Kiona-Benton City School District’s space problems will be solved next school year, thanks to Fowler Construction.
The Richland contractor, which is building two new Richland elementary schools this summer, is giving Kiona-Benton City School District a steal of a deal on five surplus portable classroom buildings.
One double portable and four singles will give the school district enough space for next year and will buy the district some time to find another solution to its crowding issues, said Joe Lloyd, the district’s assistant superintendent of federal and online programs
“We are just overwhelmed,” he said.
The school board recently approved the $57,000 deal with Fowler Construction so the portables can be moved this summer to be ready for students in the fall.
The contractor is selling the portables to the Kiona-Benton City School District for the cost of buying just one new two-classroom portable, Lloyd said.
The additional classrooms are something that seemed out of reach after voters in February failed to approve a $750,000 levy. About 900 voters, or 54 percent, opposed the six-year levy to buy portables.
The 11 existing portables at the middle and elementary school building were 50 years old and were at the end of their useful life. Most of them had been used for special education, as well as for office space.
Five of the portables were removed because of a black mold infestation. And the district decided to get rid of the rest of them at the end of the second semester and moved everything into the crowded main school building.
That forced some special education classes to be combined, and some teachers must work with students in the hallways because of a lack of rooms, Lloyd said.
The school district struggled on how to solve the problem since it can’t ask voters to approve a capital bond for some time, since state matching money wouldn’t be available for about a decade, Lloyd said.
Instead, the school board decided to buy one two-classroom portable, Lloyd said. And they reached out to neighboring school districts in search of any unneeded portables.
Pasco and Kennewick had none to spare, but Richland School District officials suggested contacting Fowler Construction, the contractor hired to build the new Marcus Whitman and Lewis & Clark elementary schools. Handling surplus portables at both schools was part of Fowler Construction’s job.
The contractor also is providing a couple play structures from Marcus Whitman that were going to be demolished. Lloyd said they will be perfect for the school district’s preschool students.
“They were just so kind, and have just bent over backwards to help us,” he said.
The school district will cover the cost to move the portables. Officials expect the total cost, including moving expenses, will be about $120,000 to 150,000.
Lloyd said it will be tight, but they will find the money in the budget to cover the expense.
Some of the intervention programs will have their own classrooms and the school will have a computer lab again, Lloyd said.
Most of the new portables will go on the south end of the elementary and middle school building, he said.