On Monday evening November 19th from 5-7pm the School Board Directors met and reviewed the options the Overcrowding Committee offered. It appears they will further discuss the options at the next Board meeting on November 26th. To this observer it appeared that a North/South line on the southern end along with making Glenwood a K-4 were the two most supported. If you want to know what they will send to the public attend the November 26th meeting. When we learn what they will take to the public we’ll update this report.
On Monday evening, November 5, 2018, the Asst. Superintendent, Denny Waters, presented the recommendations of the Southern Boundary Task Force. This was a group of 29 people consisting of a mix of parents, community members, teachers, administrators and an outside facilitator. This group had seven (7) meetings to gather information and prepare a set of options for the School Board Directors to consider. The Board then tentatively set November 19th from 5-7 pm for a work session (open to the public but without public comment) to discuss the recommendations and establish a series of public meetings to allow input. Information will be shared on the district website along with this same report.
We asked for a copy of the printed report given to the Board. We then scanned that document and offer it to you in this link: BGSD_Boundary_Report_Nov_5_2018 The report is ~3mb in size. We scanned it in color so you could better see the details on the maps. Update: Nov 6th – The district posted the information on the district website. They also offer commentary. Give it a read as well: http://www.battlegroundps.org/overcrowding/
I made some notes listening the presentation. These are more questions and observations rather than conclusions but I want to learn more:
- It appears that only people on the southern end of the district were involved. Does that lead to any bias in the interpretation of information and the recommendations?
- The group recommended that the Board: (a) Consider running another bond; (b) Press for higher impact fees from new construction; (c) Build a new K-8 campus on 152nd; and, (d) Ask the legislature to drop the 60% bond passage requirement and go with a simple majority like is done for levy’s. Those were all rejected in the last 3 bond attempts. Given the last bond failed with ~52% Yes (vs. 60% required) this group apparently felt otherwise…which raises the question posed in #1.
- They mentioned the explosive growth in students which flies in the face of a nearly 200 student drop this year over last.
- Was there anyone in the group who raised issues or concerns that other residents and taxpayers in the district would have?
This report, when you read it, gives some solid recommendations that are worth considering. When the Board Directors ask for your input please take the time to share your thoughts so they get a true grasp of what voters across the district think and not just those most impacted who have an emotional tie to the outcome. The group did put in a lot of time and effort and should be publicly commended for making the effort and investing the time…whether one agrees with their recommendations or not.
Update Nov 7th. From the district website here’s a list of the “Final Thoughts” in the presentation. Since this is a complete verbatum list here it is with some comments under each item for your consideration:
During the process of developing options, the committee identified concerns that were not applicable to the committee’s task of addressing overcrowding using current facilities:
- Members of the committee overwhelmingly support running a bond. They felt that all the proposed options were temporary given potential growth in the district according to the Hovee Report on enrollment growth.
- Comment: The last bond failed 3x because the public disagreed with the mix of projects; the amount and the lack of long term maintenance (which this committee chose not to address). The Hovee report shows minimal growth for ~3-5 years. Here is a link to our analysis and comments about the Hovee Report: https://swweducation.org?p=4656 Please note that the district student population is DOWN and not up. Here is a link to the latest district report: https://www.boarddocs.com/wa/bgps/Board.nsf/files/B5KP445C9217/$file/Enrollment%20Board%202018.pdf
- The committee suggests running smaller bonds targeting specific projects (e.g., building a new K-8 campus on property the district owns in the southeast). Timing and scope of the bond needs to be carefully considered. The committee recognizes that there is a significant population in the district that is averse to increased taxes, or that may not benefit from school improvements. Building relationships throughout the entire district will be necessary to pass a bond.
- Comment: Smaller bonds require elections which cost anywhere from $50,000 – $140,000 each. Getting approval of multiple “project” bonds may run into resistance.
- Strong advocacy at the legislative level to eliminate the supermajority requirement for bond passage could be advantageous for the district. Advocacy at the local level to increase impact fees may increase funds to help mitigate overcrowding.
- Comment: About 8 years ago levy’s were switched from 60% to 50% + 1. Doing the same for bonds, given the inherent size (hundreds of million rather than 10’s of millions) would trivialize the importance of bond elections. Impact fee increases = higher prices = lower affordability = fewer jobs.
- Security and safety for children in our schools should be a primary concern. Newer buildings have security features available that are not possible to implement in the older schools.
- Comment: Wonder what specific security features can’t be installed or used at existing schools? We looked into this previously and we couldn’t find anything that couldn’t be retrofitted so I don’t understand this statement/claim. On top of that the risk of death on campus is already dramatically lower than off campus.
- Relocation of Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) campuses would free up space for conventional schools.
- Comment: But that would require building new facilities. I would be interested in the details on this and what would be done, the impact and cost. If it makes sense then it’s worth pursuing.
- Ensuring that parents are aware of all alternative learning opportunities in the district, including River Online, may provide added relief to overcrowding while maintaining student funding within the district. Developing additional learning opportunities such as expanding the CASEE center or creating a magnet school (such as an Arts Academy or STEM school) should also be considered.
- Comment: So again building new facilities. Getting more families to use online would reduce the physical bodies on campus full time so the district would get the money from the State but not need to spread it over as many bodies.
- As research in the field of K-12 education continues, the committee encourages district leaders and the board to stay informed of and implement best practices as they develop. The current model of K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 schools may want to be reconsidered in the future to best meet the developmental needs of students.
- Comment: Agree that leadership should stay abreast of ongoing research. Wonder why this committee didn’t explore and comment or make recommendations about 4 day weeks like we reported on in September 2015? Here’s an article: https://swweducation.org?p=863 Here’s an articel from King5 News from April 2018: https://www.king5.com/article/news/education/washington-school-district-moving-to-4-day-week/281-584871357
Again, I personally appreciate the effort put in by the members of the committee. They make some sound recommendations for dealing with the existing boundaries. I find that their choice to pontificate on larger issues wasn’t within their charter and have some significant flaws.
The “I” is Dick Rylander