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Mville schools break ground on new elementary; $20 million Grove Street school to save money

Community members turn the first spades of dirt during groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Grove Elementary School on June 2. From left here are Marysville School Board director Darci Becker, superintendent Larry Nyland, Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, board president Michael Kundu, Grove Elementary Principal Jeannie Tennis, school board members Cindy Erickson, Sherri Crenshaw, and Don Hatch, state representative John McCoy, and oversight committee chairman Chris Nation. -
Community members turn the first spades of dirt during groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Grove Elementary School on June 2. From left here are Marysville School Board director Darci Becker, superintendent Larry Nyland, Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, board president Michael Kundu, Grove Elementary Principal Jeannie Tennis, school board members Cindy Erickson, Sherri Crenshaw, and Don Hatch, state representative John McCoy, and oversight committee chairman Chris Nation.
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MARYSVILLE Leaders of the Marysville School District vowed to keep the promises made to voters last year as work as begins on the new Grove Elementary School.
The 54,000-square foot structure is financed by a $118 million construction bond passed by the voters in February 2006, the districts first successful bond in 16 years. The two-story building will feature two one-story wings of four classrooms apiece of modular construction which will comprise 8,150 square feet. Those one-story additions will look and feel just like the conventionally constructed main building and gymnasium and will be indistinguishable from the other components. They will share the same hallways and heating systems and students will not have to trudge through the outdoors to reach them.
The hybrid mix maximizes the state funding for un-housed students for this and future projects. Most school district construction projects are funded by local property taxes, but the State of Washington calculates how many students are located in portables and then kicks in a premium based on that headcount. The portable wings maintain the districts ability or eligibility to continue to receive those funds. The building will be able to hold four more modular classrooms if needed, according to Marysville School District superintendent Larry Nyland.
The $20 million cost will largely be consistent with the $15 to $16 million pitched to voters, with about 10 percent inflation. Those figures were calculated before the effects of inflation prompted by a healthy economy and a huge demand for construction materials caused by rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina. The 550-student building will be a close match to the Arlington School Districts newest elementary school, and was designed by the same architect and will be built by the same general contractor who created Presidents Elementary School.
Scott Bjella is the president of Allied Construction of Everett, general contractor for Presidents Elementary, and he said he was confident he could open the school on time by the projected September 2008 completion date. He said the district got very competitive bids by getting construction drawings done early, and reducing any changes to them. That helped his subcontractors sharpen their pencils and keep costs low, because they were certain of the work they were bidding for.
The plans were prepared with plenty of time, Bjella said.
District leaders said the new design by Hutteball and Oremus architect Bill Chaput is created to be a template for other new elementary schools, likely at the Cascade and Liberty campuses. Those buildings were built in the 1950s and are outdated and will need to be replaced soon. By having a standard design that can be duplicated district officials hope to save more money by capitalizing on economies of scale.
Bjella said their plan saves money.
It really does, he said at a groundbreaking ceremony on June 2.
That innovative thinking is a result of discipline, according to school board president Michael Kundu. He said the district is working to finish several new projects to regain the trust of voters who shot down as many as four construction bonds in the last five years. The newest school in the district is the Marysville Arts & Technology High School, which was created with money from school levies, approved by voters for other purposes. That school is housed in leased buildings south of the Quil Ceda Casino and will move to a new shared campus on the Tulalip Indian Reservation next fall. That campus will also house the 10th Street Program and Tulalip Heritage High School, but was funded by mitigation fees charged to new residential construction.
Grove will be the first new facility funded by property taxes approved by the voters in nearly two decades.
This really marks a milestone, Kundu told the scores of people at the Saturday event. Weve come a long way in 16 years.
The project has progressed so quickly due to the pre-planning done before the voters passed the bond. Engineers and architects had lots of time, as the district put three bonds before the voters in 18 months before they got the nod narrowly and the money. The February 2006 measure received a 60.06 percent yes vote, and by state law needed 60 percent. A levy on the same ballot earned a 60.18 percent approval rating, or less than two dozen votes out of 13,000 cast.
Its been a long time, Nyland said. We needed to be good stewards.
The Grove campus is located at the intersection of 67th Avenue NE and Grove Street in Marysville, at the former driving range now used for Marysville Parks and Recreation soccer and other activities. Those fields will be closed to public use during construction but will be open when the school is completed.
The Marysville School District is also working on plans for a new 1,600-student high school on Getchell Hill northeast of Cedarcrest Golf Course. That facility will likely open in 2010 or 2011 and the district is bringing the contractor on board before plans are finished in a unique program that has saved other school districts millions of dollars.
That trio of new schools is just a down payment on future needs, leadera have said, citing a $300 million backlog of facility needs running headlong into the many families moving to north Snohomish County.
Ive already got a binder for the 2010 bond, capital projects director John Bingham told supporters at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Its very essential to keep up with growth in the community, Nyland told the crowd.
The 11th elementary school in the district will relieve pressure on other elementary schools, taking about a classroom full from each of the other facilities in the district, according to Nyland. The green building design will save money and energy for operations by using natural light and will also reuse much of the sites plantings, soil, even a parking lot will be kept. Twenty-three-year district employee Jeannie Tennis has been appointed to lead the new school, and she joked that even she was being recycled, since she was planning principal at Quil Ceda Elementary School when it was built.
I think Im also one of those recycled principals, Tennis laughed.
Pictures of the campus and building are on-line at the district website; www.msvl.k12.wa.us

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