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New Elementary Schools Rainier and Meriwether open on JBLM

Northwest Guardian

Published: 09:11AM August 28th, 2014

To learn more

Transportation

A list of bus routes for Clover Park School’s during the 2014-2015 school year is available online at www.cloverpark.k12.wa.us/BusRoutes/BusRoutes.aspx.

Information

•  Clover Park School District uses FlashAlert Newswire for school closure information when the weather is bad or another emergency occurs. Parents and families can register up to three emails or cell phone numbers to receive closure information.

•  There is also a free phone app for iPhone and Android devices. As winter approaches, if Clover Park Schools are not listed by media outlets for closure or late start, assume the school is opening on time.

•  For information, call Clover Park Operations at 253-583-5481, 253-583-5482 or Clover Park Transportation at 253-583-5494.

With the new-building-smell still lingering in the hallways, students stepped into new elementary schools on Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the first day back to school Aug. 27.

Rainier, JBLM Main, and Meriwether, JBLM North, Elementary Schools were in construction for a little over a year and opened for students this school year.

“My kids just can’t stop talking about this new building,” said parent Yamily Miller on the first day of school. “It’s very nice.”

Yamily’s daughter Alyssa said her favorite part of Rainier is that now they have their own gym.

“Before, the lunchroom and gym was in the same area,” Alyssa said. “Now we have a separate gym and lunchroom. And, there’s stairs to a second floor; our old school didn’t have two floors – this is awesome.”

Parent Kevin Chambers said Rainier “is just fantastic.”

“It’s great for kids to be in a new building, it’s a change,” Chambers said. “I’m excited to see what new things they offer here.”

In Robin Langston’s 35 years as a teacher, she said she has never had such a large classroom to teach kindergarten in.

“It’s really laid out how a kindergarten classroom should always be,” Langston said. “I was amazed at how large it was and the new technology in here.”

Librarian at Rainier Beth Bruno said the technology they have in the new buildings is “above anything I’ve ever had in previous schools.”

The cost of building Rainier, which includes federal and state funding, is approximately $38.6 million. Meriwehther is approximately $35.7 million.

Updating schools

Children of service members living on JBLM fall under the Clover Park School District, which stretches throughout the base and into Lakewood.

This marks five out of six elementary schools on JBLM that have either been or is currently being renovated or rebuilt. Last year, Hillside and Carter Lake Elementary School opened on JBLM.

The only school that hasn’t been updated is Evergreen Elementary School.

“We are working with the legislatures on funding to be appropriated for Evergreen Elementary School,” said Clover Park School District Superintendent Debbie LeBeau. “It’s our last one for us to get (updated).”

Beachwood Elementary School, JBLM North, is currently under renovation and will open the next school year. Students are temporarily in Greenwood Elementary School this year until Beachwood opens next year.

Beachwood’s estimated cost is $39.5 million.

Clarkmoor Elementary School closed this year and Greenwood Elementary School will close after this year. Those buildings will be transferred back to the Army and used for different purposes.

“Just being able to replace these 50 to 60-year-old schools on a military installation has been a huge accomplishment,” LeBeau said. “Last year we opened Hillside and Carter Lake Elementary, then this year Rainier and Meriwether and now Beachwood is underway. It’s very exciting.”

LeBeau said the process of waiting for funding has been long since the legislature decided to help replace schools on military installations across the country.

“They went through a whole process of rating who needed it the most, and we ended up on the top 30 list. Which means we really needed it,” LeBeau said. “ It’s been overwhelming with so many changes recently, but also very exciting to see teachers unpacking in new classrooms.”

With a whole new look inside and outside the buildings also comes with new technology.

LeBeau said there are new security systems, bigger gymnasiums, new air conditioning and more.

“Some schools used to have the gym class and lunchroom in one area and had to use extra buildings for activities … it was just getting crazy,” LeBeau said. “The new murals, lighting and design features are so nice in the new buildings. There are lot of changes this year.”