Finally, the time of wearing puffer jackets while taking a math test has an end date.
In 2026, hundreds of Oak Harbor students who have been sitting in temporary portables will finally be able to attend class in a new traditional building with bathrooms, running water and better heating.
Crescent Harbor Elementary is expected to operate starting in January 2026, while the building housing Hand-in-Hand and Home Connection will welcome students a month later, finally replacing the portable classrooms and outdated buildings that have been experiencing overcrowding.
Most of the costs — 80% for each project — will be covered by two Department of Defense grants, which Oak Harbor Public Schools received as the two schools are located on military installations and were in need of being replaced.
Last year, thanks to Sen. Ron Muzzall, states Rep. Dave Paul and Rep. Clyde Shavers, Lt. Gov. Denny Heck and school leaders, the state awarded these two schools matching funds to secure the federal grants — $13.9 million to Hand-in-Hand and HomeConnection and $13.6 million to Crescent Harbor.
In total, the new Crescent Harbor school will cost about $72 million, while Hand-in-Hand and Home Connection will cost a total of $71.5 million. The school district will fund about $1.4 million of the total cost of the two projects.
According to information presented to the school board on Jan. 29, construction of Crescent Harbor Elementary is set to begin in the middle of May and end by November 2025, though there will be temporary parking and drop-off spots until all construction work is wrapped up in July 2026.
According to information provided via email by Communications Officer Sarah Foy, the building will feature color-coded classroom pods to help students navigate the building, shared areas that can work for breakout sessions, special programs classes that offer students more mobility and an upstairs library with three activity zones for classes, multimedia activities and storytelling.
Construction of the building hosting Hand-in-Hand and Home Connection will begin in mid-June. It will be necessary to prove that the project will cause minimal environmental impacts before breaking the ground.
According to Foy, the first floor of the building will house the Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center program and will be connected to an outdoor courtyard with a sensory path, a trike path and a soft-surface play area. When it’s too cold outside, children can play in the indoor playroom.
The second floor houses HomeConnection and includes, among other things, a modern library, a study area, a family room for student and Parent Teacher Association meetings, an outdoor garden featuring eight garden beds for the culinary program and ceiling light fixtures that look like Navy jet propellers.
Both buildings will also house a gym, single points of entry and vestibules to increase safety.