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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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From multimillion dollar school bond to building

Baker High School students get a chance to see their new school under renovation in the Spokane Valley, Tuesday. (Colin Mulvany)
Baker High School students get a chance to see their new school under renovation in the Spokane Valley, Tuesday. (Colin Mulvany)

Architects have been vetted. Construction timelines established. Community input integrated. Now work is beginning.

Central Valley School District officials are wasting no time in moving forward on projects under a $121.9 million construction bond voters approved in February – the district’s first such approval in more than 16 years.

“We’ve been waiting for this for quite some time,” said Jay Rowell, the district’s assistant superintendent. “It’s an amazing opportunity for our district and for our students. And also for our community; it cannot be overstated how much we appreciate their support.”

Renovating the former Yoke’s grocery store at 16 N. Progress Road is first up. The building is being transformed into a new space for 220 students of the alternative Barker High School and more than 380 preschool children whose classrooms are currently in the old University High School on East Ninth Avenue.

Design work will start next month for Evergreen Middle School, Chester Elementary School, Greenacres Elementary School and the new K-2 school in Liberty Lake. Construction on those schools will begin next spring.

Evergreen Middle School, built in 1974, will take the longest to renovate and expand. The school, originally built for 600 students, will be expanded to hold 750 middle school kids. In the process, it will essentially be rebuilt from top to bottom.

“You go into some classrooms where there are only two plug-ins, and that’s because that’s how they did it in the 1970s,” said John Parker, the school’s principal. “My big push as a building principal is I want something that is going to be timeless. I want usable space that won’t be trendy, along with all the efficiencies.”

He added, “Our patrons expect us to spend the money wisely and create something that is a good environment for the kids.”

The middle school is expected to be done in fall 2017, along with the three elementary schools.

Like Evergreen, all the schools listed on the bond are scheduled to be renovated and expanded. The reasons for reconstruction are the same, too: aging facilities, safety and a need for more capacity.

All the schools will be single-level, technology will be improved and each school will have a cafeteria separate from a gymnasium.

In addition, “One of the things we are working on featuring is safe and secure entrances,” Rowell said. Visitors will be funneled into the schools through the offices, and no longer will have direct access through exterior doors.

District officials are also planning to buy more land to relocate North Pines Middle School on its current site; add classrooms to the current Barker High School site so Summit School can move there; complete safety and security upgrades throughout the district; and start preliminary planning for a third high school at 16th Avenue and South Henry Road.

Rowell said from now until the last school is finished, “my focus is making sure these are done on time and on budget.”

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