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Cascadia school planned for 2007

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By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

The Sumner School District and the Cascadia Development Corporation have reached a deal for a 14-acre plot of land in the planned community that will house the school district's next elementary school.

Located next to two parks and a planned community center, the school, now known as Elementary No. 9, will be located near the center of Phase One of the 5,000-acre community.

According to the district, the district will pay $3.7 million for the land, which includes the infrastructure improvements (electric, water, sewer and data lines) already completed on the site.

Construction of the new school is estimated at $14 million and it will house 500 to 550 students.

Though originally scheduled to open in 2007, construction delays have pushed back the projected opening of the school, one of the first buildings in Cascadia, until the following September.

“In September of 2008, we will welcome Cascadia's finest students to this new elementary school,” Superintendent Donald Eismann said in a press release. “We are looking forward to being a part of the Cascadia community.”

The school is one of seven planned for Cascadia, a 6,500-home community that has been in the works for more than 15 years. The first residents and businesses of the multi-use community are expected to take up residence in 2007.

“This is a very exciting milestone that we are achieving,” Patrick Kuo, Cascadia president and chief executive officer, said in a press release announcing the deal. “We look forward to this new journey of having Sumner School District deliver education of the best kind at Cascadia.”

Elementary No. 9 has been in the works for quite some time. Voters originally approved a bond for the project in 1996 and Kent Vallier was named planning principal of the building in 2004.

In the meantime, Vallier will replace outgoing principal Kevin Weberg at Liberty Ridge Elementary School next year.

According to District Communications Director Ann Cook, the school's education plan was completed in 2004 and design of the building began with the plan in mind.

“This school will have a focus on arts and language,” Cook said.

Much like the district's other elementary schools, the new building will feature three spokes to house different grade levels, as well as a flex areas and a performing arts room. Cook said the school also hopes to offer a foreign language of some kind at the building, though details are yet to be completed.

Plans also show a separate area for the kindergarten classrooms, allowing parents to watch their children walk into the class instead of simply disappearing into one of the school's other entrances.

“They paid a lot of attention to the placement of the kindergarten classrooms,” Cook said.

Cook said though voters approved only $9 million in 1996, the “average school cost at the time,” the district has invested the money and estimates the total cost of the school will be covered.

“That's created some challenges for us but there is no additional money we will be asking for from the taxpayers,” she said.

The southeastern section of the district, which includes the Falling Water development as well as Cascadia, is projected to be the fastest-growing section of the district. Once the new building is completed, Cook said the district would review elementary school boundaries, though the re-districting would mainly involve the Plateau, not schools on the valley floor.

“We can't simply expand the boundaries of the elementary schools in the north end of the district,” Cook said.

Groundbreaking of Elementary No. 9 is scheduled for spring 2007.

Brian Beckley can be reached at bbeckley@courierherald.com.

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