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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hundreds turn out for Horizon Middle School hard hat tours

Central Valley School District’s Deputy Superintendent Jay Rowell gives a tour of the remodeling work at Horizon Middle School. (Nina Culver / The Spokesman-Review)
Central Valley School District’s Deputy Superintendent Jay Rowell gives a tour of the remodeling work at Horizon Middle School. (Nina Culver / The Spokesman-Review)

The Central Valley School District passed out safety vests and hard hats to the hundreds of people who turned out for a recent tour of the remodeling work underway at Horizon Middle School.

The so-called “hard hat tours” have become a tradition for the district as it builds and remodels schools paid for by two recent bond measures approved by voters. It gives residents and students a sneak peek at what the building will look like when it’s finished.

Deanne Burch was one of the people taking a guided tour of the building during the event. She said she likes all the new windows that will let in natural light, even in the gymnasium. “It’s cool,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

She said she liked being able to get a look at the progress. “I grew up in Spokane Valley,” she said. “My siblings went to this school. I went to Evergreen.”

Construction on the project started in April and is expected to be complete in the fall. Students are attending classes in the old University High School while construction is underway. The building was constructed in 1982 and had a leaking roof, HVAC problems and other issues. The first floor of the building on the south side was largely obscured behind a giant earthen berm.

The shell of the building remains, but nearly everything inside has been gutted. The occasional wall that remains untouched is marked with a strip of blue tape with “no demo” written on it.

Deputy superintendent Jay Rowell was one of several people leading tours. He pointed out the building’s newly relocated entrance on the south side of the building. On the night of the tour there was plastic sheeting hanging up instead of exterior walls and windows for much of the building, but Rowell pointed to where the large windows would allow full view of the entrance area.

“We’ll have much more visibility,” he said.

The school’s main and auxiliary gymnasiums will not be relocated. “The gyms stay in the same spot, they’ve just been gutted,” Rowell said.

The library will remain where it was on the second floor, but large new windows are being added in place of the small windows that used to be located high on the wall. “It’s very different,” he said. “Now they’re full floor to ceiling windows.”

New windows are a common theme throughout the building. Classrooms that have exterior walls will not only have windows looking outside, but there will also be windows on the hallway side of the rooms to allow natural light to filter into the hallways. Interior classrooms will have windows to the hallway to allow in natural light coming from the hallways. Skylights are being added over the commons area.

“We want to bring as much sunlight and natural light as we can,” he said.

The estimated cost of the project, being completed by LK Clark Construction, is $29.5 million. More than 8,700 square feet is being added to the building, which will be able to house 600 students instead of 480. The parking lot will also be improved.

Superintendent Ben Small said he’s pleased with the progress of the project. “We’re on budget, on time,” he said.

He said he likes the new double door security the school will have at the relocated front entrance. He’s also happy with the changes made to the exterior of the building, which he previously described as looking like a bunker. “I’m really pleased with how the building looks with no berms out front,” Small said.

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