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School bond dollars go to work in Federal Way

Valhalla Elementary School held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 17. Group shown above includes student Ryan Woobank, Valhalla principal Marie Verhaar, students Cassidy Lane and Breeana McSheery, school board president Ed Barney, student Sarah Spillers, school board member Angela Griffin, student Sam Spillers, Superintendent Tom Murphy and school board vice president Suzanne Smith. - Photos courtesy of Deb Stenberg/Federal Way School District
Valhalla Elementary School held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 17. Group shown above includes student Ryan Woobank, Valhalla principal Marie Verhaar, students Cassidy Lane and Breeana McSheery, school board president Ed Barney, student Sarah Spillers, school board member Angela Griffin, student Sam Spillers, Superintendent Tom Murphy and school board vice president Suzanne Smith.
— image credit: Photos courtesy of Deb Stenberg/Federal Way School District

Joseph Cordi, a third-grader at Valhalla Elementary School, is getting tired of watching his teacher turn the heater off and on in his classroom using a wrench.

“It makes a machine gun noise when she turns it on,” he said. “It’s cold. It’s hot. The heaters don’t work.”

It’s time for a new school, Cordi said. And Valhalla students will soon get a new school. At a groundbreaking ceremony last week, Cordi gathered with other students, parents, neighbors and community leaders at Valhalla to celebrate the beginning of construction on a new school building.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held last week at Valhalla and Panther Lake elementary schools, the first two of five Federal Way schools to be rebuilt with a $149 million construction bond measure passed last year. Five schools and three district facilities will be rebuilt by 2013. The new Valhalla and Panther Lake buildings are scheduled to be complete at the end of 2009.

Stephanie Nguyen, a parent with two children who attend Valhalla, said she is enthusiastic about the additional storage, the multipurpose room and the additional natural light in the new campus.

“The fluorescent lights are really hard on the kids’ eyes and they tend to complain of headaches,” she said.

For Sydney Wilson, a third-grader at Valhalla, the playground is among the most exciting things about the new school.

“I think it’s going to be better,” she said.

She also hopes her new school is bigger than the old building. Classrooms in the old building were beginning to get crowded, she said.

“We were getting more people and not enough space for the people,” Wilson said.

During construction, classes will continue in the old buildings while the new buildings are built on the same property. Construction areas will be fenced off for the safety of students.

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

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com 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 www.fwps.org/info/bond or e-mail bond07@fwps.org.

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