Camas School District Tackles Future Building Needs

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It’s been six years since Camas School District voters passed a $120 million capital bond to improve capacity and safety across the school district, built Discovery High School and Lacamas Lake Elementary School, and purchased property. to accommodate future schools.

Now, Camas School officials are taking a closer look at the capacity needs of students over the next six years.

“We are looking at enrollment trends and facility needs going forward,” Camas School District Director of Business Services and Operations Jasen McEathron told members of the Camas School Board during the meeting. April 18 workshop. “Plans have changed, haven’t they? Registrations have slowed. We completed all the projects we promised to deliver (in the 2016 obligation) and then we experienced a drop in registrations. So we’re sitting in a pretty good position capacity-wise, but there are a few weak spots.

School board members reviewed a draft of the district’s 2022-2028 capital plan at the April 18 workshop and are expected to discuss the school district’s six-year building and capacity needs at their regular meeting on April 23. may.

The 2016 district bond may have created enough capacity for existing and new students through 2028, according to the executive summary of the draft six-year capital plan.

“Thanks to the 2016 bond, which increased the capacity of educational institutions by 192 elementary students, 360 middle school students and 600 high school students, the projected number of students by 2028 can be accommodated in the (school district) existing educational facilities and portable classrooms,” according to the draft plan presented to school board members earlier this month.

CSD enrollment growth slows, but still expected to add 688 students by 2028

The school district is required under the Washington State Growth Management Act to adopt a capital plan every six years to identify school facilities needed to meet expected student growth. of the district during this period.

When the district passed its last capital plan, student growth in Camas exceeded most other school districts in Clark County.

“Between 2014 and 2019, enrollment growth in the district increased an average of 3.1 percent per year, compared to the countywide rate of 2 percent,” the draft plan says.

Student enrollment has since slowed — and actually declined over the past two years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when school districts across the state transitioned to remote learning models. and hybrids remotely in person. The school district’s most recent enrollment projections show enrollment will grow over the next six years, but at a much slower rate than the numbers seen between 2014 and 2019.

A new 6-year enrollment forecast prepared by Eric Hovee of ED Hovee & Company, LLC, on February 6, 2020 and updated December 2021, projects that the Camas School District will add nearly 600 kindergarten students to Grade 12 over the next six years. years, growing from its current 7,103 students to 7,734 students in 2028.

“Future K-12 enrollment is projected to increase by 1.3% per year, or 688 students over the next seven years,” the draft plan says.

By 2028, the district plans to increase its elementary student population by 12% (354 students), increase its middle school student population by 9% (156 students), and increase its middle school student population. secondary school students by 5% (121 students).

The draft capital plan also notes that other factors – including collective agreements with staff, government mandates and community expectations regarding class sizes and the district’s ability to deliver programs that do not not fall under the state’s definition of “basic education,” such as special education, physical education, art and music classes — also influence the district’s future facility needs school.

In Camas, district officials have set limits around the maximum class size. For primary school students, class sizes are targeted to not exceed 24 students per class. For the middle and high school classes in Camas, the objectives do not exceed 30 and 31 students per class respectively.

The proposed Camas School District Capital Plan 2022-28 includes an inventory of current facilities in the district:

  • Six elementary schools built between 1982 (Dorothy Fox) and 2018 (Lacamas Lake) provide 402,994 square feet of space and have a capacity of 3,504 students and 146 teaching positions.
  • Three colleges built between 1937 (Liberty, with multiple updates and additions made between 1952 and 2006) and 2016 (Odyssey, updated from its original 1996 construction) provide 287,320 square feet of space and can accommodate 2,050 students and 82 teaching positions.
  • Three high schools built between 2003 (Camas High) and 2018 (Discovery High) provide 354,121 square feet of space and can accommodate 2,641 students and 103 teaching positions.
  • 32 mobile classrooms, including 14 at the elementary level, six at Camas college and 12 at the secondary level, have the capacity to accommodate a total of 796 students from kindergarten to grade 12.
  • The district also has seven support facilities: a transportation center; a grounds/bus maintenance workshop and warehouse; Doc Harris Stadium; The Heights Learning Center; Jack, Will & Rob Family Resource Center, Transition House, and District Headquarters at the JD Zellerbach Administration Center.
  • The district land inventory includes 57.6 acres at 2815 Northwest Leadbetter Dr.; 79.9 acres at the northeast corner of Northeast 28th Street and Northeast 232nd Avenue, and 19.6 acres at the northwest intersection of Northwest Pacific Rim Boulevard and Northwest Parker Street.

Some school buildings expected to reach capacity before 2030

While the school district will likely be able to accommodate all of its students’ growth using existing buildings and portable classrooms, McEathron said the district may experience growth challenges at the middle school level.

“Odyssey is at capacity with a waiting list,” McEathron said of the district’s newest college. “In Liberty, the feeder schools – Lacamas Lake and Woodburn – will increase this capacity.”

McEathron added that the district could potentially add space to Liberty Middle School and Woodburn Elementary School by finding space for additional portable classrooms and could “use the space more efficiently” for project-based learning. Odyssey Middle School to improve this school’s capacity to accommodate more students. and teachers.

“If we continue to grow, colleges will be a tipping point for us,” McEathron warned school board members earlier this month.

The draft capital plan forecasts when school buildings in the district will reach their maximum capacity. Many – including Camas and Hayes Freedom, Skyridge Middle School and Grass Valley, Lacamas Lake and Prune Hill – aren’t expected to reach capacity until at least 2040, but others are approaching their capacity limits:

  • Woodburn Elementary School, which is currently 82% full, will likely reach capacity in 2026;
  • Odyssey Middle School, which is 85% full, is considered packed in 2022;
  • Liberty Middle School, which is 77% full, will reach capacity in 2028; and
  • Discovery High School, which can accommodate a total of 600 students in grades 9 through 12, is expected to reach capacity in 2030.

List of facility needs includes $210 million worth of projects

To accommodate future growth, the tentative list of capital requirements includes six projects estimated to cost $210 million. Together, the projects would add capacity for an additional 2,158 students. The projects included in the draft capital plan are not funded projects, but rather a list of possible projects that the school district may wish to pursue to accommodate future student growth. The projects, with their estimated costs, include:

  • A new portable classroom to accommodate 48 students at Woodburn Elementary ($500,000);
  • An addition to Odyssey Middle School to accommodate 100 students ($15 million);
  • Acquisition of properties for future school facilities ($7 million);
  • A new laptop at Liberty Middle School to accommodate 60 students ($500,000);
  • Construction of a new middle school to accommodate 850 students ($100 million); and
  • Improvements to the Leadbetter campus for educational purposes that could accommodate 500 students ($87 million).

The list of capital needs contributes to the district’s calculations of impact fees that ensure newcomers to the district help pay for increased facility needs.

Due to slowing enrollment growth, the Camas School District’s new impact fee may be lower than in previous years.

“Impact fees should be used for growth and to welcome new students,” McEathron said. “They cannot be used for maintenance. They should be used to increase capacity or build portables.

McEathron told school board members April 18 that the school district will likely need to build a new middle school in the near future. Implementing a portable classroom at Liberty Middle School could push back the need for a new middle school by a few years, but McEathron said the problem will likely become more apparent by 2028.

“In 2028, when we have two or three potentially full colleges…and if our enrollment arrives (as expected) or more, we can reasonably expect to exit for a bond (to build a new college) in six years,” said McEathron at the April 18 workshop.

School board members will discuss the draft capital plan again at their May meeting. To read the draft plan presented to the Board on April 18, visit tinyurl.com/2p99p2bn.

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