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The bell tolls for back to school | San Juan School District
San Island School District is planning for a fairly rugged, rocky start to the school year.
That’s because when the bell tolls for the first day of class, Aug. 28 (that’s right, a pre-Labor Day start of school is now the norm) the reconstruction of Blair Avenue, which will deliver new curbs, gutters and sidewalks as well as a new road surface, will still be in progress.
Parking for students, faculty and parents will be at a premium, and mostly unavailable in front of the school, entry into the middle and high schools will be in back until new sidewalks are completed, buses will load and unload on Park Street (by the football field) and changes and delays are expected through mid-September, Superintendent Rick Thompsen said.
“The town is working on alternative parking ideas,” Thompsen said. “We’re trusting that people will be understanding and patient while the work is going on, and careful.”
Once the road project is complete, traffic flow is expected to resume to normal and the promise of a new year should come into sharper focus, with a few new wrinkles afoot at the high school as well. Thompsen said construction of the high school’s new STEM building, remodel from the old Tech building, is proceeding on schedule and is expected to open in early January.
Perhaps the biggest change at Friday Harbor High School this year will be on the field and hard court of athletic competition, where the Wolverines, due to the school’s slow but steady decline in enrollment, will be pitted solely against 2B schools, such as Concrete, Darrington, La Conner and Orcas, in both league and post-season play. That means they will no longer face the likes of Lynden Christian, Meridian and Nooksack Valley in league or post-season competition.
The district expects enrollment to weigh in at roughly 755 students overall, with about an even split between the grade school, kindergarten through sixth grade, and the middle and high schools. Still, how many students show up in the fall is always a best-guess estimate, Thompsen said.
Over at the elementary school, second-year principal Diane Ball is anticipating an enrollment of about 385 students in the fall. Notable new additions include five new teachers, a reconfigured front office and a new approach to what’s known as “differentiation” that is expected to help all students to better accelerate in their studies at a customized pace. Open House at the elementary school is Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2-3 p.m.
Following into this year’s academic breach will be the students of Stillpoint School, a state-certified K-6 independent school, and Paideia Classical School, with classes beginning Wednesday, Sept. 3. The following day, Spring Street International School, now in its second year with a reconfigured campus and newly constructed dormitories, begins its school year. A year ago, enrollment at Spring Street, grades 5-12, reached 90 students, with roughly two-thirds from San Juan Island and another 25 from either abroad or elsewhere in the U.S.
Classes at Skagit Valley College San Juan Center begin toward the end of September.
Looks like it’s time to sharpen those pencils.