News

District moving ahead with J.J. closure

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

The Enumclaw School District is marching forward with plans to move students out of J.J. Smith Elementary School and create five "K-5" schools districtwide with a series of deadlines for March.

Superintendent Art Jarvis officially presented the proposal to the Enumclaw School Board at its regular meeting Feb. 28.

The proposal is in a way two-fold. The first proposal is to create K-5 elementary schools districtwide. Currently Kibler and J.J. Smith elementary schools and Sunrise and Southwood elementary schools are split K-3 and grades 4-5.

The second part of the proposal is to close J.J. Smith to a student population.

"It's not very often you can achieve what you want and save money along the way," Jarvis said.

He explained the district has seen declining enrollment since 1997 and has been downsizing elementary staff for the past five years. The declining enrollment provides an opportunity to create the K-5 system.

The district anticipates its elementary enrollment to continue to drop through the next three years, before seeing a slight rebound.

In a packet presented to the board, district administrators outlined how developments in the city of Enumclaw will impact the district. For example, the first development, a plot on the corner of Watson Street and Warner Avenue could produce 42 homes by fall 2007. Those 42 homes are likely to generate 17 elementary students, five middle school students and eight high school students.

Another development in the same area, according to information provided by the school district, is expected to produce 600 units by 2012. Those would produce 240 elementary students, 70 middle school and 112 high school.

District officials anticipate they can save almost $300,000, the brunt of which comes in one administrative position at $97,000 and one teaching position (both include benefits paid by the district). The remainder is tabulated in hours: for example, there is no longer a need for eight hours of office manager time or one hour of crossing guard time, saving $26,259 and $2,425, respectively.

The first in a list of deadlines came Friday afternoon for teachers when they were asked to return surveys with their preference for placement for the fall school year to the district office. According to the school district, a district administrative team, including elementary principals, will process the surveys and make decisions for building assignments. Those decisions will be first based on the contribution that staff member could make to students in the program; next qualifications, for example, certification, endorsements, experience or education, compared to other staff members; opportunity for professional growth; length of service in Enumclaw.

Those meetings are scheduled to begin today, Wednesday.

The next deadline is for parents who wish to transfer students to schools other than their neighborhood school. Intradistrict transfer forms are due at the office by Tuesday.

If all goes smoothly, teachers will be notified of their class assignments by March 22 and boundary waiver decisions for students will be made by March 25.

April 1 is another deadline - the deadline for certificated and classified staff on leave to notify the district of their intent to return or resign for the 2005-06 school year.

The board set a public hearing for 7 p.m. April 4 in the Enumclaw High commons to discuss the closing of J.J. Smith to student use. The board is expected to take final action on the K-5 configuration at its May 16 regular meeting.

Jarvis anticipates there will be debate over J.J. Smith when it is vacated, but, he said, the district would like to keep it open as long as it remains affordable.

"The intent is not to board up J.J.," said Jarvis who sees it as a school district administrative office, storage area and community building.

In other business, the board congratulated Jarvis on his recent selection as a West Central District III representative to serve on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board. His three-year term runs begins in July.

€ was informed of board President Andrew Willner's visit to the Muckleshoot Tribal School to celebrate its agreement to join the Enumclaw School District.

Willner also presented Jarvis with flowers from the board as a token of their appreciation for his nine years of service and dedication.

€ was updated by member Dale Holland on his recent trip to Olympia to meet with Legislators regarding school district's request to have bond issues approved with a simple majority. Currently school districts must obtain a supermajority from voters for approval. He is asking Legislators to support a bill that would ask the residents of Washington to vote to amend the constitution this fall.

€ approved a high school field trip for 37 wind ensemble students to attend a contest in San Francisco. The students, and chaperones, will travel on a chartered bus. The cost of the trip, $10,576, was covered by students.

€ accepted a donation of $13,218 from the Enumclaw Jaycees to establish a scholarship fund.

€ accepted a donation of a Palm Tungsten E with Palm Desktop software and 256 megabyte secure digital memory card with student staff images and Documents To Go software to the high school from Dorian Studio. The value of the gift is $400.

€ Listened while Southwood Elementary students Melyssa Browning, Logan Pacey, Kale Delile and Megan Pillo read a student story coined after Dr. Suess' "And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street," titled "And To Think I Saw It At Southwood Elementary."

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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