Ideas. Lots of ideas. From the district and from parents. Lots of opinions on what’s needed for future education in the Snoqualmie Valley – something termed “21st century education.” Opinions and ideas about the next school bond that will shape our education future.
When you have very young children, that future is simply elementary school. It’s hard to think past those first six years of public education. Yet, to figure out the long-term future of schools in the Valley, those with very young kids today need to think about the tomorrow of middle school and high school; think beyond a new elementary school. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s needed. Why? Honestly, because simply stated, I don’t think you want to travel my kids’ SVSD school journey of five failed bonds, 5 boundary changes and attending all but two Snoqualmie Valley schools
In 2003 I was the mother of very young kids, that was when the last Snoqualmie Valley school construction bond passed. Back then I could only see that new elementary school, which we got (along with a third middle school) when the bond passed by 35 votes. My kids benefited from that new school, but since then? Nothing. Well, some portables at the high school, but we have yet to pass a construction bond that solves the long-term capacity needs at the high school level.
After five failed construction bonds and as a measure of last resort, a middle school is closing in order to remove a whole class of students from the comprehensive high school because there is no longer room for them. Yes, we are making the freshman campus all it can be, but is it the optimal solution? In my opinion, no. But for this place in time, was it the only solution? Yes, so it seems.
If you have a 5-year old right now, TODAY, and a bond passes this year, one that finally solves the high school capacity problem, that needed space will be added just before your kids get there. It will be built and ready to educate today’s 5-year olds. The important decisions we make now are your solution for tomorrow’s schools. And tomorrow comes faster than you think. I know. We’ve lived it.
Since 2007 my thoughts have always been, “this will be fixed by the time my youngest is out of elementary school.” Is it? Nope. Next year, my youngest child will attend middle school on the eastern edges of North Bend, at a school that’s being overcrowded by design because we are told there is no room for her 9th grade brother at the high school. Her middle school will close to become his 9th grade campus.
So I encourage all young parents to look beyond just elementary school and become involved in the decisions that also impact where your children will spend their middle and high school years. Decide what you want for your child’s education once the elementary school years fly by – because they do. Long-term solutions take years to implement. The fastest way to fix our high school capacity problem has a 6-7 year timeline. That’s a whole elementary school career.
I’ve heard a school board candidate say our district’s most pressing capacity need is at the elementary school level. Really? The past 6 years have been spent trying to solve capacity issues at the high school level. That need that still exists, but has been patch-worked by removing kids from the high school and overcrowding the middle schools. Is this the final solution you want for your 5-year old when they are 11 and then 14?
If not, then it’s time for everyone to come together, not put the capacity needs of one set of students above the other. The needs are equal. It’s hard to look beyond those early education years, but I implore all young families to do so.
My children have attended three of five SVSD elementary schools, the third one because both Snoqualmie schools ran out of room. Beginning next year, we’ll start at Twin Falls Middle School, which means we’ll have attended all of the district’s middle schools. And we’ve been at the high school since 2009.
My oldest child, who is about to graduate from Mount Si, was a second grader the last time a school construction bond passed. And my youngest, who is now 11-years old, was just starting to walk. And here we are, with capacity issues (which do impact education) still waiting to be solved.
My family has made the best of it. We’ve met great people at each school. Was it what I envisioned when we moved to the Snoqualmie Valley 12 years ago? No, I admit our school journey was not what I imagined… and I want a better, optimal solution for the next wave of young families.
It’s time to think long-term. Solve the capacity issues of elementary, middle and high school equally, not weight one as more important, because the pressing needs exist across all levels of Snoqualmie Valley education.
If you have young children, this is your chance to solve the district-wide capacity issues for the long-term. And MOST importantly, have the solutions, the buildings, finished and ready for your child when they move beyond elementary school.
If you’d like to be a part of future bond focus groups visit the Snoqualmie Valley School District website.