As I move through my third year as superintendent, I continue to be in awe of the miracles that occur in our classrooms, at our school sites and across our community every day. I am inspired by the dedication of our more than 2,000 employees who inspire our students to lay the foundation for their dreams.
“We are Pasco” continues to be the rallying cry that represents a pride and commitment to building for the future of our next generations. Over the next three years, because of the support of our Pasco community, we are building two new elementary schools, a new middle school and rebuilding Stevens Middle School.
Three Rivers Elementary, at the intersection of Road 84 and Massey Drive, is currently under construction and will be ready to open for our students in August 2019. Crews with Fowler Construction have been working diligently through this extraordinary winter to mitigate the impacts of the record-breaking February snowfall. The project continues to be on budget. We are excited to welcome the Three Rivers Chinook into the PSD family this fall.
Bulldozers have already started moving dirt at the construction site for Columbia River Elementary and Middle School #4, located along Burns Road between Road 90 and Broadmoor Boulevard. Construction on Columbia River Elementary will begin in June, and the school will be ready to open for students in August 2020.
Construction will start on Middle School No. 4 in April, taking about 18 months to complete. The new middle school is scheduled to open for students in August 2020, a year earlier than we originally planned. The district decided to move up the timeline in an effort to mitigate the escalation in construction costs, for both materials and labor, that we’re seeing across the country. Recent data shows that steel prices have risen more than 12 percent since the district estimated the construction costs for the four schools included in the 2017 bond proposal. Some labor cost estimates have nearly doubled in that same time frame.
The district estimates we’ll see a cost savings of about $200,000 by moving up the construction timeline for Middle School No. 4, while also avoiding another year’s worth of construction cost escalation. The district is also taking other measures to reduce costs for our new schools. For example, the district has ordered the furniture for both new elementary schools at the same time, taking advantage of some cost savings by purchasing in larger volumes. We will do the same for the furniture needed for Middle School No. 4 and the new Stevens Middle School, all in an effort to reduce costs.
Construction of the brand-new Stevens Middle School is scheduled to begin this summer. This new school will replace the current Stevens building on the same site in central Pasco, providing Stevens students with access to updated technology, equipment and facilities. Students will continue to attend classes in the current Stevens while the construction work moves forward right next door. In January 2021, students will move into the new Stevens building, and then the old Stevens will be demolished to make way for playfields that will be ready for student use starting in August 2021.
The construction of these four new schools is only possible thanks to the ongoing support and commitment of the entire Pasco community. We are especially grateful to the volunteers of the Community Builders group, who continue to focus on the area’s future growth, and will finalize their work on a Long-Term Facilities Master Plan this spring.
We are building the future here in Pasco, and creating the best foundations for our children, who are our next generation of leaders. With gratitude, I am proud to say, “We are Pasco.”