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School district narrows growth options

After public meetings and community discussion, Snoqualmie Valley School District’s Long-Term Facilities Planning Committee has narrowed future building options to two models aimed at solving enrollment, community engagement and economic needs.

Presented at a Thursday, Nov. 12, school board’s work session, the committee chose two models — a satellite high school campus at Snoqualmie Middle School and an expanded high school model — for further discussion.

Options that did not make the cut included a modular classroom model, a junior high school model and a model with a grades-7-and-8 middle school.

Decision-making criteria included financial, geographical and political realities, long-term sustainability, alignment with enrollment projects, and impact on children at all grade levels. Each option was assessed on a scale of zero to four, four being best. Community input was considered as each committee member scored models individually.

Expanding Mount Si High School earned a score of 18.3 and the Satellite Campus model had 13.95 out of 24 points.

Board member Dan Popp advocated for the modular classroom model for efficiency reasons. But studies showed that within five years, the modulars would not be able to hold a growing number of students, as many as 800, per school.

“I didn’t hear a single person say they were excited about having sixth and ninth graders together,” Popp said. “I’m an advocate, but not sad for it to go.”

Aligning with community input based on comments and a recent survey, the satellite campus model, an annexation of Snoqualmie Middle School and expansion of Mount Si High School were the most promising in terms of benefitting students or altering the current school system.

Those options maintain the district’s current grade level configurations, noted as the best system for all students; maintain a single high school; address the projected overcrowding at Mount Si High School without impacting other levels; and will be ready to implement by the fall of 2014.

The Long-Term Planning Committee’s next steps are to hold public meetings and collect community and staff input, refining details through next January.

In February, they will present recommendations to the school board, provide additional public comment and set up a public hearing with the board. The board is expected to take action on the model recommendations next March.

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