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Snoqualmie's elementary school six is on schedule, but bond isn’t

Snoqualmie Valley School District still has time to build and open a sixth elementary school by the start of the 2015-16 school year. So far, though, the district doesn’t have the money, and is running out of time.

Although design work and planning for the 29-classroom building began last fall, paid for with school impact fees from the district’s capital facilities fund, the district has not committed to a bond to raise the estimated $35 million total project costs.

The school board is considering a $216 million bond, which includes the sixth elementary school, but two of the five board members opposed the bond proposal at a Jan. 23 work session, and community feedback at a series of public meetings in December was lukewarm in its support.

By all enrollment projections, the district will need a sixth elementary school by the 2016-17 school year. Currently, district Business Services Director Ryan Stokes told the school board, each elementary school has about one available classroom, at current class sizes. He then presented estimated classroom needs in various class-size scenarios, which estimated the need for between three more classrooms at low enrollment projections, and 26 more at medium projections with reduced class sizes.

Stokes said his projections did not account for a 17:1 class-size ratio the state recommends for the youngest elementary students, nor did they include the state-required full-day Kindergarten, expected to start in lower-income school districts in 2016-17.

Asked about the timeframe for the school, Stokes said, “If a bond happened after April, we would not be able to open in 2015.”

Following the enrollment report, board members heard from TCF architects working on the new elementary school, adapting their designs from Cascade View Elementary School. They reported that the project was on schedule, and they were ready to apply for permits, a project milestone that required more funding than the initial contract authorized. They asked the board to approve the final contract, to continue their work.

Board member Tavish MacLean asked clarifying questions, to confirm the district wouldn’t be locked into building before it had the funds — the permits are good for a year and can be renewed for another year, if needed; and to confirm that a delay in approving the contract could delay work on the building — it could.

The board unanimously approved the contract for the sixth elementary school, at an estimated cost of $35.3 million, with TCF Architects.

 

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