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Pondering the bond: School board considers purpose of next voter request

They made a unanimous commitment in February to bring a bond to their voters, but the Snoqualmie Valley School Board is not yet unanimous on the purpose of that bond. So far, the only thing the board fully agrees on is the need for each member to publicly support it.

“We need to evaluate what is on the bond for February,” President Dan Popp said at a May 24 work session, adding that “a unanimous and concerted effort from our board is just a natural prerequisite” to passage.

Board members each reviewed their positions on the bond and the issues surrounding it, which include the proposed annexation of Snoqualmie Middle School for use as a Freshman Learning Center by the 2013-14 school year, and the failure of bond measures in February and May of 2011 to build a replacement middle school.

Board member Scott Hodgins focused on a high school remodel rather than building a new middle school, saying he believed “in the freshman learning concept,” but it was not specific to a location. However, he added, “I do believe that a comprehensive high school is grades 9-12, and that the freshman learning center, not the concept, but the center itself, is temporary.”

He felt the district would have to move a portion of the high school population off campus to complete a much-needed renovation at the high school, and felt that a freshman campus would be a viable solution for that challenge.

Member Geoff Doy reiterated his support of maintaining three middle schools in the district, and doubted that the district could afford to operate another building, as the February bond was initially proposing.

“I’ve come to the conclusion since March 8 that we will not pass a middle school bond essentially similar to the one we put on the ballot last year,” he told the board.

Carolyn Simpson was open to the idea of a high school remodel and the possibility of relocating a portion of the students to another building during the project, but could not yet support it as a necessity. She noted that several area school districts have done successful remodels without relocating students, and felt that “we don’t really have a good reason for doing this right now.”

Board member Marci Busby, however, remained committed to the annexation and the construction of a third middle school. She told the group a freshman campus was a permanent option to her, “…to give the freshman the very, very best start. It would also enable new programming and different things for the 10th through 12th graders at the high school.”

Busby also felt that the board was united in February on the need for a third middle school, and should proceed.

“It seems like everybody here was thinking three middle schools, so I think we should go ahead …  and in the event that (the bond) doesn’t pass, then we have our two-middle-school-model plan in place, and that’s what we go forward with, if the public decides not to support the middle school.”

Since the bond failure, nearly equal number of community members have asked the board to, on one side, abandon the annexation proposal, and on the other side, to maintain its commitment to the Freshman Learning Center.

The board will continue its discussion of the February bond at a special work study, planned for Saturday, June 16, from 8 a.m. to noon at the district office.

 

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