Being Involved is a Worthy Endeavor

This is the first in a series of guest columns written by members of the Snoqualmie Valley School District Facilities Task Force. These columns are part of a comprehensive communication effort to inform and engage the community throughout the course of our work. The charge of the task force is to submit a list of prioritized recommendations to the board of directors for new construction projects modernization projects, and maintenance and repair of existing school district facilities. For more details, please visit our website at www.snoqualmie.k12.wa.us and click on Facilities Task Force Information.

As the student enrollment population of the Snoqualmie Valley School District continues to increase, this growth raises a number of questions our community must now consider. What is the projected growth and when will it end? How much capacity do we have in our current facilities? When and where do we build more facilities? How much facility space should we build? How much can we afford, and how do we pay for new facilities?

These are a sample of the questions our recently formed Facilities Task Force committee must address for the next six months as we consider the charge we've been given by the SVSD Board of Directors. For me, however, there is another equally important question to ask, "How do we inform and engage the community in a way that will ignite you to actively participate in this process?" In my mind, How our community addresses the growing student enrollment is as important as What we do to address growth. After all, a community that works together, thrives together. In working together, we can achieve the added benefit of creating a generation of children that understand the importance of civic and community involvement simply by "being involved."

I am proud to be working with the other 22 members of the committee. This is a smart, caring group of people comprised of parents, teachers and other district staff. Together, we have developed a comprehensive communication plan designed to keep the community informed about our work and to engage you at select points throughout the process. Our communication plan involves guest columns in the Valley Record, our Website, which will be updated weekly, sending e-mails, holding open weekly meetings on Wednesday nights and interactive public forums.

In March, we held our first series of public forums with the primary objective of providing the community with an opportunity to share input regarding challenges and ideas for addressing increasing student enrollment. As a result of our communication efforts, 76 community members attended the meetings and participated in interactive small group sessions facilitated by task force members. Not a bad turnout, but I wanted more. Based on feedback forms completed by the attendees, the meetings were a success with a 100 percent stating they would attend a future forum. To those 76 community members, I thank you for coming and sharing your thoughts and I have but one small request. Next time, bring a friend or two with you.

To the rest of the community, I am issuing a challenge to get involved in this process. The significance and relevance of the work this committee is doing has the potential to impact our district and our community for the next 10 to 20 years. Our district is at an important crossroads. I urge you to stay informed and to get involved.

As a busy working mom, I am aware that time is a precious commodity for families. That is why for our next set of forums (tentatively planned for late spring), we are planning to offer both day and evening sessions to accommodate a variety of schedules, with childcare provided for the evening sessions. On a more exciting note, we are hoping to offer a Web-cast version of the forums, so community members can participate at home on their own time. With all these options, we're hoping to see more community members involved in the process.

I would like to share a quote taken from a May 1956 report titled, "Our Snoqualmie Community 1855 to 1956."

"Snoqualmie schools have always been a vital part of the community. Our pioneer forefathers recognized the American principles of free and universal education and made provision for it in territorial law. Their descendants are proving worthy in the effort to provide trained minds to meet tomorrow's problems."

As current descendants of our Valley forefathers, it is our turn to prove ourselves "worthy."

Stay informed. Get involved.

Kathy Lerner is a member of the Facilities Task Force

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