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CFAC presents facilities recommendations

Citizens' Facilities Advisory Committee Report

“I am truly grateful for the dedication of the members of CFAC and their creation of both short term and longer term master plan needs for our district.” — Dr. Erin Murphy, Superintendent

The Lakewood Middle School cafeteria capacity is just slightly larger than this year’s sixth grade class, Principal Amanda Cote told parents and community members who were touring the school as volunteers on the Citizens’ Facilities Advisory Committee.

To make sure all 610 students get a chance to eat, lunches at Lakewood Middle School are staggered from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Between February and September 2023, the Citizens’ Facilities Advisory Committee visited the schools in the district to develop short- and long-term recommendations for capital improvements.

On Oct. 4, members of the committee presented their findings to the School Board.

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Near-Term Needs

As part of the committee’s Study and Survey, a team of architects and engineers toured the district’s schools in the spring and compiled their findings in the state schools building condition database. (See the results on the CFAC report.)

In addition to addressing cafeteria capacity at LMS, CFAC recommended replacing communications technology in the building. The intercom system is obsolete and there is no master clock system, making it difficult for teachers to know exactly when the bell is going to ring. Because middle school students move around to different buildings throughout the day – and not every building has restrooms – it hasn’t been practical to lock exterior doors during school hours. For safety, the committee recommended investing in fencing, an access control system with lockdown functionality, and replacing the fire alarm system.

Additional near-term recommendations from CFAC:

  • During a community survey in May, traffic was ranked high as a consideration for facility improvements. The committee recommended clarifying traffic flow during busy times of the day and increased signage to reflect expectations.
  • Energy efficiency. To comply with updated efficiency standards, CFAC recommended replacing fluorescent lights with energy-efficient LEDs at Cougar Creek and English Crossing elementaries.
  • The committee recommended flooring updates at ECE, CCE and LES.

Safety and Security

CFAC emphasized Safety and Security among its near-term needs. Among its recommendations:

  • An access control system with lockdown functionality at all schools
  • Invest in fencing at LMS and ECE
  • Replace fire alarm system at LMS and ECE
  • Replace intercom system at LMS and ECE

Lakewood Elementary School

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There was a lot happening in the 1950s. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived at Boeing Field to start the countdown to the Seattle World’s Fair and construction of the Space Needle.

Also in 1958, the building now called Lakewood Elementary was built with eight classrooms. Since then, multiple additions, plus nine portable classrooms, have increased capacity for the 470 students who now attend (323 in permanent classrooms and 147 in portable classrooms).

Growth hasn’t come without challenges. One class of fifth graders is temporarily utilizing the library as a classroom. In addition, the school does not have a music classroom. So, students remain in their classrooms and specialist teachers come to them.

CFAC determined the most pressing needs at LES were replacing the boiler, improving the HVAC system and outdoor air supply, and replacing electrical panels. They also recommended electronic locks with lockdown functionality on exterior doors for safety.

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“Big Move” Solutions

CFAC quickly realized that future growth and capacity were a top priority. This was reinforced by feedback from the community survey, which found that rapid growth was a top concern.

In addition to near-term needs, the committee looked at how the district can accommodate anticipated future growth. A demographer’s report prepared for the district in the spring estimated that the student population will increase 13% in the next 10 years.  

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Suhkwinder Sidhu, a committee member, parent, and community member for more than 20 years, presented the data on capacity and growth. Sidhu described what resonated with him during the committee’s school visits: how the learning environment plays a significant role in accelerating academic achievement for students.

As part of the presentation, the committee also introduced its priority that the Lakewood campus be accessible for all students, staff, and the surrounding community. Some “big move” (longer-term) solutions studied by the committee included:

  • Move Lakewood Elementary to Lakewood Middle School for additional capacity.
  • Build a new, larger middle school near the existing site.
  • Convert the existing Lakewood Elementary to a District Administration building and Early Learning Center.
  • Address solutions for growth at Cougar Creek Elementary

Read the CFAC report to the School Board.