My name is Maggie Grate and I am a member of the Snoqualmie Valley School District Facilities Task Force. My husband Phil and I have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley for 13 years and have two boys. One will attend Chief Kanim Middle School this fall and the other is a fourth-grader at Fall City Elementary School. We have watched the Valley’s rapid growth and have seen the student population at our son’s elementary school reach capacity.
Through my participation on the task force, I have learned that our district’s student population is growing at all of our schools and that something must be done quickly. We need to expand our facilities so that we can continue to provide quality education throughout the district. We simply do not have enough physical space to properly accommodate our current students, let alone serve a growing student population.
I am aware that there are people in our community frustrated with our current dilemma who want to know why “they” did not address this problem sooner. I believe “they” is “we” and that we should move forward quickly to implement a long-range plan that will provide the space our students need to learn and thrive in a school community that my family has found to be very positive.
“Webster’s Dictionary” defines community as a unified body of individuals. We are a school community made up of students, teachers, parents, staff and administrators who have much to be proud of and celebrate. For example:
* We have a staff comprised of highly educated, motivated people who go above and beyond to make sure our kids are learning not only what the state requires, but much more. In addition, they are being taught to respect one another in their community and to understand that when they work together as a unit, they can accomplish a great deal. I have seen teachers work with kids in conflict, allowing them to disagree with each other in a manner that brings a positive resolution. I am impressed with the antibullying program and know that our neighboring districts do not have a program of this quality in place.
* Students at Mount Si High School are applying to and being accepted by some of the most prestigious colleges in the country and more than $3 million in scholarship money was offered to our seniors this past year.
* Our most recent 10th-grade WASL results indicate that 92 percent of the sophomore class met the standards on the WASL in reading and writing; and 67 percent met the standard in math. This is an increase of 17 percent from the previous year.
* Our school district enjoys a very good reputation across the state. Many programs we have in place have been recognized by the state and used as models for other districts.
* We have very strong parent support, not only for the activities that go on in the classroom but also for the school community in general. When there is a child or family in need, people in this Valley respond and make sure that there is financial and emotional support provided.
The above are just a few examples of why we have our boys enrolled in the Snoqualmie Valley School District schools and a small sample of why I believe we need to be mindful that what really matters is what goes on inside the schools. Though we might like the district to build innovative and architecturally beautiful buildings, the most important criterion is that we build schools that allow our students to achieve academic success in a safe, nurturing environment. Furthermore, we should build schools that our teachers, staff and administrators find supportive of their endeavors to educate our children. Doing so will help our district attract and retain a highly capable, motivated and enthusiastic faculty.
As the task force considers many challenges, we constantly ask ourselves, “What is best for the kids?” As such, I am confident the task force will make a carefully considered recommendation to the school board that has the best interest of our entire school community in mind.
This column is part of a biweekly series of guest columns written by members of the Snoqualmie Valley School District Facilities Task Force. For more details, please visit www.snoqualmie.k12.wa.us and click on “Facilities Task Force .