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.