Madison Elementary to reopen Monday - 6 months, $2.5 million in repairs later

Back to school is Monday – 6 months, $2.5 million in repairs later

lpemberton@theolympian.comJanuary 4, 2014 

After six months of being shut down for about $2.5 million in emergency repairs, Madison Elementary School in Olympia will reopen its doors Monday.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement,” principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll said Friday during a tour. “There’s a lot of wondering what the first day is going to be like.”

Crews have:

 • Replaced the building’s stucco exterior, which was damaged from moisture. In some areas, “they had to rebuild some of the structure of the school,” said Olympia School District spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet.

“It was installed very differently this time,” she said. “We installed two additional layers of vapor barriers, including a painted-on water barrier and a rain shield that pulls moisture down and out before it can penetrate the building.”

In addition, crews built the walls thicker, added control joints to make the building more flexible and used a rigid insulation that will help prevent moisture intrusion, Japhet said.

“We worked with a national expert who agreed it is a robust system that will not leak,” she added.

 • Addressed some safety concerns at the school. For example, a new window was put in the office so staff can have a clear view of the entryway, and the library has a new door that can shut during a school lockdown.

 • Installed a new telephone system.

 • Gave the school a fresh coat of paint – inside and out.

Japhet said the moisture-related repairs were paid for with the district’s unrestricted capital funds. The district plans to recoup that money, but it could take up to a year for that to happen, Japhet said.

“We don’t know yet because there were multiple subcontractors involved, and groups and entities and multiple insurance companies,” she said. “We don’t really know who’s going to be ultimately responsible yet.”

According to Olympian archives, the school was built in 1999 for $5.8 million. It was scheduled for a new paint job last summer; but during preliminary work, crews noticed some cracking in its stucco exterior.

After further investigation, crews confirmed there was moisture damage in several areas, particularly around the school’s exterior windows, according to district officials.

In September, the school’s 60 fourth- and fifth-graders were moved to Roosevelt Elementary School. Its 140 students in grades K-3 temporarily attended classes at New Bridge Community Church, which was the original Madison school.

“I think we were very fortunate to be in just two main locations,” Spatola-Knoll said, adding that the school’s preschool program was held at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy. “I went from building to building regularly to meet with kids at both locations.”

Teachers began moving back into their classrooms in early December, and several staff members were at the school Friday to help unpack boxes.

“It’s a little hectic; it’s a little crazy,” said paraeducator and office assistant Joy Moorhead. “We’re getting a chance to clean out. … Home – we’re home.”

The work isn’t finished. Repairs are still being made to the school’s play shed, and some of its students will continue being bused to Y-Care at Roosevelt until the state reissues a childcare license for Madison.

But “as far as what kids can expect when they come back, it’s business as usual,” Spatola-Knoll said.

Madison parent Brandy LeGault said she thought school officials did a good job keeping families in the loop on the construction project. But she was looking forward to the school reopening.

“It’s going to be very, very nice to feel as one united group again,” she said. “We’re all very excited to be back together.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433

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