New Construction

Wash. School District Awards Bid for New High School

The Moses Lake School Board in Moses Lake, Wash., has awarded a contract for the construction of a new high school, informally referred to as the Real World Academy. At a meeting last week, the board voted 4-1 to give the $48.9-million contract to Absher Construction Co., based out of Puyallup, Wash. The project was originally budgeted for $51 million.

“Absher does a lot in the K-12 sector, but there were five bids, all from very reliable firms,” said Superintendent Josh Meek.

The high school will have a student population of roughly 700­–900, and it will focus primarily on technical and career education. It was part of a school construction bond passed in 2017 that also originally included plans for a second new high school with a student capacity of 1,600 and a new elementary school. After district voters challenged the certification of the bond election, it was upheld by a panel of three appellate court judges in Spokane in 2018. By then, the school board had changed, and its new members preferred the construction of one smaller high school and two new elementary schools.

The decision to move forward with Real World Academy has proved controversial. School board member Bryce McPartland, who voted against awarding the contract to Absher, said that the smaller technical academy isn’t what district residents originally voted for.

“The taxpayers of this district did not approve this,” said McPartland. “They rejected the expansion of the campus. That the Real World Academy is the second high school approved by voters is not supported by the facts.”

Meek said that construction is hopefully scheduled to begin during April for an opening date of August 2022. Preparations to the construction site have been in the works since January. One of the other new elementary schools, Groff Elementary School, is slated to open to students for the fall 2021 semester.

“I’m pretty excited about the bid, and we’re getting ready to build,” said Vickey Melcher, Board President.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].