Kelso School District

The Kelso School District needs to address traffic, parking, school electrical systems and safety/security measures in its next facilities update, according to a public survey conducted earlier this year.

Throughout February and March, about 800 Kelso parents, teachers, staff and community members had the opportunity to participate in the Kelso School District’s online “Thoughtexchange” survey. Results were made available online Wednesday afternoon.

Participants were asked three, broad questions about the Kelso School District: What are their biggest concerns about facilities? What do they appreciate most about the facilities? And what other things the district should consider moving forward in facilities planning? Participants could then add anything else they felt hadn’t been covered in a fourth, open-ended question.

Traffic and parking topped the list of concerns for participants, whose comments were kept anonymous through the online survey platform.

“Parking is a huge issue at Butler Acres, due to the parking lot layout/design and the inadequate space for parking,” said one community member. “There is only one sidewalk leading to the school from the south side and one from the east — this is unsafe for children who are walkers — they weave in and out of people and cars.”

Second on the list of concerns were heating and ventilation systems, as well as electrical systems.

“Students often have to bring blankets or dress ... for outside temperatures in order to attempt to be comfortable in the building and then the temperature swings by 8 degrees from room to room,” one commenter added, referring to Kelso High School. “Kids can’t concentrate in freezing cold rooms.”

Safety and security of students and staff also topped the list of concerns.

Referring to Beacon Hill Elementary, one contributor added: “Our campus is woefully unsafe from intruders. Our open hallways are an invitation for an intruder to roam, and the location of our school on a dead-end street is an evacuation nightmare.”

But the district also received numerous comments about what’s going right, too. Although unrelated to facilities, the top compliments shared on the platform gave kudos to teachers and staff at all campuses for their hard work and dedication.

Next was the cleanliness and maintenance of the district’s existing facilities.

“I appreciate the effort to keep everything looking nice and functioning,” said a commenter from Kelso High School. “KHS is the centerpiece for the city of Kelso and it’s important to maintain so the taxpayers get their money’s worth.”

Some were worried about the district’s older buildings, like one commenter from Wallace Elementary: “I wish the classic feel of these schools could be highlighted through timely renovations, rather than allow them to decay or to change the look entirely.”

The district will incorporate these comments into its facilities planning process to update the district’s highest-need buildings. The district’s facilities team will continue to meet twice a month from May through August to discuss options for the master facilities plan and rank its list of projects that need to be undertaken.

By September or October, the team plans to have taken final action on a facilities master plan and pass a bond resolution. The bond would then go to voters, likely sometime in 2018 or early 2019.

Full results of the online survey are now available here: http://bit.ly/2o7qY9M.

Contact Daily News reporter Madelyn Reese at 360-577-2523

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