Ten years ago, voters on one side of the Spokane Valley had decided to do something about their California-style high school.
For $9 million, the East Valley High School - then a one-story school - was rebuilt. The old school was actually encased within a new two-story building.
The year was 1988, and in September students stayed in the school, moving from wing to wing, one step ahead of jackhammers, backhoes and construction workers.
Today, voters on the other side of the Valley are headed toward a decision on another California-style school, University High School. No formal action has been taken yet, but the Central Valley School Board is expected to set a bond election at an upcoming board meeting.
U-Hi could, like East Valley, be reborn in a new two-story incarnation. It could be built anew, on a new site at 32nd and Pines. (Central Valley High School, the district’s other high school, is likely to be addressed in any upcoming bond election, as well.)
Or, if voters say no to what could be a $70 million bond election, U-Hi could keep chugging along, more than 10 years after East Valley was rebuilt.
The two schools, U-Hi and East Valley, had similarities. Age, for one. East Valley was built in 1960, U-Hi in 1961.
Both had great ventilation. California-style schools have breezeways connecting one-story wings with flat roofs. East Valley had three wings; U-Hi has four. During the winter months, the breezes whistle into the classrooms, right along with the kids.
How did a four-season area like the Inland Northwest get saddled with a school design like that?
“I think we were just kind of out of our minds,” said Dean Lueck, retired assistant superintendent for the East Valley School District. “How can I put this diplomatically? The building didn’t age well.”
Officials at U-Hi might agree with that assessment, too.
At both East Valley and U-Hi, more space was needed.
After the East Valley construction, ninth-graders moved up to the high school. Enrollment before the construction was 750; after construction, the ninth graders pushed enrollment to 1,016. Today, with 1,506 students, East Valley is the Valley’s largest high school.
Central Valley officials have long wanted to make the same change and move ninth-graders to their two high schools.
The 1987 bond election that enabled the work at East Valley was for $18.7 million, total. The bond paid for work at Otis Orchards and Trentwood elementary schools, too.
“Things were tough back then. It was a real sacrifice for the community to build that high school,” Lueck recalled.
Community support for the bond took school officials by surprise.
“The people themselves took it on,” said Don Kartevoldt, retired East Valley High School principal.
The year of construction at East Valley was an adventure.
Bells were a rarity. Kids were everywhere. Some hallways were so narrow, they were marked with one-way signs. Temporary walls went up. Classes were even held in the balcony over the gym. Construction workers sometimes worked on the new second floor, right over a full classroom.
“One afternoon I looked in a classroom, and there was a jackhammer going next door, and there was a real big backhoe right outside the window,” Kartevold said. “I about died. If that backhoe had slipped, it would have come right in the window.”
The year passed with no mishaps. Even the students were better behaved than usual, officials said.
“Everything that could go right, did,” Lueck said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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