Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A complicated, but important puzzle . . .
Last week while making a presentation to the Chamber, we shared the potential to partner with King County on a land swap of our excess property on the Junior High site for property within the “donut hole”, an island of unincorporated land within the city. If we are able to put the many pieces of the puzzle together it could result in building a new high school on this site, something that many in the community have sought over the years. Since that meeting, we are beginning to see conversations starting in the community including this piece on the Maple Valley Post.

Why a new high school? As we have reflected on last spring’s failed bond measure to create much needed additional capacity in our system, it became clear that our plan would result in increased capacity, but much of it would be simply adding more space within the constraints of an existing footprint. Except for new elementary spaces, it would not be driven by a vision for the future. That leads us to why a new high school? Given this potential land swap, if we can have only one new school driven by a vision for the future we believe that school should be our high school. The concept was further influenced by my involvement on the county’s School Siting Task Force and came to life with a positive response from county staff when approached with the possibility of the land swap.

We are excited about this possibility to collaborate on this potential project with both the county and city of Maple Valley. The county would be involved with the land swap and the city with the potential to develop fields on city owned land adjacent to the donut hole property. This would allow us to have a smaller footprint, thus reducing the acreage that we would need for the school. There are many issues that need to be resolved before we will be able to think about a bond measure, but there is a hazy picture beginning to emerge on the horizon of how we can place all of our current and future students in quality learning environments that includes Tahoma High School with a Maple Valley address.

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