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NSD Board unanimously approves new high school in north end - Grade levels will be reconfigured

  • Written by Northshore School District
At its Oct. 23 meeting, the Northshore School District Board of Directors unanimously approved the preferred recommendation by the Enrollment Demographics Task Force (EDTF) to:

• Pursue construction of a high school in the north end of the district to accommodate current and expected enrollment growth;

• Include funding for a high school as a primary component of a February 2014 bond measure;

• Reconfigure grade levels districtwide to K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle and 9-12 high schools; and

• Implement associated boundary adjustments to more equitably balance enrollment across schools and feeder patterns, to be recommended to the board at a later date.

Board members received a round of applause from the audience after the vote was read.

Construction of a high school and grade level reconfiguration will be contingent on a successful February 2014 bond measure.

“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 at north end schools over the next few years, and the opening of a 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 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 at www.nsd.org/edtf, or by contacting the Communications Department, (425) 408-7671.

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