Shelton-Mason County Journal - Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

North Mason schools plan for growth

 

October 27, 2022

Gordon Weeks/File photo

Sunlight shines through the clouds onto the waters of Hood Canal at Theler Wetlands in Belfair. The North Mason School District, which owns and operates the wetlands, is considering a transfer of the property to Washington's Department of Natural Resources.

North Mason Superintendent Dana Rosenbach presented a draft of the capital facilities plan that she and Facilities Director Joan Moore have been working on at the school board's Oct. 20.

Rosenbach said the district recently agreed to contract "with an expert in giving us the reports we need on the state of our buildings," because certain data needs to be compiled, updated and submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction years ahead of time.

In part, this is to help secure School Construction Assistance Program funding, "to get the money to start a bond project, because even before you have an election for it, you have to complete a report and keep it up to date," Rosenbach said.

Board Director Arla Shephard Bull asked whether SCAP is a state requirement, which Rosenbach confirmed, since "you should start your application for SCAP funding before you run a bond."

Rosenbach said predictions are that the school district will experience an enrollment growth of 18.9% overall within the next 10 years, "greater at the high school level, and least at the elementary school level."

Rosenbach cited Flow Analytics' pre-COVID projections as "within one or two of the actual enrollment of students that we had each year," before further noting, "We are within five of the high-end projection for enrollment this year, and because there's so much building and growth going on recently and in the near future, we are contracting with Flow to do another analysis this spring, to see if those numbers change or hold true."

To reflect what's happening in the community with factors such as housing growth, Rosenbach anticipates the district's facilities committee will need to work with its consultant on evaluating "the state of our buildings and their future needs, and it's important that we have a lot of community members involved in that discussion because we're growing, and the district's growing, and we're not going to fit into the facilities we have before you know it."

The board voted to convene a special meeting for a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29, to discuss the Theler property transfer.

Rosenbach said the Skokomish Tribe needs to conduct further discussions, both among its own members and with North Mason School District, and she wants to ensure they're informed and able to participate in the public hearing's discussion as well.

According to Rosenbach, the school district's attorney is working to provide materials on the Theler transfer to the board before the special meeting.

Shephard Bull suggested, and Rosenbach agreed, that the attorney should present her materials at the special meeting prior to the public hearing to "stave off some questions" that attendees might otherwise have.

While Shephard Bull felt it would be "nice and tidy" to conduct the public hearing and resolution vote on the property transfer during the same special meeting, she expressed the concern that the board's subsequent decision could be construed as "rushed," even though the board has been working on this issue since 2016.

In response, Rosenbach recommended placing the resolution on the December board agenda.

While the Nov. 29 special meeting is not currently slated to accept live public comments via Zoom, it will read aloud emailed comments from the public during its hearing portion.

Author Bio

Kirk Boxleitner, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
[email protected]

 

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