Community, district celebrate opening of $24 million campus

TULALIP Made up mostly of city and school district officials, a small crowd gathered Saturday in the new gymnasium of the school districts Options Campus and marked the official dedication of that campus, already home to some 700 students.
Its exciting to come together and see whats possible, said district Superintendent Larry Nyland.
The Options Campus is home to three of the school districts small learning communities: Arts and Technology along with Heritage high schools and the now somewhat misnamed 10th Street Middle School.
The emphasis of the arts and technology school is apparent in its name. With some 86 students, Heritage High School teaches the history of the Tulalip Tribes. The last to arrive at the Options Campus, all roughly 165 students of the 10th Street School play some type of musical instrument.
Each of the small learning communities essentially operate as separate schools. Students do share some centralized facilities such as the new gym and a campus cafeteria.
Nyland noted that previously some of the students had no access to a hot school lunch. The three small learning communities were spread out in different spots, in modular, supposedly temporary classrooms and even in leased spaces.
Though highly modified, modular buildings make up a large percentage of the campuss total square footage. In the past, capital projects director for the district John Bingham has described the new schools of the options campus as deluxe modulars. Bingham has said the district decided to use modular components for the options campus largely for financial reasons. Traditional construction would have added greatly to the final price tag.
Besides using a somewhat unique approach to building the new facility, district officials also took an offbeat approach with regard financing the overall project. The district used residential mitigation fees paid by new homeowners to pay for the construction. The district banked those fees for several years prior to the start of the work and sold bonds against future collections. The idea sat well with Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall.
In remarks made during the dedication, Kendall said he has been asked many times if new residents pay their fair share of keeping up the city and the schools. With the schools unique use of the mitigation fees for the options campus, Kendall said he can answer in the affirmative.
I have a lot of expectations coming out of this complex, said State Rep. John McCoy.
Without going into details, McCoy added leaders at the A and T School already had approached him for some capital improvement dollars.
Its a wonderful sunny day, its a wonderful new campus and some wonderful things are happening here, Assistant District Superintendent Gail Miller said in remarks that actually opened the dedication ceremony, but seemed to sum up the day quite nicely.

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