This week students and staff with Olympic Peninsula Academy moved into their newly renovated space in the Sequim Community School.
Following months of delays, the $300,000 project was completed over Christmas vacation in the 1979 northside addition along Fir Street. The remodel transforms two rooms into six open-space classrooms in the front portion and two classrooms in the commons area, which houses the district's base kitchen.
OPA had continued operating in the community school since starting in September.
Superintendent Kelly Shea said at the Jan. 7 school board meeting that the rest of the community school was to close entirely once OPA moved but they are going to keep it open through January so staff can continue making the transition.“By Feb. 1, we'll lock doors and shut it down until we can take it down,” Shea said.
Last January, school board members unanimously approved closing most of the community school. It faced cooling and heating issues along with structural problems due to its age. Students and staff often wore coats all day in class due to the low temperatures.
Closing the community school displaced several programs: The Sequim School District’s developmental preschool moved to Helen Haller Elementary and the Sequim Alternative High School to two classrooms above the high school auditorium. Special Services staff are now in the administration building. Other nondistrict supported programs such as Head Start, Women, Infants and Children, First Teacher, Mosaic and Peninsula College’s GED and English Language Learners programs are no longer housed in school district facilities.
Shea said there remain some logistics to figure out in the new space for OPA but the remodel isn't a longterm fix. His biggest concern was the health of the students.
“It's not a healthy place to be,” he said of the former community school space.
Each room in OPA's new space is used for core and enrichment courses and entryways are open without doors. Currently, 14 teachers lead learning for 103 students.
OPA hosts an open house from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at its site, 221 W. Fir St.
For more information on OPA, call 582-3403.