August 27, 2011 in Washington Voices

Brighter days at Centennial

Larger windows installed over summer help conserve energy at middle school
By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Chris Lomen and John Smith of Marlin Windows Inc. install new energy-efficient windows on the south side of Centennial Middle School.
(Full-size photo)

Students attending classes in the southwest wing of Centennial Middle School this fall might have a brighter view of their studies.

The West Valley District school at Broadway Avenue and Ella Road has been undergoing renovations that include bigger windows in the classrooms. Now, instead of a room which requires artificial lighting throughout the school day, students will be greeted with natural light.

The project is in its third phase. Two years ago, the district replaced the windows along the school’s east wing. Last summer, they replaced the windows in the southeast wing. The district is planning to finish the project next summer when windows on the northeast side will be replaced.

Deputy Superintendent Doug Matson said the district made the project a priority as part of the district’s strategic plan. The funds – $100,000 per phase – come from the district’s maintenance budget, so the district didn’t ask voters for a capital levy or a bond to complete them.

“It’s nice to be able to keep the buildings as up to date as we can,” Matson said. “We do spend the money to maintain them.”

Centennial used to be Park Middle School until it was remodeled in 1989 and given the name to coincide with the centennial of Washington state. It hasn’t been remodeled since.

George Castor, director of maintenance and custodial services for the district, said the project started just after students left for summer vacation. He expects the project to be completed next week.

While the inside of the walls were exposed, workers installed data cables and power outlets for computers. The bricks that now cover former metal panels on the walls are a darker shade of brown, since the original brick couldn’t be matched.

Workers have also built a new entrance into the school office to control the flow of visitors. When school starts Sept. 7, visitors who enter the front foyer will find a door on their right that leads to the office, where they can sign the visitor’s sheet.

The windows will provide more natural light for the students, but Matson said they will be more energy efficient, since the school won’t have to turn on the lights as much as they had in the past.

“I think natural light is good,” Matson said, noting health benefits and a better learning environment.

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