Education

Fun facts about 2 new schools opening in Pasco and West Richland this week

Pasco’s newest elementary school set to open

Randy Nunamaker, executive director of capital programs for Pasco School District, describes the new 72,832-square-foot Three Rivers Elementary School building off Road 84. It has 36 classrooms and cost an estimated $27.3 million.
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Randy Nunamaker, executive director of capital programs for Pasco School District, describes the new 72,832-square-foot Three Rivers Elementary School building off Road 84. It has 36 classrooms and cost an estimated $27.3 million.

Two new schools will open their doors to students for the first time on Tuesday.

Pasco’s Three Rivers Elementary and Tapteal Elementary’s temporary home in West Richland are primed for the first-day of school.

From energy-saving sunlight sensors to playground equipment for kids in wheelchairs, here are some facts about the new schools.

Nunamaker Three Rivers
Randy Nunamaker, executive director of capital programs for Pasco School District, stands in one of the new classrooms of Three Rivers Elementary School off Road 84. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Three Rivers Elementary

More than 600 students have already signed up to start classes at Pasco’s 16th elementary that was built north of Chiawana High School.

1. First inclusive playground in Washington — Crews were putting the finishing touches Friday on the first inclusive playground for a K-6 school in the state. At the center of the playground is a structure that includes ramps wide enough for wheelchairs.

They included parents and teachers in helping to pick out what they wanted the playground structure to include. It has attracted the attention of other school districts and is designated a national demonstration site.

“It was even an inclusive process to design it,” said Randy Nunamaker, the executive director of capital programs.

2. Energy efficient building — As part of receiving state funding to help build the school, they are required to make sure the school is energy efficient. Meeting these standards goes beyond just turning off lights and good windows.

Sensors in the room actually detect the optimal amount of light needed. Lights will dim or brighten depending on how much sun is coming in, and this can change depending on where students are in the room.

Drone Three Rivers Elementary
The new 72,832-square-foot Three Rivers Elementary School building off Road 84 is set to open for Pasco School District students next week The new building with 36 classrooms cost an estimated $27.3 million. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

3. COWs in the classroom — Each third- through sixth-grader will have a computer available to use in the classroom. These are stored in locked carts called computers on wheels, or COWs for short. Younger children will have iPads to aid their learning.

4. Easing overcrowding — Pasco continues to try to catch up with the jump in children coming into the district in the past 20 years. Mostly the students will be leaving McGee, Livingston and Mark Twain elementaries to come to the new school. The largest was Livingston, which had 780 students.

5. First school finished as part of the bond — The 73,000-square-foot building is the first to be built as part of Pasco’s $99.5 million bond. The measure passed in November 2017 by seven votes, and includes rebuilding Stevens Middle School, a new middle school and an elementary school.

Temporarily Tapteal Elementary

1. Temporary home — Richland’s 11th elementary school built on Sunshine Avenue is going to be a temporary home for about 680 students. Next year, students will be moving into a new school being built at Tapteal’s old building site.

New Tapteal School
The temporary new home of Tapteal Elementary at 2100 Sunshine Avenue in West Richland is one of two new school buildings in the Mid-Columbia set to open their doors to students and teachers. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

2. A new bond — The building marks the first paid for with funds from a $99 million bond passed in February 2017, and marks the transition from Jefferson Elementary, which was the last school built with old funds.

3. Same design — The new $17 million building shares the same design as Jefferson Elementary. They both are 65,000 square feet, with 24 classrooms, four classrooms for special education and designated places for music and art.

“As with any of our new schools, it has been built to suit the diverse learning needs of our students,” district spokesman Ty Beaver said. “We think Tapteal families will enjoy their year in the building before returning to a brand new school.”

4. Third most populated — While White Bluffs remains the most populated elementary school at 747 students. West Richland’s Tapteal is third place with 684 students during the same year.

5. No name — While the Sunshine Avenue building will be called Tapteal this year, it still doesn’t have a name of its own. It likely won’t have one for a while. Tapteal gets its name from a Native American word associated with the Yakima River.

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