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November 14, 2017

Group raises $15M through EB-5 to start new private school in Bothell

Journal Construction Editor

Image from Washington Preparatory School [enlarge]
This 35,000-square-foot building will open in 2019 on Washington Prep’s permanent campus. Classes will be held across the street in a temporary location prior to that.

A new private school backed by EB-5 investors will open next year in Bothell.

Washington Preparatory School will initially occupy 11,000 square feet in an existing business park building at 18323 Bothell-Everett Highway. School officials hope to break ground next month on a permanent campus on 13.5 acres across the street.

Joseph Kennedy, interim head of the school, said the goal is to open next fall with 60 students in grades 6-9 at the temporary location. He said the plan now does not call for offering K-5 classes.

The first building on the permanent campus will be three stories and 35,000 square feet, with science labs, an orchestra room, library, gym and classrooms. It should be ready for classes by fall of 2019.

Duncan McRoberts Associates of Kirkland is the primary architect and Landau Associates is the general contractor. Techcraft Corp. is also part of the team.

Eventually the campus could accommodate up to 1,200 students, and have 10 buildings, including dormitory space for out-of-town students, and a sports facility. Kennedy said that could take five to seven years.

The school anticipates 20 percent of the students will board at the new campus. Kennedy said board and tuition will cost $48,000-$52,000 a year. The school's website shows tuition at $19,500 for the first year in the temporary facility and $24,500 at the new campus.

Most of the school is being financed through the EB-5 Program, where foreigners invest at least $500,000 in projects that create or preserve 10 jobs for U.S. workers in exchange for eligibility to get a green card for permanent U.S. residency.

Kennedy said Washington Prep has 30 investors, mainly from China, who have put $15 million into the school. That will cover general land development, the first building and preparing utilities for future buildings.

School officials chose the location because there aren't many independent schools in Snohomish County, which Kennedy said is the fastest growing county in the state.

“There are a lot of people moving into this area that have an interest in private education,” he said.

The school will be unique in offering an extra “E” — entrepreneurism — as part of a traditional STEM education format, and is calling its approach STEEM. It also will offer the International Baccalaureate program and project-based learning.

“We hope people find that element attractive,” Kennedy said about entrepreneurism. “In the 21st century, it's kind of a big deal.”

The school will open at the temporary location with classes for grades 6-9. It will add one grade each year until 2022, when the first high school students will graduate.

Mindy J. Watson was appointed last week as founding head of school. Watson spent the last 20 years at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences in Seattle, and was at Charles Wright Academy prior to that.

Kennedy said they are looking for teachers.

The first of a series of open houses will be held at 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the temporary school. Kennedy said construction of the temporary space should be finished before the open house. He said there are eight classrooms there, including a lab.

Washington Prep was founded by Stacy Zhong and Lulu Bath, owners of Asian Food Center, a chain with stores in Bellevue, north Seattle and Beaverton, Oregon.


Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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