While the details on everything from signage to mascots has still to be finalized, one thing is for certain in the East Valley School District – the 2011-12 academic year will bring plenty of changes.
A crowd of around 150 had an opportunity to discuss the impending transition on Monday night at a special meeting of the EVSD board of directors held at Mountain View Middle School, a campus right in the middle of the debate. The board has announced that Mountain View will close at the end of this school year with seventh-and eighth-graders moving to East Valley Middle School this September.
On April 29, the EV board declared a fiscal emergency following the defeat of a $33.75 capital facilities bond on the April 26 ballot. A restructuring plan, often referred to as “revisioning,” approved by the board in January, would be moved up a year with an emphasis on modifying the current elementary/middle school system to a K-8 format. The announcement also included word that 25 teachers have received layoff notices for next year.
On Monday, EV Superintendent John Glenewinkel clarified the district’s proposed workforce reduction, saying talks are underway with the Educational Association and that a final decision would be “dictated by the collective bargaining agreement.” While 25 notices were issued, Glenewinkel said actual layoffs could be more around 10-14. Glenwinkel has also indicated that cuts will be made to administration and classified staff.
“Not every one who received a notice will lose their job,” he said.
The agenda for next year includes a shift in the attendance boundaries to balance student enrollment among schools, the staff at Skyview Elementary moving to Otis Orchards Elementary and Skyview students transitioning to Otis Orchards, Trentwood Elementary or the Continuous Curriculum School.
Meanwhile, the current group of fifth grade students at Trent, Trentwood, Otis Orchards and East Farms elementary schools will remain at those sites as sixth graders for the 2011-12 academic year.
Board President Mitch Jensen said that while restructuring would have taken place even had the bond passed, the failure of the capital facilities initiative had an impact on the timetable.
“Had it passed, we would have saved dollars we now have to spend from the general fund,” Jensen said.
Glenewinkel has said that the district has pulled some $800,000 from the general fund on an annual basis to pay for ongoing maintenance throughout the district. The closure of Mountain View – a campus with a capacity for over 700 students that currently houses 330 – is anticipated to save the district around $1.5 million each year.
Glenewinkel noted that the district is also waiting on the latest news from Olympia where state budget cuts could mean a shortfall of between $1.2 million to $2.8 million for the district next year.
Legislators have already announced that the state allotment for teachers’ salaries will be 3- percent lower for 2011-12. Districts throughout Washington will need to decide whether or not to cover the difference out of their respective budgets. In East Valley, the annual disparity is around $800,000, Glenewinkel said.
Special education programs, described by Glenewinkel as “a strength of the district,” will not be cut.
“We’re committed to keeping all those programs,” Glenewinkel said.
One of the main topics of conversation on Monday revolved around the future of sports programs at the middle school level, more specifically the logistics surrounding mascots, uniforms and schedules. Glenewinkel said that there has been talk among teachers and coaches of having East Valley Middle School, as well as other schools throughout the district, adopt the green and white of the high school along with the Knight mascot, although nothing has been decided yet.
“We need to work on developing a sense of community and I think that would help,” Glenewinkel said.
As for the name of the new combined middle school, Jensen said that is also “open for discussion.”
Ron Edwards, one of many parents to contribute to the dialogue on Monday, said it would be important for the transferring students from Mountain View to feel integrated into their new environment.
“They should feel like this is their school,” Edwards said.
Stacy Montoya, a parent who has spoken out against revisioning, said the board had overlooked a state statute in going ahead with the changes for next year. Along with providing a written summary on the effects of school closures, Montoya said the board was required to provide for citizen involvement and conduct hearings prior to shutting down any campus.
Jensen responded by reiterating that the board had made a decision on restructuring in January and that Glenewinkel had conducted a series of public meetings on the topic since the board vote.
Another topic brought up by attendees was the possibility of consolidating school districts to save money. Glenewinkel said that while the issue has been brought up in Olympia – with the possibility of West, East and Central Valley school districts forming one combined entity – the disparity in tax rates as well as the fact that each district has its own elected school board have caused snags.
Glenewinkel and the board hosted two more community gatherings on Wednesday to discuss revisioning, one at the district administrative office and another at Trent Elementary. Glenewinkel encouraged residents to forward their thoughts and recommendations about potential changes to himself and board representatives as part of “a process that involves the East Valley community.”
“We’ll make decisions based on the information we have,” Glenewinkel said. “It’s important that we hear your ideas.”