Special programs building budget given OK

The Richland School Board has approved a construction budget of $1.25 million for a new special programs building.

The money will come from the district's existing budget and requires no new bond issues, said spokesman Steve Aagaard.

The old special programs building was built in World War II to house officers working at the Hanford site, said Mark Panther, the district's executive director of support services.

"It is woefully inadequate," he said.

Currently, 19 employees work in about 1,500 square feet inside the old building.

The new building, which will be near the old facility, will provide about 6,000 square feet for special education and early learning and will be just north of the district office on Snow Avenue.

The new space also will house the information systems data center. The computer servers are inside the administration building, which was built in the 1950s, Panther said, and that building's electrical system is straining under the servers' load.

"There's not enough electrical power to add to it," he said.

The district hired CKJT Architects of Kennewick in August to determine the appropriate size of the new facility, where to locate it and how much it might cost. The firm also will design the new building, Aagaard said.

Construction contracts will go out to bid in April, Panther said. The project is scheduled to be completed in November.