School bond clears final hurdle

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The Mirror

The third time was the charm for supporters of a $149 million construction bond to rebuild and renovate schools in Federal Way.

According to the King County Elections Department, more than 62 percent of votes counted so far have supported the measure. A small number of ballots remain to be counted, but it is likely the bond will pass. The results will be official the first week of June.

Although it is apparent that the bond will pass, some district officials were hesitant to declare victory.

“We are encouraged by the latest election results, and want to thank the Federal Way community for voting. We’ll be watching the returns very closely for the next few days,” superintendent Tom Murphy said in an e-mail.

Bond supporters from Citizens for Federal Way Schools gathered Tuesday night for a party celebrating the bond approval.

“We were really excited when the first numbers came out over 60 percent,” said Suzanne Smith, campaign chairwoman. “It’s a great feeling.”

This bond was the third presented to voters in just more than a year. The first two proposals were rejected.

Smith said she thinks the bond passed this time because supporters educated the public that the bond would not increase the tax rate.

“I’m delighted. I think it’s wonderful,” said school board member Charlie Hoff.

School board president Ed Barney thanked the voters for supporting the bond.

The next step will be to hire architects, engineers and other consultants, said Rod Leland, director of facility services. That team will draw up plans for the new schools and make recommendations to the board before construction begins.

The planning process should be fairly quick, Leland said.

Lakota Middle School and Panther Lake and Valhalla elementary schools will be the first to undergo construction, Leland said. The projects will continue simultaneously with the elementary schools opening first.

Leland estimates that Panther Lake and Valhalla will open sometime in 2009, with Lakota opening about a year later.

Construction on Sunnycrest and Lakeland elementary schools will begin after the first two elementary schools are complete. All construction will be completed by 2013.

Students will remain in their current building while the new building is erected nearby on the same site.

The new schools will be “green” buildings, Leland said, meaning they will be more environmentally friendly than the buildings they replace.

Some of the differences will be better insulation, more use of natural light, high-efficiency lighting and more hard-surface floors replacing carpet.

Truman High School, Todd Beamer High School, Public Academy and Sequoyah Middle School are all examples of green buildings.

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

Bond facts

The $149 million bond will rebuild five aging schools: Lakota Middle School and Lakeland, Panther Lake, Sunnycrest and Valhalla elementary schools.

The district’s transportation center, central kitchen and maintenance facilities will be rebuilt and relocated to an area near Celebration Park.

The bond will trigger $20 million in matching funds from the state to provide improvements to 23 Federal Way schools built before 1990, with the exception of Federal Way High School. Renovations will include repairing items such as heating, roofs and plumbing.

The district plans to complete the projects by 2013.

The bond will maintain the current property tax rate at $4.19 per $1,000 valuation of property as previous bonds expire.

For more information about the bond, visit or e-mail

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