SVSD School Board Votes To Proceed With 2013 Snoqualmie Middle School Annexation AND To Run New Replacement Middle School Bond

It was a night of debate and votes at last night’s SVSD School Board Meeting.  The regular meeting was preceded by a special Public Comment Session on the proposed Snoqualmie Middle School annexation to MSHS as a 9th grade campus.  Most who signed up to speak were in favor of the 2013 timeline to create the Freshman Learning  Center.  It was estimated one-third of the meeting’s attendees were SVSD middle school teachers – some of whom spoke against annexation before a replacement school is built for SMS.

In the end the school board did two things.  They voted unanimously (5-0) to run a school bond no later than February 2013 to replace Snoqualmie Middle School.  Clint Marsh, construction program manager for past Snoqualmie Valley School District building projects, said a new middle school could possibly be ready by the 2014 school year.  It would  be a fast-track project like Cascade View Elementary School which opened in September 2005 after breaking ground in June 2004.

The board then voted 3-2 to annex Snoqualmie Middle School to Mount Si High School in 2013.   This “green light” now gives Principal Belcher and administrators the opportunity to determine programming and logistical details for the new 9th grade campus.  Questions were raised last night about limited programming and travel between the two campuses for needed classes.  Some opponents questioned creating a 9th grade campus before all the details are ironed out.  Administrators stated all of those details would be finalized over the next 17 months.




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  • So….now we will annex SMS in 2013. Kids will be displaced and teachers will be moved. Then, if a bond passes, we will move kids and teachers again–possibly in one year. In the interim, the District will spend $1 million to add portables to the two middle schools to accommodate increased student populations. There may be more ancillary costs, but they were not reported last night. Instead, more detail was provided about the cost associated with retaining a third middle school over and above retaining only two middle schools. Hmmmmm. Doy and Simpson expressed their concerns over the need for implementation of the FLC by 2013 (based on projection data) and expressed concern over the impact this will have on middle school students. Popp motioned for a decision to be made. In the end the vote was 2-3 to proceed with the FLC.

    Discussion then ensued regarding the need for a third middle school. It was obvious that no other solution could be reached. The Board voted 5-0 to place a bond on the ballot February 2013.

    Between now and 2013, the District will develop a plan for implementation of the FLC. Information regarding all the details should be available as they emerge over this period. I would imagine (although I am not sure, so I am basing this on what I think should happen), that updates regarding the process will be made to the board. Therefore, if you want to know how this is all going to work I encourage you to go to board meetings and find out.

    I hope people will discuss this in more depth. I am no longer a stakeholder. I have to say (speaking just for myself at this point so, yes, I am biased), the process I witnessed to reach this decision was flawed. I spoke to these concerns last night. Thank you to the person who designated their 2 minutes to me. I did not catch the name of that person, but I appreciated the extra time. I did not, however, appreciate (as a member of the voting public) the whispering that I overheard to my left. When someone basically advised another to “shut me off”, I knew at this point where this decision was leading. I have to wonder what the point of public comment was anyway.

    Sorry to end this in this manner, but it needed to be exposed.

  • Hooray! This is so awesome on so many levels. I actually feel good about the chances for the next bond to pass. The Board voted 5-0 to put up another bond, I would think that means even the two new board members will be on the “yes” side on the next bond even though they were big, and influential, “No” voters last time around. That alone, along with all the new arrivals on the Ridge over the last year or two, could be enough. If not, and the voters are crazy enough to defeat yet another bond, then that adds even more justification to the board’s actions (as in, they have to do what they can in the face of ZERO chance of ANY bonds ever passing around here). Either way, they made the RIGHT decision and I APPLAUD them for it.

    1. Hey Doug – was wondering if you would be excited about this. I have to admit I was surprised (happily) that the board was 100% behind another bond try.

  • Doug, please be careful what you post. You sometimes wind up cheering for all the wrong reasons. I urge you to attend board meetings and become more informed and involved. You seem to have an innate ability/talent to rally the troops. I urge you to take a few staps back and figure our a way to use those talents in a more construction manner.

    BTW, if you did not read my FB post yet. I accept your apology. Time to move forward though and not look back. No use of pointing fingers and blame. Instead, look toward ways you can use your abilities to make some positive changes. Just saying, my friend.

  • Why should Doug “be careful” what he posts? You post whatever you want all the time.

  • Laurie – it was nice to officially “meet” you the other nite although we have met before.

    You posted a link to the valley groups with Sebastian’s article that I wanted to make sure is addressed on here too. Dan Popp is actually misquoted in the article – he said that the “irony overwhelmed him” in Geoff’s statement about needing another MS prior to moving forward with the FLC, because Geoff voted no on the MS bond last year that would have opened a new MS at the same time the FLC was opened at SMS in 2013. Caroline Simpson voted no too, and yet is now saying the same thing – we need a new Middle school. I’m with Dan on the irony of the whole thing. I was a chairperson on the VVFE, the non profit group tasked with marketing and promoting the MS bond and I agree that we need a new MS. We tried to fight the good fight to get it passed. However, we were met with huge opposition from these 2 new board members that are painted as victims in this article.
    I”m not sure what the motivation is for the bias but it would be great if local newspaper coverage could be more representative of real events. Taking things out of context can be really misleading and harmful.
    Anne Stedman
    HS Education Study Committee Member and VVFE Chairperson

  • Hi Anne, It was nice to officially meet you too. I am assuming it was years ago at North Bend Montesorri that I met you when I used to drive Quinny and my youngest to preschool. Those were the days!

    I understand your position on the article. I posted it to the site, because it was the first article printed to address the meeting the other night. Too many people avoid going to these meetings, so I thought it was a good way to keep people abreast of it.

    As I said in my reply, there is enough irony to go around on this entire issue. I tend to subscribe to the belief when there is so much irony, perhaps we need to go back and revisit some things or, at least, support the record with some facts. Whenever there is a lot of irony, it gives people the ability to come back and say, “I told you so.” Let’s face it, noone likes to hear that! 🙂

    As I mentioned in my reply to you, it was not Dan Popp who raised the motion for a new bond. It was Scott Hodgins. Doy and Simpson followed immediately. If you go back through the podcast of the meeting, Dan and Marci eventually agreed. I think we all know that Doy and Simpson voted no on the past bonds. Their reasons have been stated over and over again. However, their reasons for voting no are separate from the issue at hand. Simpson voted no because she could not support the projection data that was being used to justify the need for annexation and a FLC. She felt there was more time to explore other options, besides annexing a middle school. Doy had similar based reasons. During the course of all the meetings, I believe you would agree that projection data was not going to be discussed, nor was there any indication that anyone else wanted to discuss other options. In fact, I believe I heard more than once from Mr. Popp that the annexation of SMS was the “people’s plan” (although I tend to believe the people’s plan included a replacement school, but I digress). Therefore, when it became evident they were going to be outvoted on this issue, it makes sense for them to support adding back in a third middle school. If the decision to proceed without a replacement school was going to be made regardless of their concerns or objections, then of course they would support a third middle school. Therefore, I do not see the irony as you do.

    I know I am wordy, so bare with me). I also find it even more ironic that it took a while for Dan and Marci to come around and vote for a new bond. If you listen to the podcast, it was not an automatic, “yes.” In fact, it took a little while. To be fair, I am sure they did not think moving forward without a replacement school was ideal, but they also were very supportive of proceeding without one. That is sort of ironic too. How can you support a plan that does not include a third school and speak about how it will benefit middle school kids, and then agree we need a third. Thank goodness they did though. I applaud them for their final decision.

    Lastly, even though Simpson and Doy voted no and made it very clear in their campaigns their reasons why, don’t you find it ironic they even won the election against two incumbents who voted yes? With all due respect to these two individuals, I believe that is most ironic. I also believe it is ironic that 59.999 and 57% of this community (which is a majority) wanted to fund a replaement school, yet we are proceeding without one. Ironic again.

    Anyway, just wanted to set the record a little straight and provide a view from a different perspective. In the end, I think we can all agree we all want the same thing–a replacement school. I would implore everyone to follow this lead and return to a 3 middle school model. This was the orignal recommendation of the committees. This was the original plan. Where in the process it got changed, I have not idea. I believe I know, but I find it funny that noone wants to admit who it was. That is a bit ironic too.

  • Why board member(s) would vote no at one point, and then yes at at different point can be explained by current variables, prior decisions, and assumptions at that particular time. Why board members would vote no on an FLC could be because part of their job as newly elected board members is to adequately vet a proposal that will be a significant change to what exists today for Snoq Valley kiddos (dictionary says vet is “to examine carefully” and “to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance”.)

    Whether voters agree with board members or not on all the issues, the two new ones have made clear they will be examining proposals closely before coming to a decision. There has been very little detail on the particulars of an FLC, both to parents of kids who will attend this school and to some of the newer board members (since they are indeed new to the team).

    I’m guessing here, but it seems that many parents and residents of the valley want that vetting to occur and are hoping that many key questions are asked and adequately answered before a yes vote is cast for new concepts that aren’t currently widely practiced.

    It seems to me anyways board members aren’t trying to be divisive but instead are trying to adequately examine proposal details before agreeing to them. This is how many company boards make yes/no decisions and scrutinize business proposals. I’m not certain, but are school board’s missions very different?

  • As school board directors, we have certain responsibilities to ensure that we have adequate information prior to making important decisions. We are also responsible for sharing that information with the public and allowing the public to have sufficient time to review it and provide input prior to the board making a decision. We are members of the Washington State School Directors’ Association which provides a framework for such effective governance. Please review:… (pay particular attention to Standard 1)
    When you review these standards, you will see that school boards are also responsible for ensuring curriculum is aligned with the community’s expectations, which is a pertinent topic considering the details of the freshman campus. Prior to last week’s school board meeting, three of the school board members had asked for certain information that was needed prior to making a a decision on the freshman campus/SMS annexation. Much of this information related to details about the budget,logistics, and course offerings of a freshman campus, as well as legal information about what can and cannot be constructed on the Mount Si property. None(zero)of that information had been received prior to the start of the meeting, and only a small part of that information was provided during the meeting. The public in attendance at the meeting was able to see the new information at the same time as the board, but it most definitely had not been shared with the entire community prior to Thursday night.
    I stated at the time, and I stand by it today, that it was premature for the board to bring the freshman campus/SMS annex to a vote, considering the significant amount of outstanding information and the lack of public process. I will continue to advocate for better decision-making and governance. Why? Because we represent the public, and it is important that we include the public in the process. I was dismayed that many of these details, which appear to result in a significant change in high school course offerings as well as middle school structure, had not been shared with teachers. Their input is vital to such decision-making.
    I believe that board members have a right to ask for the information they need prior to making a board decision. They have a right and an obligation to ensure that that information has been vetted with the public, including teachers, parents, and students prior to a decision being made. I don’t anticipate that any board member would abuse this right, obligation, and privelege to filibuster or delay, but to use it to ensure that they are adequately prepared to make a decision. And then, and only then, after that type of governance policy and practice is in place, all board members can stand behind the decisions being made – win or lose. Not before.

  • During last week’s board meeting, it became apparent to me that there were three board members who were going to vote on a motion (that in my opinion should not have been placed in front of us Thursday night for all reasons noted above) that was going to reduce our middle schools from three to two in order to rush the opening of a Freshman Learning Center on the SMS campus. I could not support reducing our three well-performing middle schools in perfectly sized buildings into two over-crowded buildings. When a motion was made to put a new bond on the ballot as soon as possible, but no later than February 2013, to replace SMS with a newly built middle school, I had to support it. Not that I was ready to vote on the timing, logistics, budget impact ,and curriculum of this just now forming Freshman Learning Center idea, but to save our three middle school structure.

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