Remodel may be option for Lincoln

The school could get $5 million in state matching dollars if the 1927 building is renovated.

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WALLA WALLA -- A new focus has been put on renovating Lincoln High School to address its long-standing facility needs.

Members of the Walla Walla School Board, as well as members of the district's Facilities Task Force, learned about the Lincoln potential during a work session on Tuesday.

Architects from BLRB/USKH, who have been working with the district on designs for Walla Walla High School, presented ideas for Lincoln High School and Blue Ridge Elementary.

Board members have been reviewing the district's facilities needs, with Walla Walla High School and Lincoln High School remaining at the top of the list. There is also a need to address crowding at Blue Ridge Elementary, which houses the Head Start/ECEAP public preschool program.

Lincoln, formerly Paine School at 421 S. Fourth St., stands to receive $5 million in state matching dollars if the 1927 building is renovated.

Past conversations on Lincoln have considered rebuilding the school rather than remodeling it, because the cost to remodel the old building was greater than to build new.

But with state matching dollars supporting a renovation, Lincoln could be brought to standard and remodeled into a modern, functional space for about $5.95 million in local dollars. That figure is based on a proposed project of $10.95 million, which is what architects offered as a rough estimate for redesigning the building's 32,000 square feet.

With a basement, a main floor and a second story, Lincoln is large enough to accommodate a student body that averages 200 students. But the outdated design, and its former years as an elementary school, makes it unsuitable for older students and for modern educational demands.

The state match, covering almost half of the project's cost, is available only for a renovation.

Potential plans at Blue Ridge Elementary were also discussed.

Architects outlined a proposal that would add an addition at the school for older grades, keeping the preschool program in the same location in the school's basement. The board has in the past also discussed building a modular structure on the Blue Ridge grounds specific for the preschool.

The district has been exploring moving the preschool program out of Blue Ridge so Blue Ridge can return to being a three-section school, with three classrooms for each grade versus two. Superintendent Mick Miller said that could potentially help address crowding at Edison and Green Park schools. About 260 students are served through the district's public preschool program.

The work session concluded with a review of the latest Wa-Hi designs. No action is expected from any of the proposals at this time.

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