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Splitting schools: Snoqualmie board expected to vote on new boundary options Thursday

A new set of middle school boundaries, as recommended by Snoqualmie Valley School District staff, have several advantages, and one big disadvantage.

As presented by Director of Instructional Technology Jeff Hogan at the Oct. 30 school board meeting, the new lines of Option F would would simplify future elementary-to-middle-school assignments, and would keep elementary students from both Snoqualmie schools together into their middle-school years.

As criticized by members of the public during a public comment session, however, the new lines would also dramatically crowd Twin Falls, by placing 170 more students there than would be at Chief Kanim next year.

Option F, the middle school boundary map recommended by staff, would split the school district along lines similar to the existing Twin Falls boundary line, leaving most of Snoqualmie in the Chief Kanim district. However, Option F would include a Twin Falls island in the new Chief Kanim district, comprised of most of Snoqualmie Ridge. This would give the district clear feeder patterns for four of its five elementary schools, Hogan said, since all of Cascade View would eventually attend Twin Falls, and all of Snoqualmie Elementary would eventually attend Chief Kanim.

Many parents were opposed to the imbalance of Option F, which projects 835 students at Twin Falls next year, and only 665 at Chief Kanim. The imbalance is projected to drop over the following two years, and Hogan reported that at least 20 students in the new Twin Falls boundary would opt out of TFMS to attend Chief Kanim. He added that the district could allow up to 50 students to choose CKMS over TFMS, which would adjust the imbalance.

Other parents, opposed to the crowding that Option F could cause, called for the board to consider another possibility, keeping all the students and staff of Snoqualmie Middle School together while relocating them into portable classrooms at one of the remaining two middle schools. While this would definitely crowd the common areas, they argued that it would keep the school's culture intact until another middle school could be built.

The school board voted on Feb. 8 to put a replacement middle school bond on the ballot again in 2013, but by their Aug. 30 meeting, board members agreed that a February vote was not likely, and began discussing an April bond. If a bond were to pass in April, it would likely be at least two years before a new middle school would open its doors.

Hogan said district staff had considered the new proposal, to keep SMS intact, but discarded it as not a long-term solution. Superintendent Joel Aune pointed out, with information from Hogan's presentation, that the new idea would put 905 students at Chief Kanim next year, or 1,021 at Twin Falls.

Board member Carolyn Simpson asked Hogan to present the board with details about how the new proposal would look at either of the two middle schools. Board member Marci Busby objected, saying it was too late in the process to begin considering yet another option.

Board president Dan Popp suggested a compromise of requesting the new proposal details in time for the board's next meeting, but planning to vote on the new boundaries at that meeting, anyway.

The next school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at Snoqualmie City Hall.

To see a map of the recommended Option F, visit http://www.svsd410.org/districtinfo/newspubs/2012boundary/option_F_proj.pdf.

 

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