Both Lynden school projects moving forward

Both Lynden school projects moving forward
Posted on 10/11/2016
Students returned to class in late August, but work started on getting their newest school building up and running a month earlier.

Following the successful bond to fund construction of a new Fisher Elementary School on the current Fisher property and build a brand-new middle school on vacant land off Line Road, design work and bid preparation kept the projects busy for the first half of 2016. But as of July 28, construction started at Fisher and a Sept. 28 bid awarding of the middle school project now has that project poised for a groundbreaking in October.

The 12-month project to replace Fisher with a new school expects to have students in the new building before the start of the 2017-2018 school year. But to meet that deadline, it meant bringing construction crews alongside students at the Fisher site off 14th Street.

The first couple of months of work included moving the playground, taking down the covered play area—it stood where the new gym will get built—and site prep of all kinds. From new underground utilities, wiring, piping and power, anything that needed to go into the school had to have a way in before the school’s slab could get poured.

“You don’t see a lot of the progress as they are digging holes, putting things in and then staking it out,” says Jim Frey, superintendent. “They have to excavate and fill. There are a lot of logistics.” But with all the site prep wrapping up, the next big step at Fisher will feature pouring of the concrete slab, allowing crews to get out of the dirt, as Frey says, and move toward construction of the structure.

“A lot of the activity is close to the school,” Frey says. “Excavators are shaking the ground and the noise impacts the school. I think there has been plenty of good distractions as the kids are interested.”

With the design of the 60,000-square-foot school basically wrapped up with Zervas Architects of Bellingham—expect to see more collaborative learning space for differentiated use that allows teachers and staff to target instruction in a more flexible way than only in self-contained classrooms—Blaine’s Colacurcio Brothers continues on the construction.

“The benefits of a new school will be a quality learning environment with effective ventilation, air quality, heating, natural daylighting and a design that reflects the nature of an educational program as it stands now, not as it was in 1960,” Frey says.

Final design work, Frey says, includes some of the interior choices, such as selecting colors, finishes, textures and furniture and fixtures. Fisher is bringing over what it can from the current school, but will also need to fill that out with new.

Students will remain separated from the work site by fencing this entire school year, but once school lets out in the spring, the old Fisher building will come down to make way for parking, driveways and transportation patterns required in order to welcome students and parents to the 2017-18 school year.

The Lynden Middle School project offers a project nearly twice the size of Fisher at 105,000 square feet. The Sept. 28 bid opening revealed Tiger Construction of Everson as the low bidder on the project and they will start in on the King Architecture design of the middle school this month, with a groundbreaking ceremony kicking off what is now expected to be an 18-month construction window.

Frey says that originally the district thought the project could wrap up in 12 to 16 months, but with the nature of the construction industry at this time, giving more time in the contract allows contractors to find more competitive sub-contractor bids. “If there are only one or just a few sub-contractors, the cost will go up because of a lack of competition,” Frey says. “By extending the window is gives more flexibility to schedule work further out. Right now everybody in the construction sector is fairly busy.”

The new timetable calls for the middle school to start accepting students for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

As with Fisher, Frey says to expect a building that not only meets the mechanical and operational needs of the students with daylighting, ventilation, updated heating and more, but one that features collaborative spaces and “supports the functions of the academic program as opposed to having limiting factors we currently experience.” The design incorporates modern technology, deals with the overcrowding at the current middle school and fits the needs of modern education.