The last time the Kennewick Lions got a new home, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe were among the country’s biggest stars.
I Love Lucy and The Jackie Gleason Show dominated the airwaves. World War II had been over less than a decade.
The Tri-Cities and the world have dramatically changed since then, but the high school on South Dayton Street in downtown? Not so much.
Soon, that may no longer be the case.
The Kennewick School District is planning to replace Kennewick High.
Design work is under way, with a pair of community meetings scheduled to provide an update and gather public input.
The meetings are at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the high school library, and at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district administration center, 1000 W. Fourth Ave.
“We’re really excited to be able to share where we are in the process of thinking about what a new Kennewick High would look like,” said Superintendent Dave Bond.
Kennewick High first opened around the turn of the 20th century, with the existing building going up at the Dayton Street site in the early 1950s.
“We’d love to have people come out and see what we’re doing, understand why we’re doing it, and then give us their input to help us know if we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
The high school is at 500 S. Dayton St., across from Keewaydin Park.
It’s the oldest high school in the district by decades. It first opened around the turn of the 20th century, with the existing building going up at the Dayton Street site in the early 1950s.
Replacing the school has been on the district’s planning horizon for years.
About $3 million for design work was included in a 2015 bond package. Construction of the replacement school is to be the signature project of a 2019 bond request.
The architects MMEC Architecture & Interiors and DLR Group came on board earlier this year. They’re gathering input from teachers and district staff on what’s needed at the new school.
There’s a lot to consider, everything from preferred flooring to bigger picture ideas such as how to design classrooms and other spaces with flexibility, knowing technology and education practices will change.
They’re really thinking in detail about every aspect.
Robyn Chastain, director of communications and public relations
“They’re really thinking in detail about every aspect,” said Robyn Chastain, director of communications and public relations.
While final plans are still a ways off, some parameters are in place:
▪ The high school will stay at the Dayton Street site. It will have a smaller footprint, with a two-story main building instead of a one-story building.
▪ The new construction will be anchored by Art Fuller Auditorium and the Lion’s Den gym. The auditorium, which can hold about 1,200 people, will be renovated as part of the project. It’s best to renovate it instead of demolishing and starting from scratch because the district won’t be able to get state matching dollars to rebuild it at the same capacity, officials said.
▪ The new school will be able to hold 2,000 students, meeting current needs and leaving room for growth. Today, about 1,600 students are enrolled, with portables needed to help hold them all.
A price tag isn’t final, but Bond estimates the project will cost $100 million to $110 million, with district taxpayers asked to pay about half through the bond proposal.
The bond is expected to go before voters in February 2019. Some other projects also will be included.
If voters approve the bond, construction of the new Kennewick High will start in the spring 2019.
Students will continue taking classes at the site while the school is rebuilt, using the math/science wing, annex building, nearby Fruitland Building and other space.
While the new high school won’t be extravagant, Bond said the district envisions a facility that looks pleasing and inviting.
“We want people to drive down the street and say, ‘They really love their schools here. They really take care of them. They have a lot of pride in their education system,’ ” he said.
More information: ksd.org/District/Bonds.