Lopez School District receives long-awaited state grant

Submitted by Lopez School District

Lopez Island School District has been awarded a $1.8 million state capital grant to add safety, energy conservation, and health projects to the school’s overall renovation program.

“We’ve fought long and hard for this funding for the school and Lopez,” stated John Helding, school board president. “Our county council and particularly our state legislators, Kristine Lytton, Jeff Morris and Kevin Ranker, supported us the whole way and were instrumental in helping us secure these funds.”

The grant, coming out of a new state program for rural school modernization, is part of the long-delayed $4.2 billion state capital budget originally scheduled to be approved last spring. Approval had been held up by an unrelated dispute over water rights. A compromise was recently reached on that dispute, the capital budget was approved by the legislature, and Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law on Jan. 19.

A number of hoped-for improvements to the school can now be accomplished.

Included will be a reconfigured elementary school parking lot featuring a new dedicated and safer school bus loading zone. Additional energy efficient LED lighting will be added to areas such as the multipurpose room. Additional fire suppression and safety systems will be added.

The grant could also potentially help fund a proposed cooperative water system benefiting the school and possibly the planned Lopez swimming facility. Playground equipment at both Decatur and Lopez schools will be upgraded. Additional work may also be performed budget allowing.

Upgraded facilities are coming not a moment too soon for the district. Recently Lopez School has had large entering classes with total enrollment now approaching 250 students — a level not seen in at least 10 years.

“Through the generosity of our community the school facilities have been upgraded tremendously over the past several years,” shared Helding. “These state funds will allow us to complement that work in significant and valuable ways.”

Work on the new projects is planned to start in June after the end of the current school year.