Education

Subcommittee releases first draft of school merger plan

2013-01-27T06:00:00Z 2014-08-19T17:26:22Z Subcommittee releases first draft of school merger planBy Leslie Slape / The Daily News Longview Daily News
January 27, 2013 6:00 am  • 

An idea to merge Longview’s high schools took another step forward last week.

A 10-member subcommittee of a school district citizens group drafted a recommendation Thursday that, if adopted, would make these changes by the fall of 2016:

• Create a single high school on the R.A. Long-Monticello campus

• Retain middle schools at Cascade and Mount Solo

• Close Broadway Preschool and Northlake Elementary; one would be sold, the other repurposed.

Before these recommendations go to the Longview School Board for approval, they must be OK’d by the full 48-member Longview Facilities Planning Committee. The committee has been studying ways to deal with a plunge in student enrollment that is not expected to be reversed in the foreseeable future. School board action is unlikely before August (see timeline).

Although the merger idea has been talked about for weeks, Thursday’s action is the first time the idea has been formally put recommended by any group.

The draft does not put a price tag on the plan, but recommends “the development of a financial plan to align these recommendations with the financial capabilities of the district.”

Committee members say the district simply must find savings to make up for the loss of millions in revenue related to the enrollment decline.

“What we came up with, hopefully, will be the end of the first step in this long-range plan,” subcommittee member Bob Guide said Friday. “We have arrived at a concept that now needs to be fleshed out, and the economics of that concept appear to be very sound.”

The subcommittee will present its draft plan to the main committee in a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Mark Morris High School multipurpose room. The committee will discuss the draft, make revisions and vote. If approved, the committee will present its recommendation to the school board at its Feb. 11 meeting.

There is no guarantee that the full committee will accept the draft as written, Guide said.

“I have every hope that the rest of the Longview Facilities Planning Committee will accept our product, but there’s always a possibility that they will reject it or tear it apart or revise it considerably,” he said.

The draft makes these points in support of the merger idea:

• Longview’s school buildings are under-utilized by 2,025 student spaces.

• It costs $61,000 to $390,000 a year to operate each district school, not counting employee costs, with Mark Morris being the most expensive.

• A backlog of major maintenance and replacement costs for all buildings range from $525,000 at Olympic Elementary to $5.5 million at Mark Morris.

• Due to declining enrollment, the district is operating on $4.8 million less in state funding in 2012 than it did in 1999. It’s imperative the district look for savings.

The subcommittee’s draft makes no suggestions about what do with Mark Morris once a merger is completed. It recommends creation of a task force to determine its best use. Previous committee meetings have included suggestions that MM be used for a vocational-technical skills center and administrative offices, or be sold.

“It would appear that the value of Mark Morris (assessed at $18 million) could pay for the cost of all of the consolidation,” Guide said Friday. “The size of any potential bond (to finance a merger) will depend greatly on what decision is made regarding the disposition of Mark Morris.”


Potential timeline

(based on what has typically happened in other districts)

Feb. 7: 6:30 p.m. Facilities Planning Committee meeting, Mark Morris large-group instructional area; group will review, revise, adopt recommendation for presentation to school board. Open to public.

Feb. 11: 7:30 p.m. Longview School Board meeting, district board room. Committee is expected to present its recommendation, depending on the outcome of the Feb. 7 meeting. The board will take no action at the first reading.

Next 13 weeks to three months: Board obtains an administrative impact report, does community polling, gathers additional data.

Possibly sometime in May: Second read of recommendation at school board meeting.

Next 90 days: If the recommendation includes building closures, board policy includes a 90-day window for public comment.

Possibly mid-August: Final presentation at school board meeting; board votes

During next three years after approval: Community meetings, evaluations of transportation and boundary alignments, logistics committee generates transition plan, guided by community polling. Typically it takes a year to close and merge an elementary school, but up to three years to do a middle or high school.

Source: Scott Rose, school district consultant

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. 1091
    Report Abuse
    1091 - January 27, 2013 6:40 am
    This process has been full of flaws since day one the committees were put together. Not only was data missing, the application of the facts and figures were only applied to paint a picture that is biased. In fact why would we as taxpayers allow the sale of Mark Morris when the sale could only imply a transaction to Lower Columbia College. Further, why would we as taxpayers want to surrender our assest in Mark Morris when a replacement cost is way out of the future bugets?
  2. BigChinook
    Report Abuse
    BigChinook - January 27, 2013 7:27 am
    One MAJOR FLAW in the plan is the consolidation of middle schools. There is not sufficient room to add 250-300 kids at each middle school. The hallways are over-crowded as it is. Adding that many kids, without major renovations, is a poor plan. Apparently the committee is under the impression (from the illustrious consultant) that there is plenty of room at Cascade and Mt. Solo. That is not the case. If this plan is to be done, do it right!
  3. tallsy
    Report Abuse
    tallsy - January 27, 2013 11:47 am
    I think Merging Mark Morris High School and R.A.Long High School is a very bad idea. R.A Long would not be very happy if he was alive today. Merging both School's would ruin the History of Both High School's. The reason why Attendance has been dropping is because More parents are home schooling their kids because of Teachers not helping out the Students
  4. cowlitz88
    Report Abuse
    cowlitz88 - January 28, 2013 10:11 am
    One big problem I have with this plan is how they keep pointing out how the value of the Mark Morris property could pay for the whole plan. Assuming it will sell quickly. What if LCC does not want it? Then you have a chunk of property sitting vacant. It could potentially be a good retail location, but look at all of the empty retail spaces we already have, some for years, with more becoming vacant all the time. This plan has the potential to backfire and hit taxpayers with a very big bill
  5. porsadgai
    Report Abuse
    porsadgai - January 29, 2013 10:20 am
    tallsy - R.A. Long was the ONLY high school in Longview for decades. Mr. Long would be fine with that. And no, home schooling isn't the reason for this. The actual reason for building MM was the baby boom, now long over, and the fact that families are smaller. Thus the lack of bodies in the desks. There are problems with this, and they mostly lie in the somewhat optimistic plans for middle schooling when Montecello is taken out of the mix. But, historically, Longview was a one HS town.
  6. Mr Bastinado
    Report Abuse
    Mr Bastinado - January 29, 2013 6:48 pm
    Mark my words on this one. LCC has longed for the cheap space to accommodate it's endeavors to become a full-fledged four-year institution instead of a JC supplying the mills with "qualified applicants". Hence their desire to acquire the MM campus on the cheap. The port has long been a drain on taxpayers until new high $ tenants came along (EGT). With the infusion of cash from EGT's berthing fees the port can no longer ask taxpayers to support them with a straight face. Now with this cash
  7. Mr Bastinado
    Report Abuse
    Mr Bastinado - January 29, 2013 6:53 pm
    "Continued" infusion, now the city fathers have seen fit to stick us taxpayers with another one of their "improvements" to the area. The estimates for the overall costs are grossly underestimated as to the limited scope that they project. There will be "scope creep", but they will insist it was unseen. Commenter "1091" is correct as others here are also. The way this will be sold to us is, "well, the port doesn't any longer need our funds to support them, so if you pass this levy to support
  8. Mr Bastinado
    Report Abuse
    Mr Bastinado - January 29, 2013 7:01 pm
    this school merger, your taxes won't increase. The monies will simply be shifted to the school merger"; (yeah, until you see the final bill). This is,in essence, just another slick way to get us taxpayers to pay for the upgrading of LCC to a 4-year college (of queasy quality) while handing us a bill of goods. BTW, I couldn't give a rip about MM vs RAL B.S. I'm simply looking at this from an opinionated historical viewpoint as a local taxpayer and life-long citizen.
  9. electriczipper
    Report Abuse
    electriczipper - January 31, 2013 6:08 am
    Yes but wasn't that back when Longview only had one horse?
  10. justanotherguy197x
    Report Abuse
    justanotherguy197x - February 01, 2013 1:32 am
    Why don't we raise taxes a lot to pay teachers more, have smaller classes, better sports and music programs, better food, and state-of-the-art, clean, safe, and energy efficient buildings? I would vote for that--I really would, but it would mean that my taxes would soar. Our district must either a. spend less money or b. raise more funds, i.e. taxes. At least they are working on a plan. So, what to do? You can't have your cake and eat it too. What is your bright idea?
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Connect With Us

Contests

Hunt for the TDN Easter Egg

Hunt for the TDN Easter Egg

Get daily clues, track down the TDN Easter Egg and win a $500 Visa gift card.

March 20, 2015 7:00 am(0)
Auto Racing Challenge

Auto Racing Challenge

Pick the 10 drivers you think will finish 1st through 10th for each race. Your top 15 races count as your overall score. Compete for great nat…

February 16, 2015 10:30 am

Featured Businesses

Latest Local Offers

Want more?

Visit http://tdn.com/email-updates/signup for more ways to save money and stay connected with your community .

Participate

Youth Sports Photos

Submit your youth sports photo to the B & B ENTEK youth photo page. Your photo could appear in the sports section of the Sunday edition of the printed paper and will appear in the online photo gallery!

TDN on Twitter