Deeder: Crestline will be together in Sept.

Evergreen district eyes options for temporary school

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder on Tuesday night said the district plans to have Crestline Elementary School students and staff under one roof beginning in September. He made the announcement to a packed audience during a school board meeting.

The Cascade Park school was destroyed by fire on Feb. 3. A new school is not expected until the fall of 2014.

One option for the next school year is to lease an empty storefront. The district plans to meet with a real estate agent today to begin looking at potential property.

The second option is to put portable classrooms on 9 acres the district already owns, on the northeast corner of 162nd Avenue and 39th Street.

District officials have met with the city of Vancouver to see about having that property temporarily zoned to allow for a temporary school facility, according to Sue Steinbrenner, the district's director of facilities.

"We can't wait very long," Deeder said regarding the district making a decision. "We're going to make it work."

Crestline Principal Bobbi Hite was singled out by Deeder and received a round of applause.

"She pulled her staff together. I want her to know how much we appreciate it," Deeder said.

"We're exhausted. Grieving. Grateful," Kirsten Bledsoe, a Crestline counselor said. "It was awesome to see our kids on Thursday. We miss each other. It's going to be a journey."

The school board met the morning of the Feb. 3 fire and began making a plan. Members determined that keeping students with their teachers and keeping grade levels together was vital. Other elementary schools in the district made space for the Crestline community. For instance, Ellsworth Elementary became the host school for all Crestline first-grade students and teachers.

Hutch Daniels, a fifth-grade Crestline teacher, said, "We lost our school. We lost all our stuff. But it's been amazing and so humbling to see the other schools work so hard to get us in. There were full classrooms, and an hour later, empty classrooms" ready for Crestline students and teachers. "We totally, completely appreciate the hard work of the community. Three days after we lost our school, we were teaching again."

Each Crestline student was given a "comforting blanket" donated by the Linus Project, Daniels said. "My kids' homework this weekend is to watch a movie wrapped up in that blanket."