Federal funds were in jeopardy, despite 2002 agreement
Highline Public Schools and Port of Seattle officials recognized U.S. Representative Adam Smith for his successful effort to pass federal legislation preserving noise mitigation funding for schools impacted by noise from SeaTac airport. The congressman was recognized at an October 30 event held on the construction site of the new Des Moines Elementary School.
“We are grateful for Rep. Smith’s advocacy on behalf of our schools,” said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield. “Our community is counting on this funding so we can provide our students with classrooms that are free from interruptions from aircraft noise.”
Rep. Smith authored legislation to secure noise mitigation funds for Highline schools that were recently deemed ineligible for funding. The legislation makes Highline eligible for over $18 million in FAA and Port funds for Des Moines Elementary School and Highline High School.
A new Des Moines Elementary is currently under construction. Construction of a new Highline High School will begin in 2019. The funding pays for noise-reducing doors and windows; sound insulated walls, ceilings and roofing; and ductwork designed to reduce noise transfer.
A 2002 agreement between the Port of Seattle, the Federal Aviation Administration and Highline Public Schools committed federal funding for noise mitigation for fifteen schools. Noise mitigation is installed as schools are rebuilt. Since the agreement was signed, the noise contours around the airport changed, leaving remaining schools in areas where the FAA could not legally provide mitigation despite the prior agreement.
Rep. Smith — ranking Member of the House Armed Service Committee and a Highline alumnus — crafted the legislation as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law at the end of August.
“The students in our community deserve to learn in a safe and healthy environment free from distracting noise and environmental burdens. I am proud to have secured over $14 million in federal funding to help Highline equip buildings with noise mitigation,” said Smith. “Continued coordination with Highline and the Port of Seattle on mitigating aviation impacts will ensure that the students attending our local schools will have the classrooms and facilities they need so that they can focus on their studies as they learn and develop.”
The Port of Seattle has been a strong advocate for noise mitigation funding in Highline schools.
“The Port is committed to economic opportunity and quality of life for all local residents, and there is no more important investment in our communities than modern, clean and quiet schools for our students,” said Elizabeth Leavitt, Port of Seattle Senior Director of Environment and Sustainability. “Rep. Smith’s leadership – with significant support from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell – is a major victory. We look forward to working with Rep. Smith, the FAA and the school district to work through the grant application process to secure these dollars.”