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Kindergartners get school of their own

The Fairmount Kindergarten Center's will offer enhanced education for kindergartners
  • THEIR OWN SPACE—Mukilteo School District’s new standalone Fairmount Kindergarten Center is designed to accommodate kindergartners.
  • DEDICATED SPACE—In addition to heated floors and technology-enabled classrooms for enhanced education, the Fairmount Kindergarten Center features wide-open multifunctional spaces as well as nooks and quiet spaces where students can get lost in a book’s characters and storyline.

What: Fairmount Kindergarten Center

Where: Mukilteo School District, Washington

The Fairmount Kindergarten Center near Seattle hopes to use innovative design to maximize classroom learning time when it opens in September for the 2017-18 school year.

The new standalone building at the Mukilteo School District will accommodate 550 students.

Challenge: Faced with growing enrollment and a mandate from the state of Washington for full-day kindergarten, district leaders decided to build a kindergarten-only facility.

“Our district is densely populated, and many incoming students are high-poverty, high-mobility, high-ELL, low-preparedness for school,” says Debra Fulton, executive director of support services for Mukilteo.

“We thought taking kindergartners and giving them an enhanced program, focusing just on them and school readiness, would be our best option.”

Solution: The 65,000-square-foot district wide kindergarten center will be divided into two two-story sections, creating four mini schools, or “pods.” Each pod will have a set of six classrooms and larger common spaces for special programs and physical activity.

The facility will also have playgrounds that encourage all range of play, accommodating athletic children and those who are physically restricted.

Art, music and other specialized teachers will visit classrooms to minimize time lost when youngsters would have to move through hallways. Lunch will be served in the pods to also reduce the confusion of transitions and maximize learning time.

The center’s floors will be heated to accommodate kindergartners who typically spend a lot of time sliding around or playing there. The entire facility features geothermal heating and cooling systems, and is fully technology-enabled, with Wi-Fi and interactive whiteboards in every classroom.

Each pair of classrooms also has an adjoining office where teachers can plan lessons but stay near their students.

“Trying to satisfy the needs of the adults as well as the children was somewhat of a challenge,” says Fulton. “We haven’t had full-day kindergarten before, so everyone’s excited about our kids getting this opportunity.”

Completion date: August 2017

Cost: $24 million

Project team: Architect: DLR Group (Seattle); civil engineering: AHBL (Seattle); landscape architecture: Weisman Design Group (Seattle); food service design: JLR Design Group (Seattle); environmental graphics: Osborne Marsh (Seattle); acoustics: SSA Acoustics (Seattle); surveyor: Harmsen & Associates (Monroe, Wash.); geotechnical engineering: GeoEngineers (Tacoma); commissioning: McKinstry (Seattle); cost estimating: The Robinson Co. (Seattle).