The Kent School District will build a new elementary school at the site of the Kent Mountain View Academy along Military Road South in SeaTac with an expected opening date of August 2021.
District officials also announced this week with a posting on its website that the old Panther Lake Elementary School on the East Hill will be rebuilt to accommodate Kent Mountain View Academy and Kent Phoenix Academy starting in August 2021. The two academies will share space from 2019-2021 at the site of the Kent Phoenix Academy on the East Hill.
Construction on both projects will begin in 2019, according to the school district.
Voters approved a $252 million bond measure in November 2016, including $92 million for two new elementary schools, one in Kent and one in Covington. The district opened a new Covington Elementary School last month at 25811 156th Ave. SE.
“The KSD Facilities and Construction team exhausted all means of securing a site for the new Kent Valley elementary school, no other property suitable for the needs of the school was available,” according to the district website post about choosing Kent Mountain View Academy as the site. “Construction will begin in the fall of 2019 and the new school will open to students in August 2021.”
The estimated cost of the new elementary school is $46 million, part of the 2016 voter approved bond, said district spokeswoman Melissa Laramie in an email. She said the estimated cost is $16 million for the academy project at Panther Lake, funds approved by voters in 2016 for 20 new classrooms at sites that were not yet determined in an effort to reduce overcrowding.
A name for the new elementary school and student boundaries have yet to be determined.
“A formal naming process will be done as the building continues to be designed, this will include community engagement,” Laramie said.
The KSD Capital Facilities team in partnership with district leaders made the decisions about the new schools.
“Capital facilities planning is ongoing work, the planning specifically for the KPA and KMVA move and the site selection process for the new valley elementary school has been going on for the last year,” Laramie said.
Mountain View to move
Kent Mountain View Academy, 22420 Military Road S., near the SeaTac, Des Moines and Kent city borders, is a choice school option in the district for students in grades 3-12.
“I have some exciting news to share with you about our school,” Kent Mountain View Academy principal Stephanie Knipp posted on the school’s website.
“For 20 years, KMVA has occupied a 50-year old campus that was previously the site of a military base. We have fondly referred to our current building as well-loved and vintage, and made the best of an aging facility that was designed for a different purpose. Now our time has come, and KMVA will have a new academy campus in a new location opening in the fall of 2021.
“While our picturesque mountain view can’t be replaced, and it may be difficult to say goodbye to this location, we know that it is the people that define a school community.”
Kent Mountain View will share space with the Kent Phoenix Academy, which offers three unique programs to high school students who feel they want a learning environment different from a traditional high school, according to the school’s website. It is housed in the former Sequioa Middle School, 11000 SE 264th St. The school has a capacity of more than 700 students, enough to accommodate the two academies that have a combined enrollment of about 550.
When the academies vacate Sequioa, the district will keep the school for future use, Laramie said.
Panther Lake previously for sale
After a potential sale to a developer fell through, the Kent School District in August 2017 took the old Panther Lake Elementary School property off the market. The developer proposed to demolish the school, parking lot and ball fields for the new project at 20831 108th Ave. SE.
The school closed in 2009 when the district opened a new Panther Lake Elementary School at 10200 SE 216th St. School district officials had hoped to sell the property to help pay for other capital projects.
The property has a long history with two school districts. Isaac Parmenter owned the property in 1906 when he deeded an acre of it to the Panther Lake School District, which later merged with the Kent School District. A new school was built in 1946, and the 10 acres served as the site of the elementary school until 2009.
A condition of the deed was that the land was only to be used for a school. When the old school building was vacated, district officials negotiated with the 44 identified heirs of Isaac Parmenter to pay them a total of $445,000 so the district could sell the property. The agreement also included naming the gym at Panther Lake Elementary School the Isaac and Nellie Parmenter Gymnasium.
“The old Panther Lake has been on the market for a few years without a buyer, so building a new academy campus on this site is a responsible, fiscally sound plan,” according to the school district’s website posting. “KPA and KMVA will have new buildings built for their students’ specific needs, and offer more opportunities to serve their students’ educational goals.”