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Delayed construction won't stop school in Carbonado

Carbanado's school building built in 1929 (KOMO Photo)

CARBONADO, Wash. - School starts Wednesday morning in this small Pierce County school district. But just as students and teachers are getting settled, change is coming.

The historic 1929 brick school is set for a $4.5 million renovation. The only problem is, some of the portable classrooms brought in for middle school students aren't ready.

For now, that means some teachers are moving forward with setting up their old classrooms, knowing they could be forced to pack up and move in just a matter of weeks.

"The challenge has been to just go day to day," says Penny Frame, Carbonado's middle school Language Arts teacher. "On Sept. 10, if they say it's time to move into the portables, we'll do it. It's just life."

The renovations have been in the works for the last few years. But funding setbacks, partly blamed on budget delays in the state legislature, have stalled construction until now.

"I am looking forward to it getting done," says learning specialist Jessie Sprouse. "This is my third year of not having my own classroom, and that's been tough."

Because the brick schoolhouse is considered historical, there are restrictions to exterior renovations. But Superintendent Scott Hubbard says there will be some big changes planned inside the building, including a new science wing.

"My science teacher of 25 years, he's super excited he's going to have a place to teach science in a state-of-the-art classroom," Hubbard says.

Hubbard says technology will be updated throughout, classrooms modernized, and the entire building made more accessible to people with disabilities.

He told KOMO News funds are coming from a combination of the state education budget, a voter approved levy, and grants. And while projected to cost $4.5 million, Hubbard says a broader "wish list" might raise costs to $6 million. Once started, construction is expected to wrap up in time for the start of school in the Fall of 2019.

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