Enumclaw superintendent explains district’s support for land transfer

The following is a response from Enumclaw Superintendent Mike Nelson pertaining to the proposed land swap between the Enumclaw and Tahoma school districts. Below that is an article stemming from a Jan. 9 meeting on the matter.

As you are aware, YarrowBay Holdings has proposed two major master plan developments (Villages and Lawson Hills) within our school district (just over 6,000 housing units).  Preliminary Plat Phase 1A of the Villages is in the approval process. Our school district has worked proactively with YarrowBay and the city of Black Diamond to secure a tri-party mitigation agreement that includes seven school sites (including a 40-acre site for a second high school). The purpose of this process was to mitigate for the additional students that will come to our district as a result of the new homes.

The entire land for these MPDs resides in the Enumclaw School District with the exception of 54 acres (35 useable acres), which are a part of the Tahoma School District. This portion of land is referred to as the North Triangle. The North Triangle is already part of the city of Black Diamond. The Enumclaw School District board of directors has made a request to the Tahoma School District board of directors to transfer this land to the Enumclaw School District.  This process occurs between two school boards and in recent years has occurred between the following districts:

February 2010 — Tahoma to Kent

June 2006 — Kent to Auburn

September 2003 — Clover Park to Steilacoom

School districts have a variety of reasons for transferring land from one district to another. The major reason for our board of directors to make this request parallels most closely with the transfer of land from Clover Park to Steilacoom.  Although our request for land transfer is much less than what the Steilacoom School board of directors requested, a MDP was occurring in Steilacoom with a portion of the land in Clover Park.  The land in Clover Park was planned to be used primarily for commercial purposes with no new housing units scheduled to be built. This is what is occurring in our circumstance. All the housing units for the MPDs of the Villages and Lawson Hills will be within the Enumclaw School District boundaries. It is the desire of the board of directors that the “North Triangle” portion of the MPD be transferred into the Enumclaw School District, which is consistent with state law related to MPDs, city boundaries and city decisions under the Growth Management Act.

On Jan. 8, 2013, our board of directors held a public hearing about this situation. We are currently considering the information received. The board’s next step is to decide whether to petition to the Puget Sound Educational Service District. If a petition is submitted to the PSESD, a regional committee would be given the information to determine whether the requested transfer is appropriate under the criteria established by state law.

Please do not hesitate to give Corey Cassell (360-825-0772) or me (360-802-7103) a call if you have questions or thoughts.

Mike Nelson, superintendent

Enumclaw School District

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Here is the article that appeared in the Jan. 23 edition of The Courier-Herald

By Katherine Smith

For The Courier-Herald

A chunk of land included in the YarrowBay Master Planned Developments in Black Diamond is the focus of discussion between the Enumclaw and Tahoma school districts.

The Enumclaw School District board of directors hosted a public hearing Jan. 9 regarding the proposed transfer of land from the Tahoma School District to Enumclaw.

The hearing was an opportunity for community members to express their views regarding the proposed transfer.

The land in question takes in approximately 35 acres and is zoned for commercial use in the master planned developments of YarrowBay, according to Enumclaw School District documents.

The process of adjusting school district boundaries is overseen by the local educational service district, a regional agency that provides support and services to school districts. Puget Sound ESD 121 is the district that services Tahoma and Enumclaw and will oversee the petition process.

“The Enumclaw School Board believes the entire related developments should be in the Enumclaw district, in part so that future property tax revenues from the commercial portions of the developments will help to support the costs of public school education of students living in the 6,000 (plus) new residential units of the MPDs,” according to a public notice released by the Enumclaw district.

Bruce Zahradnik, deputy superintendent of Tahoma, attended the hearing and read a statement expressing the district’s opposition to the transfer, on behalf of Superintendent Mike Maryanksi.

Maryanksi noted that, if Tahoma was correctly interpreting Enumclaw’s request, the amount of land is actually 54.3 acres and no students reside within the parcel in question. Therefore the TSD board of directors do not believe the request complies with state laws regarding the transfer of property between districts.

The land in question is, “not home to any school-age students and is unlikely to ever be the home of future students,” Maryanski wrote in the statement. “As such, the proposed transfer of territory simply takes the assessed valuation of commercial land from one school district and gives it to another. Such conveyance of school district taxing authority does not comport with the policies and factors for determining transfers of territory under state law.”

Maryanski wrote that the transfer would not improve educational opportunities, safety or welfare of students and would not improve geographic accessibility, all factors that are considered valid reasons for a land transfer.

“Boundaries are adjusted all the time,” said Tahoma spokesman Kevin Patterson. “In this case we don’t think they should be.”


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