Students return from break to new Monroe Elementary
EVERETT - Everett’s Monroe Elementary finally has everyone under one roof.
The completely new school at 10901 27th Ave. SE opened up last week. District officials are proud to say it’s the first public school in the country to be lighted with LED lighting.
And there’s more.
The entire building is hooked to Wi-Fi. Large windows bring in light all over the school. The classrooms are nearly silent because of new super-quiet heating and ventilation systems.
“Have you ever heard a quieter classroom,” district facilities director Hal Beumel said with a wide smile.
The library features wide windows, large wooden beams and a tall wooden ceiling. The old library, with its gray walls and drop-panel ceilings, had no windows.
The new school impressed parent volunteer Kellie Browne, whose fifth-grader attends Monroe.
“It’s wonderful,” Browne said. “I love having it open.” Her child’s class already is talking about growing plants along the windowsill.
The classroom is much quieter now, Browne said. “I was amazed how quiet it was when you shut the door. Kids can focus.”
The district outgrew its old school years ago. Half of the students were in portables, district spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said. The new school has room for 640 students.
Fourth-grade science teacher Barney Peterson taught in portables for 13 years. She’s amazed by the new school.
“The kids are responding in awe” to the new school, Peterson said.
The old Monroe Elementary was built as a set of eight pods in 1969. The library was in one building, the gym was in another. Students walked outside on pathways from pod to pod.
The design was part of the “California style” of school building, Beumel said. Despite the rain, numerous Washington school districts built their schools the same way because at the time the state curiously wouldn’t fund hallways as part of school construction.
The California-style system was ill-suited for Washington, Beumel said.
Office manager Deborah Fox noticed she’s already seeing more faces because of the new integrated school design. The office used to be a separate pod.
“It will give us a chance to be more connected,” Fox said.
Everett built the new school thanks to the Great Recession, during which construction prices plunged. The district originally planned on modernizing Monroe Elementary. The LED system “probably” wouldn’t have been implemented in that case, Beumel said.
The school cost $21.5 million in total, paid for with a $198.9 million bond voters approved in 2006.
The district “shouldn’t have to touch the LED system in 15 years,” Beumel said.
The LED lights make the classroom brighter than before and saves money on energy and maintenance. The lights make “everything pop,” Browne said.
The bond paid for building a new Jefferson Elementary and modernizing Whittier Elementary. The bond also paid for work on Garfield and Silver Lake elementary schools, added a gym to North Middle School and built Forest View Elementary. The district will finish up building a new View Ridge Elementary in the fall and build a new gym for Everett High School.
Construction at View Ridge is progressing.
“We can see changes in the new building daily now — the entire steel frame is now complete. Outer walls are being constructed — framed in with the weather barriers almost complete. It’s at the stage where one can really picture what our building will look like,” View Ridge principal Kert Lenseigne wrote in an e-mail.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published Jan. 11, 2012