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As levy vote nears, district reiterates need for new FWHS

Towels soak up leaks in the hallways of Federal Way High School. - Mirror file photo
Towels soak up leaks in the hallways of Federal Way High School.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

With the general election just a few short weeks away, the Federal Way School Board heard a final presentation on the need for a new Federal Way High School (FWHS) during the board’s Oct. 23 meeting.

If approved in the general election, the levy will collect $60 million over six years, and will add 92 cents per every $1,000 of assessed evaluation for Federal Way home and property owners. The levy is also set to standardize the district’s security camera system and make improvements to playground equipment at 19 of the district’s elementary schools.

The levy needs a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass.

FWHS principal Lisa Griebel shared what’s become something of a tradition as the decades-old school continues to deteriorate around students.

“At Federal Way High School, my team and I are out and about in our building. We take photos of our staff and students that are engaged in the two student goals we have,” she said.

“One of our goals is to improve student learning and of course, to have a safe and secure environment. The other reason we take pictures at Federal Way High School, we call ‘The Reasons Why We Need a New Building.’ We showed it to staff and we laughed, and cried a little bit.”

Griebel said the photos she took on Oct. 23 would have included scenes from the 600 hall in the aging building. Those photos show the towels across the floor that soak up the water, she said, referencing the school’s leaky conditions.

“And of course, my favorite: kids that have traversed a quarter of a mile from one end to get to the good water fountain that has cold water.”

Superintendent Rob Neu shared his thoughts on this second attempt at getting voters to say yes to the levy.

“The thing I’m really proud of, is we started this conversation back in April, and we’ve continued it until now,” he said. “And through the process, we really listened to the input we received since last February when we failed this particular levy initiative. I believe the work that has been done this time has honored the voices of the community. I’ve enjoyed hearing those voices.”

Neu continued, saying the words of FWHS students themselves have perhaps been most persuasive on the need for a new building.

“When you spend any time in Federal Way High School, and you have the opportunity to meet the students that grace those halls every day, they deserve better,” Neu said. “What breaks my heart is that, the kids will tell you they feel like second-class citizens. You hear the word ‘ghetto’ because of the bricks and mortars that are failing.”

Learn more

Click here to learn more about the capital projects levy in the Nov. 6 general election.

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