Education

What would it cost to merge Longview's high schools?

2012-12-21T22:15:00Z 2014-08-19T17:26:22Z What would it cost to merge Longview's high schools?By Leslie Slape / The Daily News Longview Daily News
December 21, 2012 10:15 pm  • 

Here is the second part of our three-day series about an idea to merge Longview’s two high schools at the Monticello/R.A. Long campus. It’s based on an interview with Superintendent Suzanne Cusick and school district consultant Scott Rose. Today’s focus: What will it cost?

Q. What would consolidation cost?

A. Rose, a Portland architect with the DLR Group, estimated that the capital program cost for renovating and repurposing all district buildings to be around $20 million.

This includes:

• One high school at R.A. Long-Monticello

• Adding athletic fields, gyms and parking to the high school campus

• Converting part of Mark Morris to a vocational-technical-skills center and moving the administration offices and On Track Academy to that campus

• Closing Broadway and moving the preschool to Mark Morris or Northlake

• Converting unused rooms in the buildings, mostly at the elementary level, to “flexible learning spaces.”

Rose emphasized that the $20 million estimate is preliminary and only for planning purposes.

Q. Will a merger reduce maintenance costs?

A. Whether the schools are merged or not, building maintenance and upkeep will continue without major changes, except at Broadway, if it sold. Expenses for big ticket maintenance items — replacing roofs, mechanical systems or windows, for example — are the same regardless of whether there’s a merger, Rose said.

The district has been putting off maintenance, and there’s a backlog of projects totaling $1.56 million at RAL and $5.6 million at Mark Morris, Rose said. In all, the district buildings need about $25 million in major maintenance work.

Saving money isn’t the principal purpose of the merger; it’s improving schools, Rose said.

“While we are looking at ways to reduce operational costs, that is not the driver. Student achievement and being good stewards of district assets are more the driver in this process.”

Q. Are there other savings in the long run, such as staff reductions?

A. The school facilities committee is still estimating potential cost savings and will present them at its public meeting Jan. 10. However, some savings are known:

• Removing the need to shuttle students between R.A. Long and Mark Morris every period for district classes will save more than $100,000 annually.

• Expenses for vocational-technical classes would be shared by private partners such as LCC and businesses, which could sublease space at Mark Morris.

There are no plans to reduce teachers as long as student populations remain relatively stable, Cusick said. Enrollment is expected to decline slightly, so some teaching positions may be lost through attrition. When combining classes from the two high schools frees up a teacher, that teacher will be use to offer other courses in the same content area.

“We do not intend to reduce custodial, support or administrative staff,” Cusick said. “If things stay equal and there isn’t some huge impact on the economy, we will not have job losses.”

Q. Would the district still have to make changes in its buildings even if a merger doesn’t happen?

A. Yes, Cusick said. “If our enrollment had not declined we would have realized we’re not competitive in terms of the tools we are providing — such as technology, infrastructure, state of the art classrooms and flexible learning spaces.”

Q. The merger scenario includes adding two gyms. How would this be paid for? Would the district have to have a bond levy?

A. Converting Monticello-R.A. Long to one campus would most likely be done in several phases, Rose said. Grants, short term loans and a voter-approved bond all likely be used to finance the merger. The district has plenty of “bond capacity”  -- a reference to its legal debt limit. Bonds for building Mount Solo Middle School will be paid off in the early 2020s.


Sunday: What would a school merger plan mean for diversity, school loyalties and the three-building middle school model?

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

(7) Comments

  1. businessman
    Report Abuse
    businessman - December 22, 2012 1:20 am
    would it be possible to have LCC and MARK MORSE merge and create a 4 year degree credited college ?
  2. LvCitizen
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    LvCitizen - December 22, 2012 9:00 am
    So far, I have not heard of any specific and measurable goals for this project, only vague references to our not being "competitive". Apparently, saving money is not a goal, and most probably won't be an outcome. I'm not sure how spending $20,000,000 on buildings will further our academic goals. Is this an architect's solution? We have to define the problem and have a good vision of the goal before we can outline a road map to get there. Maybe all this is clear in committee?
  3. Horatio Bunce
    Report Abuse
    Horatio Bunce - December 22, 2012 6:21 pm
    Stop the BS. If we don't have enough students to warrant two high schools, close one down and consolidate.
  4. Bruin55
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    Bruin55 - December 22, 2012 7:52 pm
    So what about the Middle Schools and those students? Neither Mt. Solo or Cascade have the room for the added students so there needs to be a plan for them. Using portable classes sucks and that is the only option. Also, the gyms and lunch rooms are small and cannot hold the number of students both those schools would grow into so are we looking at building more at both those locations as well? Who pays for that?
  5. Bruin55
    Report Abuse
    Bruin55 - December 22, 2012 7:55 pm
    Another thought is the district is bragging about saving money by cutting the shuttle but between the two high schools but what about the cost to bus all the kids that walk to Monticello to the other schools (Mt. Solo or Cascade) I would think that cost would be way more than a shuttle and it is also a reoccuring cost every year. Have they planned for that?
  6. kelly44
    Report Abuse
    kelly44 - December 23, 2012 12:08 pm
    key to the whole matter will still be " $$ "....so just do the smart thing...sell "MM" campus to LCC...their expansion to a 4 yr program would be unlimited.Parking problems eliminated.$$$ questions eliminated....RAL /"LONGVIEW HIGH" ....STUDENTS...could then truley boast...."WE ARE LONGVIEW"
  7. justsomeone
    Report Abuse
    justsomeone - December 24, 2012 2:45 pm
    So by cutting out the shuttle bus and saving the $100,000, no one wonders who that effects?? How about all the bus drivers who routes now will have less hours and will then have thier families benefits cut and possilby taken away?? So much for not having any job losses........
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