Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.
The Longview Public Schools Board of Directors adopted a building bond request on Monday April 24 that will come before Longview’s voters November 7, 2017. The bond proposal is the first building request since March 2001. The last elementary school replacements –St. Helens and Robert Gray– were completed in 1997.
Today’s elementary revitalization plan asks voters for $121.6 million to replace Mint Valley, Northlake and Olympic elementary schools. It also earmarks $12.5 million for the district’s pre-school program which is presently housed at Broadway School. The school board is committed to continuing the district’s partnership with Head Start in serving preschool aged students from low-income households. The measure also provides for security and safety upgrades in schools throughout the district.
The recent decision culminates two years of considerations and community input. At the request of the board of directors, The Facility Advisory Committee (FAC), made up of community and district representatives, embarked on developing a long-range facility plan in March of 2015. Construction Services Group, a division of the service agency Educational Service District (ESD) 112 in Vancouver was retained as the independent consultant group for this project. Between April and July 2015, CSG representatives gathered data and visited all schools to 1) determine physical condition of facilities, 2) assess how well the building functions as a good learning environment, 3) calculate the permanent capacity and 4) provided consultation for Facility Advisory Committee and School Board of Directors meetings. During this period of time, the FAC conducted community input events and shared presentations with District sites and many community groups.
Community members also weighed in during the district’s digital input process “Thoughtexchange: Join the Conversation” this fall and were invited to comment at numerous special sessions and, finally, at a public hearing on April 24 prior to the board’s decision.
The district is looking forward to continued community involvement and will provide information in the weeks and months ahead regarding its plans to invest in the community’s future by investing in the community’s schools. If you have a civic group or social club that would be open to hearing more about the building bond, please let me know.