A closer look at Pleasant Valley Primary and Middle schools

posted Jan 18, 2018, 4:22 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Jan 18, 2018, 4:23 PM ]

A closer look at Pleasant Valley Primary and Middle schools

January 18, 2018

It takes a lot of fingers to count the number of awards that Pleasant Valley Primary and Middle school students have garnered over the years. The schools have a vibrant academic history. Not only are Pleasant Valley Middle students consistently recognized year after year at State History Day competitions, but Pleasant Valley Primary has been recognized with a Washington Achievement Award.

At 41 years of age, Pleasant Valley Primary and Middle schools are two of the schools that would be replaced if the Battle Ground Public Schools construction bond passes on Feb. 13. The aging schools, which have about 150 more students than they were built for, are eligible to receive state matching funds. 

Battle Ground Public Schools' Board of Directors has placed a bond measure on the Feb. 13 ballot that would replace Pleasant Valley and two other aging schools in the district and reduce overcrowding with the construction of a new primary and middle school. The bond would also fund the replacement of the 500-900 buildings at Prairie High School, the renovation of two buildings at Amboy Middle School, the development of an Alternative Learning Experience campus, and improvements throughout the district to safety and security, classroom spaces, technology, and student recreation. The bond measure requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

The Board of Directors has taken some measures to alleviate overcrowding at the Pleasant Valley schools, including installing a new 10-plex modular building and revoking boundary exceptions. To help alleviate traffic congestion, the district reconfigured and repaved the parking lot in 2015. Even so, traffic on 50th Avenue often gets backed up during school release times. Another option available to the board to help alleviate growth is to change school boundary lines.
The schools have been well maintained over the years with painting and repairs. Still, the buildings show signs of daily use and their age in the form of leaky roofs and deterioration. A small section of the roof over the library collapsed several years ago under the HVAC system. Additionally, inefficiencies with the HVAC system cause temperatures to fluctuate in classrooms, forcing some students to wear jackets while others are too warm. 

Library time can be challenging. Neither the middle nor the primary school has a traditional library. The schools' book collections line shelves in the main hallways with a check-out desk and computers nearby. The schools also lack space for group work that would support different learning styles and requirements. 

Lunchtime is also a challenge at Pleasant Valley. Without a cafeteria, students must eat in the same classrooms where they learn to write and solve problems. Students carry their hot lunch trays down the hall and through the library, even as other students are checking out books or working in the makeshift computer lab. Students whose classrooms are housed in portable buildings carry their lunch trays even farther, crossing the playground to the main building and back just to eat their lunches.

“Our lack of space and growing population needs affect our building on many different fronts," said Becky Gawenit, Pleasant Valley Middle’s school psychologist. "Our teachers do an amazing job teaching, re-teaching, and acknowledging our students for expected behaviors as they walk past other students who are learning in the hallway."

Pleasant Valley's current campus wasn't its first. Pleasant Valley began as its own school district in the mid-1800s. According to the book "Battle Ground … In and Around" by Louise McKay Allworth Tucker, the first school building for the independent Pleasant Valley District No. 60 burned down. Community members built a second school building in 1880 at the northeast corner of Salmon Creek Street and 50th Avenue and moved it in 1932 to accommodate a third Pleasant Valley school built of brick at the same location. The brick school building was vacated by Pleasant Valley in 1976, but still exists at its original location as a private residence.

Pleasant Valley District No. 60 consolidated with the Battle Ground Public Schools district in 1957. Battle Ground used bonds approved by the community to construct the current Pleasant Valley campus just a quarter mile south of the 44-year-old brick building on NE 50th Avenue. The new campus took less than two years to build and opened to students early.  

If voters approve the bond on the Feb. 13 ballot, the new and replacement schools would be designed based on Battle Ground's prototypical school model. The district owns land west of NE 152nd Avenue between NE 99th and NE 119th streets on which to build a new primary and middle school to help accommodate growth.