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Issaquah School Board Approves Condemnation of Property in Sammamish, WA for Future Elementary School

Posted by L Michelle on April 04, 2018

The Issaquah School Board approved a resolution authorizing District Administration to move forward with the process of condemnation of 13.3 acres of land located within the City of Sammamish, collectively referred to as the “Volpe Property,” at a special meeting held April 2, 2018. In November 2017, the Board authorized the District’s Administration to proceed with negotiating a purchase of the Volpe Properties and the District has been in discussion with the property owner for some time regarding the potential purchase.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the District’s 2016 bond measure, providing a means and a mandate to add capacity for students in the Issaquah School District, where schools are already overcrowded and further extraordinary enrollment growth is anticipated. Specifically, the bond funded two new elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The District’s greatest obstacle to constructing these facilities has not been construction-related. Rather, it has been finding suitable land within the constraints of the 2012 amendments to the King County Comprehensive Plan that prohibit the siting of new schools outside of the urban growth boundary. The District has engaged in an extensive search of more than 50 potential school sites. However, suitable land within our borders is scarce to the point of almost non-existent.

The District’s Superintendent, in a letter transmitted in August 2017, expressed to the King County Executive the District’s frustration in locating suitable properties for schools needed to support the ongoing growth as permitted by our local jurisdictions.  We discussed these same challenges at a recent meeting with representatives from King County and all of our cities.  We continue to seek creative solutions with these partners.

The Volpe Property is intended for use by the District as an elementary school site. The approximately 13-acre property is heavily impacted by wetlands and critical areas and therefore not fully developable.  However, the District has determined that the useable area would be sufficient for an elementary school and siting a school here will provide relief to schools in the surrounding area and address the need for elementary capacity across the District’s service area. More than 1,000 K-5 students live within a one mile radius of the property with more than 300 new single family housing units being developed in close proximity. The District currently operates 220 portable classrooms to accommodate student learning. In fact, there are over 84 portable classrooms in its schools located within the City of Sammamish.

The Issaquah School District, where permitted by applicable regulations, builds schools that are multistory and therefore require less land or smaller “footprint”. Our new schools, such as Clark Elementary and Issaquah Middle School are compact, three story buildings. Other features of a compact school design may include underground parking or other design elements that decrease the amount of land we need for the school but still provide for the delivery of our locally-adopted educational program requirements. We want schools that are efficient and encourage walking, but we still design to allow for safe busing and student pick up and drop off.

More information about the District’s current land acquisition, please contact/call Chief of Finance and Operations, Jake Kuper at 425.837.7024 or kuperj@issaquah.wednet.edu. The resolution and agenda from the April 2, 2018 school board meeting are available online on our website under the school board tab.