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In school district construction timelines, commenters ask Board's consideration for Woodridge and Jing Mei

More than a month after voter passage of its capital projects bond, the Bellevue School District must figure out a timeline for its funded renovations.

At the school board's April 1 meeting, a teacher and PTSA president urged the board to reconsider expansion of Woodridge Elementary and maintain a home for the Jing Mei dual language school, respectively.

Woodridge Elementary is already one of two schools identified to receive additional capacity, but teacher Allison Snow put forward in public comment that the need to keep the school size manageable — population-wise — was pressing. Snow was at the meeting representing a number of teachers on the elementary campus, she said.

"We are currently well over capacity at our building," Snow said. "Our band and orchestra meets in the cafeteria, our music teacher teaches on the stage, our art room is crammed into a tiny space. We've also hired almost 25 percent new staff this year and the impacts of that are just kind of beginning to be seen.

"With the bond passing we all noticed that increasing capacity at Woodridge was part of that projected plan and a number of us would like to strongly discourage you from that plan."

Snow said that an increase in staff has led to more meetings, less administrator familiarity with students and  less intraoffice communication. The current capacity had negatively impacted music programs, the library and the special education program, she said.

Bellewood, the campus where dual language elementary school Jing Mei relocated at the beginning of the 2013 school year, is not scheduled for renovation. But Bellevue Mandarin Dual Language PTSA president Melissa Taylor said parents were concerned about the site being used to house Enatai Elementary students starting in 2015, and what that would mean for Jing Mei students.

"The Jing Mei community is growing," Taylor said. "We now have four full classrooms — that means 26 students in each class. And next year we will welcome three more kindergarten classes to Jing Mei Elementary. The community is embracing the Mandarin dual language model used at Jing Mei. We had a wonderful turnout for lottery and are able to appreciate the district was able to have us open a third kindergarten classroom."

Taylor said parents appreciated the district's K-12 commitment to the Chinese and English language school, but wanted some idea of what that commitment would look like in the future.

"As one parent put it, 'How many times will our children be moved around like checkers?'" Taylor said. "During our six years … we've been at Ardmore, and now we're at Bellewood and we're just wondering where we'll be next."

 

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