School Land Use, Real Estate, and Construction

We advise and represent public school districts in all legal aspects of school facility planning and development. School districts have ever-changing facility needs, particularly in areas with growing student populations and as school districts consider programmatic changes and modernization or replacement of school facilities. We routinely advise school district clients on a range of issues related to school facilities, including growth management, land use planning and permitting, environmental review, feasibility and site selection, and facilities planning, as well as all facets related to real estate transactions and procurement and construction.

Land Use Planning and Permitting

A large component our facilities-related work for school district clients includes providing counsel and management in the facilities permitting process. We are adept at working with school district staff and outside consultants to assess and address the environmental review and entitlement process for a particular school project. We have worked with local jurisdictions to update Comprehensive Plans and process rezone and zoning code amendments necessary to facilitate school siting on either a project-specific or programmatic basis. We regularly assist with the State SEPA review process for districts acting in a lead agency role or under the review of the permitting jurisdiction. Our SEPA-related work includes defending both programmatic and project-specific appeals. We also assist with project review and land use hearings.

Real Estate Transactions

We assist school districts with both straightforward and complex real estate transactions, including acquisitions and dispositions of school property, eminent domain matters, easement and license issues, property leasing, and public/private partnership transactions. Our work includes assisting school districts with feasibility review, property negotiations, title and closing matters, as well as compliance with statutory and regulatory restrictions unique to school district real property matters.

Capital Facilities Planning and School Mitigation Programs

We have substantial experience with the development and implementation of school impact fee programs and capital facilities planning, as well as addressing school mitigation needs prompted by large residential developments. Our work with school districts in these matters includes strategies to ensure that the school district’s interests and needs are met when new development is undertaken. As one example, we represented a school district in securing a combination of future school sites and mitigation payments to address the needs associated with the largest master planned community within the State of Washington. We also regularly assist school districts throughout the State of Washington with initial adoption of and updates to school district capital facilities plans and support the districts through the local jurisdictional approval processes.

Procurement and Construction

We advise and represent school districts in a wide array of procurement and construction matters, including both traditional (Design-Bid Build) and alternative delivery (Design-Build, Progressive Design-Build and General Contractor / Construction Manager) projects.

We provide advice from the outset of capital project inception. Our procurement and construction lawyers work hand-in-hand with our land use and real-estate lawyers to provide comprehensive project-based advice.

We advise school districts at all phases of the construction process, including:

  • Advising districts in evaluating, defending and prosecuting challenges to public bidding procedures (i.e. bid protest matters).
  • Assisting districts with drafting, developing, and revising procurement and public works policies, consistent with state laws (and school district-specific requirements) and district objectives.
  • Assisting districts with drafting and revising procurement documents, including requests for qualification (RFQs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) on both traditional Design-Bid-Build projects as well as Design-Build, Progressive Design-Build, and General Contractor / Construction Manager (GC/CM) under ch. 39.10 RCW.
  • Assisting and advising districts with respect to evaluation and approval of alternative delivery projects under ch. 39.10 RCW, including guidance on application to the Washington State Project Review Committee and procurement and selection of project delivery consultants.
  • Assisting districts with the audit compliance requirements associated with different procurement methodologies.
  • Assisting districts with “piggybacking” issues and procurement using lead agency or cooperative purchasing collective contracts.
  • Assisting districts with qualifications-based procurement of architecture and/or engineering contracts consistent with the requirements of ch. 39.80 RCW.
  • Assisting districts with navigation of COVID-19 related issues and resolution of related claims.

Finally, when necessary, we assist school districts in claims resolution arising from capital project construction. With years of experience, we seek to help resolve disputes through negotiation when possible; we additionally represent school districts in construction disputes and claims in mediation, arbitration, and litigation.