A Q&A covering plans for the current middle school

A Q&A covering plans for the current middle school
Posted on 12/14/2017

Over the past few weeks a number of questions and comments about the plans for the current middle school facilities have been raised. Students will be moving to the new middle school in the fall of 2018 and plans to repurpose the old middle school facilities are in development.

Superintendent Jim Frey has answered key questions:

Q – Can the District use the old school for K-12 student programs?

A – No, because the district was able to use these facilities to secure state matching funds for the construction of the new school these buildings cannot be used for everyday programs for students in grades K-12.

Q – What can the district use the old school for?

A – The old facilities can be used for any school program that does not include K-12 students on a regular basis. District administration, support services such as maintenance, technology services, family community services, pre-school and early childhood classes, community meeting space and classrooms, and occasional uses such as concerts and athletic contests.

Q – What needs to be done to the old facilities to make them appropriate for these purposes?

A – There does need to be some renovations to accommodate office space, and early childhood classrooms. In order to make these improvements the district would utilize revenue from the sale of surplus property as stated when the bond for the new schools was passed in April 2015.

Q – Are the buildings worth investing any money into or should they just be torn down?

A – While the facilities were not determined to be the best investment for the amount of improvements needed for student programs, some relatively simple improvements can be made to make the space usable for offices, meeting space and early childhood classrooms.

Q – Why does the district need space for these programs and services? Don't they already have offices and classrooms elsewhere in the district?

A – Currently our pre-school classrooms are at three different locations in classrooms that do not meet the program needs for pre-school students. In addition, we need additional classrooms that are not available due to the growth at other schools. District offices and supports services are in a variety of locations in space that is inadequate for the number of staff and the level of service required. The district has no meeting space for professional development and training. The district office is located at the high school campus, which is overcrowded and needs space for students and programs. In general, due to the growth in the district, space for almost all programs and services is limited.

Q – Couldn't the district sell the MS buildings and the land around it and use the money to pay down the bond debt and reduced the tax rate for tax payers?

A - In a previous bond election, it was communicated that, if passed, revenue from the sale of the facilities and property could be used to pay down the bond debt. However, due to the growth in the school district it was determined that the old middle school facilities were needed for district services and early childhood classrooms so the message in the last election was that revenue from the sale of property would be used to make improvements at the middle school for these purposes. The intent is to make improvements without having to ask the community for additional funds to pay for these improvements.

Q – Why would the district want to put money into an old facility?

A – Space is needed throughout the district and using the old facility for office space, meeting space and pre-school classrooms will be much lighter than the wear and tear of 700 middle school students in it every day. This use will be appropriate for the space and providing some improvements will not cost nearly as much as building new facilities.

Q - What is the district going to do with Judson Hall?

A - Judson Hall will continue to serve as the district’s performance venue for large events such as concerts, drama productions and other community activities. An analysis of Judson Hall during previous facility studies have indicated the needed improvements will cost more than a new facility, and would not include the necessary facility space to meet program needs. Previous facility committees have recommended a new performance facility be included when improvements are made at LHS as it would be connected to the performing arts programs. However, for the time being, Judson Hall will continue to be used in the manner until it is no longer safe or a new facility is built.

Q. Will the gymnasiums continue to be used?

A - There are two gymnasiums at the current middle school facility. Currently the gyms are used for daily academic, physical education and co-curricular programs as well as community recreational activities. Once students move to the new middle school, the gyms will continue to be used for after-school practices and games as well as community recreational activities. 

Q - What about the field space north of the middle school?

A - The school district will no longer need the playfields behind the current middle school. The football, baseball and soccer fields will not be used for school activities or sport teams’ practices or games. Therefore, this property will be considered surplus property and put up for sale.

Q – What will the district do with the 4 acres adjacent to the school (Glenning Street property)?

A – Because the size of this parcel is only 4 acres, it is not large enough for a future school site and will be considered surplus property.

Q – Why can't the district keep Glenning Street property as a park?

A – The district's mission is to provide for the education of the students within its boundaries. Operating space as a park without any future educational purpose is not aligned with this mission. Also, the district needs to maximize resources provided for the education of its students and in order to be good stewards would use the revenue from the sale of this property for essential programs and services to benefit students.

Q - When will the district put this property up for sale?

A - There is no set timeline to offer this property for sale. Some community members have expressed an interest in exploring ways to keep the Glenning Street property as open space. The district will not proceed right away with the sale of this property to provide time for folks to figure out a creative way to maintain this as open space.

If you have any questions about the plans to repurpose the middle school, please email Jim Frey at freyj@lynden.wednet.edu or call the district office and talk with Shari Shagren at 354-4443 ext. 4.