Time to Complete the Second Half of the School Music Building Plan

Thanks to a 2012 bond, the Orcas Island School District completed the first half of construction needed to house the school music program. Our beautiful new band room provides space for Elementary, Middle and High School band classes taught by Darren Dix.

The second half of the planned music building construction – an adjoining structure estimated to cost $680,000 at the time – was postponed until the next bond.


For now, all music classes taught by Pamela Wright – including K-4 music, 5th and 6th Grade Strings, 7th and 8th Grade Strings, and High School Strings – meet in the tight quarters of the “old music room” in the Elementary School building. This classroom is not big enough to accommodate our large music classes. Quite literally, many violin, viola and cello students do not have room to draw their bows across their stringed instruments.

The $680,000 structure that was planned but not built in 2012 is now estimated to cost $1.5 million.  Faced with rising construction costs, the School Board has discussed postponing the remaining half of construction. They have even discussed remodeling an existing space instead – either a $680,000 remodel of the raised stage in the Old School Gym, or a remodel of the small, modular building behind the District Administration offices. These spaces are actually smaller than the current classroom, so remodeling doesn’t provide a solution – and new construction costs are likely to increase if postponed.


The School Board is currently discussing three bond amounts – $5 million, $8 million and $11 million. The first two contain a $680,000 budget for “remodeling.” Only the $11 million bond includes the full $1.5 million funding to complete the planned music building.

Community school music supporters are urging the Board to make the music building an essential priority in all three proposals – by replacing the $680,000 “remodeling” number with a $1.5 million “complete the building” number in the first two options. This would raise the first two bond considerations to just under $6 million and $9 million respectively.

Editor’s Note: At a Special Board Meeting on Tuesday, Nov 22, the Orcas Island School Board passed a resolution to place an $8 million school bond proposition on the Feb. 2017 ballot.  A New Music/Multi-purpose room is included at a cost of $1,358,637.  Read more about the proposed school bond here.


This would fulfill the original plan to complete the second half of music building construction. It would give the community something significant to show for its investment and provide room for our award-winning music program – especially important when the arts, which include school music, are now core curriculum requirements in Washington state.

It is reasonable to expect that the Music Advocacy Group, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, other groups, and community leaders will help encourage support for this bond. Our school music program has made amazing progress. We believe it will continue to enhance the Orcas Island School District’s reputation as a destination resource for excellence in education.

For more about MAG’s advocacy for the completion of the Music Building, click on these links: