Education

Fife Public Schools, city consider buddying up on new administration building

Fife Public Schools and the city of Fife are considering building a joint facility to house both governments’ administrators and departments. Voters approved a proposal by Fife Public Schools in a 2018 bond to construct a new administration building.
Fife Public Schools and the city of Fife are considering building a joint facility to house both governments’ administrators and departments. Voters approved a proposal by Fife Public Schools in a 2018 bond to construct a new administration building. allison.needles@puyallupherald.com

Both the city of Fife and the Fife School District have similar tasks ahead of them: building new administration buildings.

This week, they met to discuss how those tasks could potentially combine as one.

The proposed idea is a joint, multi-story building that would house both city and school district staff.

Officials said there aren’t many examples like it.

“This is very unique,” Fife City Manager Hyun Kim said after a joint meeting Wednesday at Fife City Hall.

If both parties agree to the partnership, the facility would be built on the current Fife City Hall property at 5411 23rd St. E.

The Fife School District administration building at 5802 20th St. E., eventually would be demolished.

While no cost-savings analysis has been brought forward, officials believe a joint building would save money. They also believe it would create a better sense of community.

“At the end of the day, the best benefit outside the cost savings is the fact that you have patrons that would come to the facility and get services, devoid of trying to get to the school admin building,” Kim said.

The governments’ administration buildings already are close together, sharing a property line about three blocks long.

CRUNCH TIME

For Fife Public Schools, it’s crunch time in identifying property for its new administration building. Voters approved the proposal as part of a $176 million capital facilities bond in February 2018.

There was only one issue — Fife officials didn’t have an specified location at the time.

Since the bond’s passage, finding available property was “quite a puzzle,” Fife Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Alfano said at Wednesday’s meeting. Most available property was outside of the district’s service area.

A partnership with the city would solve the struggle to find land. About $8.5 million of the total bond was set aside for the new administration building.

“Strong communities have strong connections,” Kevin Alfano said. “Two of the biggest entities in our community are the city government and the school districts.”

City of Fife officials began discussing a new City Hall about a year and a half ago, saying the facility is reaching its “end of life” of 20 years. The city is considering consolidating its operations with the Police Department and justice center at 3737 Pacific Highway E. That 12-acre site could be redeveloped and possibly sold.

There are details to work out, Alfano added, and the project is in its infancy. The next step is to have staff iron out those details in a way that appeases both sides. If so, they would conduct outreach to the public.

“A lot has to be done, but every good plan comes from a good concept, so we’re seeing if this is a good concept,” Alfano said.

If the city and school district decide not to move ahead with the plan, Fife Public Schools would have to identify a different property for its new building.

Fife Public Schools is moving ahead on other bond projects, including construction of a new elementary school, Surprise Lake Middle School and Fife High School Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) Center.

Surprise Lake is a rebuild on its own property, expected for demolition this June. Construction is expected to take a year, with anticipated opening in August 2020.

The site for the district’s fourth elementary is planned on the ball fields east of the current administration building. The STEAM Center will be built west of Fife High School, across the street from the Fife Aquatics Center.

Allison Needles covers news in Puyallup, Sumner and Bonney Lake for The Puyallup Herald and education news for The News Tribune in Tacoma. She was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.


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