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JBLM welcomes two new elementary schools

State-of-the-art technology comes to Carter Lake and Hillside schools

Hillside Elementary offers the latest technology for classes K to 5.

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The schoolhouses never looked so good.

This fall, students in grades K through 5 who will attend Carter Lake Elementary (McChord Field) or Hillside Elementary (Joint Base Lewis-Main) will begin the school year in brand new buildings featuring state-of-the-art technology.

"This is a great step forward for learning and the students," Lynn Wilson, administrator for business services and capital projects for the Clover Park School District, said as we stood just inside the front door of Carter Lake Elementary.

"The support we've received from Joint Base Lewis-McChord has also been just fantastic."

The school district is scheduled to receive its official occupancy permit for both schools today.

Construction on both schools began in July 2012, and both schools will open Sept 3.

The construction of Carter Lake cost $31.5 million; the cost of Hillside cost $33 million. 

Both schools were long overdue for the rebuild.

According to Department of Defense statistics, Hillside Elementary had been ranked the second worst school; Carter Lake the fifth worst nationwide.

"We worked hand-in-hand with numerous agencies, including former Congressman Norm Dicks, to change that," Wilson said.

"These schools needed to be built for our students, and there is more good to come."

Both schools were built to save energy, to be environmentally friendly, to make listening easier for students and to be an asset to the base housing.

A big player in providing funding was the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and Washington state school construction funds.

Initiated in 1961 under then Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara, the OEA economically helps military communities impacted by recommended changes.

"It is a thorough and detailed process in working with them," Wilson said.  "But it has been good."

Carter Lake and Hillside Elementary schools will be the first two new schools in the nation to be completed using OEA funds.

With the completion of the two schools, four more are in the queue for construction.

Clarkmoor and Greenwood Elementary schools broke ground last month, and both projects will be completed by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Additionally, Beachwood and Evergreen Elementary schools are scheduled for completion in time for the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

The Clover Park School District says that the construction projects will inject nearly $150 million into the local economy over the three-year period. 

"We are very proud to be the first to complete our school projects," said the district's superintendent Debbie LeBeau in a press release.

"We set very ambitious timelines for these projects, knowing that our military students will benefit from these state-of-the-art facilities."

For more information, call Carter Lake Elementary at 253.583.5210 or Hillside Elementary at 253.583.5280.

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