Eight months after Walla Walla School District voters said “yes” to spending more than $65 million on public school buildings, a number of projects funded by the bond measure are well underway, Superintendent Wade Smith said.

With state matching money, the district has about $118 million to fulfill needs such as the new science wing planned for Walla Walla High School and modernizing Lincoln High School. Plenty of smaller-scale work will make a difference on every other campus in the district, he said.

While bond dollars will have the most impact on the two high schools, plus Pioneer Middle School, other schools are receiving much-needed upgrades, repairs and security additions, Smith said.

As follows are projects getting knocked out this summer:

Berney Elementary School — roof replacement and entire heating and cooling system upgrade, totalling about $3.7 million.

“Work began the day after school let out,” Smith said, noting the building is on track to be mostly completed before students return in the fall.

This project, which basically gutted the school, has required boxing up every classroom and removing all the furniture, he added.

Green Park Elementary School — replacement of the composition roof on the original facility at a cost of about $200,000. This work started in June and is expected to wrap up well before school starts, Smith said.

Controlled access to school buildings is being implemented at all schools this summer, other than Wa-Hi and Pioneer — those schools will get this treatment later within larger renovation projects — and Blue Ridge Elementary, which already has a locked down public access lobby. The cost is about $300,000 and parents made it clear this was a very important aspect of the bond work, he said.

Although a new roof for Blue Ridge was in the initial plans for this summer, that project will have to wait until more construction teams are available.

“After the bond was approved in November, we worked hard to try and get all of the specifications put together to go out to bid as soon as possible in hopes of being able to also accomplish it this summer,” Smith said.

“We weren’t able to get the bid package put together until May. Since so many contractors were already booked up with work this summer, many were unable to bid on the project.”

Those bids will instead go out in the middle of the coming school year, with the expectation the Blue Ridge’s roof will be completed in time for the opening of school in 2020, Smith explained.

Wa-Hi’s renovations will begin in the fall of 2020, but ground for the new science building will be broken this September or October, with plans for it to be finished in about a year.

Pioneer’s work will also begin in 2020 and it and Wa-Hi should be wrapped up in the summer of 2022. Renovations at Lincoln will start in the fall of 2021 and last about 10 months, he said.

The superintendent noted spacing out the work allows opportunities for local contractors to do more of the projects.

For more information about project timelines, go to wwps.org/bond/project-timeline. More details about the district’s bond plans can be found at wwps.org.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.

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