Should Snoqualmie Valley be a Two or Three Middle School District? Board Candidates Weigh in

It’s just one week until those primary elections ballots are due.  They must be postmarked August 6th. For drop box locations where ballots require no stamp visit King County Elections website.

In case you still hadn’t opened your ballot or were still deciding who to vote for… here’s one last question for the four SVSD District 4 school board candidates aimed at helping voters make up their minds.

Living Snoqualmie asked each candidate:

During the conversations leading up to the 2012 decision to annex Snoqualmie Middle School to MSHS and reduce Snoqualmie Valley to two middle schools, administrators provided information about the size of neighboring district middle schools (usually about 800 students) and showed some benefits to having 2 larger middle schools. Ultimately, do you believe the Snoqualmie Valley School District should have 2 or 3 middle schools and why?

 

Marci Busby:

I believe SVSD should ultimately have 3 middle schools. With portables, we will not be full at TFMS nor CKMS next year. But commonmarci spaces will be crowded and we will hit capacity very soon. I also support the Freshman Campus. I voted for and supported the bond for the$48 million replacement middle school. This configuration would have given us a cost-effective solution for 6-12 capacity for well over a decade, leaving only a 6th elementary needed to solve capacity issues. I hope we can still/soon build a third middle school out of the flood way, on SVSD owned property on Snoqualmie Ridge in our population center.

Both larger and smaller middle schools have pros and cons. It is true that many of our neighbors have found success with larger schools and we have had increasing success with smaller campuses. In either arrangement, we need to continue to focus on equipping the teachers inside the building with the best tools we can.

As we move forward with hopes of passing a bond, we will need to actively pursue input from members of the community who want larger middle schools to both address their needs/concerns and enlist their support.

Scott Hodgins:

Ultimately, based upon student population projections and current residential zoning, our District requires three (3 ) middle schools. Our two middle schools next year will already exceed their permanent capacity. The District is building additional portables this scottsummer to handle the overpopulation. The sooner we get started modernizing the high school, the sooner we can bring the freshman back to the main campus and re-open SMS as a middle school. If the public doesn’t want to modernize the entire high school campus, let’s spend the money that it would cost to build another middle school on a new building at the high school that will hold 800 students. That would be the most economical (if that is the primary issue) and the high school will house grades 9-12. We can build a new building on the high school campus as quickly as a new middle school on the Ridge, and it would probably be more cost effective, as operating a separate freshman campus AND a 3rd middle school could add $1 million to the annual SVSD operational budget for the foreseeable future.

Stephen Kangas:

We need 3 middle schools.  Decades of scientific studies following the STAR study of the ‘60s clearly show that smaller schools, including smaller class sizes, is among the most important factors for improving student learning and academic outcomes.  SVSD stephenmiddle schools were over capacity at the time that voters approved a bond to build a third middle school in 2003.  Today, middle school enrollment is much greater than 10 years ago, yet the old-guard school board directors decided to close Snoqualmie Middle School in order to begin a freshman-only campus experiment this coming fall in that building.  Their result now is 2 much more over-crowded large schools, with many newly purchased portable classrooms to house students.  This is clear evidence that SVSD rhetoric about being “data evidence driven” is disingenuous, as the data results from the many freshman-only campus experiment failures across the nation and Washington along with the over-riding negatives of larger schools flies in the face of that rhetoric.  The truth is that  STEM can and is being implemented without the need for a separate campus, freshman-only campus experiments are high risk, investing in teachers and smaller schools have much greater benefits for our kids and fulfilling the mission of our school district.

David Spring:

I believe that we should have three middle schools for several reasons. First, I am opposed to busing students to schools which are far davidfrom their home. Students from Snoqualmie Ridge should not be bused to middle schools in North Bend or Fall City. Second, the common areas of Twin Falls Middle School were designed for a maximum of 600 students. Jamming hundreds more students into a building than it is designed for will create unsafe conditions. Third, one of the most important tasks in middle school is for students to build relationships with other students and with their teachers. Large middle schools make it more difficult for students to build these important relationships. Finally, larger middle schools make it more difficult for students to participate in after school activities such as band and sports. Having three middle schools instead of two offer our students 50% more opportunities for involvement and engagement in their school. In short, I disagree with the current administration’s claim that there is a benefit to packing students into huge middle schools – treating our students as if they are nothing but a bunch of sardines that can be thrown into a larger can without any adverse effects.

 

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