In this file photo from September, due to overcrowding at Wildwood Elementary, staff has been forced to turn storage space into makeshift rooms for ELL programs and other instruction. Mirror file photo

In this file photo from September, due to overcrowding at Wildwood Elementary, staff has been forced to turn storage space into makeshift rooms for ELL programs and other instruction. Mirror file photo

With school bond passage certain, FWPS leaders begin planning for construction

With voter approval for the $450 million construction bond sitting at 61.97 percent, Federal Way Public Schools leaders are setting plans in motion for the massive project to begin.

As of Monday afternoon, King County Elections staff had about 526 ballots left to count and will certify 2017 general election results Nov. 28. Pre-construction plans, however, are already underway in the school district.

At a work session Nov. 14, the School Board heard a presentation from OAC construction management firm consultant Greg Brown, who, along with district Chief Finance and Operations Officer Sally McLean and Executive Director of Maintenance and Operations Mike Benzien, discussed the design phases that will take place before construction begins, as well as the funding plans to best put taxpayer money to use.

Brown, whose company has 30 years’ experience in public school construction and planning, said the first step in the design process is the pre-design, where educational specifications are adopted, followed by schematic design, design development, bidding and negotiation, construction and closeout.

According to a presentation report, the pre-design phase, with the development of educational specifications, is the “recipe of what goes into making the building a good learning environment specifically for the Federal Way school district.”

“This will set the tone for the types of buildings you’ll be using for the next 50 years,” Brown said.

When construction does begin, the school district will begin with the four elementary schools identified for improvements in the bond — Lake Grove, Mirror Lake, Star Lake and Wildwood — as well as Thomas Jefferson High School, which is the largest and most expensive of all the construction projects at approximately 210,000 square feet and $149.5 million. Each elementary school project will be approximately 60,000 square feet and have a price tag of approximately $27.5 million.

Later, the Olympic View K-8, Totem and Illahee middle schools and Memorial Stadium projects will take place, along with the construction of Mark Twain Elementary at a new site and other miscellaneous safety and infrastructure improvements at all schools once School Construction Assistance Program funds become available from the state. Anticipated cost for the Olympic View 96,000-square-foot project is $44 million, while the middle schools, with 110,000 square feet of construction planned, are anticipated to cost $52 million each. The Memorial Stadium project is expected to cost $45 million. The district is anticipating $35 million from state SCAP funds to build Mark Twain elementary, along with another $16.5 million to make improvements at the other FWPS schools.

While all the projects included in the $450 million construction bond are important, completing construction at Thomas Jefferson High School early on is important for the school district to stay within budget because inflation rates for materials will only go up, and the district could take the biggest hit for that school.

“We’ve seen some escalation of project costs in the last year, and we’re a little concerned that will continue into the future,” Brown said.

To ensure taxpayers are included in deciding what the schools will look like, Brown said community forums to share and receive comments are scheduled in the pre-design, schematic and design development phases.

“We want to build upon what the voters just did for us,” he said.

He said, based on previous projects his company has worked on, he recommends welcoming public comment while letting people know what actually goes into the final construction will depend on cost.

“My approach has always been to allow people to dream their dreams but let them know there’s a set of parameters we have to work within,” Brown said.

While the timelines for each phase will be adjusted as needed, Brown said it will take approximately two years to design each building and one year for construction.


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In this file photo, somebody at Thomas Jefferson High School indicates where the floor is separating from the wall. The high school is one of the first projects in the $450 million bond package that will be completed. Mirror file photo

In this file photo, somebody at Thomas Jefferson High School indicates where the floor is separating from the wall. The high school is one of the first projects in the $450 million bond package that will be completed. Mirror file photo

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