Ashton Dominick, 13, plays with a Rubik’s cube during school at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ashton Dominick, 13, plays with a Rubik’s cube during school at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Thousands of Monroe kids are back to school in new buildings

The new schools were built with money from a $111 million bond passed by voters in 2015.

MONROE — Nearly 2,300 students returned to classes last week in new or renovated school buildings.

School construction has been ongoing at multiple Monroe campuses over the last couple of years, and work isn’t done yet.

By next school year, two elementary schools and two middle schools will have been overhauled, including the demolition of old buildings and construction of new ones with modern classrooms, gyms, libraries and labs.

Monroe voters in 2015 approved a $111 million bond for school construction. The district also received more than $20 million in state support.

The money was for building a new Park Place Middle School and doing updates and expansions at Salem Woods Elementary, Frank Wagner Elementary and Hidden River Middle School. The bond also went to security improvements throughout the district.

Students walk to their next class between periods during school at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Students walk to their next class between periods during school at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

This fall, local students and teachers are celebrating the opening of three new school buildings: Park Place Middle, Salem Woods Elementary and Frank Wagner Elementary.

The Park Place ribbon cutting was last week. Events are planned for Salem Woods at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and for Frank Wagner at 10 a.m. Saturday. Also Saturday, all three schools will be open until 1 p.m. for the public to visit.

Work started last summer on the two elementary schools. It continued through the past school year, with students in the older school buildings while new ones were finished. The Park Place Middle School project started in 2016.

The new lunch area with a stage and multi-screen televisions at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The new lunch area with a stage and multi-screen televisions at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The new Park Place Middle School, with about 760 students, has better security, all-weather fields and a lighted track, a new auxiliary gym and a renovated main gym. It’s a $62.4 million project.

At Salem Woods, a new two-story school replaced four classroom buildings. Most of the school’s 500 students now are together in one building. There also is room for more students in the future. It’s a $23.8 million project.

Ten classrooms were added to Frank Wagner Elementary, along with a music room, improved special education spaces, a new library and a makerspace for art and science. Portables have been swapped out for permanent classrooms, and more rooms were added to prepare for growth at the school, which now has nearly 590 students.

Work also was done on the parking lot and bus area. The cost of the project is estimated at $15.7 million.

The library at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The library at Park Place Middle School on Thursday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Teachers and parents have said the upgrades are better for security and technology and will help schools catch up with the types of learning and equipment expected in today’s classrooms.

The bond projects are not yet done. Work on Hidden River Middle School, which serves more than 440 students, started in June.

A 23,600-square-foot wing is to be built with a new common area, cafeteria, kitchen, two science classrooms, two general classrooms, an art class and a lab that can be used for lessons in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

New synthetic turf sports fields and a jogging track also are planned.

A groundbreaking ceremony is set for 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. Lincoln Construction, based in Spanaway, began the project over the summer on a $15.6 million contract. The work will continue next summer. The goal is to be done by fall 2019.

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

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