Since the board meeting last night ran right up to deadline, there was some information I wasn’t able to fit into today’s story.
Before voting, the school board members, acting superintendent Sherrie Brown, and assistant superintendent of business and operations Ron Cowan, spoke about why an off-site location to keep everyone together didn’t happen.
They said that they visited the big box stores (Toys R Us, Good Guys, GI Joes, etc) on Meridian and deemed them unsuitable for a learning environment, plus they lacked several necessary items, including enough bathrooms. They also visited the Squalicum Lofts on Squalicum Parkway, and thought that might be a solution. But, there was a severe lack of science lab, cafeteria and indoor PE space, plus safety concerns due to other businesses already being there.
The most promising option to them, and the one they thought was going to work until Tuesday afternoon, was leasing the North Bellingham Elementary site from the Ferndale School District. The board and the group helping Brown make her recommendation (WMS administrators, a couple teachers, and principals from the high schools and Geneva) were ready tour the site Tuesay afternoon, but it got canceled at the last minute after they found out it was going to cost more than $1 million to make the site viable. From what they said, this sounds like a combination of what the district wanted for a lease (Clearview High School is currently housed at the site and would have to be relocated if WMS were to go there) plus what would be necessary to make some repairs to the school (the main building on the site, which is where the library, main office and some classrooms are located, has been condemned since August 2007.)
According to board member Ann Whitmyer, the $1 million price tag was five times what insurance was willing to consider.
Now that the relocation plan has been approved, Brown said they will start working to figure out details, including transportation, student class placement, teacher placement and how to make life easier for the elective teachers who have been “running themselves ragged.”