Kennewick School District saves millions, plans new rebuild

Kennewick School District saves millions, plans new rebuild
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- The district managed to save millions out of the school bond you passed back in 2009. It's allowing them to rebuild an additional school that wasn't even on the initial list.

It took two tries for Kennewick to pass its bond with voters. And when it did, the district was able to undertake massive remodels of five elementary schools and build a new one from the ground up.

Canyon View, Southgate, Sunset View, Cascade and Lincoln were all decades-old and failing.They now look like Cottonwood Elementary, built brand-new and opened in 2010. And that $68 million bond approval came at just the right time.

"The recession hit and prices came down and contractors became weary of job production and bid jobs low so that they had jobs," said Doug Carl with Kennewick School District.

That resulted in the perfect recipe for savings by the district. The state pitched in more.

"Prices were down, reimbursement was up. That combination added to a higher total. So, right now, we have a little money left over - enables us to rebuild Eastgate Elementary," said Carl.

Eastgate will get a $15 million overhaul. The building is from the 50s and was remodeled once.

"We don't have to focus on maintenance on the building and false fire alarms like what we just ran into. Also, it helps them with the technology piece of it," said Niki Arnold-Smith, principal of Eastgate.

Situations like this are rare. Yakima School District also passed a bond during that same election in 2009. It was valued at nearly twice what Kennewick asked for, but by the time one high school remodel was finished, the district was out of money to complete the gymnasium at Ike. And there's not enough cash to finish the football stadium at Davis.

Making the Eastgate Elementary rebuild all the more of an unexpected windfall.

The Kennewick School District will hold an open house Thursday at Eastgate Elementary for alumni, beginning at 4 p.m., if you would like to share memories of the old school. The students will use the Fruitland Building while their school is rebuilt in the upcoming school year.