The Vancouver Public Schools board of directors has decided not to hold a special meeting on Nov. 20, where it had planned to act on a resolution to remove a new elementary school from a list of bond projects approved by voters in Feb. 2017.
Board Resolution 849 was introduced last week at the Nov. 12 regular meeting of the board. Nobody signed up to speak at the public hearing portion of the meeting, which was intended to provide the community with time to comment on the decision.
After receiving no other feedback on the resolution except for an email message from one parent, Board President Mark Stoker decided to postpone action. “Although the current board has examined this matter for over a year in several work sessions and briefings, we want to ensure that our community is fully aware of the factors that warrant a delay in building this proposed new school,” said Stoker. “We also want to respond to questions or concerns from stakeholders.”
“The context has changed significantly since voters approved the list of bond projects,” said Stoker. “An updated district enrollment forecast shows that VPS will have 37 unused elementary classrooms by 2025. At the same time, unprecedented inflation in the regional construction market has increased project costs beyond what could have been reasonably predicted.”
The district intends to hold community forums at Anderson, Hazel Dell, Minnehaha, Eisenhower and Walnut Grove elementary schools this winter to share information and listen to community feedback on the need for a new elementary school, which was slated for construction on district-owned property at NE 25th Avenue. Those schools likely would be impacted by the NE 25th Avenue school project that is being considered for deferment to a future bond program.
“As we always do in Vancouver Public Schools, we will engage our staff, parents and community to ensure that stakeholders are well-informed of the challenges faced by the district,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “And we will continue to invite public input as we complete the remaining bond projects.”