Community Members Create New Middle School Boundary Change Option – Want Your Input

Below please find an alternative middle school boundary change option being floated around the community.  The creators (which does NOT include me) are looking for your your input and/or thoughts.  Please leave a comment for them.  Thanks!

The Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) is currently engaged in a process to make major changes to the middle school attendance boundaries, as a result of their planned conversion of Snoqualmie Middle School (SMS) into a 9th-grade-only campus “Freshman Learning Center” (FLC).  This annexation of a district school to Mt Si High School reduces Snoqualmie Valley’s middle school count to two.

Currently, SVSD Administration is focused on carving up the SMS student body and staff between  remaining Chief Kanim Middle School (CKMS) and Twin Falls Middle School (TFMS) by fall 2013.  The current middle school boundary change process began with the formation of a committee composed principally of SVSD staff.  The committee has now narrowed the boundary change options down to three.  SVSD Administration is now gauging the public’s interest in those remaining three and hopes to gain school board approval on a new boundary map at a November board meeting.

Historically, school attendance boundary changes are painful for the community, as they affect parent & student schedules, school culture, bus routes.  The change also fosters emotional battles within the community and between the community and administrators.  But when the driving force of a boundary change is the closure of an entire middle school, the process gets even more heated.

Is there a way to avoid, or at least minimize boundary changes?  There is an idea being floated within the community that has had positive response so far.  This idea does not change existing middle school boundaries.  More importantly, for the parents and students of SMS, it helps preserve their school culture and student and teacher relationships.  Here’s the idea in a nutshell…

Instead of splitting up SMS student body and staff, the idea is to keep them together as the one group that they are now.  They would be relocated in their entirety to either CKMS or TFMS, where they would temporarily operate in portable classrooms.  By keeping the existing staff of teachers, administration and support personnel along with student body together, their established culture and relationships will be preserved.  Then, when the SMS building is available again, they would simply move back home.

The SVSD school board is currently investigating the idea of expanding Mount Si High School so the freshman campus can be located on the main campus. The board is on record stating a comprehensive high school includes 9th-12th graders.  They hired an architect to prepare a Master Plan for the work, which primarily involves a site study, to determine the feasibility of doing that.  The Master Plan should be completed by the end of January 2012.  If the Master Plan shows the idea to be feasible, then it becomes clear that the use of the existing SMS building as a 9th grade campus will be temporary, until such time that a capital bond proposal to expand and modernize Mount Si is approved by voters and work is completed – estimated 1-3 years.

That temporary, as opposed to permanent, use of the SMS building as a freshman campus provides the opportunity to avoid this middle school boundary change and keeps SMS student body and staff intact, temporarily housing them elsewhere in the district.  Once Mount Si work finishes, SMS students and staff return home.

The potential sticking point is funding for the portable classrooms required to temporarily house SMS at temporary alternative location.  SVSD does not currently have enough spare portables to accommodate this, and although there are creative ideas on reallocating some funds, it will likely require additional money to bring this idea to fruition.

This “informal idea” being discussed in our community allows for the identity of SMS to remain intact; there would still be SMS Eagles, SMS band, sports teams. Bus routes would   change for a new destination; sharing of common athletic fields, gymnasium, etc. would happen; scheduling for common facilities would be tight and have challenges, but the public’s response thus far is that those trade-offs are worth it.

This idea has not been (seriously) discussed among SVSD Administration or school board members yet.  There are parents and students who wish to see SVSD fully examine the idea, develop a plan to make it happen or provide solid reasons why it’s not feasible.

As always, our school board directors need to hear from the public, so if you feel that this is a worth idea, please contact them via email, or attend one of their regular meetings soon and speak during the Public Comment period.

There are a public hearing on the committee’s final middle school boundary change choice scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th, during the school board meeting, 6:30PM, in Mount Si’s Wildcat Court.  The final choice will be presented to the board during their regular meeting and afterward they take public comment on the boundary change.   For further information visit www.svsd410.org . For school board members email addresses visit their SVSD website page.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts here.

Comments

  1. Gina Spiller says

    I think this is a pretty good idea. I like SMS retaining its separate identity, sports teams and teachers. It avoids painful boundary changes now AND later. The SVSD will eventually have 3 middle school locations again so keeping the SMS culture alive instead of killing it would be great. For myself and probably for many others on Snoqualmie Ridge, it would be better if the relocation of the school be temporarily at CKMS. It is more in the direction our family goes all the time for practices, games and work. TFMS is the wrong direction and way out of the way. Thank youf or considerng an option like this.

  2. Interesting idea – and I like it better than closing SMS completely. It still seems silly to me though, to displace all of the middle schoolers (3 grades, staff, administration etc) for a temporary solution for 1 grade. Why not work on the high school modifications, spend the money on that and NOT all these temporary measures, and begin the 9th grade campus once it’s been created??? Why spend money and displace so many when we don’t need to?????

  3. Julie Duim says

    This is an intriguing idea and definitely “out of the box.” I like that it softens the blow of all the transitioning by keeping the school together and not parceling everyone out. It also focuses on our children’s well-being as the priority, but I would like to hear what the school board thinks of it and the costs to make it actually happen.

  4. Gina Spiller says

    I actually TOTALLY agree with Amy George on this. As I said at the School Board meeting last week, my FIRST choice is to not close SMS at all. I don’t think the new FLC should be more important to this district than an established and successful middle school. The high school can “make do” for a few more years until the necessary modifications can be made to house the FLC there. TOTALLY AGREE.

    • Christine Dreps says

      From what I understand the overcrowding situation at the high school has reached the critical point. A 9th grade facility, with some type of separation from the rest of the high school is much needed. Would you really want your 9th grader in the current mix?

      However, it seems a less expensive solution would be to create a temporary Freshman Learning Center (with portables), either on the SMS or MSHS campus, while modifications are made to MSHS for the 9th graders. This would require the 9th graders to be in portables for one year – much less disruptive and expensive over all.

      • Gina Spiller says

        Went for a walk with friends this morning. Their suggestions were to use the portables already budgeted for to create the FLC. The school board has budgeted $1.5 million for new portables, why don’t we create a mini freshman learning center at MSHS or SMS with those and leave SMS alone? This would be the best temporary solution for the “overcrowding” at the high school (not overcrowded yet, but is near capacity and will be packed in 2-3 years according to some school board members) without disrupting the middle schools which are working well in the valley. You could also set up portables on the giant field at SES and the kids could easily walk across the street to the high school. Just brainstorming.

  5. Considering the treacherous drive to Fall City and because North Bend and downtown Snoqualmie kids attend SMS, the location at the North Bend middle school is the most sensical. Amy’s spot on with spending the money to modify the high school, rather than spend a $million or two on renovating SMS.

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