Sequim Community School building to be razed

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM –– Since Olympic Peninsula Academy moved into a remodeled space last month, the 63-year-old Sequim Community School building is all but empty and soon will be boarded up.

The academy for home-schooled students was the last of several organizations to move from the 60-year-old Sequim Community School building at 220 W. Alder St. into a new home

“The plan, for right now, is to turn off the boiler and lock it up,” Sequim School District Superintendent Kelly Shea said.

Eventually, the district will have the building razed. Doing so will cost an estimated $500,000, according to Brian Lewis, district business manager.

“Our goal is to take it down. It’s just a matter of where are we going to come up with the money?” Shea said.

Built in 1950, the building served the city as Helen Haller Elementary before the new Haller halls were built in the early-1970s at 350 W. Fir St.

The district then used the Alder Street building as the middle school until 1998, when the current middle school building at 301 W. Hendrickson Road was constructed.

Up until last month, the Sequim Community School had served as a center for several family and education-related organizations, such as Head Start; the Women, Infants and Children program and Peninsula College classes for General Educational Development — or GED — certificates and English as a Second Language.

“That was a great old building. When it closed, it really displaced a lot of people,” said Norma Herbold, a teacher at Peninsula College’s Sequim Education Center.

She added that the building’s antique boiler did not heat the school effectively and burned up $80,000 worth of heating fuel a year.

The school district renovated a building on the Community School lot, called the 1979 addition, for $300,000. Lewis said funding was borrowed from the district’s general fund and will be repaid through the savings in energy costs.

The Sequim School District’s developmental preschool moved to Helen Haller Elementary and the Sequim Alternative High School to two classrooms above the auditorium above the Sequim High School, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

When it had to leave the Community School building, Peninsula College purchased a building at Sequim Avenue and Spruce Street and created the Sequim Education Center.

“I never thought I’d see the day that Peninsula College would have its own building here in Sequim,” Herbold said.

The center offers Adult Basic Education, General Educational Development and English as a Second Language classes. It also offers classes for those who want to improve their reading, writing and math skills.

Those classes are offered year-round now, Herbold said.

The college also began offering computer classes for Sequim residents when winter quarter started.

Herbold noted the school provided room for a child care studio for parents who need a place for their children while they take classes.

The Women, Infants and Children — of WIC — program is operating in the Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The program offers vouchers for free, nutritious foods and information on healthy eating for pregnant women and families with children younger than 5 years old.

Iva Burks, director of Clallam County Health and Human Services, said the program serves 350 families in the Sequim area and 1,340 across the county.

Although the food bank allows WIC to use its office Tuesdays for free, the county is seeking another, permanent location, Burks said.

With the move out of the school and a shrinking budget, the Olympic Community Action Programs discontinued its day care program and moved its program for preschool children aged 3 to 5 into a portable building at 226 N. Sequim Ave.

Early Head Start, where teachers help families develop learning skills in children as old as 3, now operates in the homes of families.

The Sequim Head Start program has 46 children enrolled, with 16 in Early Head Start, said Deborah Hoswell, Early Childhood Programs Director for OlyCAP.

Head Start, too, may look for a more permanent place, she said.

“Right now, we’re settled here. But we’re always open to other possibilities,” she said.

A classroom for the developmentally disabled, has split its locations among the high school and Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles.

Instructor Bonnie Smith said the move has been positive, as the group added more classes and expanded to four days. The hitch is the group must now charge students $2 an hour for the classes to offset the program’s increased rental costs.

The organization known as Mosaic once was called Special Needs Advocacy Parents, or SNAP, which was started in 1998. The board changed the name at the end of 2011.

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The last to vacate, Olympic Peninsula Academy moved into a separate building right beside it, called the 1979 addition, 221 W. Fir St.

The school district gave the building a $300,000 renovation to turn the former maintenance shop and home economics room into eight classrooms to accommodate the 12-year-old district-funded academy’s 14 teachers and 88 students.

The academy provides educational materials, curriculum guidance and hands-on classes to students who are home-schooled.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: February 11. 2013 6:17PM
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