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Arts & Tech school throws open its doors
TULALIP There was snow. There was ice. There were lots of cars and buses headed to a place they had never been before.
Inside, some 320 students had to find all new classrooms. There was even a totally unexpected fire drill.
Still, no one seemed to have any complaints.
We had a very smooth opening this morning, said John Bingham, capital projects director for the Marysville School District. The kids were very excited to be here.
Initially slated to open in September, the school district opened the doors to the new Arts and Technology School Dec. 10.
The A & T school is the first portion of the $25 million option school campus to open on the Tulalip Reservation off 27th Avenue NE.
Bingham said the other two portions should come on line in the next few months.
With its focus on the history of the Tulalip Tribes, the Tulalip Heritage High School should open in January, with a new gymnasium and administrative building ready for occupation and use in February.
The 10th Street School, is set to open its doors in March.
On Dec. 10, the A & T school still smelled brand new. Here and there, boxes attested to the fact teachers and others still had some unpacking to do. Construction workers were in the back of the building putting finishing touches on a wide walkway. Prior to Dec. 10, the school had opened only for a Saturday night dance thrown especially for A & T students.
The unplanned fire drill arrived just before 10 a.m. Officials later said it was the result of an error by a construction worker testing equipment in another campus building.
Formerly housed in space leased by the district, the A & T school opened in 2003. According to school officials, the new building offers some amenities the rented space didnt.
For example, the new building contains two science labs, said Principal Frank Redmon. The building features a combined assembly/lunch area, complete with a stage. Redman said teachers or even students can put together demonstrations and lectures for the entire student body.
While a full-sized gymnasium still is under construction, A & T students immediately have the opportunity to use a fitness room filled with shiny new exercise equipment. Redmon said physical education in the old space consisted mostly of calisthenics.
Including the A & T school, the options campus makes what Bingham calls some unique use of portables or modular classrooms. The A & T school consists of 144 tractor-trailer sized pieces, initially assembled inside a factory, then pieced together at the building site.
In the past, Bingham has said the idea behind the portables was to save money on the overall project. Still, he said care was taken in the design to ensure the finished products look like and can serve as permanent structures. Bingham pointed to the innovative use of portables as one reason behind delays in the overall project.
Usually with portables, its like putting in a mobile home, but this is something completely different, he said, adding the distinctiveness of the project led to delays in obtaining county building permits. Any construction delays aside, as the
A & T school opened its doors, Bingham seemed happy to note that all the design work is attracting attention from other school districts which might want to undertake similar projects.
If the district used a unique approach in designing the options campus, its also using a distinct approach in paying for the work. As officials have pointed out repeatedly, no voter-approved tax hike is paying for the project.
Instead, the district is using resident mitigation fees, collected by the county on new residential development. Bingham has said the district has been banking those dollars for several years and also sold notes against future collections to pay for the new buildings.