CHIMACUM — Chimacum School District officials will need to make some tough decisions as they address facility needs and declining enrollment, Superintendent Rick Thompson said Tuesday.
He is preparing to present four options on how the school district could move forward during the School Board meeting at 6 tonight in the library at Chimacum High School, 91 West Valley Road.
“We have to make some really hard decisions about what to keep and what to change,” he said. “We’re trying to be really thoughtful and methodical.”
He said the facilities committee had deliberated for some time on the options.
The district typically sees about a 2 percent drop in enrollment each year. This year’s drop of about 7 percent has been staggering, Thompson said.
This has led to funding concerns. School officials said last month that the state’s upcoming change in school funding — which is based on enrollment — has them concerned.
Two of the options Thompson will present tonight include closing either Chimacum Creek Primary School or Chimacum Elementary School. Another option includes expanding onto Chimacum Creek Primary School.
Another option keeps the status quo and asks voters to replace the 2013 capital levy that is set to expire at the end of the year. No action will be taken tonight.
“The question is do we build onto our best inventory or do we close parts of our outdated buildings?” Thompson said. “Under each option there are some pros and cons.
“We have to do something because our enrollment is going down.”
The first option Thompson will present would require replacing the 2013 capital levy, which has raised $1.3 million each year to help with maintenance and repair costs, he said.
Among the disadvantages of maintaining status quo, according to Thompson’s presentation, is that it won’t solve the district’s challenges and it doesn’t allow for improvement in efficiency of energy costs or reconfiguration of unused space.
The second option includes replacing the capital levy, but also closes 35,000 square feet of space at the school district’s main campus.
Under the second option, the district would close Chimacum Elementary School and the library for third through eighth grades.
Under this option, the district would see a reduction in maintenance costs and students would be in newer buildings.
A third option calls for expanding Chimacum Creek Primary School or adding portables.
If expanded, the building would house kindergarten through fifth grade. Currently only kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders attend the school.
This would require a bond paid off over 15 to 20 years, according to the presentation. Among the disadvantages to expanding the school is that it is “hard to justify new space when space already exists at the main campus,” the presentation said.
The district has struggled to pass bonds in recent history. Bond measures failed in 2015 and 2016.
The fourth option calls for selling the primary school site. If this happened, the district would demolish the elementary school and the third- through eighth-grade library and move the elementary school into existing middle school space.
Doing so would open the district up for state matching funds to help with the improvements. Among the disadvantages is that the district would sell its newest building.
The committee has made a number of recommendations to the board for steps moving forward, including passing a resolution prior to May 11 to put a capital funds replacement levy to run on the Aug. 7 ballot.
The committee also recommends the district complete a new demographic study for long-term decision making.
The district also needs to figure out how much it would cost to construct new space, determine a funding model and if anyone would be willing to buy the primary school.
“If anybody has any other ideas, come to the meeting or give me a call,” Thompson said.
Thompson can be reached at 360-302-5896.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].