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Work starts on new Ferris High

Workmen for Garco Construction and its subcontractors begin the foundation for a new building at Ferris High School on Monday. (Jesse Tinsley)
Workmen for Garco Construction and its subcontractors begin the foundation for a new building at Ferris High School on Monday. (Jesse Tinsley)

Planned completion date is late 2013

On the campus of Ferris High School – roughly where the old field house used to be – a giant construction crane is perched over a 50-acre construction site, where the footprint of a new Ferris High School is becoming visible.

Funded by the 2009 school bond that was passed by Spokane voters, Ferris is the fourth high school that’s being rebuilt.

“When we are done here, we only have North Central left,” said Gregory S. Brown, director of capital projects with Spokane Public Schools.

The budget for the new school is roughly $100 million, with $60 million going to the actual construction.

“The permit for this site was almost $250,000,” Brown said. “There are a lot of other costs involved in a project like this than simply construction.”

Garco Construction is the main contractor.

“We are planning to have the building done in December of 2013,” said Clancy Welsh, president of Garco Construction. “Then, in 2014, we will do the demolition and removal of the leftover buildings that will not be part of the new school.”

In the final configuration of the new school, the only parts of the old building to remain intact will be the gym, which opened in 2007, and the current auditorium.

Ferris opened in 1963, featuring an open concept campus with independent classroom and administration buildings that were connected by breezeways rather than long hallways. The concept was popular in California at the time, but presented some challenges during Spokane winters.

“There was a lot of interest in keeping the open campus,” said Brown. “The new school will be constructed so you can walk indoors to your next class, or you can walk outside, through campus, if you prefer that.”

Standing in front of the gym, looking north, the new school building will connect the gym and the current auditorium forming an arch toward the west and 37th Avenue. It will be no more than two stories tall. Complete drawings are available at Spokane Public School’s website,

That’s also where neighbors and students can find the webcams that are always trained on the site.

“That’s actually really cool,” said Brown. “You can control the camera and zoom in on various sites, until it is someone else’s turn.”

Brown said the school mainly needed replacing because many of the classrooms are under-sized and there are many portable classrooms in use.

The school first opened with 800 students in grades eight to 10. Today, 1,800 students in grades nine to 12 attend Ferris.

New parking lots are almost complete north of the football field.

“The first part of the new buildings that will be done is the cafeteria and the kitchen, the commons,” said Brown. “That will be attached to the gym. By next summer, we will be able to move some classes into new science and business classrooms. That will be the first part.”

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