Battle Ground schools seeking community input on next steps

The move comes as the district considers next steps following the failure of the building bond in April

BATTLE GROUND — Following the latest failure last April to pass a $286.5 million building bond, the Battle Ground School District is facing some tough decisions. At a school board meeting last month, Superintendent Mark Ross successfully made the case for a slower, more deliberate approach to figuring out what comes next. Part of that is seeking public input on what the options might be.

Last week the district sent an email to parents of students, inviting them to take part in an online survey. Using a service called Thought Exchange, respondents can offer their own suggestions for what the district should do, and others can rate those suggestions.

Superintendent Mark Ross and the Battle Ground School Board members hear from teachers at a meeting in May. Photo by Chris Brown
Superintendent Mark Ross and the Battle Ground School Board members hear from teachers at a meeting in May. Photo by Chris Brown

“We want to be able to share our community’s input with the committee,” Ross said in a statement released by the district. “It’s important for the committee and district to know what is top of mind for our community when we evaluate options to address overcrowding. This process lets our stakeholders engage in a community-wide conversation from the comfort of their homes and gives us a community voice.”

The district is already dealing with overcrowding at several schools in the southern part of their district, especially the Glenwood/Laurin campus. In the short term more portable classrooms will be brought in at Glenwood, but Ross says core facilities, such as the school library, gyms, and cafeterias, are already well over capacity.

According to the district’s release, as of last month Glenwood has 808 students, on a campus

built for 484. Laurin, which was built for 600 students, has 712. The Pleasant Valley campus is more than 120 students over its planned capacity of 993. A recent enrollment forecast conducted for the district by an economic development company projects Glenwood could increase by 380 to 445 students over the next 10 years, and Laurin by 380 to 440 students.

The most likely outcome will be to rework district boundaries, shifting some students to schools further north. The formation of the committee over the Summer break means that would happen no sooner than the 2019-2020 school year.

“This is difficult,” Ross told a large crowd at the meeting in May, “because I’m hearing the concerns of the Glenwood staff. And I am only hearing the concerns of the Glenwood staff if, and I want to state ‘if’, the decision of the board was to immediately move this Fall with boundary changes. It would affect more than just the Glenwood staff, as most of those options are affecting teachers and students from several of our schools.”

The Thoughtexchange survey is open through June 14th, and already has well over 800 responses.

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