District will put 12 classrooms in all at Everson and Nooksack schools as well

SUMAS — Early planning for construction of a new Sumas Elementary School has begun and will continue through the summer and early fall. Nooksack Valley School District Superintendent Mark Johnson said specific design of the new building is ongoing. 

A $29.7 million bond was passed by Nooksack Valley School District voters in February. It was focused primarily on replacing the existing 47-year-old Sumas Elementary School, with $18.65 million allocated for that purpose. Increasing enrollment across the district has meant adding portable classrooms at all three elementary schools. 

Currently, eight portables are in use between the Everson and Sumas elementaries. The district had planned to not need more portable classrooms upon passage of the bond. 

Johnson said the plan is to start bidding the Sumas school project in April 2020 and award a contract by May. Mobilization and work will begin immediately after that, either the end of May or beginning of June next year, about as the school year closes. 

In addition to replacing Sumas Elementary, the bond included $8.28 million dedicated to adding eight new permanent classrooms at Everson Elementary and four at Nooksack Elementary. Johnson said those projects will be on a similar, but slightly earlier time frame than the Sumas Elementary construction. 

The new Sumas school will be built behind the existing one on Lawson Street, with students remaining in the school until construction is complete. 

“The current school will be in operation until we move into the new one,” Johnson said. “This was the same plan we implemented when we built the new middle school.” It was also the method used to build a new Fisher Elementary in Lynden.

Johnson said the hope is to permanently move into the new Sumas school about a year after construction begins. 

“Our plan is to move into the new school in the summer of 2021,” he said. “Demolition of the old school will start as soon as it’s vacated.”

Parking and bus spaces will be added where the existing school is cleared out. 

Concerns about flooding and security were also factored into replacing the existing Sumas Elementary, which was built in 1972. The new school will be built on somewhat higher elevation than the current school, out of the floodplain. Security improvements will also be made in the new school and at Everson Elementary. 

Johnson said he’s excited to see the new school building process come together for the community and children. 

“[I feel] overwhelming pride in and appreciation for our community for the support they give to our children, and happiness for our kids, staff and community,” he said.