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New MS boundaries set, FLC back up for discussion

Another attempt to delay the opening of a freshman campus, a new set of middle school district boundaries, and another look at remodeling Mount Si High School came out of the Nov. 8 Snoqualmie Valley School Board meeting. While the freshman campus and high school discussions will come back to the board Thursday, Nov. 29, the middle school boundaries were approved in a 3-0 vote.

Board members Scott Hodgins, Geoff Doy and Marci Busby voted in favor of the staff-recommended Option F, and Carolyn Simpson abstained from voting, citing several "very strong and grave concerns" about the decision and its relationship with the freshman campus. Board President Dan Popp was not at the meeting.

Before the vote, Simpson asked to delay the decision until NAC, the architectural firm hired to review the district's options for remodeling Mount Si, could present its final recommendation to the board, expected Nov. 29. She felt the new boundary decision would be "a step backward" from the voter-supported three middle school model, and said of the decision to split up the community of student and teachers at SMS, "It's not just difficult for me, I find it unjustifiable at this time."

Hodgins reminded Simpson that the board had already committed itself to the freshman campus concept, on several occasions, and suggested tabling Simpson's proposal until the next meeting, when the full board should be present.

Simpson's motion failed for lack of a second, and the board resumed discussion of the boundary change.

Doy said he'd heard from "a lot of worried people," including parents and teachers, about the impact of Option F on Twin Falls Middle School. "They see the successful school their kids go to, suffering."

Option F splits the district along the original Twin Falls boundary line, but includes the "island" of Snoqualmie Ridge. Initial projections put 835  students at Twin Falls next year, 170 more than the 665 projected at Chief Kanim, and well over 100 more students there for the following two years.

Director of Instructional Technology, Jeff Hogan, however, was confident that more than 20 students in the Twin Falls District, who are currently attending Chief Kanim, would opt to continue at Chief Kanim, evening out the numbers somewhat. Doy noted that he supported Option F on the terms that the district would monitor the enrollment at both schools, and make adjustments as needed, if the student imbalance became too great.

Busby was in full support of the staff recommended option, saying "The people that have talked to mere in strong support of Option F. I haven't heard any of the other concerns."

Option G, a proposal reported to have come from the community, was also briefly discussed. That option maintained SMS in its entirety, but relocated it to the campus of one of the other middle schools. Asked to present details about Option G, Hogan presented an example of SMS at CKMS, resulting in 948 students to TFMS' 552, and costs more than the estimated $1.5 million needed for portable classrooms to accommodate the additional students at both middle schools.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 at Snoqualmie City Hall.

 

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