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Coupeville schools graded in study and survey

A school study and survey recently conducted of facilities in the Coupeville School District revealed the good, the bad and the ugly state of the three district schools.

The facilities survey is the first step in applying for state funding for renovation projects, or for putting a school bond on the ballot. The district is considering options for renovating or replacing the aging high school, which would be the big ticket item on the ballot.

Coupeville Schools Superintendent Bill Myhr said any bond election would take place after getting community input.

“We want the community to feel confident in any package we put on the ballot,” he said. The earliest Coupeville voters could go to the polls would be next February or March.

Myhr said the district could expect to get $2 million from the state for modernization and new construction. He estimated the bond could be anywhere from $11 million to $15 million, based on what renovations are done.

“It would depend on where the community wants to go with it,” Myhr said.

Highest priority is the high school, which the survey found needs to be either extensively remodeled, or torn down completely.

“The core of the bond money would go to the high school,” Myhr said.

Architect Jack Hutteball, of Hutteball and Oremus, who did the school survey, gave the school board an overview of their findings.

In 1991 the elementary school was renovated extensively and the middle school was replaced, but little has been done in the last 12 years in terms of capital improvements in the district, Hutteball said.

Deficiencies noted were the result of either work that was not able to be completed due to lack of funding, or just because some things have reached the end of their useful service life.

Of concern at all schools was roofing, with the high school roof being in need of immediate replacement. Plumbing and electrical systems were also a concern.

Middle school judged as fair

Hutteball said the middle school was in “generally good condition,” as it was built in 1991 to replace the condemned middle school building.

He reported the committee found a problem with cracked tile floors throughout the building, probably caused by moisture coming up from the ground. Tiles are bubbling and cracked at construction joints in the slabs and around drains and cleanouts, he said.

Vinyl tiles in the kitchen need to be updated with a slip resistant vinyl.

Hutteball said the layout of the middle school was also a problem. Visitors enter the front door, then have to search for the school office, which is actually in the adjacent high school building. He recommended adding a reception and administrative area near the main entry. The alternative would be to keep the main entry doors locked, but that was not a viable option.

The cost of floor improvements and adding administrative offices was estimated at $263,800.

High school worst shape

The middle school concerns were minor compared to the 60-year-old high school.

“It’s time for a major overhaul, or to tear it down and replace it,” Hutteball said.

The roof of the main building, built in 1940 and containing asbestos, needs to be replaced immediately, he said. The study found the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are completely worn out and in need of replacing. The configuration of the five high school buildings was found to be inefficient, with access problems due to the many floor levels.

The structure and systems in the annex building built in 1979 are nearing the end of their lifespan. Hutteball called the location of the annex “unfortunate,” in that it blocks the main building entry. The annex is also hard to police, given its many blind spots.

Hutteball and the committee came up with three options for the high school, with three different price tags.

Option one includes:

Renovate five buildings on main campus

Renovate gym and add new weight room

Provide portables during renovation

Misc. site improvements

Total estimated cost: $10,779,100

Option two:

Demolish four main campus buildings

Construct new building including enlarged gym and weight room

Renovate gymnasium building

Provide portable classrooms during renovation

Misc. site improvements

Total estimated cost: $16,687,100

Option three

Demolish all buildings on main campus

Construct new high school on new site including gym

Include library, commons, art, music, shared spaces

Site, road and utility development costs

Total estimated cost: $27,295,300

Other suggestions were to build a new gym and weight room adjacent to the existing gym, for $5,577,300, pave a parking area for 100 cars for $301,700, and resurface the running track and make field improvements for $365,950.

Hutteball said the brick high school building was saveable, if seismic and systems upgrades were done.

“You have some good quality buildings here,” he said.

Elementary school fares best

The study found the elementary school to be in pretty good shape, as it was remodeled in 1991, but materials, systems and finishes not replaced at that time are now in need of replacement. Problems include dry rot and roof leaks.

Hutteball said there was a need for a covered play area, to replace loose gravel in the play area with a hard surface and to consider moving the play area away from the highway. If the play area is left where it is, Hutteball suggested building an earthen berm along the fence line.

Cost of site and building improvements at the elementary school were estimated at $2.5 million.

The district administration office, a portable in the corner of the elementary school site, also fared poorly in the survey.

“Its condition has deteriorated to the point that it is probably better to replace it than try and rebuild it,” Hutteball said in the report.

He suggested replacing the building with another portable, either at the present site or at the high school, for a cost of $152,400.

The $5,000 survey was funded by a state school study and survey grant.

“I found (the survey) very useful,” Myhr said. “We know we have challenges, we will see what the community wants and go forward from there.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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