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Superintendent details 180-day notice in letter to Country Village parents

Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano sent a letter to Country Village Day School parents Wednesday, March 4 detailing the Mercer Island School Board's vote to notify tenants of the North Mercer campus that MISD would not be extending tenant leases beyond Aug. 31, when the current lease expires.

"The district notified tenants, including Country Village Day School, more than five years ago that population census data indicated a trend to suggest that the district would need more space for our public schools," reads Plano's letter. "Originally, each tenant had five-year leases. Beginning on Sept. 1, 2010, each lease, including the CVDS lease, was extended in one-year increments to expire on Aug. 31. The reduced-lease timelines for all tenants were designed with the tenants’ interests in mind, so those tenants would have ample notice to think about and make plans for their future."

Plano's letter goes on to explain the need to begin the project soon to meet the expectation of the fourth elementary school being operational at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, factoring in the time it will take to contain asbestos materials once demolition begins and the potentially significant costs associated with starting the projects at some later date. "The longer demolition and construction is delayed, the greater the costs will be to Mercer Island taxpayers and the greater the risk will be of falling behind our construction schedule," the letter reads.

"We understand that these community decisions will have an immediate impact on your families, which is why we are working with other jurisdictions and potential landlords in the area to help facilitate smooth transitions for all of our tenants."

Plano ends the letter encouraging community members to reach out with any questions at the public events co-sponsored by the City of Mercer Island and the school district, which will be held March 6, 10 and 11.

See below to read the letter in its entirety.

 

March 4, 2014

Dr. Gary Plano

Superintendent, Mercer Island School District

Dear Country Village Day School Parents,

As a school board and district we are happy to report that Mercer Island School District 2014 Proposition 1 (bond) passed by an overwhelming 74 percent. Passage of the bond will have an impact on the entire Mercer Island community. The fourth elementary school, which will be built on the district-owned North Mercer campus, will help address overcrowding in all of our elementary schools, as will the addition and expansion at the middle and high school.

The district notified tenants, including Country Village Day School, more than five years ago that population census data indicated a trend to suggest that the district would need more space for our public schools. Originally, each tenant had five-year leases. Beginning on Sept. 1, 2010, each lease, including the CVDS lease, was extended in one-year increments to expire on Aug. 31. The reduced-lease timelines for all tenants were designed with the tenants’ interests in mind, so those tenants would have ample notice to think about and make plans for their future.

On Feb. 27, 2014, the Mercer Island School Board voted to notify our tenants, including CVDS, that we would not be extending tenant leases beyond Aug. 31, 2014, which is the date that the current lease expires. It’s important to note that the district is not terminating leases with any of the tenants or evicting anyone. The district will not extend the leases beyond Aug. 31, 2014.

Due to an expectation by the community that the fourth elementary school will be operational at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year and that the district will effectively use bond dollars, the board has decided it cannot risk delays in construction and potentially significant costs associated with starting the projects at some later date. The longer demolition and construction is delayed, the greater the costs will be to Mercer Island taxpayers and the greater the risk will be of falling behind our construction schedule.

The construction schedule will begin in earnest this fall/winter when containment of the building materials that contain asbestos will be abated in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. Asbestos was a common material used in the 1960’s and the material does not pose any health risks to children and adults when it remains in the building materials. However, once demolition begins, careful containment will take time, hence the need to begin soon.

The vote by the school board took place at a public meeting. The meeting was advertised in the Mercer Island Reporter and the agenda and related meeting documents were available on the district website prior to the meeting. Representatives from each tenant spoke and the board discussed the leases at length.

We understand that these community decisions will have an immediate impact on your families, which is why we are working with other jurisdictions and potential landlords in the area to help facilitate smooth transitions for all of our tenants.

When the fourth elementary school is operational, we believe the educational environment it will provide will be critical to the continuing education of Mercer Island students.

Please reach out to us with any questions and join us at public events as we discuss progress. Public events co-sponsored by the City of Mercer Island and the school district will be held on March 6, 10 and 11. We welcome your thoughts as we move forward with building the educational facilities that our students need to thrive in the 21st century.

 

 

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