Facility Update: May 2018

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker


Dear Families and Community,

Happy Thursday and let’s welcome 70 degree weather this weekend! 😊 I hope you each spend time outside and soak in some Vitamin D.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our community once more for supporting the February 2018 school construction bond at an approval rate of more than 70 percent. That is truly an incredible demonstration of support for the important work embodied by our district’s strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise. I continue to be excited about what these ongoing investments in our school facilities will mean for our students and our larger community. Many important projects will move forward because of our community’s support, and all the new or improved facilities will benefit students for literally generations to come. We are excited to share some information and an estimated timeline for our facilities projects, which include rebuilding three elementary schools, updates about our new Central Kitchen and Sehome High School and some important shout outs to community partners for their generosity.

Our revised schedule includes projects funded by facilities bonds approved by voters in February 2018 and November 2013. You’ll see our timeline on our new bond posters that are coming soon to your school.

Alderwood, Parkview and Sunnyland Rebuilds

We anticipate having all three elementary schools rebuilt and complete by August 2022. These schools are being rebuilt due to their condition. In addition, the new schools will help us meet demands associated with growth occurring in north Bellingham. We are going to start the educational specifications and design advisory committee processes for both Alderwood and Parkview this month. It’s unique for us to start two design committees in tandem, but we want to give ourselves wiggle room in case there are unforeseen challenges ahead as we map out plans, work with architects and collaborate with our neighbors, particularly the city. Parkview and Sunnyland are adjacent to city parks, and Alderwood is one of our three schools located in the county (as opposed to the city of Bellingham).  Regardless of the order, we know all three communities are excited for their new schools, and we’ll keep you posted on how things progress in the coming months.

Central Kitchen – “Breaking ground” at a new location

The 2013 school construction bonds included funds to build a new centralized kitchen to help us deliver on our promise to “encourage a lifetime of healthy eating by preparing and serving students nourishing, delicious, whole foods.”  The new Central Kitchen was originally planned to be housed at the new Sehome High School campus, but issues related to the site’s topography and revised storm water retention regulations made that location impractical. Our 11-member Central Kitchen Facility Design Team comprised of staff and consultants has finalized a design that calls for the renovation of an existing building that the district purchased in October 2017.

Located at 2005 Alpine Way in the Irongate area off of Bakerview, the new Central Kitchen will be approximately 12,500 square feet when construction is complete. While the exterior of the building will remain essentially the same, the interior space will undergo important architectural, mechanical and electrical improvements.  These improvements will support a state-of-the-art equipment package including space for receiving; dry, freezer and refrigerated storage; cooking and vegetable preparation; blast chilling; ware and cart washing; cooling and preparation for transport; as well as a training/conference room, offices and restrooms. While we won’t actually “break ground,” we are having a special event May 10 at the new Central Kitchen site to mark this exciting milestone.

New Sehome High School building under constructionSehome High School – On target to open by Fall 2019

Our work on the new Sehome High School is progressing quickly and well. Mass site work for the building phase is complete with the exception of sidewalks, a fire lane and general landscaping. Major utilities have been installed around the building with some electrical and irrigation still to be completed. We are done building the exterior wall framing and exterior masonry veneer. The east side of the building is transitioning to a finish stage; the exposed concrete floor grinding and polishing is ongoing (and on schedule); and paint and wall finish items are progressing as well.  On the west side of the building, the next month’s activities will be focused on completion of the weather barrier, window opening installation, roofing and starting the dry out process of the wood structure.

We are on-target to meet our goal of having the new Sehome ready for students and staff no later than the fall of 2019. You can see photos of our progress here or watch our work zone web cam.

It Takes a Village (the Bellingham community) – thank you, partners!

Within The Bellingham Promise, we make a collective commitment to all our students that relies not just on our own internal efforts, but also on authentic partnerships with individuals and organizations across our community.

Our capital projects work is no different. Bellingham Public Schools have benefited from significant community partner support, including:

  • Whatcom Community Foundation (WCF) – Thank you for sharing the belief that what we feed our kids matter. Your partnership in our district’s ongoing efforts to transform school food – including a $1 million grant investing in research, planning, staff training and equipment upgrades for the new Central Kitchen – will help us use more whole and less processed foods in the meals and snacks we serve to more than 11,000 students. WCF is helping us achieve The Good Food Promise for every student.
  • RAM Construction – Thank you for your support of the new Options High School, including your $85,000 donation of resources to get the site prepared.
  • Dawson Construction – Thank you for your donation to enhance sustainability at the new Sehome High School. The $100,000 will help us install our first solar array.

As always, if you have any questions about our bond projects, please let me know, or you can contact our Capital Projects and School Facilities office.


Greg Baker

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