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.