The right place to start

Citizens living within Washougal School District boundaries have a unique opportunity to get involved in planning the district’s future.

On Thursday, a design symposium invites citizens to provide opinions and perspectives on what will become the district’s three new schools. The facilities will include a new building to replace the existing Excelsior High School on 39th Street, as well as a new elementary and a new middle school at the current site of Jemtegaard Middle School on Evergreen Highway.

All of these projects, as well as a number of safety improvements at the district’s existing schools, are being funded by a $57 million bond passed by voters in February. It is part of an effort, school officials say, to alleviate overcrowding and provide safer and more positive learning environments for students.

Led by LSW Architects, this week’s meeting is planned from 5 to 9 p.m. at Jemtegaard Middle School, 35300 S.E. Evergreen Highway. Dinner and childcare will be provided.

So, why is citizen input so important to these types of school construction projects? With constructive and thoughtful feedback, school administrators can truly get a glimpse into the needs and wants of local families. In doing so, they will work toward creating the most positive educational experience for the youth who will be the future of the community.

The process of planning, designing and constructing these three key school facilities is a major undertaking that over several years will involve experts in a number of different fields, but an effort that kicks off with an event that highlights the importance of community input is exactly the right place to start.