Federal Way school district moves forward on construction projects

Voter-approved $450 million bond will fund improvements at eight total schools, plus Memorial Stadium

The Federal Way school district is moving forward with construction projects this summer to expand and renovate six aging schools.

Approved by voters in Nov. 2017, a school construction bond of $450 million was allocated to Federal Way Public Schools to improve eight total schools, including Thomas Jefferson High School, Totem and Illahee middle schools, and Olympic View, Lake Grove, Mirror Lake, Star Lake and Wildwood elementary schools, as well as improvements for Memorial Stadium.

All of the schools, except for Illahee Middle School and Olympic View Elementary School, are now in phase two of construction, which is the design and planning process.

Two construction groups have been selected by FWPS for these projects. FORMA Construction will take on Mirror Lake, Lake Grove and Wildwood elementary schools. Cornerstone General Contractors Inc. has been selected for Thomas Jefferson High School.

The four remaining school projects will follow the same process in selecting contractors, said school district spokesperson Whitney Chiang.

The community can expect to see construction groundbreaking in spring 2019 for the elementary and middle schools, followed by shovels in the dirt for Thomas Jefferson High School in spring 2020.

Although the specifics of the improvements for Memorial Stadium have yet to be determined, these improvements may tentatively begin in 2024, Chiang said.

A key step in the planning and design phases of the projects is the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, which identifies and analyzes the environmental impact of each project. The district reports it has been gathering data on environmental concerns such as traffic, hazardous materials, storm water runoff and soil conditions.

“The SEPA review process is helping the district and its community stakeholders understand how the projects will affect the environment,” according to a press release from the school district.

Once the necessary data is collected, the district will prepare a SEPA checklist for each project, each of which will be widely circulated for public comment. The comments will then be reviewed and considered as part of any mitigation strategies, according to the district.

The district reports the initial checklists can be expected in the fall, and the public will be invited to review or challenge the findings.

“We are excited to be working with these construction firms with extensive school construction project experience, and look forward to building long lasting facilities that will serve our scholars, staff, families and community for generations,” said Superintendent Tammy Campbell in a press release.

The eight schools on tap for construction were originally built between 1956 and 1971. The bond will address problems such as deteriorating facilities, overcrowding and security at the schools. In total, the district has 19 buildings that are 40 years old or older.