the Olympia School District logo, a line drawing of the capitol dome with the Letters O, S, and D at the base


School District

1113 Legion Way SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Office: (360) 596-6100

The New Olympia Regional Learning Academy


Construction is wrapping up and the new ORLA building will be opening to students Wednesday, February 18. Thank you all so much for your patience throughout the construction process, we can't wait to have students in this wonderful new building!


Finishes and casework for the building are currently being installed, and permanent lights are starting to turn on. With weather cooperation the exterior of the school is being painted, starting with the back side. The translucent wall panels have been installed in the gym, so the entire building is now "weathered in". Grass is taking advantage of the warmer than usual October to really green up the Sports Field.


There is construction beginning today on Boulevard Road, and should be completed by this Friday, October 3. Traffic will be slowed to navigate around the construction, and may be stopped to allow for occasional construction activities. When completed, there will be a new pedestrian safety zone in the middle of the street, and crosswalk at the corner of 15th to help individuals crossing Boulevard.


From Aug. 27 through 29 contractors will begin roadwork down the center of Boulevard Road SE to add a 6' wide concrete safety island, while also adding a turn lane onto 15th Avenue SE, weather permitting. There should still be an accessable lane of traffic going either direction, with some periodic interuption to allow for the road work. Once this work is completed the contractor will pull back the construction fencing along 15th Avenue SE, and the City 

On October contractors will set up a barracade to close off the east leg of the "Y" between Boulevard and 15th, and start removing that section of road. This will force vehicles to use the revised intersection to turn onto 15th from Boulevard, or vice versa.



The construction of the new ORLA building continues to proceed at a steady pace with a goal of moving into the building in January of 2015. Here are some of the construction highlights:

  • In March, the east classroom wing sprung out of the ground with steel columns and wood framing, followed closely behind by the framing of the Gymnasium and the west Classroom wing. 
  • After the early April showers, the landscaper started planting the landscaping around the south parking lot. Concrete was poured on the second floor and mezzanine of the east classroom wing. Framing for the Administration and Kitchen is starting to take shape.
  • In May the walls and structure for the second floor and mezzanine will keep progressing. We are looking forward to the start of the plumbing, HVAC and electrical trades outfitting all the spaces with equipment to make this school one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings in the state. Framing of all the lower floor Administration and the Commons/Stage/Kitchen areas should be about complete by the end of the month. Asphalt paving of the south parking lot will commence after Memorial Day.



Weather provided, we will undertake the last round of work at 15th and Creekwood beginning tomorrow through the end of the week.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 15 will be asphalt demolishion 
  • Thursday, Jan. 16 we will lay rock, grade and prep for paving
  • Friday, Jan. 17 we will pave the Creekwood overlay, 15th, the island area and the cul-de-sac on 12th.


Next week there will be street paving on 12th, 15th, and Creekwood Court around ORLA. There will be at least one lane open to the public, using a flagger to control traffic.


The current run of cold weather is hampering our ability to proceed with paving.  Based on the current weather forecast, we are hoping to be able to get the streets paved by the end of this week.  As this work is temperature and moisture sensitive, delays can be expected if weather does not cooperate.


This Friday, December 13, the gravel base along Creekwood, 15th and 12th will be prepared for the final asphalt placement.  Beginning next Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 16 and 17) the contractor will be paving Creekwood, 15th, and 12th starting around 8am, and ending around 4:30pm both days. This work is dependent on weather not being too cold or rainy. The paving crew will work half the street at a time, allowing for neighborhood access while the work is going on, although some delays are still possible). The three Boulevard Street lights that were taken off line for electrical upgrades, should be turned back on by the middle of next week.


Road paving is tentatively scheduled for the week of December 9, but that is dependent upon warmer temperatures.  Drilling should be completed by December 13.  At this point the last of the fifty 300' deep wells for the ORLA Geothermal heating system are completed. 


Phase 1 - Site Development, is currently under construction with crews doing earthwork, pouring foundations, and installing underground utilities. The drillers is about halfway with boring the (50) 300 foot deep wells that will be linked together to create the ground-loop heat pump system for the school. Sewer line work is continuing on Creekwood Court S.E. working towards Dayton (15th Ave). In an unplanned event, the water main on this street broke last week during the work, and water had to be shut off for a portion of the day for repair crews to repair it. Work on Creekwood is expected to be wrapped up by Tuesday (Nov. 5th), and sewer work will then begin along Dayton Street. Street frontage improvements are ongoing along Boulevard and 12th Ave. Featured above is an aerial photo of the site taken on October 30th.

Phase 2 - Building Construction and Site Finishes, is scheduled to go out to contractors for bidding this week. Bids are due on the first week of December. We are on schedule for a January 2015 opening of the new ORLA School.

Initial work began on the old McKinley school site at the end of September, 2013. Click here for a four-week look ahead schedule for the new Olympia Regional Learning Academy.  The site has been cleared and is now being prepared for the building foundation and site improvements.  One piece of equipment on-site that might catch your eye is a drill rig.  The drill rig started work on October 10th drilling 300-feet deep holes for the Geothermal Heat Pump System (also known as Ground-source Heat Pump) that will use energy from the ground to heat and cool the building. Fifty of these deep wells will be drilled out and installed with ground loop tubing. This drilling may take up to six weeks and hopefully it will not be disruptive to our neighbors.

Completed Well HoleDrill Rig

The Geothermal System was selected to heat and cool this new facility because it is highly energy efficient and will use little impact on the environment.  One of the goals for this new facility is to be a Net-Zero facility that will produce as much energy as it uses.  The use of the Geothermal Heat Pump System is one of the many steps we have chosen to help us accomplish this goal.  For more information on Geothermal Systems visit this website.


Architectural Renderings of New ORLA Site

About ORLA

ORLA Informational Brochure

What is the Olympia Regional Learning Academy?

The Olympia Regional Learning Academy is a part of the Olympia School District, and offers several educational programs providing opportunities not found elsewhere in our district. The Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) serves more than 500 students through a variety of innovative and diverse learning options, including:

  • iConnect Academy – Provides online learning opportunities for middle-school & high-school students.
  • Homeschool Connect – Provides K-12 home-schooled students with an opportunity to take courses in language arts, math, science, and social studies and to participate in classes not readily available to them at home such as art, fitness, science labs, music, and theater.
  • Montessori – An on-site Montessori instructional program for students in grades K-5.

The Olympia Regional Learning Academy provides a unique learning environment with high academic standards. Staff and families collaborate to provide a safe and supportive community where students are valued and empowered to succeed in a rapidly-changing world.

Why a new building for ORLA?

The current facility used for the Olympia Regional Learning Academy is the former John Rogers Elementary School, which is in disrepair. A new building is desperately needed for ORLA’s growing K-12 programs. In 2012 voters approved the Olympia School District’s Capital Improvement Bond, which included funding for a new, nearly $30 million facility. The new facility will be built on the site of the former McKinley Elementary school at Boulevard Road and 15th Avenue SE.

Construction of the 66,000 square-foot facility is currently scheduled to get underway in August of 2013. In addition to classroom space, the new facility will include an athletic field, playground equipment, gymnasium, and a covered play shed. Our goal is to make the new Academy a net-zero facility, meaning it will produce as much energy as its uses.

Why did the Olympia School District choose the current site plan?

Considerations that went into the new structure include:

Safety of students and staff. The security, safety and supervision of students and staff is of paramount concern. The current design locates parent and visitor parking together in front of the building, making the approach to the building highly visible from the administration area and the main building entry. Locating the building in the center of the site offers a single point of entry and the best supervision of all areas, including parent and visitor parking and pick-up/drop-off areas.

Net-zero energy use. The solar orientation of the building is critical to reaching our net-zero energy consumption goals. The building will be extremely energy efficient and nearly the entire roof will be covered with photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity. For the building to meet these aggressive energy usage reduction and power-generation requirements, it is critical for the building to have an overall east-west orientation so daylight can be optimally controlled and the roof area has the best solar access.

Being a good neighbor. Our intent is to locate the building at the center of the site, giving neighbors a buffer between their homes and the 440-foot-long, two-story building, and providing playfields and beautifully landscaped parking areas as buffers to the street. Additionally, the design helps us be a good neighbor by retaining the wooded area to the east and reducing light pollution onto neighboring properties. The Academy’s athletic fields, playground equipment and gymnasium will be available for community use when not in use by the school.

Connection to the outdoors. The new facility will have specific requirements for outdoor educational spaces such as student gardens and outdoor science and art, and playground and playfield space for students and families.

Better traffic flow. Locating the building in the center of the site will keep us from routing nearly all traffic onto 12th Avenue, which would result in major traffic bottlenecks. It also allows us to separate car traffic from service vehicles, which increases safety.