School board approves new Federal Way High School design

This rendering shows what the new Federal Way High School will look like. - Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools
This rendering shows what the new Federal Way High School will look like.
— image credit: Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools

The Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) board of directors unanimously approved the schematic design for the new Federal Way High School (FWHS) during the board’s meeting on Jan. 14.

Rod Leland, project manager of the school's modernization, took some time during the meeting to address questions members of the board had raised at a recent board work study session. The questions dealt with the student population the new building is being designed to support, and also with general storage concerns throughout the district.

“In the beginning, our charge was to house programming for 1,600 students, and that we’ve accomplished, and that we demonstrated last week in our work study,” Leland said. “That number is a choice. The building … has flexibility to increase in size and capacity, by about 13 percent. (That additional capacity), it’s approaching 30,000 additional square feet.”

Leland said this additional capacity could potentially house a total of 2,100 students, “depending on choices the district makes in programming.”

As far as the storage issue is concerned, Leland noted that the former building that housed the district’s central kitchen is still onsite at FWHS, and presents an opportunity to be taken advantage of, if district leaders so choose.

“It’s convenient, it’s on campus,” he said. “That takes care of big storage, which I heard was part of the question.”

Leland also added that the current schematic design has a number of rooms on each floor of the new school dedicated to computer technology/connectivity needs. He said the number currently planned for, six, probably isn’t needed, and that those rooms could be repurposed to storage uses if the district decides to.

“We’ve determined we only need three, one on each floor to provide security and connectivity,” he said.

Board member Tony Moore asked Leland if the design/architecture team, and their district counterpoints, were planning to continue having meetings with the community as the process moves forward.

Leland replied that they were, but that they needed to get to the approval of the schematic designs before they began planning concrete details for more community meetings.

“We haven’t generated mass crowds, but we get 35-50 people out each time, and that tells us things we need to know,” he said.

Board president Danny Peterson, before the vote on approving the designs, pressed Leland to commit to making sure “portables” wouldn’t become a permanent part of the scenery on campus, even after the building is completely rebuilt.

“For a long time, for me, (I get) a nails-on-the-chalkboard (feeling) seeing portables brought into a brand new school,” Peterson said. “I want to know, in approving this, that I can be assured that in five years time, I’m not going to be seeing semis pulling up and rolling in portables.”

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Sally McLean replied that she was willing to make that commitment, but reminded Peterson that FWHS will still see the portable units when construction is underway.

“You have to remember we’re rolling 20 portables on that site in order to do the construction,” she said.

As the project moves forward, Leland said he’s happy to be part of this process.

“I feel so lucky to be part of the design process for this school. As a resident of Federal Way, I’m sure it will be a significant place for Federal Way.”


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