Fall school construction raises quality amid noise

Most of the work so far on a $149 million construction bond, which was passed last year, has been behind the scenes.

But starting in the fall, students at some schools will begin to notice changes.

Twenty-three of the Federal Way School District’s 37 schools are undergoing some type of construction as a result of the bond. Five schools will be rebuilt.

Construction will begin on Panther Lake and Valhalla elementary schools in the fall. Classes will continue in the old buildings while the new buildings are built on the same property.

Rod Leland, director of facility services, said that the school campuses are likely to be noisier and dustier during construction next school year. Teachers may also have a more difficult time parking. The district had no vacant buildings to house students during the work.

“We’re aware that we’re going to be disruptive,” Leland said. He added that the largest portion of the school buildings will be out of the way of the construction.

Among the benefits of continuing classes on the same site during construction is transportation, Leland said.

“People who walk can still walk here,” he said.

Construction areas will be fenced off for the safety of students.

Also in the fall, Camelot and Lake Doloff elementary schools and Sacajawea Middle School will have new heating systems. Decatur High School and Nautilus Elementary will have new roofs, and Thomas Jefferson High School will have new lighting.

The new construction on all Federal Way buildings will meet or exceed state standards for green buildings. Some of the differences will be better insulation, more use of natural light, high-efficiency lighting and more hard-surface floors replacing carpet.

The new Panther Lake and Valhalla buildings are scheduled to be complete at the end of 2009. Lakota is scheduled to be complete at the end of 2010. Sunnycrest and Lakeland elementary schools are scheduled to be complete at the end of 2011.

Contact Margo Hoffman: 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.

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

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