T ahoma’s superintendent is suggesting what might happen to other grade levels as the district takes early steps toward the vision of building a new high school — and he has come up with some possibilities for keeping costs down.
School District Superintendent Mike Maryanski told the school board last night that he already has architects working on the concept and has had positive preliminary conversations with officials from both the county and the city.
It’s not going to happen overnight
The superintendent announced last week his proposal to build a new high school in a piece of the so-called Donut Hole, those 156 acres of county-owned land that lie undeveloped just southwest of the Four Corners intersection. To do this, the district would need to orchestrate a land swap, giving the county its 37 undeveloped rural acres adjacent to Tahoma Junior High east of the city limits.
Architects initially said a new high school typically requires about 40 acres. If so, the district would be faced with paying the county in the land swap because the district would need more acres than it could give, and the centrally located Donut Hole land is worth more per acre.
Maryanski told the board last night that he hopes architects can come up with a design that would require acreage only “in the low 20s,” consequently reducing the cost of the site. He thinks they can do this by designing a three-story high school, keeping the stadium at the current high school site, and building all athletic fields in partnership with the city on city-owned land.
The idea is to share the adjacent 20 or so acres that Maple Valley has designated for its Summit Park and Ballfields plan, which has been on hold due to a lack of funding. These acres lie behind Les Schwab Tire Center under and around Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines. Some community members say these lines pose health risks.
Knowing “this will be an issue,” Maryanski said he has asked architects to study and report the effects of playing on athletic fields near power lines.
To further reduce costs, Maryanski suggested that if the community agrees to the new high school plan, the district may not need to construct any new elementary buildings to reduce its severe overcrowding.
Last April’s failed construction bond called for rebuilding Lake Wilderness Elementary and also for building an entirely new elementary on those acres near the junior high. Lake Wilderness, the oldest of the district elementaries, is so deteriorated that architects have said it would be cheaper to rebuild than to renovate and replace core systems.
But last night, Maryanski suggested that Lake Wilderness could stop being used for students if a new high school is built.
He laid out a possible reconfiguration of the district like this:
- The new high school in the Donut Hole could house grades 9 to 12
- The current high school could house grades 7 and 8 for the entire district
- The current junior high could house grades 5 and 6 for the entire district
- Glacier Park and Rock Creek could remain elementaries but house only grades K to 4
- Tahoma Middle School could also house grades K to 4
- Shadow Lake Elementary could house grades K to 2
- Cedar River Middle School, which is located adjacent to Shadow Lake, could house grades 3 and 4
Maryanski stressed that all of these ideas are very preliminary. When board members asked if he has any cost figures yet, Maryanski said it’s too early.
“This will not be an easy task to do, and it’s going to be a long journey,” he told the board. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Read more about Maryanski’s idea HERE.
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