For many of the estimated 17,159 students across the Auburn School District, Sept. 6 was the end-of-summer bummer, the official harshing of the mellow.
For teachers and administrators, however, the vibe was completely different, the grins impossible to mask on the big morning.
“We’re so excited for this year,” Dr. Alan Spicciati, Auburn School District Superintendent, said on Tuesday. “It’s going to be a great year. I’ve been noticing the optimism on staff’s faces every day, as we gear up to get started, and we can’t wait to have our kids back.”
And for the 110 new educators who’ve joined the ASD for the 2023-2024 school year, ditto the buzz, as there’s a lot that’s going to happen.
The opening of the new Terminal Park Elementary School at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday has generated a lot of excited chatter. Not only is the school brand spanking new, replacing what had been the ASD’s oldest school building, it is also the last of the eight schools to be completed under the 2016 bond program.
“This is the last one, and it went by pretty fast,” Spicciati said. “All eight have come in on time and on budget, and we’re very proud about that. It’s just fantastic to to have the community’s support in providing our students and staff with the schools they need to learn.”
The entire community is invited to the official Terminal Park ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26, Spicciati added.
Given the completion of the eighth school, the building at the old Olympic Middle School that has served until now as school space for students of the four elementary school while those schools were under construction, will be razed during this school year to make way for the new Olympic Middle School’s athletic fields.
Further, putting a few hard memories and fears to bed, the ASD will now treat COVID-19 in a manner similar to other illnesses. That is, there will be no remote learning, and no mandatory masking or distancing.
“So students who are sick should always stay home,” Spicciati said. “And if they do test positive for COVID, we recommend that they follow public health guidance and isolate for five days. But we’re really back to normal as much as possible. I am excited for a school year that’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for the kids in the ways that they missed out on a few years ago.”
For the second year in a row, according to district spokesperson Vicki Alonzo, the ASD is providing the required school supplies plus breakfast and lunch to all students in grades kindergarten through high school via the federal Community Eligibility Provision program as well as state and local programs and grants.
“For us, this is really responsive to the needs of our families, and it really supports our staff to have students that we know have had that important meal, and will be ready will all school supplies on day one,” said Spicciati.
The ASD is likewise providing fifth-grade camp at Camp Auburn at no cost to families at Lake Retreat in Ravensdale.
“For two years in a row, we’ve gotten a grant through an organization called Outdoor Schools WA that is paying all of the expenses of Camp Auburn,” said Spicciati. “So, all fifth-graders in the district have the opportunity to attend camp for a week at no cost to their family.
“That has really been a game changer. Because school supplies and camp fees have really gone up with inflation, and we think that’s an important experience for kids to be able to be outdoors and learn some of the things that you and I had a chance to growing up that maybe they don’t have as much of a chance at in the modern day,” Spicciati said.
The ASD expects to take a replacement levy to voters as early as February, which it is required to do every four years. The levy provides 15 percent of the district’s budget for enrichment activities and supports for students.