New Wilkes Elementary will open on time for start of school year

Despite an historically wet weather season, the new Wilkes Elementary School will be open as planned on the first day of school on Aug. 29.

Officials with the Bainbridge Island School District said this week that the first phase of the construction of the new school will be complete by opening day.

The school won't be entirely finished come fall, however.

Students will have to live without a playground until the second phase of construction wraps up in December.

Parking for staff and visitors — and the student pick-up and drop-off areas for parents driving to the school — will also be unfinished until winter.

Tamela Van Winkle, director of capital projects for the school district, said temporary parking and pick-up/drop-off areas will be established until the second phase of the project is complete.

Phasing impacts were unavoidable, she said, given the constraints of the construction site and that the existing school needed to be used until the end of the past school year.

That, of course, meant demolishing the old Wilkes had to wait and construction planned in the footprint of the former facility also had to follow later.

"We couldn't start until after the kids were out of the buildings," Van Winkle said.

She said she was happy with the pace of construction, especially given the challenges associated with the unseasonably wet weather.

"All the reports have been that this has been the wettest year on record," she said.

"Just as you can imagine, it is much more difficult to work in a soupy environment," Van Winkle said.

Phase I includes the work to build classrooms. Phase II work includes the playground, landscaping, lighting, exterior finishes and parking areas.

As construction continues during the school year, Phase II interior work will be done after school hours. The work includes completion of the common areas, interior finishes, refinements to storage areas and punch-list items.

Furniture will be brought into the new school the week of Aug. 15.

Teachers will start to move in Aug. 20.

The builders of the new school said they were working to get the new Wilkes ready in time.

“Although it is a challenging construction schedule, SpeeWest is committed to having the building ready for occupancy for the start of the 2012 school year and completing Phase II by the end of December,” said Doug Spee, president of SpeeWest Construction.


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