Officials with the Aberdeen School District, Grays Harbor College, YMCA of Grays Harbor and, to a lesser extent, the city of Aberdeen all have been discussing the possibility of a shared multipurpose construction project on land that would relocate Stevens Elementary School to the college.
Preliminary drawings showing possible configurations and location of such a campus were presented during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“The conceptual design is in the very early stages,” Superintendent Tom Opstad explained in an email after the meeting regarding the would-be partnership. “There may be shared spaces that could be utilized by the college after school hours, such as a main gymnasium.”
The district’s plan had been to present a bond to voters in 2018 to finance construction of a new Stevens campus on its current site at 301 S. Farragut St., near Pioneer Park, along with an array of improvements to other campuses. A study and survey required before seeking a bond to pay for all such improvement projects was presented:
Robert Gray Elementary School, would add three kindergarten rooms and receive a lobby improvement. It was built in 2002.
A.J. West Elementary School would add four classrooms to replace portables now on the campus as well as obtain a new gym and covered play area. Its main building was constructed in 1952 and its annex completed in the late 1960s. Both were modernized in 1994.
Aberdeen High School would add a new weight room and remodel its existing weight room for aerobics and wrestling. It was built in 2007 and its gym, built in 1964, was modernized that same year.
Miller Junior High School would be reconfigured to house students in grades six through eight — instead of the current seventh and eighth — and receive various additions and updates. It was built in 1979.
Two preliminary site designs for a relocated and enhanced Stevens campus were also presented to the board on Tuesday. The proposed site is near the college’s Bishop Center for the Arts, on the northwest side of the campus off Boone Street and Edward P. Smith Drive.
It would sit within at least 20 acres of land with wetland buffers. A new Stevens Elementary School campus was shown as adjacent to the college with activity spaces, such as a recreational center, made available for use by the YMCA and college students that could be zoned off from the elementary school during the day, Opstad said.
In the drawings, the site seems to abut the college’s baseball field.
“Each site varies wildly for the cost of developing it,” said Brian Ho, design principal for TCF Architecture, PLLC, in Tacoma. The firm created two conceptual layouts for a Stevens campus with added activity structures situated next to the college. TCF also completed reports about the condition of each of the district’s campuses — a requirement for pre-bond planning.
Ho told the board that site development alone for relocating Stevens to the college area could cost up to $5 million — even more for any work in the nearby wetlands. Construction costs are estimated to be around $300 a square foot.
Relocation of the elementary school might also include a land swap between the school district and college, Opstad said.
Stevens would become a kindergarten to fifth-grade campus. The original school and its first covered play area were built in 1955. Four more classrooms were completed in 1974 and eight classrooms, a library, gym and second covered play area were added in 1976, according to the report.
The new school would accommodate 550 to 650 students.
“Some great discussion has taken place and will continue over the next several months as the planning process continues.” Opstad said.
School Board President Sandra Bielski commented that such a multipurpose project would provide many opportunities for the community. Such an endeavor would also require a variety of funding sources from the entities involved.
Obtaining matching funds would be a challenge, but current conditions of the facilities “aren’t acceptable either,” Bielski said.
The district is looking for a way to accommodate more students on the Stevens and A.J. West Elementary School campuses as soon as next school year. Both need more classroom space. Staff advised the board Tuesday night that purchasing a couple of portable classrooms might be an option to consider.