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Federal Way schools will pitch levy in November | More public communication promised

The school district will present the capital projects levy to voters for a second time this year in November. The levy is intended to raise money for rebuilding Federal Way High School. - Mirror file photo
The school district will present the capital projects levy to voters for a second time this year in November. The levy is intended to raise money for rebuilding Federal Way High School.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

The capital levy to rebuild Federal Way High School will be on the ballot again in November.

This time around, Federal Way Public Schools will hold numerous forums and conversations with various sectors of the community — something that an opposition group claimed didn’t happen earlier this year.

In the Feb. 14 special election, the levy failed with about 47.5 percent of voters saying yes. The district has one more opportunity to present the levy to voters in 2012.

Rod Leland, facility services director for Federal Way schools, shared the timeline for public meetings and conversations during the school board’s March 13 meeting. An array of issues will be touched on by the board in the coming months.

Along with incorporating the history of the decades-old building, there are plans for discussions about design, concept, capacity, growth and cost estimates in the next few months.

Capacity and growth is a discussion that will center on the needed sizes of classrooms going forward with 21st century education, Leland said.

A ballot resolution will need to be acted on by the board by Aug. 7.

This month, FWPS staff will look at the February election results and try to distill that information and figure out what it means for the district going forward.

In April, the district will put out some feelers on attracting an architect and project manager for the renovation of Federal Way High School.

The district’s veteran capital project manager noted that any agreement with an architect would be non-binding and only for this first phase.

On the community engagement front, there will be a number of chances for both the Federal Way High School community to have their voices heard, and the larger Federal Way community to provide input on developing the new high school. Along with this, Superintendent Rob Neu plans to create a “Blue Ribbon” committee, which will consist of community and business leaders from the city and region. First up will be a forum next month, with the date to be announced, Leland said.

Federal Way School Board President Tony Moore wants to make sure the public feels heard.

“I want to have the opportunity for people to express their views,” Moore said. “We had a large cross-section of people who were in favor of building it, and of course there were people who were not in favor of rebuilding. I just want to make sure that those who were, are heard, are invited and fully informed.”

Kurt Peppard, a community member who helped form the levy opposition group Citizens for Accountable Federal Way Schools, said he’s happy with the district’s effort this time, but still feels more could be done.

“I’m not sure there’s going to be enough opportunity for widespread discussion,” Peppard said. “There’s two large open community forums, the construction advisory committee which meets monthly, and a community advisory board which is by application or invitation. That bothers me, in that we’re going to select and choose who our advisory committee is…I’ve seen the way the district filters information, generally, and it tends to go the direction they wanted anyway.”

Peppard and the opposition group argued before the Feb. 14 special election that the district needs to take the time to figure out what to do with the possible renovation of Federal Way High School — something that still needs to happen, he said.

“We really need to think first, what it is we want this school to accomplish. How to use this reconstruction to be a catalyst to achieve educational opportunities for all children across all grades,” he said. “If Federal Way High School is the flagship, great, but let’s make it a real catalyst. You can’t do that through situations where you limit and curtail participation.”

 

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