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Comments wanted on Snohomish's elementary schools

SNOHOMISH — Cathcart Elementary badly needs to be replaced. So do five other elementary schools in the Snohomish School District, says a citizen’s advisory group.
The school board will analyze the group’s recommendations this summer, likely leading to discussing a 2020 bond measure.
In the meantime, the school district is holding meetings during the next three weeks to hear public comments on the suggestions:
• Thursday, May 16, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Cascade View Elementary (2401 Park Ave. in Snohomish)
• Monday, May 20, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Totem Falls Elementary (14211 Sno-Cascade Drive in Snohomish)
• Tuesday, May 21, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Cathcart Elementary (8201 188th St. SE in Snohomish)
• Wednesday, May 29, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Seattle Hill Elementary (12711 51st Ave. SE in Everett)
• Tuesday, June 4, from 6-7 p.m. at Central Primary Center/Emerson Elementary (1103 Pine Ave. in Snohomish).
On the group’s recommendation list, by priority, Cathcart is No. 1; Seattle Hill is No. 2.
The committee recommends Dutch Hill, Cascade View and Totem Falls elementaries also should be completely replaced, and that Emerson and Central Primary should be combined as a new school on Emerson’s current site.
The group also recommends replacing Building “C” at Snohomish High School, renovating Glacier Peak
High School, replacing the maintenance center and building a satellite transportation hub on the south end of the district.
It costs about $60 million today to build a new elementary school, said school district spokeswoman Kristin Foley. Riverview was built for $25 million during the Recession when the construction industry  had hungry bidders.
The district convened the 30-member facility committee to dig into the state of its schools. The group spent the past 12 months touring each school to make their conclusions.
One by one, facilities committee members spoke to their findings at last week’s school board meeting:
The district’s oldest schools seem unsecure for modern times.
Enrollment growth has outpaced school capacity.
At older schools, the cafeteria doubles as the gym; at lunch, kids are being crammed together.
The disparities between the old schools and new schools is palpable. Even closets are being used for learning spaces.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ something should be done, it is ‘when’,”  committee member Mark Myers said.
Cathcart last saw remodeling 25 years ago. Dutch Hill dates to 1985.
The six schools listed for replacement each can house between 350 and 450 kids, with the rest in portable classroom trailers. The plans call for upsizing schools to fit 600 or more.
Seattle Hill Elementary, which was built in 1982, has 250 more kids than its walls can fit. Fourteen portable classrooms make up the difference. At Cathcart, there’s eight portable classrooms on-site.
These two, plus the newer Little Cedars, lie in the fast-growing Cathcart-Clearview-Maltby and Seattle Hill-Mill Creek areas.
In a 2026 hypothesis from the committee, if new schools are built with bond money then the district might use boundary adjustments to help balance the overloads at other schools such as Little Cedars Elementary. Little Cedars was built to fit 620 kids, but currently has 722 enrolled.
Enrollment at each school is expected to climb.
The district’s most recently rebuilt elementary schools, Riverview and Machias, were built to house about 500 students each. They were built in 2011 using money from the district’s 2008 bond.
The 2004 and 2008 bonds focused primarily on improving high schools and middle schools.
Cathcart should be relocated to a more central site for logistical reasons, according to the recommendations.
The district owns vacant land behind Valley View Elementary and in the Three Lakes area. The Valley View land, though, has “topography concerns,” according to a district capital facilities plan.
Cathcart Elementary is on the southern border of the district’s boundaries. Valley View is about three miles north.
Students notice when their friends have nicer schools. A mom at the meeting said  her daughter questions why her school is so different from her brothers’.
Replacing all six elementary schools on the list would place Little Cedars Elementary as the district’s oldest without a remodel. It was built in 2007 across the road from Glacier Peak High School, which at the time also was under construction.

Read the full report
The recommendation list and related materials are on the school district’s website at www.sno.wednet.edu/cfac

 

  

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