction, not just in K-12 and education, but also in commercial and residential,” said Robb Stanton, executive director of operations for the district. “We have not seen the rebound in the contractors and subcontractors or in the laborers and materials to catch up with that. Difficulty in acquiring even one piece of equipment such as an elevator can hold things up, and with that risk there is cost. We decided the risk wasn’t worth the cost.”

The district received five bids from potential contractors. Officials estimated the cost at $39.5 million and the bids came in below that number, Stanton said. The final cost won’t be determined until a contract is awarded by the school board. The board was scheduled to award a contract this week but decided to wait and allow more time for reviewing the bids.

The new preschool still is expected to open in September 2017. It’s a simpler, single-story building with a wood frame, so fewer materials and workers are needed.

The preschool would be built for up to 125 students at a time, or 250 per day since it’s a half-day program. The elementary is designed for up to 700 students. Ideal enrollment is 550, but the district has been hundreds of students over capacity in their elementary schools for several years.

“Because we continue to grow, and because we have enough students now to have eight elementaries, we want to have enough room to house students until we can eventually add elementary space,” Stanton said.

The goal is to award a construction contract soon so work on the next phase of the project can start by the end of the month, he said.

The district also is seeking volunteers to serve on a boundary committee. With the new elementary set to open, boundaries within the district need to be redefined to determine which students go to which schools. The group also is tasked with deciding how to manage a mid-year move to the new elementary in January 2018.

The committee is expected to be made up of parents, school employees and the principal from each of the six existing elementaries. It should include about 30 members, according to the district. The group would meet seven or eight times between Sept. 26 and Dec. 12. The meetings are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Applications are due Monday and are available and can be filled out online at lkstevens.wednet.edu. For more information, call the district at 425-335-1500.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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