Kennewick School District buys church for alternative high school

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Remodeling to begin in September, with Legacy High’s new building opening in 2019

Kennewick’s alternative high school is getting a new home as the school district makes way for a new Kennewick High School about three years from now.

Legacy High currently sits next to the Kennewick High School Annex on South Dayton Street. The school enrolls 250 students and the building once was the former home of the Keewaydin Discovery Center.

The Kennewick School District recently bought the 10-acre property that includes the 23,892-square-foot City Church building at 4624 W. Tenth Ave. The property also includes a field and parking lot.

The Kennewick School District recently bought 10 acres that include the 23,892-square-foot City Church building at 4624 W. Tenth Ave. The church will be remodeled for Legacy High School. The project timeline includes remodeling the building in September 2018, with a targeted completion in February 2019.
The Kennewick School District recently bought 10 acres that include the 23,892-square-foot City Church building at 4624 W. Tenth Ave. The church will be remodeled for Legacy High School. The project timeline includes remodeling the building in September 2018, with a targeted completion in February 2019.

The district’s capital projects director, Doug Carl, said moving Legacy from a complex of portables “has been on our radar and part of our plan for a while.”

Eventually, the property became more attractive as the listing price dropped and additional land was included in the $3.4 million purchase. Thanks to this opportunity, “Legacy got moved up,” Carl said.

The district expects to ask voters to support construction of a new Kennewick High School with a bond in a February 2019 special election. If the bond receives a 60 percent supermajority and passes on the first try, the district would look to start construction in summer 2019.

When school resumes that fall, students would be housed through a combination of the former Legacy site, Kennewick High School Annex, the Fruitland building and portables. Doing so would allow the district to avoid building the project in phases, as is often required for high school construction.

Carl said he believes the project could be sped up, with a targeted opening for a new Kennewick High School building in fall 2021.

There is no current budget estimate for the work needed to ready City Church for the alternative high school. Carl said the district is still in the programming and schematic design period.

He called the work more of a “tenant improvement” rather than a construction project.

The church was desirable to the district because it is a “clearspan, level building that can be reshaped to whatever the needs are,” Carl said. “Clearspan” refers to buildings free of supporting posts and beams.

The project timeline includes remodeling the City Church building in September 2018, with a targeted completion in February 2019. Legacy students would be moved into the new location after spring break, which falls the first week of April 2019. The team is currently working on the design but knows the new layout would include spaces for classrooms, offices and a cafeteria.

Considered a “choice” high school, Legacy started as a program called The Resource Opportunity Center of Kennewick, or The ROCK, and was initially housed in portables behind Kamiakin High School. It grew to an “official” high school and moved into the Fruitland building for a time before relocating to the portables next to Kennewick High.

Robyn Chastain, district spokeswoman, described Legacy as “more of a traditional model alternative school where students have the opportunity to earn up to eight credits per year taking four classes per day. In a traditional high school, students earn up to six credits per year.”

The purchase of the City Church property closed Jan. 31.

City Church will lease the space from the Kennewick School District until it vacates the building in June. City Church officials said the church’s 100-member congregation plans to move into a smaller building that’s about half the size. They have not yet confirmed where this will be.

Robin Wojtanik

Robin Wojtanik

Robin Wojtanik spent most of her career in broadcast journalism, working at television stations around the country. She spent nearly a decade managing newsrooms in the Tri-Cities and Yakima.
She enjoys volunteering for Junior Achievement and Christ the King School and serves on the board for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Northwest chapter. She lives in
Richland with her husband and children.

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