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An end for Woodbrook?

Clover Park School District might close school serving military middle-schoolers

Woodbrook has served military middle-schoolers since 1963, but the aging school and space available at other middle schools may spell the end. Photo courtesy Woodbrook Middle School

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An advisory committee has recommended that an aging Woodbrook Middle School that needs $15 million in repairs should be closed.

In January, the Clover Park School District is expected to decide on the recommendation to close the school that was built in 1963.

Every six years the school districts in Washington do a facility advisory, and a review of all the facilities was done in the Clover Park School District.

"That's the process we're in right now," said Rick Ring, administrator for business services and capital projects for the school district. "Evaluating all of our facilities, Woodbrook is one of them."

More than 50 percent of the 450 students enrolled at Woodbrook have a parent stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and many live on base.

The school that was built in 1963 needs a new roof, a new boiler, has a failing septic system, and needs lots of other maintenance repairs. There are also some site issues with flooding.

"The facility group was asked to review it and make a recommendation as to whether we should do some repairs to it, or basically do no repairs and eventually close it," Ring said. "Now, when I say close it, they were not given the responsibility to pick a deadline."

That final decision on closure is up to the school board.

"This facility advisory group has pretty much said it doesn't make sense putting any money into it considering the zoning challenges and current conditions, so we're going to recommend that you do consider closing it," Ring said. "Formally, that will go to the board in January."

Another factor on the future of Woodbrook is the re-zoning of the community surrounding the school several years ago, opening the door for businesses coming into that area and pushing out residents. Now the city is trying to move forward with an industrial park.

"They no longer want us to continue with a variance so they can develop that area," Ring said. "Basically, what that means is that long-term planning, we can't do anything with Woodbrook."

With the re-zoning to an industrial area, the neighborhood will become more stores and businesses, replacing the homes and making it less of a school district setting.

If the school board approves the recommendation to close Woodbrook, it's uncertain what the closure date would be. The soonest it could happen is early as August 2017.

"If we're going to close the school, we're going to have to have boundary meetings with parents so they know what's going on," Ring said. "They see where they'll probably go to school. Things like that. None of that has happened yet."

Another factor that could influence the school board's decision is the light enrollment at the other middle schools in the school district. The question the district must ask is, "Do we really need four middle schools?"

"Is it time to consolidate some of those?" Ring said. "That's just another conversation that has to take place. Which of the schools are best utilized?"

Ring said it wasn't likely that a new middle school would be built on JBLM.

"I don't see any chance of that," Ring said. "One, we don't have a site identified. Secondly, it would require a secondary fund for us."

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