District on the move

Ground turns on Dick Scobee Elementary School replacement project

Auburn School District brass and local officials picked up shovels and got down and dirty last Friday to launch the Dick Scobee Elementary School replacement project.

As ASD Superintendent Alan Spicciati said at the groundbreaking, Scobee is the first of four elementary schools that will make the crosstown trek to the former Olympic Middle School and back again in the coming years while their digs are razed and replaced.

“What we’re calling, ‘Dick Scobee on K Street,’ for one year,” Spicciati said of old Olympic, drawing laughter from the crowd huddled under front eaves of the school for protection from the rain.

In order, Pioneer, Chinook and Terminal Park will follow Scobee in the same pattern, occupying the interim facility as their schools are replaced.

The new Dick Scobee will replace the old one – which was built in 1954 – at its same location, 1031 14th St. NE, by fall of 2020. The new Olympic Middle School opens this fall next to the old one.

“An improvement in every possible way,” Adam Couch, Scobee’s principal for the last eight years, said of the replacement to be. “When the district made their presentation to our staff, the staff cheered just because there is going to be enough parking and bathrooms. But from a learning standpoint, the kids are going to be in a space that’s safe, well lit, warm and regulated with temperature. Just to walk into that state-of-the-art facility is going to evoke so much pride.”

Scobee, formerly North Auburn Elementary, and five other schools, among them two new ones, are the fruit of the $456 million capital facilities bond – or the “big ask” as school officials coin it – that voters approved in 2017. The elementary schools being replaced were built between 1945 and 1965. The timeline for completing all of the projects is eight to 10 years.

Construction is under way on the school district’s yet-to-be-named 15th elementary at 5701 Kersey Way SE. The school is near the Edgeview at Lakeland Hills neighborhood, tucked into a part of Auburn that locals call Hidden Valley or the Bowman Creek area.

Auburn’s 23rd overall school is the first addition to the district since Arthur Jacobsen Elementary sounded its first class bell for students on Lea Hill in 2007. That school, for which crews broke ground in April, is scheduled to welcome 650 students come fall 2020. The other new elementary will be built on Lea Hill.

“The truth is, since we opened Arthur Jacobsen …our enrollment has exploded, and we have almost 2,000 more elementary-age students now than we did just 12 years ago,” Spicciati said. “If you think of a school as holding 500 to 650 kids, we’re looking at about three elementary schools worth of kids who have come to Auburn since AJ was built. … Both of the new schools together will relieve overcrowding across the district.”