Two more projects from the Richland School District’s $98 million bond are closer to construction after bids for them were awarded to two Tri-City contractors.
Fowler Construction of Richland will receive $16.28 million to build a new building for Marcus Whitman Elementary School, a release said. The company also is building replacement schools at Lewis & Clark and Sacajawea elementary schools and the new Orchard Elementary School in south Richland. The new Marcus Whitman is scheduled to open in fall 2016.
The district also will pay Pasco-based Big D’s Construction $797,000 to prepare the future site for a new modular building for alternative program Three Rivers HomeLink next to Jason Lee Elementary School. That building should open to students next fall.
Voters approved the bond in February 2013. Along with replacing three central Richland elementary schools and building Orchard Elementary School and a new home for HomeLink, it has paid for improvements at Chief Joseph Middle School and Fran Rish Stadium and will cover construction of a new middle school in West Richland and the remodeling of Jefferson Elementary School in central Richland.
Fowler’s bid for the Marcus Whitman project was the lowest of four submitted, district officials said. The district said it has been pleased with the firm’s work on the other bond projects.
Replacing Marcus Whitman will take some extra effort. While Sacajawea and Lewis & Clark were built next to their former schools and will be torn down eventually, the new Marcus Whitman will be built on top of its current location. That means those students will be bused to the old Sacajwea building for the 2015-16 school year to allow construction.
Only the new middle school and Jefferson projects have not yet broken ground. Design work has already begun on the middle school, which would be located near the intersection of Keene Road and Belmont Boulevard.
Only the 1950s-era wing of Jefferson was scheduled to be replaced with the bond. However, the board has endorsed a proposal from Superintendent Rick Schulte to instead rebuild the entire school, thanks to cost savings on other projects and increased state capital contributions. That project likely wouldn’t start until 2017 and not open to students until the fall 2018.