Monday, September 21, 2009

City sets hearing on schools' facilities plan

Bellingham City Council will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. October 19, 2009, to hear your opinion of the Bellingham School District's request to add its new capital facilities plan to the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan.

The School District needs the city's OK on this six-year plan so it can collect impact fees from developers, and use that money to provide facilities for new housing. But the problem is, the six-year plan is riddled with inaccurate numbers class sizes at 22 students through fifth grade?), false assumptions (population growth of 14 percent, while enrollment the last six years was flat?) and a lack of necessary information (a re-opening date for Lowell Elementary, and a commitment to neighborhood schools, a component of the city's comprehensive plan).

This is it -- the City Council has said it supports neighborhood schools, and has encouraged the school district to keep its neighborhood schools open. This is the only time the city has a say in how the school district operates. The planning commission agreed that there were problems in the plan, but also made the assumption that the school board knows how to run its district. There was no public process before the school board passed this capital facilities plan ... the document was published online on a Tuesday in the summer, and passed two days later.

Tell the city you want these problems in the plan fixed -- if the district wants to collect money, it should have to follow the rules of the city it is in.
Read the documents ... the city has a great link to them through the planning commission's agenda packet: go to, under "public involvement" click on "Boards and Commissions," then "planning and development commission," then on the right look for "meeting materials." They're under the Aug. 20 meeting.

The information also will be posted and available as a City Council agenda packet. For more info, call Greg Aucutt, city senior planner, at 778-8344 or email

You can submit a written comment before Oct. 14, and it will be included in the council's packet; email

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