School bond wins, new Auburn High School to be built

A groundbreaking for the new Auburn High School is planned for February. The school is expected to open in fall 2014.  - Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture
A groundbreaking for the new Auburn High School is planned for February. The school is expected to open in fall 2014.
— image credit: Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture

Auburn School District Superintendent Kip Herren kept a cigar to light up the moment that passage of the Auburn High School Construction bond became a sure thing.

Now, it's a sure thing. But don't hold your breathe waiting for Herren to puff on that stogie.

"It's a good thing I don't smoke, but I am ready to light that cigar," Herren said after summing up the final vote tallies for the Nov. 6 election.

The combined results of King and Pierce counties topped more than 62 percent yes, above the 60 percent supermajority state law requires.

The results were certified Tuesday.

Elections, as the saying goes, have consequences. And in the case of the Auburn High School bond, that means sometime this coming February a groundbreaking near the parking lot tennis court area within the new school's footprint.

The school is expected to open in fall 2014.

"We're very thankful to our community," Herren said. "District wide, our Thanksgiving was for what this Auburn community is going to do for generations of students. This will be a really good thing for the community that will create jobs and provide a real boost to the downtown area. And we are delighted that we have the opportunity to make this a special project that will make a difference in lives for many years to come."

Among the project design features are:

• A new and prominent front entry on East Main Street.

• Direct access to and easily visibility of the Performing Arts Center and main gym from 4th Street Northeast.

• Expansion of on-site parking stalls from 315 to more than 600.

• A large parking lot adjacent to the main gym, the PAC and Auburn Pool directly across the street from Auburn Memorial Stadium.

• An off-street bus loading area.

• New synthetic turf baseball and softball fields.

• All buildings under one roof.

• Improved energy efficiency.

• New classroom and building technology.

• A large student commons.

• A modernized PAC with a new front entry plaza and drop-off area, a new lobby and delivery area, new theater seats, upgraded lighting and sound systems, improved access for the disabled, seismic upgrades, and more restrooms.

When the district first ran the bond in 2009, it garnered 46-percent of the vote, 14 percentage points below the supermajority.

The aging high school is longer cost-effective to operate and maintain. Critically needed repairs include leaking roofs, poor air quality and ventilation and outdated classrooms and labs. Those old systems have cost the district $250,000 more in energy costs per year than all the other schools combined.

"It needs replacing badly," said Dr. Harold Valentine, who taught at the school for many years.

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