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Deciding to decide: School board agrees to 'vet' full high school remodel option for future bond measure
It's time to take action on a new school bond, said three Snoqualmie Valley School Board Directors, plus a handful of citizens at the group's July 11 meeting. By the end of a 2.5-hour discussion, they had, unofficially.
Option A, the $200 million scenario that would build a new elementary school by September, 2015, and reconstruct the high school over the next seven years, was the winning choice, but only for further exploration. Board members informally agreed to add an action item to the agenda for their Aug. 15 meeting, calling for further 'vetting' of the proposal.
"What you're talking about is focusing down on Option A," said Superintendent Joel Aune, not committing to one bond option and rejecting the others. He urged the board to be very clear about this action when they discuss it next month, as "… acknowledging that we have a ways to go, and we want to take a closer look at Option A."
Two board members, Dan Popp and Marci Busby also were reluctant to take more official action. Popp wondered at the certainty that both Hodgins and Geoff Doy expressed that Option A is the right choice, saying "we're not there yet."
Busby argued that the freshman campus opening next fall at the former Snoqualmie Middle School didn't get a fair chance in either Option A or B. Like Option A, B builds an elementary school by 2015, but it starts a $70-million 800-student addition to the high school instead of a full remodel, and calls for a second bond and a verdict on continuing the freshman campus by 2017. In Option A, the decision point would be two years later.
"We have the time, we have the capacity," she said. "It wouldn't hurt us to wait a year and re-evaluate."
Several board members expressed their support of the freshman campus concept, saying it could still exist as part of the main high school campus, for example, as a freshman wing, or one floor of a new building.
Busby and several audience members also asked 'why the rush?' to which Carolyn Simpson replied, "if we believe in both (a comprehensive 9-12 high school and a freshman area) then why don't we do it now? Why risk another bond (as in Option B)?"
Hodgins brought up the long history of efforts to address building problems at the high school, including three failed bond attempts to build a new high school between 2007 and 2009.
"For 18 years now, I've been trying to improve Mount Si High School," Board President Scott Hodgins said, "and I want to do it."
The next school board meeting is 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15, at Snoqualmie City Hall. For agendas and other information, visit www.svsd410.org.