Portables added for all-day kindergarten

By Eric Mathison

The Highline School Board unanimously approved March 26, the installation of five portables at four elementary schools to help house the district’s new all-day kindergarten program.

Two of the portables will go to Mount View, while Gregory Heights, Hazel Valley and Seahurst will receive one each.

Total cost for purchase and installation of the five portables is $1.3 million plus state sales tax. The contractor was KCDA/William Scotsman.

Even before the Washington Legislature approved funding to phase in full-day kindergarten throughout the state, Highline board members committed to providing it free of charge.

Highline administrators said offering the service was crucial to meeting the goals of the district’s new strategic plan. Among the goals is that by the end of third grade, 95 percent of students will be at grade level in core subjects.

“We just know this will change the landscape of Highline,” Superintendent Susan Enfield declared at the time. “Now every student will have a strong start to his educational career.”

Adding full day K did not increase the numbers of students. It only increased the number of classrooms necessary. The number of additional classrooms needed is 44. (The K-3 class size reduction money increases demand to 55 additional classrooms).

On top of adding all-day kindergarten, the district is facing an anticipated jump in enrollment.

To handle the expected enrollment increase and deal with aging schools not replaced in previous construction bond measures, the district is looking at moving sixth-graders to middle schools, building a new middle school in the south end of the district, converting Glendale Elementary into a middle school, building an elementary school at the Salmon Creek site, building a new Des Moines Elementary in Zenith, rebuilding Highline High School, and making major repairs at the Evergreen and Tyee campuses.

Voters would need to approve a construction bond to rebuild the schools. The school board is expected to decide in June on placing a bond measure on the ballot later this year.

Moving sixth-graders from elementaries to middle schools drew criticism from two speakers at the board’s March 26 meeting. Normandy Park City Council member Mike Bishoff said he would oppose a new construction bond measure if the district goes ahead with the switch.

“This is not being done for the kids but for administrative efficiency,” Bishoff said.

Abby Wammer, a Des Moines Elementary parent who lives a block south of the current site, spoke against moving the school to the Zenith area. She noted the district is emphasizing small learning communities for high school students while making plans for larger elementary schools.

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