Education

Longview school committee votes to recommend merging high schools

2013-02-07T23:45:00Z 2013-04-11T13:27:05Z Longview school committee votes to recommend merging high schoolsBy Leslie Slape / The Daily News Longview Daily News
February 07, 2013 11:45 pm  • 

On a 25-11 vote, the Longview Facilities Committee agreed Thursday night to recommend that the city’s two high schools be merged.

The committee will present its recommendation to the school board Monday night, and then there must be 90 days of public hearings before the board decides whether to move forward.

“Your job is finished, but the beginning is starting now,” Superintendent Suzanne Cusick said Thursday night as she thanked the citizens committee for its more than five months of work.

“We don’t know what the answers are going to be in our town, because this is a community decision,” Cusick said, urging citizens to stay involved and come to board meetings.

The process is far from over. Even if the school board likes the plan, some way must be found to pay the millions of dollars needed to reconfigure the Monticello/R.A. Long School campus. Committee member Bob Guide said the financing options are asking voters to approve a bond or selling Mark Morris High School. One committee member blurted out that interested buyers already are looking at the property.

More than 100 members of the public attended the sixth and final meeting of the citizens planning group. The group first met in September to come up with a long-range plan to deal with declining enrollment, underutilized school space and shrinking revenues.

The plan would combine high schools are the R.A. Long/Monticello campus, close Northlake and Broadway elementaries and return the district to a two middle school system just a decade after it added a third middle school.

Of the 15 people who addressed the committee most opposed the merger plan.

Head Start Director Sandy Junker spoke against closing Broadway, saying it would displace 170 Head Start children, infant to age 5, and their support services. Her program has spent $200,000 on putting in a playground and other improvements, she said.

Ian Thompson addressed the potential loss of Northlake Elementary, which piloted the school gardens and found a way to keep Cispus outdoor school when other area schools lost it.

If the children and teachers are dispersed elsewhere, “the spirit is dispersed,” he said.

Several people spoke in support of keeping Monticello Middle School instead of busing students out of their neighborhood.

“It’s important to have smaller schools at a time crucial to them,” said former Longview mayor Kurt Anagnostou. “The committee should not be afraid to look at more expensive alternatives, if it means we get to keep three middle schools.”

Speaking in support of consolidation, Mark Morris High School senior Ellie Campton said, “you would be increasing education at the high school level.” Campton, who had been an exchange student to Sweden, said Longview doesn’t offer enough classes “if you’re serious about academics.”

Superintendent Cusick has said combining schools would enable the district to reshuffle faculty to offer more advanced classes.

People who didn’t wish to speak at the meeting were encouraged to submit written comments, all of which will be turned over the board to consider during the next phase of the process.

If the board accepts the recommendation, it will be at least a year before an elementary school is closed and two or three years before the middle and high school closures, Cusick said.

Only 37 of the original 48 members attended the meeting. Some who couldn’t attend included letters in the committee packet.

Copyright 2014 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. Jensdad
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    Jensdad - February 07, 2013 9:56 pm
    Looks like the school administration showed their true colors tonight. Good luck the rest of the way.
  2. SkiBum
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    SkiBum - February 08, 2013 6:10 am
    Oh here we go already. Let's raise the taxes on the people to implement a plan that they have no way to pay for in order to save money for the community. Are you kidding me? It's no wonder we have a less than desireable education system in this town if this is the best the leadership can do. Merging the schools is a SUPER costly endeaver that undermines the entire reason for considering the idea. It won't save anybody a dime! Do a better job with what you have in place....or find another job!
  3. kitten
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    kitten - February 08, 2013 6:27 am
    I still have to wonder where they think all those high school kids would park? Unless they plan on building a leveled parking structure I just don't see it working. The influx of traffic in and around the area and surrounding neighborhoods would be huge. They may as well shut down the grade schools over there too! Otherwise some poor little 10 year old is going to end up under the tires of a high school driver.
  4. RALAlum
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    RALAlum - February 08, 2013 10:30 am
    The worse part in this whole thing is what will happen to the kids that go to Monticello. A lot of those kids walk and several need the extra influence of after school activities, be it sports, clubs or tutoring, to keep them engaged. An over an hour bus ride both ways will kill all of that. No more after school stuff for those kids...they have to catch their bus home...disengage...we as a community lose out. Leave it the way it is...someone is gaining something somewhere we are not seeing.
  5. Leslie Slape
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    Leslie Slape - February 08, 2013 11:40 am
    kitten: The recommendation includes tearing down the adminstration and Harding buildings at RAL and replacing them with parking. It was also noted that once Monticello becomes part of the high school campus, that parking is also available. One of the committee members suggested limiting parking permits to juniors and seniors if there is still a space crunch.
  6. getinvolved
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    getinvolved - February 08, 2013 12:57 pm
    In the meeting the data given was approx 16% unused space at high school currently, post merge that goes to approx 13%(was that correct?) Merging is crazy and makes no sense for such a small % if any? Closing our largest middle and overfilling the 2 smaller one's? Also crazy! LSD blew it 10 yrs ago with building a 3rd middle school, but this time far worse. Closing 4 schools ruins a district! Option, close Cascade and 1 elementary, leave the HS & Monticello alone. Very sad planning LSD!
  7. rainbird
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    rainbird - February 08, 2013 4:21 pm
    This is a great idea. The town isn't large enough to justify two high schools. Times change and area changes. I applaud the LSD for all their hard work and commitment to the community.
  8. Jensdad
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    Jensdad - February 08, 2013 4:46 pm
    The same place they have been for ever. In my front yard. When they repainted the back of Monticello they removed lots of spots. Now they turn to painting yellow curbs to remove even more. They don't care about the neighborhood around the schools. They have proven that to me year after year. But i do have a surprise for them next year. Things WILL change.
  9. Jensdad
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    Jensdad - February 08, 2013 4:48 pm
    And your comment shows just how informed the committee needed to be on this.
  10. cowlitz88
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    cowlitz88 - February 08, 2013 5:28 pm
    If this crazy plan becomes reality, I wonder how much further enrollment will fall?
  11. Atrucker
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    Atrucker - February 08, 2013 7:01 pm
    It would seem , some other motive is driving this issue. Mark Morris sits in prime down town property, so moving it makes sense to business. Putting all those kids in an already crowded area just spells trouble. I bet no one recalls when Wallce school students were moved to Butler acres for much the same reason . This sort of thing never plays well with the students . It will only make bigger problems , higher taxes and the whole thing .
  12. gogetyourown
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    gogetyourown - February 10, 2013 2:43 am
    No big deal.. My oldest will graduate MM soon.

    I have plenty of time to sell my house and move a bit south.

    Longview has not had much to offer in the last 15 years. It just lost the last thing that kept us here.

    I have a job that will allow me to move so why stay.

    Why stay and deal with a community that has nothing to offer when so many better ones are so close? I choose better for my kids. (south)

    I doubt this will be published.
  13. Hope2013
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    Hope2013 - February 11, 2013 10:07 am
    Hmmm...... the vote was 25 for the plan, 11 against. Let me see, yes I did graduate from one of these fine schools and back then 25 plus 11 equaled 36. What happened to the other 19 votes from the 55 member committee? Let me mentioned that I am still on the fence on this idea but as with many of the statistics given, this just doesn't add up. Why has this not be questioned/explained? The entire idea is loosing credibility.
  14. LVRes1976
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    LVRes1976 - February 13, 2013 2:35 pm
    Ok, as a tax payer I do not want to pay for excess building space. I could care less of whether they are a student of RA Long or Mark Morris... its a school. It is a place to get an education. The school district and those of us who work and pay taxes cannot afford to pay just so you can have your mascots and football teams. I appreciate the work from the committee to START the process... and it is a process...nothign is final. You all think a "For Sale" sign is already up at MM, crazy!
  15. Jensdad
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    Jensdad - February 13, 2013 5:27 pm
    The "FOR SALE" sign went up the minute LCC started talking about offering more 4 year degrees. If you think there has not been talks between the two parties you really have no clue as to what goes on in this town.
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