District Planning Committee explores facility needs amidst continued growth

The significant growth over the past 10 years in the Lynden Schools hasn’t slowed. As the district faces a continued rise in the student population, the growth offers challenges to ensuring enough classroom space as well as common space such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, student services and administrative offices, to meet the expanding needs of students. 

The 2015 bond passed by Lynden voters, allowing for the replacement of Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School, helped alleviate immediate concerns at both of those aging facilities. The addition of four extra classrooms at each of the two new school buildings will accommodate some of that expected additional growth. But even with the benefits of LMS and Fisher, planning for the future must include a look at trends in the community. Each year, Lynden’s population has experienced about 95 new single-family building permits and district enrollment has grown between 4 and 5 percent annually. That means each year Lynden High School becomes more crowded and additional portable classrooms at Bernice Vossbeck and Isom elementary schools become the norm.  

“We are running out of room and will need to address facility needs through a capital bond,” says Jim Frey, superintendent. “Knowing that our community is still growing, and our current high school and elementary schools are already beyond maximum capacity, we have convened two committees over the past four years to look at the needs and make recommendations to the school board about how to address these needs.”

The board is currently considering a capital bond to upgrade infrastructure such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, athletic facilities and provide additional space at Lynden High School, with enrollment nearing 940 students. The board is also exploring adding a fourth elementary school, as the current elementary enrollment within the district totals 1,500 students and includes 12 portable classrooms to manage the increased enrollment.

Upgrades to Lynden High School would take place on the current site and an addition of a fourth elementary school could be done on school-owned property adjacent the new Lynden Middle School site. 

“Our current high school building simply can’t handle the continued enrollment pressures,” Frey says. “A building originally designed to house 500 students is now accommodating far more and we want to address the issue in the most responsible manner for both taxpayers and students.” 

Old LMS update

Lynden Schools remains in the planning and design stage for reusing a portion of the former Lynden Middle School building. Already some district services have relocated to the space and the district plans to remodel a portion of the building to make it suitable for the district’s preschool classes and district offices. 

The funding for the remodel at the old middle school will come from the sale of the fields behind the school and the surplus Glenning Street property, which was once used for middle school physical education classes. The district remains in discussions with community members and the City of Lynden regarding the Glenning Street property, with the goal of selling the property to the city for use as a public park.