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School upgrade: Progress starting to show on Royal construction project

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | April 7, 2021 1:00 AM

ROYAL CITY — Construction workers were adding stucco to the exterior of two new classrooms at Royal Middle School Friday, and crews have finished the foundation slab for the new entrance to the Royal High School gym.

The first phase of upgrades at RHS and RMS is getting to the stage where progress is easier to see. Construction started in November 2020 and full project completion is scheduled for summer 2022.

District voters approved a $16.58 million construction bond in 2019 to add new classrooms at RHS and RMS, add a new entrance and remodel the RHS gym, add fire suppression systems at both schools and upgrade the electrical, plumbing and heating-cooling systems. Royal also qualified for construction money from the state, and the total project cost is $19.84 million.

“This phase should be complete by the end of summer (2021),” district superintendent Roger Trail said.

Inside the middle school, the two new classrooms are in the framing stage.

“The middle school project, they’re actually ahead of schedule,” Trail said.

The middle school office will be completely remodeled also, and when the project is complete the building will have one entry for security. Trail said improving campus security was one of the main motivations behind the project. People will have to ring the office to gain entry to either building, similar to the existing systems at Red Rock Elementary and Royal Intermediate School.

“Everything was based on safety,” Trail said.

Middle school principal Dave Jaderlund said two classrooms help out a lot. The middle school also gets some new bathrooms.

“We get two classrooms and we get, basically, a new lab out of it also,” Jaderlund said.

A new fire suppression system will be installed throughout the building.

“We’ve never had a sprinkler system,” Jaderlund said.

“That’s just another one of those pieces of the safety upgrades, which was really what drove the project,” Trail added.

All existing RMS classrooms will get an upgrade in the second phase.

“They’re going to go through and clean things up, and modify and renew,” Jaderlund said. “That’s what next year will be.”

The basketball court in the RHS gym will be reconfigured and enlarged.

“I think it will be the size of a college court, as opposed to a high school court,” Trail said. “That could actually help us if we want to host tournaments.”

Crews have added the gym’s new sprinkler system and its upgraded heating-cooling system. The air conditioning is an addition, Trail said, which will be greatly appreciated.

“Even in January, a game against Wahluke, when everybody is packing in here, it can get warm,” Trail said.

The new gym foyer will connect the gym with the office, and because of its design will furnish space for an additional classroom. The foyer will be decorated with a mural, chosen by the class of 2021.

Both of the gym locker rooms are new. Mechanical equipment that had been located in the girls locker room was moved to create more usable space. The framing is underway in both locker rooms for offices and storage. The boys locker room was enlarged to provide more storage.

“Especially for all the football equipment,” Trail said. “We’ve got a lot of kids on the football team, so we had to expand there to house all of the gear.”

Two new classrooms will be added at RHS in the second phase, and when it’s completed the project will connect all the high school buildings. Currently the classrooms, the cafeteria, gym and library are all in separate buildings. The remodeling will change that. The second phase of the RHS project includes two new classrooms next to the gym, which will turn what is now open space into a courtyard.

“You should be able to go anywhere within any of these buildings (the high school), except for the ag shop, without going outside. The point there was to create a single point of entry,” Trail said.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Miguel Garcia removes tape along the eaves of the addition to Royal Middle School Friday

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

The foundation has been poured for the new entrance to the Royal High School gym.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Construction workers Miguel Garcia (left) and Jairo Torres (right) apply stucco to the exterior of the addition at Royal Middle School Friday.