School districts put bond money to use

August 30, 2013

By Staff

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Greg Farrar Construction workers continue to demolish the old and create the new at Liberty High School, with a new commons, auxiliary gym and science lab ready for students, but many classes are being held in portables this school year.

Greg Farrar
Construction workers continue to demolish the old and create the new at Liberty High School, with a new commons, auxiliary gym and science lab ready for students, but many classes are being held in portables this school year.

Voters in the Issaquah and Renton school districts are starting to see the results of the April 2012 bond measures they approved more than a year ago.

About 70 percent of voters supported Issaquah’s $219 million bond measure, while Renton’s $97 million bond received the support of more than 60 percent.

Newcastle residents living in the Issaquah School District will see the results of the measure in major construction projects at Apollo Elementary School, Maywood Middle School and Liberty High School.

Those who live in the Renton School District will see the fruits of the measure with the future middle school in Newcastle.


Renton School District

About half of the Renton district’s $97 million bond will go toward the construction of a new middle school in Newcastle, set to open in 2016.

That’s three years down the road, but voters are already getting a sneak peek at plans for the school with the unveiling of initial designs in July.

The two-story building designed by NAC Architecture will occupy the 11-acre site of the Renton Academy, next to Hazelwood Elementary School.

“I think the largest challenge we have is the size of the site,” project manager Steve Shiver said. “We had to design a building that was as compact as possible.”

The result was a two-story building with upper mezzanines and a central common area. Most importantly, however, the construction of the new middle school will not affect the popular east baseball fields.

A major feature of the school will be its transparency, complete with windows in every classroom, Shiver said. Instead of walls, the school will utilize a lot of glass, providing clear sightlines for students and staff.

“That improves security and reduces bullying in the building, because staff can observe the circulation corridor areas in the building from within the classroom,” Shiver said.

The schematic designs are just the first step in the design process, offering a general picture of the floor plan and area. NAC Architecture will now delve into the design development phase, which adds significantly more detail, accounting for furniture, finishes and classroom equipment.

Demolition of Renton Academy is set to begin in June 2014; construction will start in March 2015. The middle school is slated to open in fall 2016.


Issaquah School District

Work is well underway at many district schools on a variety of projects, some to increase student capacity and some to improve aging infrastructure.

As part of Issaquah’s bond measure, Apollo, built in 1970, was one of two elementary schools chosen to receive nearly $6.6 million each for modernization efforts.

With the first day of the new school year quickly approaching Sept. 4, contractors and district officials are busily trying to ready the buildings for the arrival of teachers, students and parents.

Steve Crawford, the district’s director of capital projects, said the projects at Issaquah Valley and Apollo are similar in scope and design. The district is using the same general contractor for both buildings as a way to reduce time and cost.

As a safety measure, the principal’s offices at both schools are being moved to the front of the buildings for “better visual control of what’s going on,” Crawford said.

Each building will have eight additional classrooms and more small-group instructional space in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year, removing the need for portable classrooms.

“It’s a lot to get done in the course of the summer so that we’re buttoned up and ready for kids to start school,” Crawford said.

Apollo is seeing the results of continued growth in the East Renton Highlands area. The school has largely run out of space for students, Crawford said, and is a prime candidate for bond money.

In mid-August, the school was showing signs of ongoing construction. Floors were stripped in many areas, and in the rear of the building, the space for new classrooms was largely bare. Crews plan to block those areas at Apollo so people can pass safely during the school day.

“In large part, they’re prefabricated walls, so when it comes time to set up, they just tilt them up and a lot happens in a short period of time,” Crawford explained.

Here’s a look at the status of other Issaquah district projects in the Newcastle area:

  •  At Liberty High, the second part of a three-phase expansion and modernization project is finishing. Many classrooms were demolished over the summer, meaning students will start the new year with a total of 38 classrooms in 19 portables. Features to be completed by Sept. 4 include a new commons area, auxiliary gym, locker rooms and a science lab. The softball field will also get an upgrade with the addition of an artificial-turf infield.
  •  Maywood Middle was also the target of modernization and expansion. The $10.2 million project was completed in May and included $3.8 million for a new heating and air conditioning system. An artificial turf athletic field was also installed.
  •  Along with the high-dollar project at Apollo, the school received an additional $695,000 to convert its grass field to sand, replace corridor carpets with rubber flooring, and install new carpeting in classrooms and offices.



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