Board approves plans for new science wing

Published on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 by Ian Ferguson

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The Blaine school board approved construction design plans on Monday night for a science wing for the high school, and a life-skills classroom at both the high school and middle school. 

The science wing includes four combined class/lab rooms, one dedicated lab room and one dedicated classroom. Facilities manager Jim Kenoyer, who presented the plans to the board, said the lab spaces will include ventilation and safety systems, and will have the electrical infrastructure for future equipment upgrades.

The chemistry and physics classes will share a chemical storage room and a prep room, and the biology and horticulture classes will share a prep room. The combined class/lab spaces have room for up to 30 students, but are ideally suited for around 24 students, Kenoyer said. All classrooms in the plans have their own dedicated emergency exit doors.

Blaine district superintendent Ron Spanjer said the planned life-skills classrooms will provide a better space for classes that are currently housed in what used to be locker rooms.

“The current space is compartmentalized and not suited to its purpose,” he said. “The functionality and feasibility of these new classrooms will be a major upgrade for the life-skills program.”

Board members unanimously approved the plans, and will  begin the permit applications process on December 7. Contract bidding is anticipated to open February 14, 2013.

“We’re right on track with the plans,” Spanjer said. “It’s been very positive.”

In other news, board members attended the annual Washington State School Director’s Association conference and discussed trends in Washington’s schools with other school directors from across the state. Among topics discussed were the creation of a charter school system under Initiative 1240 that was passed in the November election, a statewide trend toward all-day, everyday kindergarten that has seen success in Ferndale and Bellingham, and new self-evaluation initiatives that track progress based on past performance rather than national standards.

Board member Charles Gibson, summing up, said, “I foresee a time of great change to the school systems in the next several years. Charter schools, online education and individualized education will pose great changes and challenges to our public school systems.”