End of year updates: budget, boundaries and “What’s up Doc?” with Sehome students

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear students, staff and families,

Happy next-to-last day of school! What a great school year it has been – a big thank you to our staff for their amazing talents and efforts to fulfill The Bellingham Promise by loving and supporting our students, families and each other. I also want to recognize our students and families for their dedication and give a special shout out to our recent graduates. We wish you the very best!

To end the school year, I’d like to provide a few updates on our budget, school boundaries work and facility projects. This work will continue over the summer and into next school year.

Budget: While we still don’t have all the answers from the state, we are continuing with our plan to make some reductions. Fortunately, we’re not making as many cuts as we had originally anticipated back in April. Specifically, we have adjusted our original plan and minimized the reductions of a number of positions including counselors, nurses, library media specialists, and elementary support through deans and assistant principals. We are appreciative that the state legislature is giving additional money for special education and is adjusting the levy lid to allow school districts to collect more funds next year. That said, we are cautious; we could see further reductions in the future unless the state changes their staffing/funding model for PreK-12 education. Watch for additional details this fall in our annual budget publication Priorities for Progress.

School boundaries and attendance areas: Since February 2018, the Attendance Areas PreK-12 Standing Committee has been examining adjustments to middle and elementary school boundaries for three reasons:

  • North Bellingham keeps growing, and some of our north side schools, especially Shuksan Middle School, are over capacity.
  • We are rebuilding Alderwood, Parkview and Sunnyland elementary schools over the next few years (thanks to the passage of the bond in 2018) and they’ll soon have more room.
  • We believe this is an opportunity to bring more balance and diversity to our middle schools, especially as it relates to the socioeconomic background of our families.

Thanks to all who attended the committee’s community meetings or gave input over the last few months. While the committee is still working on formalizing its recommendation and potential implementation timeline, its members have reached consensus to recommend “option 1” for middle school boundaries. The committee is now discussing elementary boundary tweaks, implementation timelines and guidelines to transition families residing within the changed attendance areas. More information will be coming on this topic in the coming months, and no changes will be implemented during the 2019-20 school year.

Facilities: Students, staff, families and our extended community are loving their new Sehome, and you’ll continue to see crews working over the summer on parking lots, sidewalks and synthetic turf fields. Watch this latest edition of “What’s Up Doc?” where I talk with two Sehome students about their new school.

 

Other facility updates: I recently received recommendations from the Squalicum High School Turf Fields Phase 2 Planning Committee for new synthetic turf fields for baseball, softball and soccer/multi-purpose use. We anticipate the new fields will be complete by late fall 2019. Recommendations from both Parkview and Alderwood Educational Specifications/Design Advisory Committees are moving forward; we hope to break ground in about one year and open both new schools by August 2021. We are also beginning to renovate our existing transportation garage where we maintain and repair our school buses at our transportation site on James Street. If you have heard about this project, you may find this webpage helpful, which addresses frequently asked questions.

As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or feedback, and I hope you have a fun and restful summer.

Greg Baker