Peninsula School District is in the final stage of planning for a modernization of Key Peninsula Middle School.
The current plans at KPMS would expand the building by eight classrooms. A new administrative section would be constructed, and the current admin area would be converted into classroom space. An additional four classrooms would be built on the east wing of the building. Depending on final design and bidding, the gym may also be expanded.
The new space will help the district handle increased enrollment and provide more space for special education programs. “It’s just keeping up with the growth of the district,” said Patrick Gillespie, PSD’s director of facilities and capital projects. “We’ve had some of the highest enrollment rates at the elementary schools over the past few years. When that bubble hits the middle schools, this will help. We’ll have the classrooms available.”
Several elements of the project, including the gym expansion, are being designated as alternates. Their construction will depend on what kind of bids the district receives for the project. “We have a budget, and we need to stick to that budget,” Gillespie said. “If there’s enough dollars, we’ll take those alternates.”
Construction will also include updates for the school’s infrastructure, including water, septic, lighting and fire protection. Replacing the systems will create a better experience for building occupants and eliminate mounting maintenance costs associated with aging equipment.
Combining the projects saves time and money. “Basically, when you look at all the little components that need to be replaced, it adds up to a large dollar amount. By pooling them into a bigger project, it allows us to do more,” Gillespie said.
KPMS modernization was not originally planned to be this extensive. Several unexpected cost reductions in other capital projects freed up resources to fully refresh KPMS. Budget space was created when PSD purchased the Boys and Girls Club in Gig Harbor to serve as the base of a new elementary school. School replacement projects also moved through planning phases faster than expected, allowing the district to outrun some inflation costs. Expanding the scope of work at KPMS qualified the project for the state School Construction Assistance Program, which pays for a percentage of major projects.
Part of the construction will also include a facelift for the building’s exterior. Several design choices were presented at a school board study session, including options for bolder colors and textured siding to improve KPMS’s front-facing appearance.
“KPMS and Kopachuck were built in the ’80s. There’s a general perception that nobody likes the look of those buildings. They’re not warm. They’re not inviting,” Gillespie said. “It will be great for both communities to get a building that they can drive up to and feel welcome.”
The KPMS project is currently in the planning phase. PSD hopes to go to bid in the spring and begin construction no later than summer of 2021. Timelines are uncertain, but Gillespie anticipated one and a half to two years before completion.
The district is currently planning with the assumption that kids will be back in school before then, which means that work will need to proceed in phases.
“It’s a little complicated,” Gillespie said. “We might need to shut down some classrooms and move some kids around, maybe create some temporary classrooms to accommodate that, and work on a wing. When that wing’s done, work on another wing, and so on.”
Updates at KPMS are part of PSD’s Capital Projects Bond approved by voters in 2019. Kopachuck Middle School is receiving many of the same add-ons and renovations. Artondale and Evergreen Elementary are both being replaced with new buildings, and the district is constructing two new elementary schools to handle increased enrollment.
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