"Since the days of the first log school, the citizens of Centralia have kept pace with the progress of their community in providing and maintaining exemplary education for their children." History of Centralia, 1955, Economic History section, page 29.
Early dates are approximate because of the difficulty of finding exact records. The history of the schools of Centralia (Centerville) can be traced through the recalled stories of pioneers, newspaper items, souvenir booklets, pictures, and other such material. A Lewis County Courthouse fire in the 1890's destroyed the first official records.
There was a threat of Indian War in 1855 when the Yakima Indians tried unsuccessfully to stir the Chehalis Indians into an Indian uprising. At that time, Fort Henness was built near Grand Mound on "Mound Prairie". At Fort Henness, there were 30 families - 224 persons. Inside the fort a school, supported by private subscription, was started. Most of the settlers lived in the fort for 16 months. Some of them stayed in the fortress for as long as three years so that their children could attend the school. Other families moved out of the fort, but continued to send the children to school there. Mrs. James Smith taught the primary grades; Mr. Hubbard instructed the advanced students. Spelling bees were held in the evenings; both children and adults participated in this educational activity.
Joseph Borst brought "Mercer Girl" Annie Stevens from Olympia in 1868 to teach his and other selected children. When Miss Stevens married and no longer taught, a second teacher, Miss Lord, taught in the Borst Home.
The earliest mention of any other school in the area was of a school held in the first log cabin built by George Washington near where the Skookumchuck River empties into the Chehalis River. In 1869, George Washington donated this, his original home, to be used as a school. Referred to as "the school near the gravel pit", the one-room building served a few nearby settlers' families. Miss Anna Stevens was the teacher.
The first school on Fords Prairie, located "near Mr. Lum's cabin", was called Lum Schoolhouse. It was near the intersection of Lum and the Fords Prairie/Waunches Prairie (now Reynolds Avenue) Roads. History suggests that this school was in use around 1875.
There are references to "a school near Raish's Corner" which was built after Lum School, but no identifiable history is available.
There is a reference also to the "first 'regular' school in the vicinity --the board one built at the end of Washington's Lane". There is no known additional information.
During the years of 1875 to 1889 (approximately) a one-room building was funded by public subscription and operated for three months of the year. It was under the direction of one teacher. The building was located near what is now South Rock Street between Cherry and Chestnut Streets in the Hamilton Addition. There were some 50 pupils. This may have been the Alder Street School.
"A corporation was formed in 1884 by the Baptist Church Conference. Its purpose was to secure a location for the erection of a Seminary School. The leaders secured a site on the hill east of the town [now] known as Seminary Hill [according to Centralia: The First Fifty Years, page 272, five acres where donated to the seminary corporation by former slave-laundress Mrs. William F. (Jane) Bryan]. The following year the school was established in the Baptist Church but operated only four months. In 1889, the Northwest Baptist Convention decided that Centralia was the ideal location for a preparatory school. A donation of $10,000 by the community plus the site purchased in 1886 helped to build the building containing rooms for 36 persons together with a music room, studio, three classrooms, a dining room and a kitchen. The total cost of the construction and furnishings was $17,000. The Buchanan building on North Tower Avenue was used as temporary quarters while the building was being built.
"It attracted very few young people, and after a few years, the property was sold for taxes and used as a home until it was purchased by Dr. Dumon, who made it over into the Centralia General Hospital. After many years, Dr. Lee Scace purchased it upon the retirement of Dr. Dumon and continued to operate it until he built the new building at the corner of H and First Streets.
"It remained idle for a time until the state purchased the property in 1919 and 1920 for the purpose of building a fourth State Normal School. The Armory now stands near the original site of the Seminary where it was built for the use of the National Guard Unit in 1938. The remaining grounds are used as a golf course." Centralia: The First Century, page 94.
As the population increased, an organized school was needed. In July of 1888, a graded school district was organized by adopting a course of study and conforming to the requirements of territorial law. C.W. Borst was elected as the first superintendent. This was possibly the formation of District No. 9 (no definite date can be found concerning the district until land was transferred from Null's Crossing Organized District No. 45 to District No. 9 in 1891).
Washington became a state and Centralia was incorporated by the State Legislature in 1889.
Also in 1889 the South School (later referred to as "Lincoln") was built on the northwest corner of the intersection of Pear and Rock Streets on land donated by George Washington. In 1890, the North End School (referred to as "Edison" by 1910) was completed on a site on First Street between Washington Avenue and H Street.
The first high school was established in the South School during 1889 and moved to the North End building in 1890. The high school was contained in one section of one room; the principal and the superintendent were the only teachers. A member of the first high school graduating class, May Ready, later became the principal of South School.
High school classes were held for six months only during the 1894-95 school term due to lack of funds; there was no graduation held. Thirteen graduates received diplomas in 1896.
A replica of the Liberty Bell was a gift to the school from the Centralia High School Class of 1897. (The bell, in its original frame, sat on a portable stand in the high school courtyard at 813 Eshom Road until 2001. It was then incorporated in a new monument structure near the entrance to the building – see page 19.).
An addition to the South School was built during 1900 because of the crowded conditions there.
In 1901, according to the May 17 issue of the Chehalis Bee-Nugget, there were 106 school districts in Lewis County. (At least 23 of those are now part of the Centralia School District.)
By 1902, there were 950 students and 19 teachers in Centralia Schools. In 1905, there were 110 students and five teachers in the high school (North School); by 1907 there were 120 students, six teachers, and a graduating class of 14.
The Washington School was built on the east side of town, facing Gold Street at Walnut, during 1906. A one-room building also was built that year on the west side of the Chehalis River at what is now the intersection of Military and Cooks Hill Roads. It was named Mountain View School because of the excellent view of Mount Rainier.
By 1908, there were 1600 students and 33 teachers in local schools. (Teacher-student ratio, 1:48.4)
From 1907 to 1909, the public school system of District No. 9 comprised eight buildings -- four large and three small ward buildings and a gymnasium complete in construction and equipment. The South (Lincoln), North End (Edison), Oakview, and Washington Schools were the large buildings; Mountain View and two portable buildings on the east side of town in the section known as the Logan District were the small buildings. The gymnasium was built on the North End School grounds for the use of the high school students. (R.B. Kellogg, City Superintendent, said in an article written for The Daily Chronicle in 1909, "The gym stands as a monument to the spirit and industry of the high school students, who solicited the funds for the material and did practically all the work of the construction themselves....")
A fire escape was installed at the North School during the summer of 1908; passageways were cut in partitions leading to the emergency exits. There were 124 high school students on the third floor.
The district owned two more building sites. Plans were made to build a modern high school and a Logan School.
The first six grades of the Logan District were housed in two portables; classes were held in two daily half-sessions under two teachers. One portable building remained in use until 1918, even after the modern four-room Logan School was built in 1909. After 1918 the portable was used for storage.
The first bond issue for construction of a high school failed by five votes.
From an article, The Public Schools of Centralia, written for The Daily Chronicle by City Superintendent R.B. Kellogg, 1909:
"The steady and continued growth of our city can be shown in no better way than by comparing the number of teachers employed for the different years:
In 1880, only one teacher was needed.
In 1890, ten teachers were employed.
In 1909, there are 34 teachers and more will be added to the corps in the
"Centralia has exceptional school advantages, and the schools are a source of pride to our citizens because they are directed by a Board of Education, every member of which is progressive and determined to secure the very best educational facilities for the coming generations.
"Board of Directors
"Mr. E.R. Zimmer, the president, has served for three years, and was recently re-elected for another term of three years. Mr. Zimmer is one of the successful business men of the city, who has great faith in the future of Centralia and believes in applying business methods to the management of school affairs.
"Mr. J.E. Lease, cashier of the Field and Lease Bank, is clerk of the Board of Directors. Mr. Lease is eminently fitted for the position since he was formerly a teacher with several years experience, and has also held the position of county superintendent of schools of Lewis County. He is also a financier and is proving to be a valuable member of the board.
"Dr. E.L. Kniskern is the newly-elected member of the board. His advanced educational ideas and his intense interest in the public schools will certainly help materially in continuing the advancement of the Centralia schools.
"The schools are organized along broad, comprehensive lines and the instruction given is thorough and complete. Good salaries are paid and only successful, well-trained teachers are employed. The system consists of three departments, each four years in length: primary, grammar and high school. About 1400 pupils are enrolled, and 34 teachers are employed, consisting of a superintendent, six high school and 27 grade teachers.
"Supt. R.B. Kellogg was elected to this position two years ago, and has been untiring in his efforts to increase the efficiency of the schools and especially to promote a greater interest in what are termed the common branches. Supt. Kellogg received his training for the work of superintendence in the University of Nebraska, where he specialized in education and graduated after a six year course, with a life certificate and a degree of Bachelor of Arts. He is a member of the State and National Educational Associations. Mr. Kellogg's office is in room 8 of the Hope block on Main Street. The Board of Directors holds all its meetings in this office.
"The public school system has eight buildings --a high school, three large and four small ward buildings, and a gymnasium-- all of which are complete in construction and equipment. The school district owns two other sites, apart from these buildings, on one of which it is planned to erect a modern $40,000 high school building within two or three years."
From 1910 until 1912, the high school students attended classes in the Washington building. Students indicated pleasure at the new arrangement. At Edison all classes of all four grades were held in a large assembly; at Washington, "they are accommodated according to classes in different roll rooms". Special attention was devoted to music and literary work; the chorus was "one to be proud of"; and with the assistance of Superintendent Kellogg the students were able to win for the first time in debate and declamation contests. The school had teams which lead the state in sports. (Skookum Wa Wa, 1911)
A new high school, located on property bounded on the south by Pear Street, on the east by Iron Street, on the north by Walnut Street and on the west by Rock Street was completed and occupied in 1912.
At this time the educational system consisted of three departments, each four years in length: the primary, grammar and high school grades, with an approximate enrollment of 1,400 students. There were six high school teachers and 27 grade school teachers directed by a superintendent (Teacher-student ratio, 1:42.4).
During the school term of 1913-14, teachers and pupils of the domestic science department earned "nearly $225" which was "used in purchasing a set of Austrian China dishes, silverware, table linen, rugs and marquisette curtains for the dining room, and also some necessary equipment for the sewing department." (Skookum Wa Wa, 1914)
Manual Training was first introduced in 1912-13, with no tools available of any kind. By 1913-14, there was a well-equipped shop. It was not until after 1914 that free textbooks were offered to students of the district.
As the school program progressed, eight years of elementary level and four years of high school became established educational system. The seventh and eighth grade students were required to take state examinations to demonstrate proficiency in the major subjects of the curriculum.
In 1914, there were 229 students in high school; 35 in the graduating class. By 1916-17, there were 330 high school students. The eighth grade also occupied the high school building.
In 1918, the North End building was replaced by the current Edison School to serve the needs of the northwest section of town. On August 15, 1918, the Centralia News Examiner reported, "The new school is of the California Bungalow type of brick construction and is a model of modern architecture."
During the years 1920 to 1924, a modified junior high school plan of instruction was adopted. It was the first of its kind in the state. State examinations were no longer required of the Centralia students; students entering from nearby schools were required to pass examinations for entrance to high school, until the tests were discontinued by the state.
In January of 1922, Lincoln School, a modern eight-room building and gymnasium, replaced the South School on a site one block west facing Washington Avenue. The vacated block between the high school and Lincoln School, where the South School had stood, was used as an athletic field. A large modern grandstand was built. The facility was named Nobel Field in honor of Elmer J. Nobel, Centralia High School Class of 1912, football player, President of the Athletics Association; he was killed in action in World War I.
Classrooms were added at Edison School in 1921-22.
The Roosevelt and Jefferson buildings, almost identical in construction, were built in 1923 and 1924. The Mountain View School across the river was closed; the students attended the Roosevelt School.
Over a period of many years, outlying one-room schools such as Salzer Valley, Kopiah, Null's Crossing, the three in Hanaford Valley, Zenkner Valley, Gibson (in southern Thurston County), Seminary Hill, and others, consolidated with the schools of District No. 9. These students attended the Centralia schools nearest their homes. (Official consolidation was in 1934).
During the year 1925, C.L. Littel, Superintendent, helped to establish the first junior college. Under the direction of Miss Margaret Corbet, the college was housed on the third floor of the high school building. (Centralia has the distinction of having the oldest continuously operating [junior] community college in the State of Washington.)
A new four-room brick building was erected on the site of the Oakview School in 1927-28. The old wood building, for which no construction date is available, was moved to a spot just behind the new building to be used as a much-needed gym and, later, as classrooms and a lunchroom.
Kindergarten classes were offered in 1928-29; the place was not recorded. There is no mention of kindergarten in 1929-30. Kindergarten was held at Edison in 1930-31. Records show no kindergarten again until 1947.
The Logan School needed more room; an addition of two classrooms and an auditorium was built in the early 1930's.
From 1930-37, the Jefferson and Roosevelt student bodies were combined as one unit to improve instruction. Buses transported the first four grades to the Roosevelt School and the upper four grades to the Jefferson School (Centralia's first "grade centers") four times daily so that the children could be at home for hot lunches. Faculty meetings, programs, and Parent-Teacher meetings alternated between the two buildings.
A separate Board of Directors was elected to administer the junior college in 1930 (the college was still a part of the school district). The college continued to have its own board until 1941 when management of all schools in Centralia was again delegated to one Board of Directors.
Galvin Organized School District No. 23, Null's Crossing Organized District No. 45, Mountain View Organized District No. 111, Kopiah Organized District No. 120, Centralia Organized District No. 9, Fords Prairie Organized District No. 11, Hillcrest Organized District No. 13, Pleasant Grove Organized District No. 15, Hanaford Valley Organized District No. 25, Forest View Organized District No. 44, Packwood Organized District No. 80, Sunnyside Organized District No. 116, and Mendota Organized District No. 126, were officially joined to become Centralia Consolidated District No. 212 on July 21, 1934.
In 1913, S, a, ,, , , lzer Valley Organized District No. 50 and Bear Creek Organized District No. 60 had joined to become Salzer Valley Consolidated District No. 213. During the late 1930's or early 1940's Centralia Consolidated District No. 212 and Salzer Valley Consolidated District No. 213 became Centralia Consolidated District No. 312. All students in grades 7-12 in these districts then attended school in Centralia; younger students remained in their neighborhood schools.
During the depression years, the problem of lower enrollment was met by closing four rooms of the Lincoln School for a time. To make better use of the buildings, and improve instruction, the Roosevelt School was closed in 1937. The students of the Jefferson district attended classes in their own building. The Roosevelt students were transferred to the Lincoln School. The Roosevelt building was converted into a bus garage, storage and general maintenance facility; a room was provided for a time for use by the United State Government Radar Division.
A new high school gymnasium was completed in 1936, on property which previously had been purchased by the district, at the southwest corner of Iron and Walnut Streets. A brick annex had been built on the northeast corner. A residence which had housed home economics classes was removed to make room for the gym. The house was moved to midway between Pear and Plum Streets on South Iron for use as a men's residence hall for junior college students. It was later sold.
During the 1940's, a new six-four-four education plan (six years elementary, grades 1-6; four years junior high, grades 7-10; and four years high school with junior college) was approved by the state. In conjunction with this plan, blueprints were grown for a new Senior High/Junior College building.
In 1941, the state legislature passed a bill allowing $75.00 per student per year in state funding for junior colleges, with a $10,000 maximum allowed to each institution. In 1943, a new bill changed the $10,000 to a minimum allowable to each junior college. The district continued to operate the college with the joint funding.
Centralia High School students in 1941 completed a lasting contribution to the City of Centralia. Under the guidance of Miss Herndon Smith of the English Department, the students compiled the material for the history of Centralia entitled, Centralia, the First Fifty Years. Few cities have such a complete historical record.
Much interest developed during the early 1940's for a larger consolidated area to allow students from small outlying districts to enjoy the privileges of a large system. On July 1, 1944, Centralia School District 312 became Centralia Joint School District No. 401 of Lewis and Thurston Counties. It included Bucoda Organized District No. 31, located in Southern Thurston County; and a portion of Napavine Organized District No. 14. Educational Service District No. 113 records show Joint Thurston District No. 116, Northern Light District No. 401T, and Independence District No. 401T as parts of Centralia School District at that time, but with no dates of consolidation. By 1944, the Centralia School District included, in alphabetical order, the following districts:
Bear Creek Gibson Napavine (part)
Bucoda Hanaford Valley Northern Light
Centralia No. 9 Hillcrest Null's Crossing
Centralia No. 212 Independence Valley Packwood
Centralia No. 312 Joint Thurston Pleasant Grove
Fords Prairie Kopiah Salzer Valley
Forest View Mendota Seminary Hill
Galvin Mountain View/Valley Sunnyside
Population at Bucoda School varied. When the enrollment was too high to be accommodated in Bucoda, older students (possibly sixth, seventh, and eighth graders) were transported to Oakview School. During terms of lower enrollment, Bucoda students remained in Bucoda.
Because many teachers were serving in the armed services during World War II, the district by 1945 employed some student teachers who had applied for and received Emergency Provisional Certificates.
In August 1945, the Board of Education purchased two city blocks, bounded by Walnut, Rock, Locust and Washington, with the intention of erecting the new High School/Junior College to house grades eleven through fourteen of the public schools.
On December 5, 1945, fire destroyed the Fords Prairie School building. The classes were divided between the Edison and Washington Schools until a new Fords Prairie building was completed in 1947.
Between 1946 and 1950, the school district traded property located on Rock Street between Cherry and Chestnut Streets, for the corresponding piece at the intersection of Walnut and Oak Streets.
During 1947, two temporary buildings were erected on the corner of Rock and Walnut Streets for use by classes from the overcrowded junior college. The materials were donated by the government from surplus materials at Shelton, Washington. The district paid for the erection of the buildings which were used as a recreation hall and a science building. The former Free Methodist Church was converted into an Engineers' Hall. The Lutheran Church was used as a kindergarten center; another kindergarten center was operated in the basement of the Christian Church.
The first kindergarten in a public school building for many years in Centralia was in the new Fords Prairie School when it opened in fall, 1947. At the beginning of the school term the rooms had no furniture, cabinets or supplies. Building and furnishing were completed while the room was occupied. There was no bus service for kindergarten students. Parents car-pooled and/or hired taxis (which were also car-pooled) to get the children to school and home again. In 1948-49 classes were held at both Fords Prairie and Lincoln Schools.
An earthquake in April 1949 changed a great many of the plans for future development of the district, as several buildings were severely damaged. The high school/junior college building plan was set aside as was the proposed six years of elementary grades, four years of junior high and four years of high school-junior college. The state granted permission to use some of the funds previously allocated to those projects for the immediate emergency needs of the district; and to build a junior college building to ease the crowded conditions at the high school. The Washington building was replaced at a location a few blocks south at Field and Spruce because there was more space available for playground. (After it was condemned because of earthquake damage and abandoned as a school, the old Washington building was sold to the Teamsters' Union.) The Logan building was torn down and replaced on the same site. Both Washington and Logan buildings are of brick and tile construction, on a one-floor plan with all-purpose rooms. During the construction, students from both schools were transported to Edison where two shifts were necessary. The Edison pupils attended the morning shift, the Logan and Washington students the afternoon shift. Teachers and principals continued to handle the administration and instruction for each of the buildings even though all of the classes were held at Edison.
In fall 1949, kindergarten classes were moved from Fords Prairie School to the old Lutheran Church which previously had been purchased by the school district for use by the college. In the spring of 1950, for the last six weeks of school, kindergarten classes were moved to the newly-opened Logan School.
When the Washington School opened in September of 1950, some kindergarten classes were moved there. By this time, kindergarten attendance was large enough to require two teachers; one for morning and afternoon classes at Washington, and one for the classes being held at Fords Prairie.
With the opening of the two new elementary schools, a reorganization of classes and schools took place to make the best use of the new buildings. The first five grades were at Jefferson and Logan schools, while Galvin and Fords Prairie had the first six grades. The sixth, seventh and eighth grades of the Jefferson and Logan schools were transported to combined grades at the new Washington building as were the seventh and eighth grades of all the other buildings, except Oakview and Edison. At Oakview the seventh grade students stayed in the building and the eighth graders only were transported to Washington; both seventh and eighth grade students remained at Edison.
The high school building had insufficient space for the number of students through the fourteenth grade, so it was decided that a separation should be made between the twelfth and thirteenth grades. A junior college building of brick and tile was built, financed by a building bond, to house grades thirteen and fourteen. It was occupied during the 1950-51 school year. The kindergarten building (old Lutheran Church) was moved to Rock Street and converted to a college music center; the Engineers' Hall (old Free Methodist Church) became the junior college library. In 1950, the college became a separate and distinct institution insofar as having its own building and, therefore, its own recognition. (The college remained a part of, and continued to be governed by, the Centralia School District.)
In 1952-53, kindergarten was held at Washington, Fords Prairie, and Lincoln Schools.
Public kindergartens were discontinued when the state withdrew funding in 1953. Bond issues failed locally. Kindergartens were maintained on a private basis, first in the Methodist Church recreation room, then in private homes.
Acquisition of property for Centralia Junior High School at Borst Avenue and Johnson Road was begun in 1952.
Four classrooms, an all-purpose room and a playshed were added to Oakview School in 1952. The upper grades of the Bucoda School were transferred to Oakview, and all eight grades of the Oakview District remained at that location.
A fire damaged the interior of the high school annex in 1953. The building was repaired for use by the 1954-55 term of school. A vocational building for use by high school and college industrial arts and other classes was built just west of the two temporary junior college buildings on Walnut Street; it was first used in 1954.
During the 1954-55 year, enrollment increased. Part of the library at Washington School and part of the all-purpose room at Fords Prairie School were converted into classroom space.
Also in 1954-55, the junior college was granted full accreditation. An eight-year elementary program, partly departmentalized in some schools, four years of high school, and two years of junior college formed the educational system. The faculty grew to include 52 high school and junior college teachers, 71 elementary teachers, a director of elementary education, an elementary music supervisor of vocal music, and an elementary supervisor of instrumental music. The enrollment of the schools reached approximately 2,626 students; 225 more were enrolled in the junior college. (Teacher-student ratio, 1:35.5)
A play shed, for which labor and materials were donated by the community, was built at the Galvin School in 1955.
A wing was added to Fords Prairie School in 1957. It consisted of seven classrooms and a covered play shed.
Three kindergarten classes were held in the Centralia Carpenters' Hall in 1957-58.
Extensive remodeling was done at Edison in 1957, which resulted in two additional classrooms, a gym, a kitchen and new restrooms. Grades 1-8 were housed there.
Construction of Jefferson-Lincoln School was begun in 1957. The old Lincoln School was closed. Students of both schools attended classes at the new building with the 1958-59 term. Some classes remained in the old Jefferson building.
Construction was completed on the Centralia Junior High School buildings in 1958. Dedication ceremonies were held on September 12, 1958. All students in grades 7, 8, and 9 attended classes in the new junior high school.
The Chehalis-Centralia Special Education Cooperative was formed in 1958. Beginning with the 1958-59 school term, identified handicapped students from all schools in Lewis County attended these co-op classes.
Kindergarten classes held at Edison and Washington beginning in fall 1959 were again state funded.
Dr. Kenneth Mallory, Centralia School Superintendent, 1956-69, realized the potential of television as an educational tool. In April 1960, Dr. Mallory authorized a field study to determine the feasibility of translator operation from various local sites to serve the prime area of Centralia and Chehalis (and possibly to include service to some of the surrounding school districts). Boistfort and Baw Faw peaks were considered for the translator site; however, before any action could be taken on either of these, Crego Hill became available. Crego Hill, which had already been developed by the U.S. Government, had power, a road and an easement, a building, and a tower on the fenced property.
Chehalis School District cooperated in Dr. Mallory's plan to provide educational TV for the Lewis County area. Staff members of both districts planned the project before the letter of intent-to-purchase was filed by the Centralia School District on January 26, 1961.
The Crego Hill property was transferred to Centralia School District by quit-claim deed through the United States Office of Health Education and Welfare (Department of Surplus Property Utilization) on August 28, 1961. The deed contained the proviso that the school district should maintain and use the property for translation of educational TV, and file an annual report to HEW for a period of 20 years.
The first notice of application-for-license appeared in The Daily Chronicle on May 9, 1961. On May 17 of that year, the University of Washington granted permission to rebroadcast its Channel 9 educational TV programming. Installation of necessary receiving and transmitting equipment was begun August 25, 1961, and completed on April 25, 1962. Ownership of Crego Hill enabled Centralia School District in 1961 to be one of the first in the state to offer television as a learning resource in the classroom. Since that time Channel 9, Channel 56 and Channel 15 public (instructional) television signals have been transmitted (at various times) from the tower.
Special dispensations were granted by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare for use of the tower by commercial and public service units. Contracts for this use were drawn by HEW. Commercial tenants were Western Telepage and Teleprompter; service agencies were P.U.D. No. 1 of Lewis County and Lewis County Departments of Public Works, Sheriff, and Emergency Services (fire and medical).
In 1961, a football field was developed at Mt. Vista and Bryden Roads for use by the junior high. A small grandstand was built on the south side.
The Galvin School, which at that time housed grades 1-5, was closed in 1961. Students were transported to Centralia. The Galvin campus had been a part of Centralia School District since 1934 and students in grades 6-12 were already attending schools in Centralia. The building, constructed in 1929, subsequently housed a college electronics class, was headquarters for the ESD 113 Film Library (1971-76), and was used for central storage for the district. (It was offered for sale in 1984).
In 1963-64, a track was added at the football field near the junior high.
The block house was built in 1965 for use of both junior high and high school football teams. In it, there are showers, dressing rooms and storage. It is located at Allen Avenue and Mt. Vista Road.
In 1967, Bucoda transferred from Centralia to the Tenino School District. The Tenino district is closer to the Bucoda community.
Beginning with the 1967-68 school term, Centralia School District administered two high schools. Maple Lane High School, in Thurston County, had petitioned to become affiliated with Centralia School District. The district managed the staff and finances of the school until May 1978. Girls housed at Maple Lane and boys housed at Cedar Creek correctional institutions were students there.
A major change occurred in 1967 when the state legislature established community college districts. Until that time, Centralia Community College was a part of Centralia School District, administered by the superintendent and school board of the district. Centralia College became a part of Community College District No. 12, which encompasses Lewis and Thurston Counties. The Board of Trustees of District 12 and College President Dr. Nels Hanson met with the school district Board of Directors and Superintendent Mr. James Kent to work out the details of the separation. Arrangements were made for the college to use Corbet Hall classrooms (the old Lincoln Grade School building) for music, art, business administration and physical education classes; and for the school district to share the use of Corbet Hall for administration offices and storage. Both high school and college classes continued in the Industrial Arts Building. In 1969, the college purchased all high school property (six acres) adjacent to the college, including the gymnasium, Nobel Field, the Home Economics Building, the Technical Building, Corbet Hall and the Cedar Street tennis courts for $250,000. After the purchase, the college and school district continued joint occupancy of Corbet Hall and the Industrial Arts Building. (The high school building was later demolished, a portion of the grounds became a parking lot; a Memorial Arch was erected on the landscaped area marking the site of Washington State's oldest continuously operating community college [founded 1925]. Nobel Field grandstand was removed and the field was completely resurfaced. The gymnasium building was remodeled to become one of the finest junior college gyms in the state and was taken over by the college physical education department. The Home Economics building became "the Forum" and was later remodeled to serve as the District 12 administration offices.)
The block house was remodeled in 1968. It became the "Home of the Tiger Football Team" and is used exclusively by the high school.
In 1968-69, primary students who had been attending Logan School were shifted to other buildings. A kindergarten center was established at Logan. Kindergarten students in the district had been at Edison and Washington since 1958; they were transferred to Logan.
A new high school, located at the intersection of Borst Avenue and Eshom Road on Fords Prairie, was dedicated on October 17, 1969. The ninth grade was moved to the new building (the junior high retained the seventh and eighth grades only). The school is an accredited four-year high school, producing graduates who are welcomed by many of the finest colleges and universities. (During the late 1970's, Centralia High School had as many graduates in United States Military Academies as any other high school in the State of Washington.) T, he b, uil, , di, ng, includes a central kitchen where lunches are prepared, then transported by truck to all other schools in the district. (Kitchens in the other buildings were closed except for serving facilities.)
The grade-center concept was tried again in 1969-70. (Centralia had first used this plan in 1930-37 at Jefferson and Roosevelt Schools.) First, second and third graders from Washington School were transferred to Jefferson-Lincoln School. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Jefferson-Lincoln were transferred to Washington School. The plan worked well. The following year, the north end schools shifted all fourth, fifth and sixth graders to Oakview. All first, second, and third graders moved to Fords Prairie. Edison remained a 1-6 campus.
Using money received from the sale of the old high school properties (including Nobel Field, the former high school sports facility) to Centralia College, a large stadium replaced the small one on the south side of the football/track in 1970. A ticket booth, lights, and a scoreboard building also were added to the facility originally built for the junior high. The grounds were fenced and landscaped. The facility was renamed "Tiger Stadium". The junior high and high school share its use. Jerry Robinson, "Voice of the Tigers" for many years, announced the first high school game there in 1970.
In 1971, Centralia College board members announced their intention to demolish Corbet Hall (the old Lincoln Grade School), and to replace it with a new Fine Arts Building, also to be called Corbet Hall. Forced to find new office space, the school district purchased the former Naval Reserve Building (government surplus property) from the United States Office of Health, Education and Welfare. The Borst Avenue and Johnson Road building was remodeled to serve as district offices. The land on which the building stands belonged to the City of Centralia. In 1974, the district and the city exchanged that land for the property on which the City Parks Department tennis courts now stand - adjacent to the junior high - and a 60' right-of-way through the parks department athletic facilities. The high school and college continued joint use of the Industrial Arts Building.
In 1972, a levy failure required closure of some schools, shifting and double-shifting of others, for the 1972-73 terms. Some reduction in staff was necessary. Kindergarten students from Logan School were shifted to Edison; Logan was closed. Oakview fourth, fifth and sixth graders were shifted to the junior high; Oakview was closed. Washington fourth, fifth and sixth graders were shifted to the junior high; Jefferson-Lincoln first, second and third graders were shifted to Washington; Jefferson-Lincoln was closed. Edison first, second and third graders were shifted to Washington; fourth, fifth and sixth graders (two classes at each level) were kept at Edison with the kindergarteners. Fords Prairie School remained open with its usual complement of grades one, two and three. Junior high and high school students were placed on a split-shift at the high school. High school classes were held from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Junior high school classes were in session from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. The junior high and high school operated each with its own administration and teaching staff. Classes returned to their usual areas in 1973-74.
In 1972, a greenhouse was built at the high school by a Special Education-funded program designed to enrich the vocational experiences of students with identified learning disabilities. The program was supervised by the director of the high school agriculture department. The department fell heir to the facility when the handicapped program was discontinued. The greenhouse is located on the west side of the main building adjacent to the agriculture classroom.
The high school baseball diamond was remodeled in 1974. A backstop, two dugouts, a scoreboard building and a fence were added. In another project that year, a batting cage was built.
In 1974, the school board authorized a study of existing facilities. A comprehensive review of the entire district was undertaken. The physical condition of all buildings and grounds was evaluated and documented, the adequacy of all facilities was analyzed, enrollment projections and predicted growth patterns were studied, and future needs were established based upon these studies. The 1975 report included plans for extensive modernization of and additions to four elementary schools; and recommendation to phase out Edison; and long range plans to modernize the junior high. Other recommendations:
1. Use Galvin, Logan and Edison Schools for vocational or other kinds of studies.
2. Replace bus garage and shop.
3. Improve carpenter work areas and storage.
4. Construct a swimming pool.
5. Expand vocational areas at the high school; initiate an automotive shop.
6. Initiate better use of buildings when school is not in session; consider year-round school.
Centralia School District Gold Street tennis courts (adjacent to the old Washington School) were transferred to Centralia College in 1975.
"The Centralia School District in its kindergarten through high school, has an enrollment of about 3,500. Opening school population last September was 3,497; as of April 1, it had dropped to 3,447. Opening enrollment next September is expected to be over 3,500. These students are housed in eight school buildings: the Logan Kindergarten Center, Jefferson-Lincoln, Washington, Oakview and Edison Elementary Schools, Centralia Junior High School and Centralia High School. The newest is the $2.7 million Centralia High School, at 813 Eshom Road on Fords Prairie, which was opened September 2, 1969...." The Daily Chronicle, July 1976.
The Washington School was remodeled in 1977-78 to achieve energy-efficiency. Single-glazed windows were replaced with thermal, a mansard roof was added to insulate the heat/cold conducting glass bricks. The building was re-wired and the heating upgraded.
Maple Lane High School, which had become a part of Centralia School District by petition in 1967, reverted to Rochester School District at the close of the 1977-78 school year.
In separate projects in 1978, money from the impact of the Satsop nuclear power plant at Elma enabled the district to add a freezer room at the central kitchen in the high school, and dressing rooms and storage space under the grandstand at the football stadium.
Oakview School was remodeled in 1978. The original building (1927-28 portion) became the administration offices, media center, supply room, nurse's office, faculty lunchroom and restrooms. Classrooms and a play shed were added.
New construction and renovation took place at Fords Prairie in 1978. Six new classrooms were added and all existing classrooms were completely renovated. A new library area was created where the boiler room had been.
A classroom addition was built at Jefferson-Lincoln in 1978. The library-media area was remodeled. The old Jefferson Grade School building was vacated and razed that summer.
By 1978 the kindergarten had outgrown Logan School. Classes were being held in the gym and in the Salvation Army building next door. Kindergarten classes were divided into the newly-remodeled grade centers at Jefferson-Lincoln and Fords Prairie Schools. Logan School became a part of the Special Services Cooperative, housing pre-school through elementary students with identified handicaps.
Old, and of questionable safety, the Industrial Arts Building on the Centralia College campus -being used jointly by the high school and college- was abandoned in 1980; ash accumulations from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens had further damaged the already age-weakened structure. High school wood-finishing and upholstery classes were moved to the high school, displacing the metals classes which were then moved to the college shop on First Street. A year later, all high school industrial arts classes were housed in the shop facilities at the high school.
The City of Centralia Parks and Recreation Department and the school district have always worked together to build comprehensive athletic facilities for the area. An indoor swimming pool was such a joint venture of the schools and the community. The pool, located on school property next to the district office on Johnson Road, was funded by voter bonded-indebtedness. It is operated by the parks department. Since it opened in 1980, swim classes have been offered to Centralia school students beginning in the third grade and to the community at large. The structure and programs are dedicated to Dr. Kenneth Mallory, former school district superintendent, and Dr. Joel Toothaker, Jr., pediatrician in the area for many years; both families had established memorial funds for this purpose.
The old Roosevelt building, abandoned for use as a school in 1937, was razed in 1981 to make room for the new Pupil Transportation Cooperative, a joint venture of the Centralia and Chehalis School Districts. The complex and its operation is one of three pilot projects established, and partially funded by the State of Washington in an effort to maintain school buses and other vehicles in the Lewis County area, and to operate pupil transportation at a reduced cost and in a more efficient manner.
In 1981, the district purchased the 11,580 square foot former Bell Telephone maintena, nce b, uild, ing, (19, 40 , construction) located at Locust and Gold Streets. This building provided replacement space for maintenance and storage lost when the old Roosevelt site was selected for the planned transportation cooperative. Maintenance shops and offices and central storage are located there.
On August 28, 1981, the Centralia School District (having fulfilled the obligations for use and care of the facility as provided in the quit-claim deed of August 28, 1961) was granted full and legal ownership of the Crego Hill site, translator, tower and building. The Superintendent, Dr. Herbert Berg, elected to continue to rent space to both commercial and service units. A contract with Tacoma School District No. 10 enables Centralia School District to broadcast Channel 28, KTPS (Tacoma's public TV programming), on Centralia's own Channel 15, KCKA. In addition, KCKA Channel 15 may eventually broadcast community interest programs such as live local presentations of school and community college events, and election returns.
By 1981 the Centralia school system was complex enough to require the services of a District Curriculum Director; the full-time staff position became a reality in September that year.
The Centralia-Chehalis Pupil Transportation Cooperative facility became a reality in spring of 1982. This is a full-maintenance and storage unit from which buses are dispatched to collect and deliver students from both school districts. The shops have contracts to maintain buses for other school districts, Centralia College, the Senior Center, the Washington State Patrol and do some intermittent maintenance work for other public agencies.
Kindergarten classes outgrew facilities at Jefferson-Lincoln and Fords Prairie Schools by the 1982-83 terms. Classes were established at Edison.
By March of 1983, computers played a great part in education in the district. They were first used by teachers, then by students at all levels. By the 1984-85 school year, students in almost every classroom had access to at least one unit.
A physical education weight-room was erected on the west side of Centralia High School in the summer of 1983. The modular, relocatable, 28' x 60', energy-efficient building is adjacent to the art-music wing of the main building. The building is of wood construction, on a concrete slab with mansard roof to maintain compatibility with the architectural style of the original building.
Sale of a parcel of land, adjacent to Fords Prairie School, to the Robert Piper estate was recorded in 1983.
The baseball batting cage was remodeled in 1983. A logo was developed for and painted on the north side of the building in 1984; league championships are recorded on the east end.
Two new classrooms were added at Fords Prairie in the summer of 1984, from remodeled space which had been used as a play shed.
An ad hoc committee, in 1984, recommended the restoration of Edison School. The phase-out recommended by the earlier committee was cancelled.
Extensive remodeling was done to the high school gym in 1985. North and south bleachers were replaced; bleachers were added on the west end. The rubber floor was replaced by a hardwood playing surface.
Harry Pratley presented to Fords Prairie School the bell which originally rang for the opening and closing of school there in the late 1800's. In 1912 a new building had replaced the 1800's school where the bell originally had hung. In December of 1945 fire destroyed the 1912 building. In the cleanup process both buildings were razed to make room for the original structure of the present Fords Prairie School. It was at that time that Mr. Pratley, who had attended classes at both the old school and the newer one, salvaged the bell which had been destined to be scrapped. He purchased the cracked bell from the district for $2.00, then paid $50.00 to have it electronically welded to preserve the tone. It has been in his possession since. Mr. and Mrs. Pratley generously share this treasured memento with present and future generations of Fords Prairie students.
Edison fifth and sixth graders were transferred to Washington School in September, 1985; Edison retained grades K-4, including some students who were transferred there from Fords Prairie School.
Between 1979 and 1985, landscaping throughout the district was improved--including the planting of many trees and shrubs, play equipment was provided or replaced as needed at the elementary schools, necessary black-topping of play and parking areas was completed, and fencing installed where appropriate.
A 14-foot addition was completed at the "Home of the Tigers" block house in 1985.
A room was added at the southeast corner of the district office in 1986; this addition completed the present rectangular shape of the building.
The largest bond issue in district history passes in February 1986 enabling the district to add two new classrooms to the south end of Washington School; to remodel existing space into a music room and two classrooms, and to relocate the media center. Restrooms and three classrooms are added to the east wing at Oakview School. All will be occupied in the fall of 1986. Extensive modernization of Centralia Junior High School and complete restoration of Edison School is planned for 1987 and 1988.
Four portable classrooms were added to Centralia High School in 1986.
In November 1986, flooding in the local area caused significant damage to Washington Elementary School. The school had never had a problem in the past and maintenance workers were taken by surprise when flood waters rose quickly starting in the back playfields and rising to enter the schools. Staff and volunteers worked countless hours to clean up the classrooms and sweep out the hallways. School was closed for three days before everything was sanitized and clean enough to allow students to return.
The original Centralia Junior High facility consisted of four separate buildings connected by covered walkways. Modernization, started in January 1987, eliminated the walkways and connected the separate elements creating one building. The center section of the new school is known as the commons and contains administration offices, student lockers, a dining area and stage. A new library was also added between two classroom wings (the old A and B buildings). A courtyard was created between the commons and library which provides bench seating for outdoor student gatherings and a sound buffer between library study areas and the more active student areas. The school featured all new mechanical and electrical systems, dropped ceilings, carpeted classrooms and a fire sprinkler system. Exterior updates included a new brick facade, an arched main entry and double glazed windows.
While the commons area and the former A Hall were being remodeled, students and office staff were housed in six portables set up on the west side of the B Hall. Students continued to occupy B Hall until June of 1987.
In September 1987, middle school students were moved into the new Centralia Middle School facility and K-3 Edison students (4th grade went to Washington) were housed in the portables while their building was under construction.
In June 1987, local contractor Earl Schwiesow began remodeling Edison Elementary. This project updated instructional areas, added three additional classrooms and restored several of the unique architectural features of Edison School. The foyer area features the original school clock, terrazzo floor and balcony railing. An original chalkboard is featured on the wall in the south corridor. All instructional areas were carpeted and each area features built-in storage, a sink area, small group instructional areas and new classroom furniture. The library included both large and small group instructional areas, conference rooms, and over 3500 volumes of children's literature. In addition, the school featured all new mechanical and electrical systems, dropped ceilings, carpeted corridors, oak accents, and a fire sprinkler system. Exterior features included double glazed windows, restored brick work, expanded play area, covered playshed, outdoor lighting, landscaping and an irrigation system. Students moved back into the building in September 1988.
Of the six portables placed at Centralia Middle School for use during construction, two were sold to Kelso School District and one to Pe Ell School District. One was moved to Jefferson Lincoln and one to Washington for additional classroom space. The sixth portable was moved to Centralia High School where an addition was constructed and utilized by the Home and Family Living program as a child development center.
In March of 1989, the school board authorized the sale of Galvin School to Mr. James M. Gilligan for the amount of $30,000. Basically used for storage for the last decade, it was no longer needed by the district.
In January of 1990, Washington Elementary suffered another flood disaster. This time our maintenance crew were prepared and had time to prep for the oncoming floodwaters (i.e., sandbag and move all books and materials off the floor). Once again, staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to orchestrate the massive cleanup effort.
The renovation project of the Tiger Stadium Track and Field, started in the spring of 1990, featured a new all weather track, improved irrigation and drainage system, high grade turf and a new computerized scoreboard donated by L & E Bottling of Olympia. Due to prudent fiscal management of the General and Capital Project Funds, no bond issue was necessary to pay for the improvements.
The Logan School which had been used to house the Chehalis-Centralia Special Services handicapped program was closed during the summer of 1990. When school started in September, the children were moved to various sites in the two districts. Logan School was then used for storage only.
Due to increased enrollment, two-classroom portables (one each) were placed at Fords Prairie, Oakview, and Washington Elementary Schools at the beginning of the 1990-91 school year.
In the fall/winter of 1991, a Facilities Study Committee was formed which included members of the school staff, parents, administrators, and Board members, and was chaired by citizen Ralph Peel. A comprehensive site-review was made of each district building with a recommendation made to the School Board in December 1991. Improvements and modernizations at several buildings were included in the recommendation: modernization and additions to Jefferson Lincoln and Fords Prairie Elementaries, Centralia High School, with minor improvements at Oakview. Due to past flooding, future options for Washington School were put on hold (i.e., whether to update and try to raise the building or whether to abandon the site and build at a higher location on the same site). The cost for such improvements was estimated at $14.5 million.
In addition to this bond issue, the School Board members had to first consider the passage of our regular two-year levy proposal. With the unstable economic climate in our area, the directors felt that the voters would support (and could afford) the regular levy but not such a large bond project. Therefore, while noting the importance and urgency of some of the modernization projects, the Board postponed action on a bond issue until a later date. For future consideration, the Board requested additional study into the high school's vocational offerings and possible facility improvements.
In August 1992, two portables were purchased with one each placed at Centralia Middle School and one at Washington.
At Fords Prairie School, a portable was added on-site in 1992 to house the school library. The previous location of the library was adapted for use by occupational & physical therapists.
On September 15, 1993, the Centralia School Board approved a 20-year agreement with the City of Centralia to lease the undeveloped land located at the Logan School site for a neighborhood park for $100 per year. The parks and recreation department, in conjunction with local civic groups, raised money to construct a park that included play equipment, basketball/tennis courts, horse shoe pit, and picnic area.
In November of 1993, a bond issue was placed on the ballot in the amount of $10.5 million. The proposal would have modernized Jefferson Lincoln, Fords Prairie, small projects at Oakview and the vocational departments at CHS. The issue was defeated by the voters presumably due to an anti-tax climate.
Another portable was placed at Washington School in the summer of 1994 in order to accommodate higher enrollment.
A 20-foot strip of easement was deeded over to the City of Centralia near the Transportation Cooperative site in September of 1994. The land was needed in order to reconstruct a bridge that crossed the China Creek.
In May 1995, a $5 million bond issue failed which would have remodeled and modernized Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School and provided technological improvements at Centralia High School. A great deal of community support was sought and obtained; however, only a 49.3% Yes vote was received. Again, an unfortunate defeat for a building that was truly in need of updating.
During the summer of 1995, a new roof was put on the Jefferson Lincoln School '58 section as well as exterior painting on the trim, murals on the play shed and interior walls of the building, all in an effort to improve building appearance. In a combined school district/PTO effort, new play equipment was raised in September '95 with widespread community support.
Also over the summer, a portable was moved from Washington School to Oakview School where it will house a sixth grade classroom. An unexpected decline in enrollment at Washington necessitated the move.
In July of 1995, the Centralia School Board relinquished claim to the Gold Street tennis courts to Centralia College by quit claim deed. The property had been transferred in December of 1974 to the college to establish a community tennis court. However, over the years, the college found it difficult to maintain and provide security for the tennis courts. It is the intention of the college to investigate the possible exchange of the Gold Street property for land nearer the college campus. In order to do that, the school district board of directors signed a quit claim deed turning the property over to the college with the assurance that the school district would have secondary use of any future tennis courts constructed by the college at a new site. The same agreement would hold true should the college decide to refurbish the courts at the current site on Gold Street.
In early February 1996, there was widespread flooding in Southwest Washington. This was the highest flood of record for several rivers in the state including the Chehalis and Skookumchuck. Interstate 5 was closed through the Twin Cities area. Three flood-related deaths were reported across the state and over $800 million in damage reported. Washington School flooded again along with the Transportation Cooperative building. Due to the high water table, the septic system and drain fields at Oakview Elementary were out of commission necessitating the installation of “honeybuckets” for a week or so.
Construction of a 5,000-square-foot wrestling practice facility was the result of a major community effort, which was started in August 1996. Numerous volunteers gave of their time, money and materials to construct the building, spearheaded by Centralia High School wrestling coach Dave Nehring. The project was completed in November 1997, the day before the wrestling team began practice. Matches were still held in the gymnasium but practices were conducted in the new facility. Prior to this, the wrestlers had to practice in the commons area, which meant that the mats had to be unrolled, rolled and stored at the end of each session. Having a "home" to call their own, the mats could remain unrolled (except for competitive matches when they were moved to the gym) allowing the team more time for practice and ensuring a more sanitary playing surface. The school district was a major financial contributor since the facility will be used during the school day as an alternative P.E. facility.
On February 28, 2001, the area experienced an earthquake of 6.8 magnitude at 10:55 a.m. Students and staff handled the emergency and followed the drills perfectly. Minor bumps and bruises were experienced but no major injuries. Estimated cost of repairs was set at $150,000. The bulk of the damage to the school facilities were minor with plaster cracks in walls or beams being the largest damage. The most extensive damage was done to the foyer at Edison School where officials were concerned about structural damage. Logan School, used for storage only, had significant damage to the exterior east wall and interior walls in the multi-purpose room. Jefferson Lincoln had a waterline break which flooded several rooms. Most of the damage was not critical and the majority of the repairs were made in the summer of 2001.
On Sunday, July 29, 2001, the placement of the columns and victory bell at Centralia High School was dedicated. Organized, funded and constructed by members of the Class of 1942, columns from the old high school (formerly located at the current site of Centralia College) were placed along with the victory bell (see page 2, 1889) at the entrance to the school on Eshom Road near the granite sign. Also dedicated was a monument designed to tell the history of the project and the old columns. Those responsible for the project were Bill Conrad, Myron Neva, Rusty Dean and Louis Stoffer from the Class of ‘42 and Sue Adams-Downie (treasurer) from the Class of ‘61.
A portable at Jefferson Lincoln was burned to the ground during spring break of April 2002. A faulty heating unit was the cause of the fire. Staff rallied to the effort and housed the half-day kindergarten students in their faculty room until a replacement portable could be installed (about 10 days later). School board members jokingly named it the “Bruce Blaine Portable” because of Superintendent Blaine’s quick response to have the burnt portable demolished and a new portable ordered and installed within a very short period of time.
In May of 2003, a bond issue was placed on the ballot for a huge capital project to improve facilities across the district. A citizens committee recommended the project which entailed the remodel of Jefferson Lincoln, Oakview and Centralia High School; Washington School re-built on higher ground on the current site; and a new Fords Prairie Elementary built on a new site in the north end of Centralia. Voters defeated the issue with a 54% yes vote (60% super-majority was needed). An estimate of $8 million in state matching money would have been available if the issue passed.
The School Board tried the same bond issue again in May of 2004 upon the recommendation of the citizens committee. However, the only change was the decision to keep the Fords Prairie School on the same site, building a new school further back on the site and acquiring adjacent property. The total amount was increased to $35.49 million due to the fact that Fords Prairie could not be used as a transition site during construction at other schools, portables would have to be acquired, and the current Fords Prairie site would not be available for sale.&nbs, p; State, mo, nies (, “new-, in-lieu”) would have been available for the new building, construction costs were competitive, interest rates were low, and overall it made good economic sense. However, voters had a different idea and voted the issue down soundly with a 51.64%.
Another ballot measure was placed before the voters again in May 2005. Although this time, the Board took the Fords Prairie issue off the ballot and focused on remodeling the high school, Oakview, and Washington only for $25.580 million. Unfortunately, it was also voted down but with a higher yes percentage – 57.52%.
On February 6, 2006, Centralia School District ran a levy. The levy passed with a yes vote of 64.47 percent.
Oakview Elementary School suffered a devastating fire in the 5th/6th grade wing Saturday night, May 27, 2006. School at Oakview Elementary was cancelled from, Tuesday, May 30, 2006, through Friday, June 2, 2006.
Oakview Elementary Schools alarm went off at 11:28 pm. The police were dispatched to the school and the school principal, David Carthum, was called. When police arrived, they found the school on fire, and the fire department was dispatched.
Firefighters started fighting the fire in the building, but quickly realized that it was unsafe to be in the building because the roof was collapsing. They had to fight the fire from outside the building. Some of the firefighters fought the fire on the North end of the building to keep the fire from spreading to the portable. Others fought on the South end of the fifth grade hall to keep the fire from spreading into the library, office, and fourth grade hall. Firefighters from outlining districts were called to help fight the blaze.
The loss to the building is expected to be in the millions of dollars. The newer wing of the school, built in the late 1970’s, was a total loss, including 10 classrooms for fifth and sixth graders. The parts of the school that didn’t burn sustained heavy smoke and water damage.
On May 31, 2006, two 14-year-old boys were arrested for setting the Oakview fire. The teens had ignited a firework in a plastic recycling container next to the building. The fire then grew and caught the eve of the roof on fire. The flames crept into the attic of the building and began spreading from there. The teens had no vendetta against anyone at the school, they were just messing around with the fireworks.
The outpouring of support from the community, students, and staff was amazing. Churches from all over Centralia called and offered spaces to hold classes, organizations donated money and supplies, the PTO held a very successful spaghetti feed, stores and other schools donated supplies, and students held car washes.
After meeting with Oakview staff, the district worked out a plan to house all of the students at Oakview Elementary for the last two weeks of school. Classes were housed in the music room, resource room, solution center, on the stage, two in the library, and four in the gym. During the days that Oakview was not in session the staff met in Washington Elementary library and worked on student lesson plans and activities for the remainder of the year. On June 2, 2006, Centralia School District was given the last clearance needed to open the fourth grade wing of the school. On June 6, 2006, students and staff were reunited to finish out the year.
As soon as school was out for the summer, portables were brought in to get set up for September and cleanup started on the damaged building.
The Citizens for Centralia schools was gearing up to run a bond in February of 2007. They met to discuss the possibility of running the bond in September instead of waiting until February due to the Oakview fire and the rebuild that would be taking place. After careful discussion, the group agreed that it would be better to run a good informative bond in February rather than a rushed bond in September.
When school started in September at Oakview, they began their new year using one wing of the building and ten portables, known as “portable city”. The portables were assembled with decking all around to make sidewalks that connected all of the portables together.
On September 7, 2006, the District purchased property at 1110 Woodland Ave. for $100,000. The intent of the purchase was to increase the size of Jefferson Lincoln site. The long term plan is to remove the house and garage to accommodate a school remodel. The sort term plan is to use the lot for additional parking for Jefferson Lincoln Elementary.
On November 15, 2006, the Centralia School District Board of Directors passed a resolution to run a school bond that would go on the election ballot on February 7, 2007. The bond issue would include the remodeling of three schools: Centralia High School, Oakview Elementary, and Jefferson Lincoln Elementary at a cost of $35,217,864. Estimated state matching monies of $20,224,336 would help complete the projects for a total estimated cost of $55,442,200. The cost to the taxpayers would be around $1.00 per thousand of assessed value.
On November 28, 2006, TransAlta Mine closed their mining operations which left 600 mine workers without jobs. With the impact of the closure on the community, the Centralia School Board met on December 7, 2006, and decided to pass resolution #2006-22 to repeal bond resolution #2006-19. No bond was put on the ballot for February 2007.
In January of 2007, the District agreed to sell a corner section of land to the City of Centralia to help with intersection improvements on Harrison and Reynolds Avenue which is located in the front of Fords Prairie Elementary School. In the agreement, the district would sell the land for $31,000 and in turn the City would replace the windows on the east side of the school with better sound proof windows than existed, install a sidewalk along the east side of the school, and install a lighted crosswalk area.
In January of 2007, the District started a Virtual Academy program for 7th – 12th grade students. The program’s coordinator is Kati Carthum. This program was started so students would have one more option to acquire their high school diploma. The program is targeted toward students who are behind on credits or at risk of dropping out of school.
The Centralia School District’s Superintendent, Douglas Kernutt, gave notice to the Board of Directors of his intention to retire at the end of June. The Board of Directors met on January 22, 2007, and made the decision to fill the position by appointing Dr. Steve Bodnar, the District’s current Assistant Superintendent, as Superintendent of Centralia School District, effective July 1, 2007.
On January 25, 2007, the Centralia Board of Directors met and decided to appoint John Bash, current Director of Teaching and Learning, as Centralia School District’s Assistant Superintendent, effective July 1, 2007. The Board also decided to appoint Steve Warren, current Centralia Middle School Principal, as the Director of Teaching and Learning, effective July 1, 2007.
In March of 2007, ESD 112 Construction Services Group and DLR Architects were hired by the district to help oversee the rebuilding of Oakview Elementary School’s new wing. A final design was presented to the Board at the May 16, 2007, board meeting. The District went out to bid for the rebuilding of Oakview Elementary on August 7, 2008. Par-Tech Construction from Oregon City, Oregon, was awarded the bid and a contract was signed on August 29, 2007. Construction started at Oakview Elementary School on September 7, 2007.
Starting the week of August 13, 2007, phase one of the two phase project was done on the Centralia Pool Roof by Chehalis Sheet Metal and Roofing. The project included repairing damage and installing new roofing materials on the sloped section of the 11,500 square foot roof. The estimated cost was $75,000 which would be equally split with the City of Centralia. Phase two would be scheduled for the spring of 2008 which would include repairing damage and installing new roofing materials on the flat built-up section of the 8,000 square foot roof. The estimated cost for this roof was $75,000 and again would be equally split with the City of Centralia.
April of 2007, Jan Leth, long time School Board Member, resigned her position. The remaining four Board Members held interviews on April 24, 2007. They interviewed three candidates, Keith Macy, Brenda Pohlman, and Kim Ashmore. After deliberation, Kim Ashmore was appointed to position #2 Centralia School District Board Member. He was sworn in on May 9, 2007.
Simple Majority was brought before the legislature in the fall of 2007 and on September 27th it passed. This was quite a win for the school districts in Washington. This meant that it would only take 50 percent majority to pass a levy instead of the current 60 percent. This applies to only the levy not to a bond. The bond will still require a 60 percent vote to pass.
On September 19, 2007, the Centralia School District passed Resolution #2007-28, School Levy. The levy would be placed on the February 2008 ballot. With TransAlta decreasing in value, the taxes for the February 2008 levy will increase. In 2009 and 2010, taxes averaged out with not be much of an increase. The next item planned to be brought before the voters is a bond in May of 2008.
In the November 2007 general election, two of our Board members, Robert Fuller and Maree Quade, were re-elected (running unopposed) and one of our Board members that had been appointed to the Board in April, Kim Ashmore, was elected (running unopposed). All three were sworn into office on December 19, 2007.
December 3, 2007, a devastating flood hit Lewis County. Due to flooding a twenty-mile stretch of Interstate 5 was closed for several days between exits 68 and 88, which runs through Lewis County near Centralia. The economic cost of the Interstate 5 closure was roughly $4 million a day. At the height of the storm, at least 75,000 customers in Washington lost electric service. Near downtown Centralia, twenty square blocks had been flooded. The flood was blamed for at least eight deaths and billions of dollars of damage to the area. Washington School had 14 inches of water and the Transportation office had 8 inches of water in it. At the District baseball fields, 460 yards of ash and a great amount of crushed rock were washed away, a fence was taken out from logs and water current, both batting cages were flooded, and the Centralia High School livestock barn was flooded. Washington School had 100 percent reimbursement for all losses, but the transportation office had a $500,000 deductible. The batting cages and animal barn both had their own deductibles. All of Centralia schools were closed for three days, December 4th – 6th and Washington Elementary School was out for a additional two days, December 7th and 10th. Because Governor Gregoire declared a statewide emergency proclamation due to the flood, a waiver was given for the three days of instructional time lost for all Centralia Schools and Washington Elementary School was granted a special waiver for the additional two days because of the 14 inches of water that was in the school.
On February 19, 2008, Centralia School District passed a replacement levy for 2009-10. The levy was for $4,275,000 and passed with a 55.86 percent yes vote.
On March 11, 2008, the Centralia School District Board of Directors held a bond workshop/community forum at Edison Place in Centralia to discuss and get feedback on whether or not to run a bond in May of 2008. The flood was very devastating for many in the community and many were not yet back on their feet from the losses they had suffered. The School Board strongly considered the overall response from the forum during a business meeting held on March 19, 2008, where the Board once again decided to delay running the bond and try again in February of 2009.
In August of 2008 phase two of the Centralia Pool roof was complete which included repairing damage and installing new roofing materials on the flat built-up section of the 8,000 square foot roof. The estimated cost for this roof was $75,000 and again would be equally split with the City of Centralia.
With great excitement on the first day of the 2008-09 school year, the new Oakview Elementary School wing was opened for students. On October 15, 2008, Centralia School District held a ribbon cutting and open house to celebrate the opening. Before the ribbon cutting began everyone met in the gym for a brief overview and then afterward tours were given to all in attendance. The classrooms were furnished with energy saving lighting including solar tubes; improved accommodation for technology; private offices; wheelchair accessible sinks; and much needed new space for academics, activities, and storage. Security lighting and newly installed smooth play surfaces were also a welcome addition to the outside of the building.
At the November 18, 2008, school board meeting, the Board of Directors voted to run a bond on the February 3, 2009 ballot. The district would be asking for $36,775,000 over the next 20 years. To remodel Oakview, Jefferson Lincoln, and Centralia High School would mean that the tax payers would pay $1.31 per thousand of assessed value. If the bond passed the state would also give a state matching amount of $23,438,000 toward the reconstruction.
In the fall of 2008, the U.S. economy took the sharpest dive in years which put our nation into its most serious economic crisis in 75 years. With the current economy, the Centralia School District Board of Directors, held a workshop/public forum to discuss the bond issue with parents, staff, and the community. At the December 17, 2008, meeting after extensive discussion and carefully weighing the consensus of the group, the Board of Directors for the third time felt it necessary to take into consideration the events taking place in the community and rescinded the #2008-15, bond resolution. The bond would n, ot go before the public in February 2009.
December 17, 2008, Lewis County had a major snow storm. The snow accumulation was about 12 inches. School was canceled December 18-19, 2008, which then led into winter break. School officials were pleased that this storm occurred over the winter break because the snow stayed through the New Year holiday.
On January 7, 2009, Lewis County flooded again. CSD staff and students, parents, and community members volunteered to protect especially vulnerable areas of the district against flood damage. They worked to sandbag, move equipment, and place busses around town to transport people who might become stranded. Though some areas of town were affected seriously, the district suffered no significant damage during this event.
In June, representatives from the TransAlta Corporation donated $300,000 towards the construction of a new track for Centralia High School. Presented to CHS in the school gym on June 11, the gift reflected the company’s longstanding and continuing support for CSD programs. Students, parents, staff, members of the state legislature, the City Council, the City Manager’s Office, and the administration of Lewis County were in attendance to offer their appreciation to TransAlta for this contribution.
In December of 2009, U.S. News & World Report selected Centralia H. S. as one of the 51 best high schools in Washington State for 2009. The honor came out a U.S. News national evaluation of high schools that looked at whether students were being successfully prepared for college and at student performance on state tests adjusting for family socio-economic status and/or membership in specific sub-groups.
At the CSD Board of Directors meeting on 12/16/09, newly re-elected Board Member Patty Dolezal was sworn in for another 4-year term as Director, Position no. 5. She has been a member of the Centralia School Board since 1977. Michael Kelly was also sworn in as a Director, Position no. 1, replacing Ron Brumbaugh. New to the Board, he is a Control and Electrical Technician for TransAlta L.L.C.
On February 9, 2010, voters approved a two-year maintenance and operations replacement levy that raised $4,850,000 in 2011 and $4,925,000 in 2012. The amount brought in each year replaced funding collected the prior year. The measure passed with a strong 61% approval underscoring the commitment of our community members to stand by their schools during periods of economic distress.
Local officials formally dedicated the new sports complex on Friday, Oct. 8, in Tiger Stadium. Just before a football game with Tumwater H.S., representatives of CSD, the City of Centralia, our Public Facilities District, and the Limited Liability Corporation gathered on bright new track for a ribbon cutting. All had worked in partnership over 18 months to create a $2.45 million facility that quickly began to win rave reviews from athletes and fans alike.
Providing splendid playing and running surfaces for football, soccer, track, and tennis, the sports complex qualifies as a first rate candidate for both high school and collegiate invitationals. It also features multi-use quad-fields for baseball and softball directly south of the stadium.
Contributions to the project included: Centralia School District $300,000
TransAlta Corporation $300,000
The City of Centralia $1,250,000
The Public Facilities District $600,000
Profound thanks to the public and private partners whose generous support gave the district a huge return for its investment in the Sports Complex. We believe the project will confer athletic, civic, economic, and social benefits on the community well into the future.