Federal Way schools reap rewards of bad economy

Valhalla Elementary School caught a lucky break just like Panther Lake Elementary.

The current economic situation in the nation means that construction companies are practically begging for work, making the bid process very competitive, which is good news for the Federal Way School District.

The Federal Way School Board approved a construction bid Tuesday night for Valhalla. Even with all the "alternates" added to the new school's construction, the bid was still under budget, coming in at $9.2 million.

Alternates are items included in the original plan that could be cut out if construction bids are high.

Due to the low bids, construction plans will include features such as additional technology, additional insulation, cooling in the administration office, skylights, an additional play structure, additional landscaping and a faster construction schedule.

The district initially estimated it would cost $17.5 million per elementary school to build, district officials said.

There were six construction firms bidding on the project; Babbit Neuman was the low bid. Babbit Neuman is also the firm handling the construction at Panther Lake Elementary.

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.

Construction update:

At Panther Lake Elementary, clearing of the new site was completed on Tuesday. The footing should start being poured in about four weeks.

At Lakota Middle School, the construction documents have been moving along, following the school board's decision earlier this month the approve the designated library space design plans.


Bond facts

The $149 million bond passed last year by Federal Way voters 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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