Lakota scraps ‘librateria’ plan

There’s no need to worry about books being used as lunch trays. It’s official: Lakota Middle School will have a designated library.

Principal Pam Tuggle stood with Lakota parents as they announced to the Federal Way School Board that they had reconfigured the school’s design to include a 1,300-square-foot “Integrated Learning Center” — they didn’t want to call it a library — adjacent to the side of the “Great Room.”

“The labels are for our purpose,” Tuggle said. “It’s going to be used for much more than just a library.”

The new design includes a “Connections” area, styled as an Internet cafe on the far side of the Great Room.

Lakota is one of five aging Federal Way schools to be rebuilt with a $149 million construction bond measure that voters passed last year. The design for the new Lakota school has been under debate. The original plans did not include a designated library, but rather a resource center that could be used as a library, a cafeteria or a combination of the two. The school district’s hope was that by using the flexible space approach, the schools would last longer and be more adaptable.

The Lakota community held several meetings on the matter. The school board even delayed the decision so that the community could have more time to come to a consensus.

“I am very impressed that the solutions came from the community,” school board member Suzanne Smith said.

This may not be the last change Lakota undergoes. Superintendent Tom Murphy mentioned that depending on the bid climate and the economy, there may be enough extra funds to add more to the gym area — potentially even a performing arts center if the bids are really really low.

“That’s not out of the question,” Murphy said.

A poor economy generally leads to good bid climate because less work for construction firms means more competitive bidding, which means lower costs for the school district. Nine contractors recently bid on the Panther Lake Elementary construction project, with the low bid coming in at $9.6 million, well under the budget of about $11 million.

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