Enumclaw combined schools successfully

It was June 2005 when the Enumclaw School District closed the doors on its 50-year-old J.J. Smith Elementary School and merged it and its popular Magic Strings program with Southwood Elementary School across town.

The move was a bit more complicated than the White River School District’s blending of Wickersham School of Discovery and Wilkeson Elementary.

At the time, a steady, seven-year enrollment drop left each of Enumclaw’s six elementary schools with populations in the high 200s or low 300s, far removed from the 500-student capacity they were built to house. The district was also making a move to kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary schools from the two kindergarten through third-grade schools and the fourth- and fifth-grade only schools of J.J. Smith and Southwood. Budget woes and the fact that J.J. and Southwood were underused facilities made the move obvious.

Enumclaw officials made the shift by sending many J.J. Smith fourth- and fifth-grade students to Kibler Elementary School to complete the K-5 transformation. The Magic Strings students and staff moved into Southwood. One boundary shift sent 30 students to Westwood Elementary School another divide students between Sunrise and Southwood elementary schools.

The move saves the district more than $400,000 a year and frees J.J. Smith, which it rents to a private school and businesses.

, bringing revenue to the district.