It was announced at the July Snoqualmie Valley School Board meeting that the Mount Si High School rebuild project had hit a delay, but district officials said it should not affect the overall timeline of the massive, multi-year construction project that will produce a new 355,000 sq. foot facility – most of it scheduled to open in Fall 2019.
According to Assistant Superintendent Ryan Stokes, the delay won’t impact the timeline because the district had been “aggressive” with some of the early site prep work that included moving the “Six Pack” portable pod (12 classrooms) from the front parking lot to allow site grading work to start during summer break.
The delay stems from the permitting process Stokes said. The district is applying for huge permits – conditional use and Shoreline conditional use permits – with the City of Snoqualmie. Those permits have lots of components that need to be evaluated, as well as processes that can take 45-60 days to complete – like required public comment periods and hearings.
Stokes said the city is committed to working with them to keep things moving, but also has “exposure” if work continues without permits in place. So the district cannot move forward with its summer plans to grade the parking lot and baseball/softball fields in preparation for ground stabilization work for the school’s large foundational system – work that Stokes says will still begin in November as scheduled.
According to the City of Snoqualmie, both permits are scheduled for hearings in August. But for now – construction at Mount Si is at a standstill. As it stands, summer construction work will now be done in the fall. Ground stabilization work will then start in November – and the building is still slated to begin construction in Spring 2017.
What Does this Mean for MSHS Staff, Students?
Things won’t be as convenient for high school students and staff. The temporary parking lot planned for the back of the school will now be installed in the fall. For the start of the school year, students will continue to park in the front lot. No parking spots are being lost due to the delay.
The other significant snag is that two new double-wide portables (four classrooms) scheduled to be installed this summer – needed for capacity during three years of construction – will also be delayed. Principal John Belcher, though, said he has a plan to work around the delay as it pertains to classroom space.
What has Been Done this Summer?
This district did relocate the Six Pack portable pod from the Mount Si front parking lot to the rear of the Freshman campus in late June. The TLC portable has been decommissioned and all the fencing and backstops from the baseball and softball fields removed. Homes purchased behind the school to make way for the temporary parking lot (and the future, relocated baseball and softball fields) were also torn down earlier this month. A district-purchased home behind the football stadium was also torn down.
Those 12 relocated portable pod classrooms (that operate as one modular unit with covered walkways, bathroom facility, data room and plumbing) will be used to house the district’s Parent Partner Program (PPP); professional development space; and eventually needed classrooms when the Freshman Campus transitions back to a middle school in 2019 – and now also as temporary space for the TLC program due to another unforeseen delay.
New Portable Delays
In March, after a lot of discussion and due to cited costs and needed future classroom space, the school board made the decision (as recommended by the district) not to break up the portable “Six Pack” and leave parts of it at Mount Si, move parts to the Freshman campus and then some to Two Rivers for the TLC program.
The [net] cost to break apart and re-design the portable pod would’ve been approximately $1.7 million and offered 12 classrooms. The cost to move the pod and then purchase four new double-wide portables (8 classrooms) was about $2.35 million and offered 20 classrooms. It was decided the extra cost was worth the additional classrooms for the fast-growing district.
So the “Six Pack” was kept intact, then $500,000 of impact fees was used to purchase the two new double-wide portables for the high school. Two new double-wide portables will also be specially designed and tailored for the growing TLC/Special Needs programs, also for about $500,000.
But, the new TLC portables hit a delay due to new state energy efficiency requirements. The already-purchased portables had to be re-designed to find more efficiencies, then plans will be resubmitted to the state for re-certification. In the meantime, TLC and Special Needs students will start the school year in the relocated portable pod at the Freshman Campus until their brand new classrooms are ready and installed at Two Rivers mid-school year.
So… although Mount Si currently looks a little bit like a ghost town due to permitting delays, the district is still confident that construction on its 2,300 student capacity, new $200 million high school is still on track.