Dry rot at school may mean kids go elsewhere

lpemberton@theolympian.comAugust 6, 2013 

Work crews from Olympia-based Lewis/Cutler Construction begin Monday to remove a damaged piece of Madison Elementary School after dry rot and structural problems were discovered. The district is making a contingency plan in case the work isn’t finished in time for the start of school.

STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Crews recently discovered significant dry rot damage at Madison Elementary School, and now Olympia School District officials are hammering out a plan that could involve temporarily relocating students to another site when school resumes next month.

“We don’t want to alarm parents, but we’re making contingency plans for the school not to reopen (in time),” Superintendent Dick Cvitanich said Monday.

District officials will update parents on the repairs and back-to-school plans during a meeting next Monday at the Knox Administrative Center.

At this point, the plan could include using only a portion of the building or re-opening the 200-student school at another site, Cvitanich said. He said a team of district officials has begun exploring temporary sites within the district and greater community.

The school, which according to Olympian archives was built in 1999 for $5.8 million, was scheduled for a new paint job this summer. During the preliminary work, crews noticed some cracking in the stucco on the building’s exterior, Cvitanich said.

About three weeks ago, crews confirmed there was moisture and dry rot in several areas, particularly around several windows, he said.

“In a number of areas, that turned out to be dry rot in both the plywood and in some cases the studs,” Cvitanich said.

“The more stucco we took off, the more repair we found we needed to do,” he added. “So at this point, we’re pretty certain we’re not going to open Madison on time.”

The school’s repairs will be paid for with emergency funding available through the district’s Capital Facilities Fund, he said. At this point, the cost is undetermined.

“We’re still reviewing the extent and cause, and an estimate is being prepared right now,” Cvitanich said. “But until all of the stucco has been removed, we really can’t say what the cost will be.”

Madison parent Katya Miltimore said a temporary relocation might pose an inconvenience for some families, but she has faith that the district will make the right plan.

“Obviously these steps and decisions are being made in the best interest of the kids,” said Miltimore, who is past vice president of the school’s PTO. “Their health is most important.”

The school’s newly hired principal, Domenico Spatola-Knoll, said he hopes the repairs are finished quickly with minimal affect on students and school programs.

“Regardless of what the next few weeks bring, I am confident that the Madison school community will work together to ensure a great start to the school year for our students,” he said.

If you go

The Olympia School District will hold a meeting to discuss emergency repairs and a possible temporary relocation for Madison Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Knox Administrative Building, 1113 Legion Way SE, Olympia. For more information, call 360-596-6103.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

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