Lakewood High to be completely overhauled

LAKEWOOD — Lakewood High School students are expected to be in a new building by fall 2017.

A complete overhaul of the current high school is scheduled in phases during the next three years, shifting classes to portables while the school is torn down and rebuilt one half at a time.

The project is funded by a $66.8 million bond. The bond measure passed in April with 1,995 yes votes and 1,325 no votes. It had failed in November by about 30 votes.

The Lakewood School District decided to remodel the 30-year-old high school to prepare for growth, adjust to new technologies and programs, and improve school security, superintendent Michael Mack said. The project design involves tearing down most of the current high school. The existing gymnasium and a few exterior walls are expected to be incorporated into the new building.

The planned two-story, 168,000-square-foot Lakewood High School is designed for 850 students, about 125 more than current enrollment, Mack said.

“We know that there’s going to be growth coming,” he said. “We think that once the new high school is up and running, it will maybe attract some of our students that go elsewhere.”

The district also set aside land next to the school so the building can be expanded in the future.

Plans for the new high school include a greenhouse, auditorium, wrestling and gymnastics room, student store, group work spaces, and updated science labs and workshops for manufacturing, robotics and engineering classes.

The bond dollars are designated for building the high school, and an anticipated $5 million or more in state matching funds is marked for updating athletic facilities. The district hopes to put in a turf field, a new track and a new tennis court, Mack said.

The district estimates a two-year timeline for constructing the high school. Additional work on athletic fields, pathways, parking and roads is scheduled for a third year, wrapping up in fall 2018.

Mack expects to see portables on school property in January. At the end of this school year, about half of the classrooms are going to relocate to portables while one side of the school is torn down. Once the first half of the building is complete, classrooms on the other side of the school can move to the portables while the second half of the building is leveled and rebuilt.

Safety is a priority for the new building, Mack said. The high school has too many exterior access doors that have to be locked by hand. The new building is designed to have fewer entrances and exits, all of which can be locked automatically in case of an emergency.

The designs also bring student parking closer to the school and create cross- campus lit walkways to connect the high school to the middle school, elementary school and district office. The district plans to build a new access road for buses between the high school and middle school to lighten traffic on 172nd Street.

“Because we don’t have a town, this school kind of becomes our community center,” Mack said. “For us, this is really exciting.”

Heavy, noisy stages of construction are scheduled for the summers, he said. The school year is for less disruptive interior work.

Two graduating classes are expected to spend their senior years with the school under construction. Mack hopes to make it a fun distinction for seniors rather than a headache, possibly through themed T-shirts or events.

“It’s not all about the school,” Mack said. “It’s about the spirit.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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