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Longview School Board hears update on how housing project will affect Mint Valley
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Longview School Board hears update on how housing project will affect Mint Valley

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Sunrise Village

Initial artist's rendering of Sunrise Village, an affordable housing complex being planned for Longview by Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington.

The Longview School Board heard reports on a new housing development near Mint Valley Elementary School and on this year’s student demographics at Monday night’s meeting.

Jennifer Westerman with Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington told the board about Sunrise Village, a 45-unit development that will house families and elderly people. Located near Mint Valley on a 2-acre lot donated by the Longview Presbyterian Church, the project is in the financing stage and could be completed by fall 2022, Westerman said.

The goal is to make sure the buildings fit in the larger community, and the project has been “very intentional” in the families it hopes to house, Westerman said.

“We want to work as closely as we can with the school district,” she said.

Board Vice President Jennifer Leach said she was glad to see the project because it’s needed. Superintendent Dan Zorn thanked Westerman for the communication over the past two years.

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Board member Crystal Moldenhauer asked if there would be any restrictions on who lives in the housing project, as it is near a school. She said she was opposed to it being sex offender housing or anything similar.

Westerman said as the project is federally funded, there are sex offender restrictions and “we specifically selected this population knowing there is a school district next door and wanting to make sure it’s a good fit.”

“We’re taking that very seriously,” Westerman said.

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District Director of Assessment, CTE and Technology Integration Bill Ofstun gave a student demographic report, telling the board the main takeaways are the district saw a 5% drop in enrollment in the 2020-2021 school year, the count of homeless students dropped slightly and the district continues to have a much higher percentage of students in the special education program and in the free and reduced lunch prices program than the state average.

Although the district’s homeless student population dropped from 3.4% to 2.9%, Ofstun said that likely had more to do with the difficulty of counting who is homeless when school is remote. He said the eviction moratorium also is likely having an effect on the count.

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The district recorded a slightly higher special education count, moving from 18.4% to 18.9%. The state average is about 14.1%.

Overall, the district remains slightly more male, and the percentage of Hispanic students grew from 21.6% to 22.7%. The percentage of American Indian or Alaskan Native students remained steady at 1.5%, while the percentage of Asian students increased from 1.9% to 2%.

The percentage of Black students also is slightly higher than the previous year, at 1.3% from 1.1%. The number of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students also grew, from 0.9% to 1.3%.

Students who identify as white decreased from 66.1% to 63.9%, and the percentage of students who identify as two or more races increased from 6.9% to 7.3%.

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The board also passed two policies, an update to the students experiencing homelessness policy; and a new policy on requests for disability accommodation by parents, guardians and community members. The homelessness policy updates cleaned up language and added an option for the school to help students get healthcare if a guardian cannot help them.

The second policy sets out how the school district will accept and respond to requests from parents, guardians and other community members who have a disability and need accommodations to access school services, programs and activities.

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