Kelso Sch. Dist.
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Open House for Kelso School District Boundary Changes Canceled - 04/02/20

Due to recently implemented practices in social distancing and limiting contact to slow the spread of COVID-19, Kelso School District is cancelling the Open House scheduled for April 16 on proposed school boundary changes.

Public comment on the proposed changes is still available via a community survey (, which is now extended through April 27. The public is invited to call in for the School Board Hearing related to school boundary changes on April 27, and comments will be accepted via email through 9:00 pm on April 27. Instructions and a phone number to attend remotely will be posted on the district website ( prior to the meeting.

Food-bearing container gardens from Lower Columbia School Gardens
Food-bearing container gardens from Lower Columbia School Gardens
Food-bearing Container Gardens Available During Meal Distribution at Catlin Elementary (Photo) - 03/31/20

Large pots with food-bearing plants will be available for families to take home on Wednesday, April 1, from Catlin Elementary. During the regularly scheduled meal distribution, Lower Columbia School Gardens will bring 25 pots, most with starts of kale, five other lettuces, and radishes; and some with snap peas climbing up a trellis. A sheet on how to care for them will also be available.  

“Times are challenging right now, and even if you don’t have a yard, this is food you can grow in a container,” said Ian Thompson, director of Lower Columbia School Gardens. “It won’t feed a family for a year, by any stretch, but there’s learning around this and it gives the kids something to care for while they’re staying home and staying healthy.”

The pots are 10 to 15 gallons each, and heavy enough that people interested in taking one home should drive them back. For those without a vehicle, Thompson said they can deliver.

Mindful of helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, the pots were planted last week and not touched since, so they should be virus-free. There will be a portable hand washing station on the back of the truck for people to use, as well.

“It breaks our hearts that kids aren’t able to be out in the school gardens right now,” said Thompson. “It’s important to us to get a little bit of the gardens to the kids.”

More food-bearing pots will be brought to Wallace next Wednesday (April 8), also during meal distribution.

“We love our partnership with Lower Columbia School Gardens,” said Mary Beth Tack, superintendent of Kelso School District. “and we’re very thankful for this wonderfully caring act in a time where so many are experiencing need.”

All Kelso schools closing effective Monday, March 16 - 03/13/20

This afternoon, under advisement from Washington State Department of Health, Governor Inslee closed all schools in the state of Washington through Friday, April 24, to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Based on this information, Kelso School District is closing all of its schools beginning Tuesday, March 17 (Monday, March 16, for Wallace Elementary). Schools are already closed on Monday, March 16 for trimester break. At this time, we plan to return to school Monday, April 27.

We take any decision to close schools very seriously, recognizing that closures can pose difficulties for families and disrupt children’s education. It was one made thoughtfully and with support from a number of district and community leaders.

“We know the uncertainty our families and staff may be feeling,” said Mary Beth Tack, superintendent. “As always, the safety and well-being of our students and staff are our top priority.”

More information:

  • Athletics/ Activities: Effective immediately, ALL athletics and morning/afternoon/evening and weekend school activities will be canceled through the closure time frame.
  • Food Services: Kelso School District will provide school meals to all students throughout the closure. The district will inform families on Wednesday, March 18, about the locations and distribution times. Anticipated start date is Monday, March 23.
  • Child Care: Families should begin planning for long-term child care options. We are working diligently on what the district will be able to provide and anticipate having more information on this in the next week.  
  • Learning: We will not be supplying learning packets and students will not be held responsible for missed work during the closure.
  • Make-up Days: Make-up days will be announced at a later date. Per the Governor’s directive, the school year will not extend beyond June 19. The district will apply for a state waiver for missed days that cannot be made up before June 19. 

We will continue to provide updates on this rapidly developing situation to our families in several ways:

  • Email
  • Notifications via the Kelso School District app (download for free)
  • Website:
  • Facebook and Twitter: @KelsoSchools

Kelso School District Considers Boundary Changes - 03/09/20

With the anticipated opening of the new Lexington Elementary and subsequent closing of Beacon Hill and Catlin Elementaries, Kelso School District is reviewing proposed boundary changes. The suggested changes would impact approximately 1,000 students (or 20 percent) currently in the Barnes, Beacon Hill, and Catlin Elementary boundaries and take effect beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

Boundaries for all other elementary schools (Butler Acres, Carrolls, Rose Valley, and Wallace) and both middle schools will remain the same.

A Boundary Review Committee (BRC) made up of district administration and board members, school staff and administration, community members, and district transportation was convened for this process. They met six times between September 2019 and February 2020 and explored five main options with multiple scenarios within most of those options. Among other things, the BRC looked at impacts to demographics, ethnicity, and free and reduced rates to ensure there wouldn’t be an unreasonable imbalance.

“Kelso School District is committed to providing a high quality education to all students,” said Mike Haas, president of the School Board. “We asked the Boundary Review Committee to develop a recommendation that balances enrollment at elementary schools while keeping guiding principles in mind.”

The guiding principles for the BRC include:

  • Carefully evaluating potential impacts
  • Impact the least number of students possible
  • Ensure students attend schools close to their neighborhood as much as possible
  • Keep long-term solutions in mind
  • Maintain transportation efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintain safe walking routes
  • Student continuity from elementary school to middle school should be prioritized

Proposed boundary for Lexington is all areas West of the Cowlitz River including the Pleasant Hill, Headquarters, Ostrander, & Holcomb Acres areas East of the Cowlitz River.

Proposed boundary for Barnes is East of the Cowlitz River between Rocky Point to the North, Allen Street to the South, and Interstate 5 to the East.

“The committee took this responsibility very seriously,” said Mary Beth Tack, superintendent. “We’re proud of the effort and care they put into this work and are confident in their recommendation.”

Review timeline and opportunities for public comment are:

  • Community survey – open from March 10 – April 10 ( 
  • Boundary Open House – April 16 at Kelso High School, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
  • School Board Hearing – April 27 at the District Office, 6:00 pm
  • Potential Board Resolution to adopt recommendation – May 11, 6:00 pm

Planning for modernization of Huntington Middle School underway - 03/04/20

As part of the construction and modernization bond approved by voters in 2018, Huntington Middle School will undergo a $30 million modernization expecting to take 18 months to complete. Planned improvements are as follows:

  • Replacement of all major MEP (mechanical/HVAC, electric, plumbing)
  • Office relocation and new school entry
  • Second gymnasium
  • Significant cosmetic facelift
  • Track replacement and football field irrigation and renewal (as part of the Athletic Facilities bond projects)

Timeline for this project is:

October - December, 2019

Development Plan for Phasing; Selection of Architect

January - April, 2020

Communication Plan with Key Stakeholders

February, 2020 – April, 2021

Design and Permitting

Spring, 2021 – Summer, 2022

Pre-construction and Construction

August, 2022

Huntington Middle School Completed


“We take our responsibility to be resourceful stewards of the bond funds very seriously,” said Mike Haas, president of Kelso School Board. “The Kelso School District’s Executive Construction Team analyzed multiple options for completing this project while school is in session through the lens of maximizing student learning, duration of construction, and cost.” 

The three options reviewed were:




Duration of Construction

Impact on Student Learning

Option 1

28 portables on HMS site

$3 million

15 months


Decreased safety and security, maximum use of portable environment

Option 2

Partial portables and partial in HMS

$2.5 million

28 months


Learning and teaching in construction noise, reduced air quality, decreased safety and security, partial use of portable environment

Option 3

Alternative Site


15 months


Classroom environment similar to current learning environment, minimal use of portable environment

After a thorough evaluation, Option 3 was selected and the decision was made to temporarily relocate students for the 2021-22 school year ONLY while construction is taking place. With the opening of Lexington Elementary in the fall of 2021, Catlin Elementary will be vacant and available to be used as the alternative site with minor modifications.

Relocation for one school year will effect families, staff, and students, and will directly impact current 4th and 5th grade students at Huntington feeder elementaries and current Huntington 6th graders.

Kelso School District is committed to the safety and security of staff and students, maximizing student learning within an optimal learning environment, and open and transparent communication.  A survey where community members can share feedback and ask questions is available here:

“We are extremely confident in the Huntington staff who will lead this important transition for our Husky students as we navigate complex construction plans,” said Mary Beth Tack, superintendent. Strategic planning and conversations have started in regards to alternate sites for HMS athletics, music performances, etc. Tack added, “The modernization work ahead of nearly $30 million will leave a lasting impact for future generations. We are proud to be part of it.”