A citizens committee studying a proposal to merge Longview’s high schools put off a recommendation Thursday, saying it needs more information about the costs and savings of the move.
“We’ve got reams of data, but it’s not been assimilated. We don’t have enough to make a decision,” said Kent Cash, a member of the 48-person Longview School District’s Facilities Planning Committee.
The committee is studying how the district should deal with declining enrollment and boosting the quality of education.
Ten members volunteered Thursday night to serve on a subcommittee to draft a plan to submit at the next full committee meeting.
“It’s always been my policy to put something up on the wall and let people shoot at it,” said committee member Bob Guide, a retired Longview Fibre Co. executive.
More than 60 members of the public attended the meeting, held in the board room at the district administration building, but there was little time for public comment.
Members were given more data on enrollment declines and building costs and viewed aerial photos showing how a single high school is feasible on the R.A. Long-Monticello campus.
Consultant Scott Rose told the committee the cost of creating the new campus would be “in the $12 million to $14 million range.” (The estimate does not include costs connected with other district buildings.)
The committee wanted to hear more, asking that the ASB presidents of R.A. Long and Mark Morris high schools give an impromptu report from a student meeting earlier in the day.
Seniors Maverick Knoles of Mark Morris and Abbie Hanson of R.A. Long said the students came to the meeting hating the idea of a merger, but left feeling more in favor of the idea.
“A lot of kids were really uninformed,” Abbie said. “Writing pros and cons made them think.”
One of the committee members asked if the students realized that consolidation would mean there would only be one ASB president.
The reality is, “as far as ASB, I ran unopposed,” Maverick said. “Combining would maybe spark more interest. I’d love to run against Abbie — and beat her.”
He also pointed out that in his sport, cross country, “at Mark Morris we don’t even have a C team. There’s a perception that if we combine, a lot of kids won’t get to do sports — but there’s a lot of room left on these teams.”
The student leaders said they’ll compile data from a student survey they took and provide it to the committee.
Minutes of the meeting and copies of the information they were given will be posted on the school district’s website.