It appears the Snoqualmie Valley School Board is poised for a vote that could put a school bond on the February 2015 ballot – and it could be a comprehensive bond solution to address facility needs at all grade levels and done all in one fell swoop. The board is expected to vote on a school bond on October 9th.
The board has been extensively analyzing bond option A, which would rebuild Mount Si High School, reinstate the 3rd middle school, construct a new elementary school and do needed upgrades and maintenance at all other SVSD buildings.
During the nearly two years of analysis, architect studies, community meetings and surveys, board members have stated they zeroed in on the comprehensive bond option because it addressed all K-12 facility and capacity needs with a longterm plan.
A random sample phone survey done in May showed 67% of survey respondents were supportive of the $225 million bond and components and 57% were supportive once knowing the tax impact to homeowners – estimated to be $775 per year for a home valued at $375,000.
So – if the school board votes on a bond on October 9th AND it is this comprehensive bond option, what might Snoqualmie Valley residents see in the future if the bond passes with that ‘magic’ 60% supermajority level?
1) Rebuilt, Larger High School
The bulk of the proposed bond provides funding to rebuild and enlarge Mount Si High School to hold all grade levels, 9-12.
Currently Mount Si operates two campus: the main campus for 10th – 12th grades and a freshman campus in the former Snoqualmie Middle School building located a 1/2 mile away.
The separation of the two campuses requires [some] teachers and over 25% of 9th grade students to travel between the schools each day; daily student shuttle buses between campuses; and other logistical challenges for high school scheduling.
It’s estimated a high school rebuild for 2,100 students would cost about $165 million. The project would take 6-7 years, with 1-2 years for design and 4-5 years for construction. The rebuild would include a separate space for the freshman campus concept to remain intact.
The school board recently heard contingency plans from NAC Architects if the high school grows to 2400 students, which could raise the rebuild cost by as much as $30 million.
Medium range [FTE] enrollment projections prepared last October show Mount Si enrollment might approach 2,400 (est. 2342) in 2033, or in roughly 20 years. Low range projections show Mount Si enrollment might reach 2,100 (est. 2055) during the same 20 year time period. **
Demographers say predicting enrollment far into the future is difficult. Historically, Mount Si enrollment has landed well below medium range projections, with that difference being largest when looking out more than two years. The district’s newly-hired demographer, though, recommends planning based on medium range projections, but “give careful consideration to what steps might be taken if enrollment were to trend closer to the low or high projection.”
At its October 9th meeting, the school board will be given an updated demographer report, with newly available enrollment and local building data, which could reflect the predicted dramatic slowing of growth in Snoqualmie as city officials say build out of Snoqualmie Ridge will happen in 2017.
A high school visioning meeting was also recently held with Mount Si High School staff, with one teacher in attendance saying they believed the meeting was positive.
2) Reinstated 3rd Middle School
With the first phase of the high school rebuild complete (estimated sometime between 2018-2019), freshman would return to the main Mount Si campus and the 9th grade campus would return as district’s 3rd middle school, alleviating the middle school crowding that occurred when Snoqualmie Middle School closed and became part of the high school in 2013.
The last time SVSD had two overcrowded middle schools was in 2007 – until the third middle school (Twin Falls) opened in 2008. Today the district has roughly 200 more middle school students than it did in 2007.
Currently, Chief Kanim and Twin Falls Middle Schools are each approximately 25% over capacity. In 2013, about twelve portable classrooms were added to the schools to house additional students. Without a 3rd middle school, the plan to address larger class sizes set to enter the two schools in coming years is to add even more portables.
3) New Elementary School
Roughly $35 million of the proposed bond would be used to construct a new elementary school on Snoqualmie Ridge, on a district-owned land parcel at the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Swenson Drive.
With state-mandated full-day kindergarten and smaller K-3 class size, as well as district-wide enrollment growth, more elementary space is needed.
Currently most elementary students who live in the newest Snoqualmie Ridge developments attend school in North Bend and Fall City, as no space exists at Snoqualmie and Cascade View Elementary Schools.
4) Other Building Upgrades & Maintenance
About $21 million of the proposed bond will address needed upgrades and maintenance at all other SVSD buildings, including adding a multipurpose room to Snoqualmie Elementary, safety and security improvements in all buildings and replacing roofs at four buildings, replacing the septic system at Fall City Elementary.
The school board has been eyeing an October 9th decision date in order to meet the required timeline for the February 2015 election – the earliest they could run a bond in the coming year.
**Total high school enrollment numbers cited in demographer report also includes enrollment at Two Rivers High School, which typically has about 100 students. **