City, school district anticipate better planning for new school

November 25, 2008

By J.B. Wogan

Staff members from the city of Sammamish and the Issaquah School District say the district’s new elementary school should open on time in fall 2010. The issue of improved communication and timing for the school’s completion, known as Elementary 15 or E15, popped up briefly in a meeting between the Sammamish City Council and Issaquah School Board Nov. 17.

The new school, which would hold about 584 students and would cost about $22 million, will be located west of The Crossings neighborhood near the intersection of 212th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 20th Street.

In the wake of a yearlong delay in the remodeling of Skyline High School, both city and school officials are anxious to keep this project moving.

Sammamish city officials assured their school district counterparts that communication about the planning and permitting process for E15 would be strong, and district officials seemed committed to those objectives as well.

“We started the process differently,” said Steve Crawford, school district director of capital projects. “We developed a timeline with an opening date and some milestones, so that the city knows what our expectations are, and we know what they expect from us.”

Miscommunication and unexpected permitting issues bogged down Skyline construction, something that shouldn’t be an issue with the new school, Crawford said.

Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici pointed out that the city is receiving significantly fewer building permit requests — about 10 percent of what it received a few years ago — which should free up time to address existing and upcoming requests from the school district.

School Board Member Connie Fletcher asked if the shrinking number of requests would translate into a shrinking staff for handling construction permits. Yazici assured her that it would not.

Sammamish Community Development Director Kamuron Gurol said Skyline was an unusual case with circumstances that won’t apply to the new school.

“We had some challenges in Skyline, because the project is a remodel at a facility with students being there,” he said. “The nature of the projects are very different.”

Among those challenges were the addition and use of portable classrooms to create a construction area that would not disrupt the students’ school day, he said.

Even so, Gurol said the city and school district had improved lines of communication to avoid setbacks like the public has seen with Skyline.

“I think there were lessons learned in the case of Skyline that we’re both applying,” he said.

Proof of this might be a meeting between Sammamish city staff members and school district engineers, where they hashed out details of E15’s storm water management system, which Gurol applauded.

“Each entity is asking a lot of good questions of the technical team that’s employed by the district,” he said.

Reach Reporter J.B. Wogan at 392-6434, ext. 247, or jbwogan@isspress.com.

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