Kennewick’s newest elementary school has officially opened. The timing couldn’t have been better.
“Our community is really growing,” said Greg Fancher, assistant superintendent of elementary education for the Kennewick School District.
Hundreds of people gathered Thursday morning for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of Sage Crest Elementary School. Kennewick teachers, school district administrators and families were eager to see the new facility.
The new 56,000-square foot building has 26 classrooms, which is enough for about 500 students. It also has a library, computer lab, playground, gym, cafeteria and two reading rooms.
The school is located in the Southridge area of Kennewick, at 6411 W. 38th Avenue, just north of Interstate 82.
“We’re trying to place our schools where we can get ahead of that growth,” Fancher said. “Every time we build a building, we do a better job of meeting the needs for the kids.”
As many as 300 new students enrolled in Kennewick schools over the past four years, forcing the district to pack many of them in portable classrooms.
“We’re just packed,” Fancher said.
Every time we build a building, we do a better job of meeting the needs for the kids.
Greg Fancher, Kennewick assistant superintendent
Sage Crest cost roughly $19.5 million to build. The project was part of an $89.5 million bond approved by voters in February 2015.
The final cost for Sage Crest could increase somewhat depending on other factors, such as finishing the school’s playground equipment in October, Superintendent Dave Bond said.
“We don’t pay the final bill for months out,” Bond said.
The school features innovative security systems, including cameras throughout the building and electronic doors for lockdowns. Kennewick police and fire officials are working with the district to make sure kids and teachers continue to have safe learning spaces.
“We practice drills, we do walk-arounds with police and fire,” said Kevin Veleke, insurance broker and risk management adviser for the district.
Visitors must check in with the office, since the next doors into the school require an electronic pass.
“You get in there, but you can’t get past the secure doors,” said Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin. “These things can’t fail.”
Many families and children who will attend the school ventured around the halls and classrooms to check out the new features after Thursday’s ribbon-cutting.
Nesreen Al Muzayen said her family just moved to Kennewick recently, and her four sons will attend Sage Crest.
“We love it here,” she said.
One of her sons, Hamzeh Beck, 10, who will attend fifth grade, said he was thrilled that the school has two floors instead of one — he’s a fan of elevators.
Nicole Foltz, who will teach reading at Sage Crest, said she’s excited to share the building with everyone in the community.
“We wanted to be a part of something very special,” she said.
Kyler Rutz, another incoming fifth grader, said he’s excited to meet the new teachers and make new friends.
“It’s going to be a hoot,” Rutz said in reference to an owl, the new school’s mascot.
The next new elementary school in the district’s expansion will be located at the Clearwater Creek development. It’s still in the planning stage, but is projected to have 38 classrooms and serve about 730 students.
The rebuilt Westgate Elementary School, which will have 32 classrooms, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.