Students to have role in move, landscaping
Though delayed by several months due to supply-chain issues, one of the Methow Valley School District’s new portable buildings arrived last week and is being prepared for sixth-grade classes to move in soon.
“We’re excited and I think they are too,” said Superintendent Tom Venable.
The Methow Valley School District announced the shift to a middle-school program early this year. Under the program, three grades — sixth, seventh and eighth — will have their own dedicated space, International Baccalaureate curriculum and lunch period. Sixth graders will get most of their instruction in a home-room class but will have an option to take electives at Liberty Bell High School.
Shifting to a middle school model has been a topic of discussion for several years, but the district was able to make it a reality this year due to expanded enrollment and available federal COVID funding. Part of the expansion includes two new modular buildings. A second is scheduled to be installed in advance of the 2022-2023 school year.
The district reviewed costs for a from-scratch building with four classrooms, a four-classroom portable and two two-classroom portables and found the latter option to be the most cost effective, at less than $300,000 each, Venable said.
“And it provides us with flexibilities down the road,” he said.
For now, the single building will be enough to house the district’s two sixth-grade classes. The district anticipates needing a third sixth-grade class next school year, which will be in the second portable.
The district ordered the first building in March and expected to have it on campus in July, and installed in time for the beginning of the school year and its first year of the middle school program.
However, Venable said supply-chain and labor issues delayed the project. A seven to 12-week delay on the windows alone set the project significantly behind schedule.
“We added windows to the design of the portable to capitalize on the natural light that we have access to, so it sounds like that contributed to the delay as well,” Venable said.
While the buildings were late to get here, the middle school program started on schedule, except that sixth graders remained in classrooms at Methow Valley Elementary School during most of the day and participated in electives at the high school. They also have had their lunch periods at Liberty Bell High School this year.
Venable said it hasn’t yet been determined when the sixth graders will move into their new classrooms.
“We’re going to leave that decision to our sixth-grade team,” Venable said. “Both our staff and students will be actively involved in the transition to our new classrooms.”
Students will also be involved in the process of designing landscaping around the new buildings, which will be situated near the Classroom in Bloom garden between the elementary and high schools.