Plans shaping up for West Valley School

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A preliminary drawing shows the planned exterior of the new West Valley School buiding. (David Koel graphic/ CTA Architects and Engineers)

 CTA Architects and Engineers provided a glimpse of what the new West Valley School will look like after a $6.8 million construction project.

A preliminary drawing of the exterior shows slightly angled buildings — a nod to the mountains — a palette of earth tones and many windows for natural lighting, according to CTA’s David Koel, the designer for the West Valley project. 

Koel said the designers plan to use economical and maintenance-free siding, either a concrete composite or metal. 

The goal is to budget money to re-side the existing school building, which Koel estimates would cost between $70,000 to $100,00.

“A lot the existing walls are falling apart. This would be a great step and not terribly expensive,” Koel said.

Koel, who has two children who attend fourth grade at West Valley, said he is very excited about this project. He said the West Valley planning committee has been great to work with.  

CTA signed a $484,680 contract with West Valley for architectural and engineering services and construction oversight.

The district is slated to break ground in August if bidding is completed in July. If construction goes smoothly, completion can be expected by fall 2015.

New construction, built to the west and south of the existing building, will add roughly 34,400 square feet and includes 15 classrooms (including a lab, special education and music rooms), media center, auxiliary gym (for sports practices, performances and physical education classes), administrative offices and common areas.

Plans also include a kitchen. However, kitchen equipment is a construction option — it will go out for bid but will only be completed if there is enough funding. 

Koel expects it will cost around $300,000 for kitchen equipment. Currently, West Valley School has food transported from Evergreen School District.

“In case there is no money, they still have the space ready for when they do,” Koel said. “It’s a good way to do it.”

Two sets of wide steps lead to common areas throughout the length of the building. These large common areas where students can congregate and collaborate will replace the narrow hallways of the past. The idea is to create an environment conducive to collaboration.

“It’s 21st century learning,” Koel said.

The width of the steps also have a purpose as a gathering place to eat lunch, have choir performances or educational presentations, Koel said.

This is the first school construction project West Valley Superintendent Cal Ketchum has overseen. He summed up the process so far as “awesome.”

“CTA has been really great to work with. I look forward to continuing to work with them and watching construction through completion,” Ketchum said.

Ketchum said the far north section of the existing building that currently has third and fourth grade eventually may be turned into a central office and board meeting area, but that won’t be included in project bids.  

The construction project stems from a booming West Valley student population that shows no signs of slowing down. 

Since the bond request was proposed in fall 2013, enrollment has increased by 36 students for a total of 550 students. The school building has a capacity of 470.

Ketchum said that the interest rate on the bonds came in lower than estimated at about 3 percent, saving taxpayers close to $800,000 in interest over the 20-year life of the bonds.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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