New school for new minds being built
By Peter Brooks - Staff Reporter
That huge construction project just west of the college campus may be snarling traffic now, but don't look for total relief once it is complete.
Highline School District is constructing a new $57.8 mil- lion elementary school at the intersection of South 240th Street and 16th Avenue South. The design and construction of the new 84,379-square-foot school is funded by a recently passed local bond issue, state matching funds and FAA noise mitigation dollars from the Port of Seattle.
Absher Construction of Puyallup is building the new school designed by Hutteball + Oremus Architecture.
Next fall, the site will be the location of the new 700-stu- dent Des Moines Elementary School when students, staff and faculty move from the school's current location at 22001 9th Ave. S. in down- town Des Moines. The current school serves approximately 400 students.
Also, beginning next fall, Highline elementary schools will no longer house sixth grad- ers. They will transfer to the middle schools.
Capital Construction Executive Director Rod Sheffer for the Highline School Dis trict said that the construc- tion is impacting traffic at the new site, but that "we worked with the City of Des Moines and our traffic consultants to mitigate the impact on traffic flow."
School zones are notorious for snarling traffic even when construction is complete, due to the many school buses access- ing the schools and from the parents who drop off and pick up their children before or after school. Approximately 12 buses are expected to serve the school twice a day.
Rather than the all-day impact on traffic during con- struction, permanent impacts will be more focused on the school's start and dismissal times.
Heaviest traffic impacts will be expected around 9:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 2:15 p.m. on Fridays, once the school opens.
The new school will be on 17 acres and includes playfields, adequate parking, and separate bus and parent drop-off areas for safety.
"We continue to work with the city," Sheffer said about potential long-term traffic im- pacts.
The increased morning traffic may directly affect Highline College students try- ing to access the college for 9 a.m. classes, as the South 240th accesses the college's East, South and Administra- tion parking lots, which is already difficult Mondays through Thursdays.
Highline College parking officials urge students to turn right when exiting those lots and to take South 240th to the intersection at 16th Avenue South. That might not be such a good idea when the new el- ementary opens.
Construction of the new Des Moines Elementary School commenced in August as a re- placement for the more-than-90 years old existing site on Ninth Avenue South.
"Our old school served many generations," said Des Moines Elementary Principal Rick Wisen. "The hardwood floors echo the memories of decades of students and staff, but we won't miss the plumbing, heat- ing, leaky roof or connectivity issues."
Additionally, the old Des Moines Elementary School sits on a site that is just half of the state-recommended size for an elementary school.
The original building is be- ing saved for potential school district use or for a public pur- pose.
Students will transition into the new school in fall 2019, Wi- sen said.
The existing Des Moines Elementary School is less than four acres, half of the recommended size. The rea- son the district decided not to remodel the existing site is because it would have been more troublesome and costly than building a new school altogether.