Snoqualmie Valley School District pushes for $56.2 million bond

December 15, 2010

By Staff

Snoqualmie Valley Schools’ Superintendent Joel Aune is all smiles while fifth-grader Will Huestis is all thought during a tour of Twin Falls Middle School. Parents, teachers and children toured Twin Falls as a preview of what a new middle school will look like. By Sebastian Moraga

Calling crowded Valley schools “our primary challenge,” Snoqualmie Valley Schools Superintendent Joel Aune told parents and teachers touring Twin Falls Middle School the February school bond must pass.

The bond seeks $56.2 million to build a new middle school on Snoqualmie Ridge.

The school would replace Snoqualmie Middle School in 2013.

That same year, the Snoqualmie Middle School campus would become a high school annex for ninth-graders.

Mount Si High School is expected to reach its capacity by 2013, Aune said during the first of two tours Dec. 7.

Moving the ninth-graders to a separate building would help avoid that.

Between 350 and 400 ninth-graders would attend classes at the annex. In turn, Mount Si High School would be more student-friendly with 1,100 students instead of its capacity, 1,500.

The creation of the annex, Aune said, is not all about numbers.

“There’s a number of students, more than we would like, who are struggling with the transition to high school,” he said.

A freshman campus, he added, might help students by:

q Allowing for more peer-to-peer monitoring

q Strengthening teachers’ connections to ninth-graders

q Strengthening the freshman class’ identity.

Aune spoke prior to an evening tour Dec. 7 and a midday tour Dec. 8.

Parents and staff toured Twin Falls because the new middle school would be identical to Twin Falls.

“This is an excellent building,” Twin Falls’ Assistant Principal Martin Barber told people in the second tour. “The kids love being here.”

The district saved about $400,000 by scrapping the design process and going with an existing blueprint, Aune said.

Ballots will go in the mail Jan. 21, with the election scheduled for Feb. 8. The bond needs 60 percent of the ballots plus one vote to pass.

“Sixty percent is a challenge on a good day, let alone in this economy,” Aune said.

If the bond fails, the district will have a ninth-grade annex anyway, he said, but then both Chief Kanim and Twin Falls middle schools will be crowded.

“Worst-case scenario, we’ll have modules at Twin Falls and Chief Kanim,” Aune said. “It’s not an option we’d prefer.”

Snoqualmie Middle School counselor Heather Kern agreed.

“I hear the idea of going back to two middle schools and my heart sinks,” she said.

Melissa Johns, parent of a fourth-grader who took the tour felt the same way.

“The bond needs to pass,” Johns said. “Not much of a question about that.”

Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or smoraga@snovalleystar.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.

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One Response to “Snoqualmie Valley School District pushes for $56.2 million bond”

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