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Northshore School Board unanimously approves new high school in Bothell, reconfigure grade levels
The Northshore School District Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation by the Enrollment Demographics Task Force (EDTF) to build a new high school in north Bothell and reconfigure the grade levels to deal with enrollment issues.
The recommendation includes proposing a February 2014 bond measure to pay for the construction.
Grade levels would have to be reconfigured districtwide to K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle and 9-12 high schools and implement associated boundary adjustments. The board will take up the issue of boundary adjustments at a later date.
“Throughout the decision-making process, the board remained focused on ‘What’s best for kids?’” said Board President Julia Lacey. “A new high school and grade level reconfiguration will strengthen educational opportunities for all Northshore students and address long-term facilities needs due to enrollment growth.”
The district will now begin the planning and permitting processes for a new high school to be located on the 61-acre property north and west of Fernwood Elementary School that was acquired last spring. If planning and permitting can be completed prior to the February 2014 bond election and voters approve the bond measure, the district would begin construction that spring and expects to open the new high school by the fall of 2017. This year’s fourth-graders would attend their freshman year at a 9-12 high school.
The district’s ideal plan would be to open the high school and implement grade level reconfiguration and related boundary adjustments across the district in the fall of 2017. Enrollment is projected to grow rapidly in north Bothell schools over the next few years. The opening of a new high school by fall 2017 could help the district manage the growth schools are seeing now at the elementary and junior high levels.
The estimated cost of constructing a new high school is $120 million. Per board direction, the Capital Bond Planning Task Force will develop a bond package for a February 2014 bond measure that has the construction of a high school as the main project. The district is working to maintain an overall bond package consistent with the 2009 bond measure of $149.2 million.
The district will also begin the planning process for reconfiguring grade levels, which would be implemented in alignment with the opening of a high school in the fall of 2017. Northshore and Puyallup are the only remaining large school districts in the state with a K-6, 7-9 and 10-12 grade level configuration. Configuring grade levels to a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 model would allow the district to align with state learning standards, curriculum and assessments. It would also offer sixth- and ninth-graders greater access to more advanced courses and daily instruction from content area specialists in subjects like math and science. Currently, more than 450 district ninth-graders are bussed to their pathway high schools daily for advanced math and world languages courses. Ninth-graders would also have access to a wider range of Career Technical Education (CTE) and electives courses, as well as greater activities, leadership and athletics opportunities.
Boundary adjustments related to grade level reconfiguration and the opening of a new high school will be recommended to the board at a later date to balance enrollment across schools and feeder patterns. The district will continue to restrict in- and out-of-district waivers, add portable classrooms, and implement program moves and bussing to manage the enrollment growth issues in north end schools.
“While certainly not ideal, we believe these measures are preferable to multiple boundary adjustments in advance of a long-term solution,” said NSD Superintendent Larry Francois. “We will continue to work closely with the impacted schools to assure a high quality learning environment as schools operate well beyond their enrollment capacity.”
Key stakeholders such as parents, staff, students and community will be involved throughout the planning and implementation process for a new high school, grade level reconfiguration and boundary adjustments.
“This is a community effort that we believe provides the best possible educational benefit for our children in the future,” said Lacey. “We have a significant task ahead and are eager to work with the community as we move forward.”
Additional information is available on the district Web site, www.nsd.org/edtf, or by contacting the Communications Department, 425.408.7671.