New Tahoma High continues to evolve

The new Tahoma High School, is shown above in the latest concept design which was presented to the Tahoma School Board at its Feb. 25 meeting. The board is expected to vote on the design April 22.  - Courtesy image
The new Tahoma High School, is shown above in the latest concept design which was presented to the Tahoma School Board at its Feb. 25 meeting. The board is expected to vote on the design April 22.
— image credit: Courtesy image

The latest evolution of the conceptual designs for the new Tahoma High School were presented to the school board at its Feb. 25 meeting.

DLR Group, which is designing the school, presented the newest design which melded together the two previous designs.

One of those designs had been termed “Barking Dog” because the outline of the school in the artwork vaguely resembles a barking dog. It is a more open concept, with a school that would spread out across the property. The other concept — called “Pomegranate” to evoke the idea of looking simple on the outside but being unexpected on the inside — is a more compact school that isn’t as spread out.

The current design features a more compact school, but one that isn’t as square at the Pomegranate design.

“It’s an evolution, you just keep going through the stages,” said district spokesman Kevin Patterson. “If we’re successful it (the school) is going to be built flexible enough that as programs changes it can be adapted without a major renovation.”

The school will be located on the property known as the Donut Hole in Maple Valley. The Donut Hole is 154 acres off Kent-Kangley Road Southeast and Southeast 228th Street that is home to nine holes of Elk Run Golf Course, a stand of trees and the county’s 13-acre roads maintenance facility.

The board will discuss the new design concept at its April 15 study session meeting and is expected to vote on the design April 22.

Part of the process has been re-imagining the district’s career and technical education programs.

An ad hoc committee made up of approximately 40 community members met throughout February to identify a focus of CTE programs and to consider how best to use space for them in the new school.

The committee was made up of district teachers, staff and administrators as well as members of the local and regional business communities, state and regional government, the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound, agencies that deal with employment and students. Representatives from the DLR Group and the project contractor also sat in on the meetings.

The committee recommended that five categories should be the focus of the programs including: information technology, STEM, manufacturing, health services, and automotive technology.

“A lot of these are also integrative things,” Patterson said. “It’s not just taking biology and physics, but figuring out how that applies to a career.”

Patterson added that part of that integration means that the classes won’t just be electives, but having classes that would count towards graduation requirements.

The broader idea is to expand and improve upon the CTE programs that the district offers. For example, rather than teaching students how to change the oil and filter in a car, they will learn about the onboard technology and computers that are commonplace on cars today, and also learn how to fix the technology when things go wrong.

“There’s a lot of work over the next three years; aligning our curriculum with the new school,” Patterson said.

Next in the process after the design is approved will be the beginning of the design development phase. That phase is the detailed designing and planning of the building.

“This part is critical,” Patterson said. “We want to be sure we have all the main components figured out so we don’t have an oops moment.”

In addition, the school district and the city started talking about the potential development of the Summit Place property, which is owned by the city, as part of the project. The city’s plans for the property include ballfields and the district would like to jointly develop the property to meet needs of both the district and the city.

“If we collaborate then we can solve a lot of problems,” Patterson said.

City Parks and Recreation Director Greg Brown spoke about the conversations with the school district at Monday’s City Council meeting. Brown told council that the details of a joint development plan and for joint use have yet to be discussed with any depth.

At the meeting city council members expressed their concerns about the city being able to financially contribute to such a project.

“We’re very much at the 30,000 foot level,” Brown said. “I think we are at this point now: how can we both — the city and the school district — make this project work.”


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