FAQ: Mercer Island's 4th Elementary School

February 15, 2015 | by Erin Sirianni

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Plans are coming right along for the building and management of the Mercer Island School District’s fourth elementary school.

Aimee Batliner-Gillette

Aimee Batliner-Gillette, newly selected principal of MISD’s fourth elementary school

Last week marked two important steps forward – Gary Plano, MISD Superintendent, named Aimee Batliner-Gillette as the new principal. Batliner-Gillette is currently interim principal for West Mercer Elementary school. The district also opened bids for the building construction and is now reviewing the qualifications of the lowest bidder, Bayley Construction (headquartered on Mercer Island).

As the opening of the new school nears and the excitement builds, I’ve heard (in PTA meetings and in conversation with other parents) lots of questions about the finer details of the school.

I put together the following FAQ with a little background as well as some specifics. If you have a question not listed, feel free to share it in the comments, and I’ll try to get to the bottom of it for you.

Mercer Island 4th Elementary School FAQ

Why is the Mercer Island School District building a new school?
Well, our current school quarters are feeling rather cozy. All three elementary are overcapacity by about 30%.  Each campus uses portables to house additional classes of students, but when it comes to an assembly or another event when students share common space, that’s when our kids really feel the squeeze.

Thankfully our community recently took action to address our district’s overcrowding challenges. In a special election in February 2014, Mercer Island voters overwhelmingly approved a $98.8 million bond to fund three school expansion projects, including: 1) building of a fourth elementary school; 2) expansion of the middle school; and 3) adding 10 additional classrooms to the Mercer Island High School. The bond passed with 74% of voters in favor.
The fourth elementary school will be built for 480 – 550 students, adding over 75,000 square feet for our kids to stretch out a bit.

When will it open?  
The school is expected to open in time for the 2016-2017 school year.

Where will it be located?
The new school has a central Island location, just a couple blocks east of Mercer Island’s main intersection of SE 40th St and Island Crest Way. It will be situated on the former location of Youth Theatre Northwest and Country Village Day School on the district’s North campus at the intersections of SE 40th St and 86th Ave SE.

Who will go to the new school?
The district formed a boundary committee toward helping determine student placement for all four elementary schools. The proposed boundaries, yet to receive the school board’s final stamp of approval, appear at right.

What will the new school be named?
The Mercer Island School Board will appoint a committee to help in the naming of the new school. This will likely be an inclusive experience, involving students as well as parents and other members of the community. Stay tuned.

What special programs will be at the new school?
The fourth elementary school will house the district’s special-education preschool program (now located at the PEAK/Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club facility). It will also serve the school district’s special-education high-needs/low-incidence program with a classroom for medically fragile students. The district’s Highly Capable elementary-school program will continue to be offered at West Mercer and Lakeridge elementary schools. With the opening of the new school, the school district’s English Language Learners (ELL) program will likely be offered at all four elementary schools. It is currently offered primarily at  Island Park Elementary.

What will the new school look like?
The district worked with Mahlum Architects in developing the new school design, which will be a modern two-story building of over 75,000 square feet.

The Mahlum image below shows the school campus if approached from the south. Additional design images can be viewed here.

Mercer Island Elementary School #4

For more information about the fourth elementary school and construction updates, visit the Mercer Island School District’s website.

Correction 2/17/15:  This article originally stated that the ELL program would continue to be offered primarily at Island Park Elementary after the opening of the fourth elementary school. The article has been corrected to state that all four elementary schools will provide an ELL program when the new school opens.