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Poulsbo Elementary soon ready for big unveiling

POULSBO — The infamous round windows are now all but a memory at Poulsbo Elementary School.

The aging windows, which resembled a ship’s port holes, were a point of nostalgia for some at the school. But they finally met their demise during the school’s series of renovations, which have occurred over the past year.

“They were nostalgic,” said NKSD Capital Programs Manager Dennis Burch. “But they were old, starting to leak and didn’t work very well.”

That could be said for much of the school, chosen by the district as one of several projects to be accomplished by the $60 million bond passed by voters in 2001. The $5.9 million renovation not only remodeled the building inside and out, it added a multi-purpose room, new heating, plumbing and electrical systems and a seismic retrofit. At present, the building is almost coated in its new yellow-siding, with the formerly blue and visibly rotting siding removed entirely.

The Poulsbo remodel is in its final of four stages this summer, with all construction slated to be finished by the time school starts in September.

Like many of the renovations in the district, including those ongoing at Pearson and Suquamish elementaries, much of the work has to be completed during the summers, when children and school staff are not present. That makes for a rigid timeline in terms of construction, Burch commented.

“It’s tough on the contractors, it’s tough on the teachers, it’s tough on everybody because the schedule is so tight,” Burch said. “It’s always a race to get the project done before the school starts.”

Cree Construction, the general contractor for the Poulsbo Project, is no stranger to school remodel projects, including recent work at North Kitsap High School’s “H” building and gymnasium renovations. As a result, Cree project manager Keith Tallman has grown accustomed to working with school-type deadlines.

“It’s a phase project,” Tallman said, adding that his company has learned to adapt to the unique schedule.

For instance, Burch had to change the start dates on many of the projects for phase four at Poulsbo Elementary because there were two days of snow that added to the length of the school year.

“Any one thing can go wrong,” Burch said. “If there’s a strike somewhere or a material shortage, we really have to work hard to make (the schedule) work, because school still starts the same day.”

The first phase of construction at Poulsbo Elementary began in the summer of 2003 and renovated the central portion of the building, including the library, gym, computer lab, kitchen and a few of the classrooms. Also added was a multi-purpose room, which was built as an extension of the school’s gymnasium in what was formerly an outside covered play area. The new space created a lunch area outside of its gym and a gathering place for assemblies and after-school activities.

The second phase renovated the school’s north wing of classrooms, with construction conducted almost entirely during the school year, from September to December. The third phase remodeled the south wing of classrooms during April and May. During the school year, the school installed portables in the parking lot and around the building to compensate for displaced students and teachers. Finally, the last phase will complete the remodel, consisting of the school’s administrative and front offices, as well as a few of its kindergarten and special education classrooms.

The Poulsbo project’s architects, Harthorne Hagen of Seattle, worked with the district in designing the “H” and gym remodel and the Pearson and Suquamish renovations.

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