Summer’s good weather gets school construction projects ahead of schedule

September 1, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Construction is proceeding quickly on new classroom buildings at Issaquah High School. By Greg Farrar

Construction is proceeding quickly on new classroom buildings at Issaquah High School. By Greg Farrar

It’s been a busy summer of construction, but when students return to school Sept. 2, Issaquah School District officials, teachers and construction crews will be ready.
“At all of our major projects, we have contractors that are managing the work well, are focused on getting the work complete, and they are planning and working ahead of schedule,” said Steve Crawford, district director of capital projects. “They are working in multiple areas across the whole construction site.”

Paired with that efficiency, the summer’s good weather allowed construction crews to really pick up the pace at three major sites, the new elementary school (temporarily called Elementary 15) and Issaquah and Skyline high schools, said Superintendent Steve Rassmussen.

Where students will notice the most change is at Issaquah High, Crawford said.

When students left for summer break, construction crews had just started demolition. When they return, they will see the new building taking shape.

Construction crews worked in what Crawford described as rolling phases throughout the summer to ensure as much was being done as possible.For instance, once the foundation was poured for the north classroom wing, workers began pouring cement for the second and doing groundwork on the third. While that was occurring, workers began erecting steel framing for the north class wing.

At Skyline, students will return to another year of construction. However, the new classroom wings and administration area construction crews worked on all last school year will be ready to house students after first winter break, Crawford said.

Now, they are working erecting steel for the new gymnasium, weight training areas and framing areas in the 200 and 800 classroom wings.

Obviously, the new elementary school doesn’t need to be ready for students. However, crews did work Saturdays to finish prepping the site, pouring foundation and framing exterior walls, so they could seal the building and work inside in the winter months, he said.

“We are doing very well at this time,” he added. “We’re far ahead of where we were for [Elementary] 14 or Grand Ridge was at this point in time on the calendar.”

Liberty High School also received about $550,000 worth of work this summer to fix its heating and cooling systems, which were outdated, leaking and inefficient, Crawford said.

District maintenance employees did similar work at four other buildings that were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the days before Sept. 2, construction crews sealed off parts of the buildings they could to keep construction noise from interrupting classes and were moving classroom furniture back into the buildings.

It’ll be a push to get everything finished and there will always be some things that can’t get done, Crawford said.

For instance, because construction workers had to install retrofitted seismic pilings in some of the existing classroom areas at Skyline, carpet in those areas won’t be reinstalled. The carpet will be reinstalled once that work is complete, so it doesn’t get damaged.

Project status update

New elementary school, temporarily called Elementary 15: Construction teams leveled the site, created drainage systems, finished foundation work and some framing. Complete framing of the exterior is expected to be completed by late fall, so crews can begin work on the inside of the building.

Issaquah High School rebuild: Concrete foundations and steel frames for the three, three-story classroom wings are completed. Cement and foundation work is completed for the gymnasium, commons and main offices.

Maywood Middle School remodel: Schematic designs and budgeting plans are under way. Planning and engineering is under way for an extension of sewer facilities to the school.

Skyline High School remodel: New parking lots and entry points were completed this year. New classroom wings have been added to the building and are nearly complete. Seismic retrofitting in older classrooms and hallways was completed this summer.

Briarwood Elementary School rebuild: Planning will begin this year. Construction for the $25.1 million project is expected to start in 2011.

Challenger Elementary School remodel: A $2.5 million remodel to relocate the central office, improve ventilation systems and separate traffic is expected to start summer 2011.

Liberty High School remodel: Planning begins this year for adding new classroom facilities, science laboratories, a performing arts facility and kitchen equipment. Construction for the $15.2 million project is expected to start late next summer.

Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus: Planning to convert the school to a middle school is under way. The building will convert to a middle school in fall 2010. Freshmen will return to Issaquah and Skyline high schools.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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