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Long-term schools planning may check out junior high model, new options could mean boundary change
By Allison Espiritu
Turning middle schools to junior high schools was one option aired during long-term planning sessions held recently in the Snoqualmie Valley School District.
The last of four public meetings to hear feedback on the five options for the Long-Term Facilities Plan was held last week, and input is still being taken on the Web.
A junior high model would put sixth grade at elementary schools and ninth grade at middle school buildings, leaving Mount Si High School with grades 10 to 12.
Other options raised in recent weeks include the use of portables; a seventh-and-eighth-grade middle school model; a satellite high school campus model at Snoqualmie Middle School; and a remodel or expansion of Mount Si High School.
If the junior high model is explored, the option would affect three middle schools in the district: Chief Kanim, Snoqualmie and Twin Falls Middle Schools. The junior high model is a departure from most statewide school models, and could mean a boundary adjustment for the district.
“The middle school dynamic will change no matter what model they choose,” said Kirk Dunckel, principal at Chief Kanim Middle School. “We’ll have to take a different look and see what the change would encompass as far as programs, teaching, curriculum and activities.”
As districts grow, boundary changes happen, Dunckel said. If boundaries change again, he hopes they will be placed for convenient travel of equal distances by students and parents.
Predicted enrollment growth in the district led to the construction of Twin Falls Middle School in 2008. Boundaries were changed, and the Snoqualmie and Chief Kanim student populations were expected to increase by some 550 students within five years. Then the economy slowed and enrollment never reached those predictions, leaving Chief Kanim with about 300 students.
Updating district facilities and finding the best options for all age groups in the district is critical for the well-being of students, said Alex Hulet, a Cascade View Elementary parent.
Hulet said she knows she is only beginning as a district parent. But as a former high school teacher, she definitely sees the need for an additional high school in the area.
“I realize it’s difficult, but construction costs are going up all the while,” she said. “Planning for the future is hard, but something is necessary.”
Through Friday, Nov. 6, the district will gather public input in an online survey. The facilities planning committee will make a recommendation based on feedback, and will present findings Nov. 12. The board will decide next steps. Typically, there will be more opportunity for public comment before any final decisions are made.
View the survey at www.svsd410.org.