JANUARY 2018 Superintendent update

Great schools are the cornerstone of a great community 

January 9, 2017


The Battle Ground School District’s Board of Directors has placed a bond to build and renovate schools before voters on Feb. 13. Because mail-in ballots will go out to residents sometime after Jan. 26, many citizens will make a decision before the Feb. 13 deadline.


The last time a bond passed for our district was in 2005, more than 12 years ago. Many families in the northern and central areas of our district benefited from the efficient use of tax dollars from that bond, which provided the funds to construct the new Tukes Valley and Daybreak primary and middle schools, a new Amboy Middle School, and a new Chief Umtuch Middle School, and to remodel the BGHS cafeteria. In addition, there were upgrades to technology at most other schools in the district and a commons/cafeteria was built for the Laurin Middle School campus.


The 2018 bond addresses current needs to replace aging and overcrowded schools in the southern area of our district as well as to meet the needs of future growth. The bond will also provide funds to make critical safety and security upgrades, update technology and modernize classrooms for 21st century learning needs, and enhance student recreation and athletic facilities throughout the district.


Specific projects in the bond include but are not limited to:  

  • The replacement on site of Glenwood Heights Primary School. Built in 1956 to house 484 students, the school is now our oldest and largest primary with more than 800 students.
  • The replacement on site of Laurin Middle School. At 52 years old and modeled after a “California” design with all outside access to classrooms, Laurin is our largest, oldest and least secure middle school with more than 700 students. 
  • The replacement on site of both Pleasant Valley Middle and Primary schools. Both schools were built in the 1970s, again from a California design that does not provide secure access to classrooms. The campus also does not have a cafeteria, which means that students must eat their meals in their classrooms.
  • The construction of a new primary and middle school on district-owned property in the southeastern part of the district. With both the Pleasant Valley schools and Laurin and Glenwood already over capacity, and new home construction expected in that part of the district for the next several years, the new schools will provide capacity for expected growth in the coming decade.
  • Replacement of buildings at Prairie High School that are rated poor by our study and survey of schools. The new, larger buildings will also provide additional capacity for growth at Prairie. 
  • Improvements to security, safety and technology across the district. Schools will benefit from card-controlled entrances, additional security cameras and internal classroom door locks.
  • Renovate the gymnasium and 300 building (both rated poor) at Amboy Middle School.
  • Development of a site for an Alternative Learning Experience school on district-owned property to eliminate the reliance on a leased building and provide a savings to the district.
  • Additional projects include replacement flooring at both high schools, Maple Grove K-8, and Yacolt Primary; and covered playground areas for Maple Grove, Yacolt and Amboy and the replacement of the artificial turf at District Stadium.

February’s bond represents Phase I of an 18-year Long-Range Facilities Plan. The three-phase plan was developed over a period of 18 months by a group of volunteer citizens called the Facilities Improvement Team (FIT). FIT volunteers considered community feedback to help identify the needs of the district over the next two decades. The team prioritized projects that maximize state assistance, create a stable tax structure and meet the district's needs. 


We feel that this is an opportune time to ask our community to consider a bond that will meet several critical needs. While construction costs continue to rise, interest rates continue to remain low, and the district will be able to take advantage of a change to school tax rates in 2019 when collections would begin for this bond. The local cost for all of the above projects is expected to be $224.9 million, but the local school tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is projected to decrease, even with the new bond.


As Superintendent, I encourage you to make an informed decision when you vote on the Feb. 13 bond. We have information sessions and community input forums scheduled in January. Please visit the district’s website (www.battlegroundps.org) for dates, times and locations. As always, please feel free to call or email our communications department (communication@battlegroundps.org) if you have any questions or concerns. 


We very much appreciate all that you have already done to support the students and staff of Battle Ground Public Schools. As I have said in the past, I believe that great schools are the cornerstone of a great community. On Feb. 13 you have the opportunity to decide the future of the Battle Ground School District.


Sincerely,


Mark Ross, Superintendent

Battle Ground Public Schools

ross.mark@battlegroundps.org