Federal Way school district facilities a concern moving forward

While Federal Way Public Schools has made strides in implementing a strategic plan and improving test scoring and attendance in the public, one key component to school district success in the future is its facilities.

At a recent State of Education presentation to the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 4, district Superintendent Tammy Campbell touched upon the state of the district’s buildings and the need to address over-crowding and building additional schools in the future.

Campbell said the school district has 39 sites, including eight buildings that are older than 50 years, while 11 are 40 years or older.

“So when you have schools this old, you have maintenance to consider,” Campbell said, adding those schools are not designed for modern education.

As well, 10,263 elementary school students are currently occupying buildings with a maximum capacity of 9,160, she said.

To maintain a reasonable class size and address over-crowding, Campbell said, the district needs 63 additional classrooms and three new schools today. The district also anticipates needing to accommodate 11,000 elementary students, by 2026.

At the state of education presentation, Campbell stressed to the audience the importance of community engagement, as well as belief in the district and the district’s students, prompting the introduction of a future bond.

“We have a really big job,” she said. “This is our school system.”

After the meeting, Chief of Communications and Strategy Kassie Swenson said it is important to inform community members now so they are prepared when the time comes.

“We are currently faced with crowded elementary schools, and considering the time it takes to pass a bond, design and build a school, the time is now to share this need with our community,” she said.

To that end, a bond measure for additional buildings will become necessary soon, but district officials are still doing background work to determine what the school district needs before placing a cost in front of the voters and asking them to approve a bond measure. Currently, a Facilities Planning Committee is meeting monthly with the purpose of making a recommendation of the next phase of school modernization, replacement and expansion.

A draft plan will be completed in April of this year, and Swenson said Campbell will likely present a final recommendation to the district Board of Directors for consideration and adoption in June.

When the time comes, Swenson said, the school district has some land set aside but would need to purchase additional property for future elementary schools.

To read a detailed summary of the state of education address and learn more about the district’s achievements, go to www.fwps.org and click on the State of Education Address link under District Headlines &Features.

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