News

One more forum before a bond vote

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

'Twas two weeks before the School Board meets and all through Federal Way,

not many have spoken publicly about whether the bond should have its way.

Federal Way Public Schools will make a last presentation to the public before the School Board decides Oct. 11 whether to put a $250 million bond to reconstruct several schools in the district on an upcoming ballot. If it passed, the bond would be the largest in district history.

Citizens can talk to School Board members and ask questions during an informal meeting from 6 to 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26 at Federal Way City Hall's council chambers.

If the School Board approves putting the bond on the ballot, it might come to voters as early as February. A super-majority - 60 percent - would need to approve it for the bond to pass.

The bond would renovate one high school - Federal Way - and one middle school - Lakota - and four elementary schools. All are considered near the end of their useful lives by district officials who reviewed each building in the district at the School Board's request.

The bond would cover a decade's worth of work. Voters would pay for it over a 30-year period.

State funds would also pay for portions of the construction as individual schools became eligible.

Included in the bond are proposals to demolish Memorial Stadium in its present location at Federal Way High and build a new version on property across from Celebration Park. Removing the old stadium - which district officials say is costing more every year to keep operational - will accomplish two goals: make more room on the property for the new high school and have a more centrally located stadium.

The site is a former aircraft hangar and considered an environmental hazard because of soil contamination. Superintendent Tom Murphy has pointed out at previous presentations that hazardous soil is typically removed or capped with asphalt. A new stadium - including the field - would be built on blacktop, he has said in the past.

A community arts center is also part of the proposal. It has been discussed often and local arts organizations have asked the district over the years to consider building one, Murphy said.

He envisions a several-hundred-seat facility with the ability to put on plays and music recitals on the Federal Way High site. The main reason for locating it there is the land is already bought and paid for, but Murphy said if someone wanted to donate land for the construction of a new arts center he would ask the School Board to entertain the idea.

Another aspect of the bond would pay for facilities most people don't see or think daily. Right now the district's transportation, maintenance and food service buildings are spread around the city. The district is proposing moving all three to one site - the land was purchased earlier this year - south and east of Celebration Park.

The community and School Board would also have a chance to determine what the new schools would accomplish. The new incarnations of the schools wouldn't have to follow the models of their predecessors, Murphy said. They could be anything the community was interested in.

Some School Board members have expressed interest in K-8 schools in the future.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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