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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

New Schools, Renovations Under Way

CORRECTION: 12-6-97; V9 The cost of renovating Bowdish Junior High School is $7.8 million. A story in Thursday’s Valley Voice contained an incorrect figure.

Dennis Olson shows off drywall, catwalks and pipes, with all the glee of a newborn’s father admiring pink fingers and toes.

But this newborn is the Liberty Lake Elementary School, $5.9 million worth of construction. Olson will be the school’s principal.

Two other school construction projects in the Spokane Valley are also well under way. Major renovations at Bowdish Junior High and Trent Elementary School are on schedule, with no big surprises so far.

The new 58,400-square-foot school at Liberty Lake will have space for up to 600 students in 27 classrooms. The school is expected to open next September with 350 to 400 students.

Right now, though, it’s hard-hat territory. The guts of the building - the wiring, heating and plumbing lines have been installed in most of the classrooms. All of that equipment will have easy access, via catwalks directly over the hallways - like the older schools built with tunnels, only in reverse.

The stairstep-style windows still have coverings over them. Floors are still concrete. The gym and cafeteria areas don’t yet have their main beams overhead.

“The No. 1 reason I’m involved with this project is to make sure that the wishes of the ed specs committee are followed,” Olson said.

That means sitting in on meetings in which the Northwest Architectural Company clarifies details for the builder, Hoffman Construction.

Olson helps avoid such glitches as ordering cabinets that would be too small to hold the television sets they’re intended to store.

“The thing I probably learned the most - I had no clue at all how much involvement the architect had even during construction.”

The inside of Bowdish, with a few exceptions, has been gutted.

“Walls are growing out of the rubble,” said Bowdish Principal Bob Johnson. Work on the $5 million renovation is on schedule, with no surprises, Johnson said.

The demolition work has been time consuming, what with the need to preserve certain exterior walls. But the project is still cheaper than new construction: No foundation work is needed. The two gyms remain intact, and exterior walls, although they’ll have new windows and a new covering, keep their overall structure.

The next big push, of course, is to get the building closed in for winter work inside.

At Trent Elementary School, the north half of the school has been gutted; classes are still running in the south half.

After spring break, if the builders’ schedule holds, that will switch. Teachers and students will move into the newly renovated north half, and the south wing will undergo construction.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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