A school district citizens committee is likely to recommend that the city have a single high school on the R.A. Long-Monticello campus.

“We’re not saying that tomorrow we’re closing a school,” committee facilitator Scott Rose of the told the community members who came to listen Thursday night. “We’re going to start to look at one plan, and we’ll look at variations.”

The 48-member Facilities Planning Committee rated four approaches for how the district should respond to shrinking enrollment. Members indicated their likes and dislikes by sticking yellow or red dots on large sheets of paper.

Two favorites emerged, but they are identical in the major aspects: Creating a single high school on the R.A. Long-Monticello campus and converting Mark Morris High School into a skills center, administrative offices and On Track program.

One of the two leading plans would put preschool children at Mark Morris, while the other would move them to Northlake Elementary School.

Both plans envision closing and selling Broadway Elementary School and dividing middle-schoolers between the Cascade and Mount Solo campus. This would mean backing off the three-campus middle school model the district adopted within the last decade.

At its next meeting Jan. 10, “We going to take a look at further development of these items and we’ll also look at some of the options people liked in the others,” Rose said.

Committee member Bob Guide said he favored the one-campus approach, but he reminded members that the group’s recommendations must be acceptable to the public.

“Somehow we’ve got to arrive at a solution where we can tell the voters we’re trying to save their money at the same time we’re trying to improve education.”

Lifelong Longview resident Susie Kirkpatrick, a former teacher and principal in Kelso, didn’t like the idea of one big high school, saying students learn better in small schools.

“Remember what we sold this community on when we built a third middle school” in 2003, said Kirkpatrick, who is not a committee member. “Smaller learning communities benefit students.”

The committee has been studying data, touring buildings and holding meetings since September and will bring a recommendation to the school board in February.

(23) comments

Jensdad

If they decide on the single high school they better well look into adding parking and full time patrols cause what they are doing now is way short of what is needed and it will only get worse for the neighborhood surrounding the schools.

kellvblotter

People can walk a few blocks (walking is good for you) - the last thing Longview needs is more parking.

Jensdad

Ya right. I live with in reaching distance of both schools and have neighbors behind me who's kids drive to school.You try telling a 17yr old it isn't his god given right to drive to school. And it doesn't help either when the district decided to eliminate parking spots on campus for students and teachers. So guess who deals with that over flow? Residential on street parking.

cowlitzanonymous

agreed @jensdad Im a student at ral and Personally I think the merger would make it hard for students to get into sports teams and clubs with the massive student body. More fights. More drugs. More school "cops"

BigChinook

Mrs. Kirkpatrick makes valid point. Larger campuses are not conducive to quality education. Just 10 short years ago the citizens of Longview financed the construction of Mt. Solo MS in order to lower student/campus numbers. Also, it is shown that impoverished populations are much less able to keep their kids involved in school activities when the campus is located outside of their neighborhood. This plan buses some of the most at-risk groups as far as possible from their homes. Not a good idea.

Skoobie

I'm not necessarily against the idea but it just seems STRANGE to me having grown up here. How big with the new school be? AAA? AAAA? And agreed, they better figure out better parking and how to improve access to the area. The residence in the area aren't going to be happy about all that extra traffic with those small, congested streets.

boo
boo

In these times and economy, you gotta' do what you gotta' do. Times they are a changing, and not for the better. If there are enough teachers and faculty on hand (per student ratio,) in the school, then size shouldn't matter. As far as parking goes, students can bus to school, or heaven forbid--walk.(Within reasonable distance, if you live within a certain distance fromschool, for example.)

Snickerfritz
Snickerfritz

If this isnt done maybe it's time to have real school boundaries. how blatantly obvious is it we send all the low income kids to monticello/RAL and then want to complain about test scores. merge them and watch test scores stabilize.

tallsy

This is not a Good Idea. R.A Long and Samuel mark Morris Envisioned two High School named after them. There is no way of Merging both Schools, it is just stupid

loretta

talls: You need to go back and review history a little.

gogetyourown

I picked this town and MM because it was a small town and small school.. I do not work in Longview and could easily pick up and move a bit south. I have 3 children. 1 at MM and 2 on the way.. If schools merge I plan on moving. Not out of anger. Just not what I wanted for my kids.

Elvira

This is a decision that should be brought before the community for a vote, not unilaterally made by a rubber-stamping board of directors who seem to believe our superintendents are actually competent and ethical.

Leslie Slape
Leslie Slape

Elvira, the next opportunity for the community to discuss this issue with the committee is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 in the library at Mount Solo Middle School.

Snickerfritz
Snickerfritz

I would like to see them merge the school and allow LCC to expand onto the MM campus. LCC is a very large part of our local community. an expansion in real facilities would be a huge boost in my opinion. it just seems that people look at this issue with sentimental feelings instead of realistic outcomes.

kelsograd

Sell MM to the College and build a new school bldg on the west end of town. and close both campuses.

buddy boy

Kirkpatrick is correct. Research has proven over and over that smaller schools are much more effective in student learning and socializing. This also reduces bullying and other incidents.

an observer

I think the community can talk until they are blue in the face, Susan and the powers to be want a single campus and they could care less what the community wants, just like the ending of most vocational programs. Combine Mark Morris /RAL as a 10-12 college bound high school, develop a vocational high school ( It would burst at the seams). Put the sixth graders back in elementary and 7-9 middle schools. Put the administration in RAL basement.

TONYC94

Parking is a Right but I empathize. The community doesn't totally embrace walking/biking culture like it could. Overflow impacts property values negatively. 5 blocks from MM would 'walking be good for me?' I played 3 falls sports had 3 bags of gear, trombone and book bag. My day started at 5am. Ended at 8pm. I was given rides as underclassman and paid it fwd when I could. More athletic teams = more opportunity to stay off drugs/alcohol.

TONYC94

Combining schools is a poor solution that will divide a community. No one wants to combine schools but it's a reaction to low enrollment. Increase enrollment. Attract students/families/economy. This idea might look good on paper but it's loaded with unintended negative consequences that will hurt, damage the kids you're/community you're meant to serve. Which will, in turn, reduce enrollment. Get creative. Ask for outside help and input.

Briana Keatts
Briana Keatts

Worst idea in the world.. talk about more fights and less room in the halls, getting rid of either school with so much history behind both.. not cool.. changing the traditions of both schools.. sooo many things wrong with this

Cougs80

I understand the district's concerns about shrinking enrollment, but the article from December 7th had a breakdown of costs, and leaving the two high schools alone was the least expensive option at $7MM, while the other plans were $18MM on the low end and over $100MM on the high end. How many teachers' jobs will be lost in this merger? What is the expected impact on learning and test scores? Was building Mt. Solo MS was a mistake, because now we think students actually do better in huge classes?

Merritt1011

Combining the schools would definitely get me to move. I moved to where I live now so that my kids could go to Mark Morris. I went to RA Long when I was in High School and would not even consider sending my kids there. Looks like Kelso may get more students?

RALAlumna

Having graduated from RAL, my gut reaction was that of course the two schools shouldn't be combined. That being said though, I spent a good deal of time shuttling between the two schools and LCC because RAL didn't have them and/or I couldn't get into the Mark Morris classes. While there are always going to be logistical struggles to something like this, the current system doesn't work and I applaud them for looking into alternatives.

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