Cheney Free Press -


Cheney High School renovations over budget

Preliminary schematics are being revised; possible additional state match money through new unhoused student numbers


November 2, 2017

The Cheney school board found out during a schematic design review of the proposed remodel of the district’s high school that the work is over the budgeted amount specified in the February 2017 bond by just over $3.21 million.

The board also found out that the district might be eligible for more state matching funds than the $2.2 million estimated it could receive under that $54 million capital facilities bond.

Like the design work currently underway for renovation and expansion of three of the district’s elementary schools included in the bond, the high school overage is based on preliminary designs. The designs include all of the options and educational selections promised voters, district Superintendent Rob Roettger told the board, but require some modifications to existing facilities in order to best accommodate those elements.

“We’re not leaving any (educational elements) out,” he said.

OAC project manager Rusty Pritchard presented three preliminary design options to the board. Option B, which Pritchard described as “ideal” is the current design. That option moves the future performing arts complex from its bond-diagram location at the southwest corner of the complex near the football field to a position closer to main entrance and student commons.

This option is estimated at more than $28.53 million, which puts it over the $25.32 million-plus guaranteed maximum price specified in the bond approved by voters.

Option C, which is recommended if option B’s budget can’t be lowered to near the bond guaranteed price, moves the performing arts center back to its original proposed position and moves the new practice gym and wrestling room to where the current vocational arts shops are located — which would put them across an entryway to the center and other athletic facilities.

Option A would keep all of the new facilities at their proposed locations in the bond, and would leave the vocational shops in their current locations. Pritchard said this would be a “fall-back” proposal should the district fail to get any state matching money.

Under both options B and C, the modernized shops are relocated to the facilities northwest corner. All three options retain the existing Little Theater as a large lecture hall rather than replacing it with new science classrooms. Those classrooms would instead be built in the current open walkway space near the theater at the building’s northeast exterior corner.

All three options show a reconfigured bus loop and parking lot. The proposal is a one-way route that combines pick-up and drop-off points for both students at the high school Betz Elementary School to the south.

The existing Betz parent pick up/drop off would be moved to where the current bus loop is to the south. A smaller, parent pick-up/drop-off point for the high school would be added just off North Sixth Street.

The bus loop would divide the parking lot in two — with the eastern 360-car lot accessed off North Sixth Street for students and a smaller, 110-car lot for staff located south of Tom Oswald Field and accessed off North Eighth Street.

The North Eighth Street access was not depicted in the bond proposal, mainly because it was felt it would create a “thoroughfare” via the parking lot between North Sixth and Eighth streets. Pritchard said segmenting the lot with the bus loop, which includes tree-lined areas and two gates, would prevent that from happening.

The gates would remain locked, but could be opened to provide continuous access during special events such as football games.

The city is considering some traffic alterations on North Eighth Street, such as designating several blocks along the east side as “No Parking” zones. There has also been discussion about lighted crossing signs similar to those along Betz Road.

Regarding funding, Pritchard said the $2.2 million state match estimated in the bond comes from unhoused student funding and stemmed from a formula that utilized approximately 20,000 square feet at the high school and the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction’s 2015 student data.

Design work indicates the availability of another 25,000 square feet. When plugged into the formula using 2016 student numbers, it adds an additional $5 million, bringing the potential matching funds to $7,253,733.

“What that does is free up local money to be used for other projects or projects within the bond,” Pritchard said.

Roettger said the decision on how to use those funds, if made available, ultimately comes from the board. He added that staff were recommending design work move towards option C, then look at ways to move towards B or a hybrid of both.

John McCallum can be reached at


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