MOUNT VERNON — For the second time in two years, Madison Elementary School students have found themselves in a new home, but this time the move is permanent.

“It feels like we’re back home,” Principal Juan Gaona said.

As the school year in the Mount Vernon School District started Wednesday, parents and children at Madison Elementary returned to a whole new scholastic world.

“We can give the students a brand-new learning environment,” Gaona said.

Last year, Madison Elementary students were at the district’s new Harriet Rowley Elementary School while they awaited their new school to open.

This year, Harriet Rowley will host a new group of students from the neighborhoods around the school.

In the center of Madison Elementary, two staircases rise side by side — one for use to get to the building’s second story, where the upper grade classrooms and library are, and the other a wider and larger-stepped staircase officials said can be used as additional classroom space.

Throughout the building — the home of the district’s dual language program — signs and plaques are in both English and Spanish, with splashes of “Wildcat” red accenting the spacious building.

The design of the building pulled in some aspects of Harriet Rowley, while keeping some parts unique to Madison Elementary, Superintendent Carl Bruner said.

In all, both schools were built on time and under budget, Bruner said.

“We are thrilled,” he said.

The opening of Madison Elementary marks the end of the second of the district’s five-part $106 million construction project. The next two phases will see changes at the high school.

School in the Burlington-Edison, Concrete and La Conner school districts also started Wednesday, with school in the Anacortes School District beginning today.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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