Construction starts Monday on District 21 elementary, high school

Oct 1, 2015 By Christina George, Staff Writer

Groundbreaking for two new school buildings on the Fremont County School District 21 campus in Fort Washakie is set for Monday.

Two years of design work went into the future K-8 and 9-12 facilities.

"When you are in the design process, it just feels like you are not getting anywhere. But once we break ground and they start moving dirt and things start coming out of the dirt, people will see a lot more progress," superintendent H. Terry Ebert said. "The design part is the invisible phase."

The public is invited to attend the ceremony at 9 a.m. in front of the current elementary school on Ethete Road.

The Wyoming School Facilities Department allocated roughly $55 million for a 122,318-square-foot elementary school and a 53,536-square-foot high school, Ebert said.

The project also includes a 4,655-square-foot native dance studio and two Shoshone language classrooms, according to a report on the district's website. There also will be additional bleacher capacity and two pre-school classrooms that the district is paying for, because the Wyoming School Facilities Department considered those spaces as enhancements, which it does not fund.

The K-8 school will be built in front of the current facility and run east, incorporating the library/community center. The high school will attach to the north side of the current high school and also run to the east, Ebert said.

Wade+Blake Architects of Jackson partnered with Fanning/Howey Associates of Casper to design the project. Slatten Construction of Cody is planning and coordinating the building projects.

Completion dates are May 3, 2017, for the high school and July 5, 2017, for the K-8 school.

The current K-8 building dates back to boarding school days and has been added on to four or five times, Ebert said.

"In regard to the adequacy standards in facilities in Wyoming, it was a high priority for replacement," he added. "For the high school, they were living out of modular trailers, and there was just a total lack of space and facilities for the school."

Demolition of the current buildings will happen at the end of construction.

"We need the current facilities to keep educating kids, and (with) the new facilities being built on the same campus right next to (the current buildings), it's going to be a fun two years," Ebert chuckled.

However, the two years of disruption seems short in comparison to how long the district has worked to get to this point. The state approved construction of a new K-8 school at Fort Washakie in 2010. The high school project was added two years later after the Wyoming State Board of Education approved the district's request to be unified into a K-12 education system.

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