The construction site at Shaw Middle School is a place of wonder.
As construction workers and their machines slogged through the mud Friday morning, it was hard to imagine that students will be going to school there next fall.
Even more wondrous is the progress that’s been made since shovels first turned dirt on the northeast Spokane site last fall.
Almost 100 workers step past the piles of brick and stone destined for the exterior, which will be buttoned by January. Inside, large pieces of sheetrock await installation.
“It’s definitely coming along,” said Greg Forsyth, director of capital projects for Spokane Public Schools, as he led visitors through the vast construction site at the corner of Garland Avenue and Cook Street.
The $43 million project encompasses far more than Shaw, a building that dates to the late 1950s.
As part of the $495 million capital bond approved by voters in 2018, it also envisions a new facility for the On Track Academy high school, a shared facility with the Spokane Public Library and a community outreach center.
In other words, what’s happening at Shaw is more than a school. It’s a campus, a collaboration that will pull together communities as well as buildings.
In the spring of 2019, associate schools superintendent Mark Anderson gathered groups of teachers, administrators and students as they worked through designs unique to each project.
Similar groups worked on designs at the other two replacement middle schools, at Glover and Sacajawea.
The school also is working with the city to slow traffic with the use of trees and other things to create a safer environment for pedestrians.
Some people will be able to walk to the new library being built at the site. It will be much larger than the current Hillyard Library.
“It’s the linchpin of our partnership with the Spokane Public Library,” Forsyth said.
Another Shaw collaboration is the Zone Project, a nonprofit that works with families in northeast Spokane.
The main building houses 41 classrooms, a kitchen, a fitness center, administration offices, a community outreach center and a gymnasium big enough for two basketball courts.
To the east is the fast-rising On Track facility, 50,000 square feet that include 13 classrooms, creative suites for arts and earth science, science and STEM labs, a commons, administration offices, and a community outreach center.
On Track students will be able to use the music and arts facilities at the new Shaw building.