Since 1979, Mountain View Middle School in the East Valley School District has been educating students in the East Farms area. The aptly named school, which has a fantastic view of Mount Spokane, has a long tradition of teaching students and involving them in a family atmosphere.
“You can have your own groups, but everyone treats each other pretty fairly,” said Hayden Stevens, an eighth-grader who is the Associated Student Body secretary.
For Stevens and his fellow Lancers, the end of the school year will not only be a time to say goodbye to their friends and teachers for the summer, but also a time to say goodbye to Mountain View.
The school district made the decision to close Mountain View last week due to impending state budget cuts. There were plans in the works to close the school a year from now, but the district moved the timeline ahead.
“I taught at Mountain View,” said Mitch Jensen, school board chairman. “I love the kids, I love the staff, I love the parents, the location, everything about it. This is vile to me to have to do this.”
But more than 60 percent of East Valley voters rejected a $33.75 million bond to improve buildings in the district in an April 26 vote, and the state is still looking at further budget cuts.
In light of those developments, the school board decided to move up by a year a far-reaching plan to transition all district elementary schools to K-8 classes. School boundaries will be adjusted to reflect shifting populations.
Skyview Elementary School students will enroll at Otis Orchards, Trentwood or the district’s Continuous Curriculum School, which still will be located at Skyview Elementary as it is now. The teachers at Skyview will be moved to Otis Orchards.
Mountain View Middle School will be closed. Students who will be in the seventh and eighth grade this fall will attend East Valley Middle School. Students in the fifth grade right now will attend their current schools for sixth grade.
The district has also notified 25 teachers that they will be laid off. Jensen said that he hopes the district will be able to rescind most of those layoff notices in coming weeks.
Principal Tammy Fuller has been at Mountain View since the end of February and said the staff and students had already started the grieving process before the closure announcement was made last week.
“The staff knew that it was going to close for sure next year,” Fuller said. Now the timeline has moved forward and she hopes the community can come together and celebrate what made Mountain View special for so many of them.
“It’s the history and the traditions that make it special,” she said. She knows of many parents of current students who attended the school. Some of the teachers attended Mountain View.
“They felt cared for while they were here,” Fuller said.
The halls are full of trophy cases containing Chase Youth Awards and awards for the students’ services to the community. Other cases contain trophies proclaiming the victories of sports teams.
Dave Smith has been a science teacher working with students in the same room since 1985. He was also the wrestling coach for 24 years. The team has been a proud tradition for Lancers for the last 20 years, not having lost a meet since December 1990. One hundred forty meets later, their winning streak has landed them in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Smith’s honors science class is also a source of pride for him. The students work quietly, independently and on task while they peer through their microscopes.
“When you become a teacher, this is what you’d imagine it would be like,” Smith said.
Angie Bordwell, athletic coordinator and sixth grade social studies and writing teacher, said her memories of the school go beyond her years of teaching.
Bordwell was one of the first students who attended in 1979. As the track coach, she shows her team the banners with her name on it that still hang in the gym and tells them stories of when she was a student.
“It’s a family community here,” Bordwell said. “This is really rough.”
Sixth grade math teacher Jim Stookey has been at Mountain View since 1985. His own children attended the school and one of this sons also taught there.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking for me,” he said. “I have a lot of fond memories of the people.”
The ASB officers at the school said they are sad that there are so many “lasts” coming up in the next few months. They are the last ASB council of Mountain View. The yearbook will be the last of its kind. The sweatshirts they wear with their mascot proudly displayed will become collectors’ items.
“It’s all a bunch of lasts,” said Bailey Gilbert, ASB vice president.
The officers recently took time to talk about their memories – the teachers, their activities and the fun they’ve had in their classes.
“There’s a place for everyone,” said Summer Romney, president. “It’s just a great place for everyone.”
Seventh graders Tanner Fyre and Derek Nelson have a different take on the closure, since they will attend East Valley Middle School next fall. They both said they are sad to leave.
Said Fyre, “It’s like family.”
Nelson said he liked that Mountain View was closer to his home and knows that next year’s bus ride to school will be longer.
Misty Moore is a parent who also attended the school. She said Mountain View was part of her family’s decision to move to where they live.
“I have concerns about the merge,” she said. She hopes the district thinks about changing the mascots since the students attending the middle school next year will have been former rivals. She also hopes there will be dances, ice cream socials or other events to help the students get to know each other.
“I love the school,” Moore said. “I loved going to this school.”
While it is known where the students will go next year, it is still unknown where most of the staff will go just yet or what will be done with the building.
Fuller, Mountain View’s principal, said she wants to find a place for the trophies and awards to honor what the students accomplished. She is planning events to mark the last days and hopes former students and parents will return for the occasion.
Fuller also said she has no doubt her students and staff will succeed wherever they land.
“They will do beautifully,” Fuller said. “These are all East Valley kids.”
Jensen said the board expects to save about $1 million with the closure.
“To close a school is horrible,” Jensen said. “But we don’t have the numbers. We can’t keep a school open for 300 kids. It’s built for 750 or 780. It is not fiscally responsible.”
Fuller agreed that it is “a very sound fiscal decision.” But she added, “It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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