Port Angeles School District to allow city to resolve flooding

Stormwater from Lincoln Park drains near Stevens Middle School

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School Board has approved a resolution to allow the city to access the district’s property to determine how to eliminate the seasonal flooding of Big Boy Pond near Stevens Middle School.

The unanimous decision was made Jan. 25.

The flooding occurs when excess stormwater from Lincoln Park is allowed to drain into it.

“We need to, as a district and a city, work together to resolve the water issues for the development of the new Stevens Middle School,” Superintendent Marty Brewer said.

“The only thing the agreement does is to allow the city to come in and study that piece of property. We are not agreeing to anything else, but there’s a lot more discussion to be had on this.”

Over the next month, a committee will review submissions from general contractors who submitted proposals for the new school and bring a recommendation for the board to vote on at its March 28 meeting.

Serving on the committee are Brewer; Nolan Duce, director of maintenance and facilities;board members Sandy Long and Sarah Methner; community member Sean Worthington; and two representatives each from architectural firm Integrus and construction management firm Vanir.

Brewer called the general contractor/construction management delivery system the board approved “very intricate and detailed,” but that it was also exciting to “hire a general contractor to get to work.”

Meanwhile, Kira Acker, the school district’s director of finance and operations, said in her monthly enrollment report to the board that the number of full-time students has been holding fairly steady since the start of the school year. In January, 3,328 students were enrolled — up seven from December. However, the full-time-equivalent enrollment was 37 under the 3,365 the district had budgeted for the current school year.

“That’s close to half a million dollars,” Acker said of the loss of funding from the state. “We’re continuing to try to lower expenses and balance the budget, anticipating that lower revenue based on our increased SPED (special education) needs and our drop in enrollment.”

Acker said that, from Sept. 1 to Jan. 4, 135 students withdrew from the district for a number of reasons. Those included transferring out of state or into other districts in Washington; leaving to be homeschooled; enrolling in private school or dropping out. During the same time period, 47 new students joined the district, 14 of whom were enrolled in pre-K special education.

Brewer said all of the latter are from Port Angeles.

“Because of our SPED enrollment being so high, we have closed the district boundaries to only servicing special education students in Port Angeles,” Brewer said.

Out-of-district families seeking to enroll a student with special education needs in Port Angeles need to know their request will be denied, he said.

“School choice is an option based on seats available, and because we don’t have seats available and we’re above the level that we’re funded, our borders are closed,” Brewer said.

According to the most recent numbers, about 20 percent of students in the district receive special education services. Because the state caps special education funding at 15 percent of a district’s total enrollment, districts like Port Angeles must fill the funding gap with money from their educational and operations levies.

Pressing the state Legislature to eliminate the cap and fully fund special education is one of the district’s top priorities during the legislative session in Olympia that runs through March 7.

In other board news, Rayin Blewett, the board’s student representative from Lincoln High School, said the school’s Wildcat Café is tentatively scheduled to open to the public March 1. The café located in the district administration building will sell food and beverages prepared by students as part of the Salish Sea Ecotourism and Hospitality CTE Program.


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@peninsulanews.us.

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