Our work

Since last fall, we've been working to:

  • Identify the needs of each school within the Ferndale School District, and their associated costs
  • Determine priority needs for the Ferndale School District
  • Determine what should be done at Ferndale High School (the School Board asked us to make the high school a signature project)
  • Determine which projects, if any, should be implemented at the remaining schools in the District
  • Develop communication recommendations about a bond measure for the School Board

Final Recommendations

News from our meeting on March 7, 2018: 

On March 7 we met at North Bellingham Elementary School to finalize our recommendations to the School Board. 

Final recommendations:

  • Ferndale High School
    • Keep and upgrade the Performing Arts Center (PAC)
    • Build new high school at the same location
  • Safety and security 
  • Address critical facilities needs at other schools (see revised list of capital projects)
  • Accountability 
    • Create a community oversight committee

Revised Costs

  • Ferndale High School - $105 million
  • Upgraded PAC - $2 million
  • Security upgrades - $1 million (rounded)
  • Most critical needs - $4 million
  • Total cost - $112 million

Other proposals considered

  • Split the recommendations into two bonds, one focusing on the high school and the other focusing on the smaller projects. Bring two bonds to the Ferndale Community in November (rejected by the Task Force).
  • Make a recommendation to the School Board about how to prioritize State Match funding (not fully discussed, but the Task Force agreed to add the discussion and some ideas to the recommendations report). 
  • When this bond process is complete, convene a similar Task Force to review needed elementary school improvements and make recommendations (not filly discussed, but the Task Force agreed to add the discussion to the recommendations report).

Next steps

We will meet with the School Board again on March 27 to present our final recommendations. We are also working on a report capturing our entire process, which will also be presented to the School Board and will be available on this website when it is complete. 

News from our meetings on February 26 and
February 27, 2018: 

We met for three hours on February 26 to complete our draft recommendations. Below is what we presented to the School Board at their meeting on February 27 at the Vista Middle School Library.

Draft Recommendations: 

  • Ferndale High School
    • Keep and upgrade Performing Arts Center (PAC)
    • Build new high school at the same location
  • Safety and security
  • Address critical facilities needs at other schools (see list of capital projects)
  •  Accountability
    • Create a community oversight committee

Why rebuild Ferndale High School (Keeping the PAC)?

  • School Board requested we make the high school a "signature project"
  • Safety concerns (there are currently between 80 to 100 different access doors)
  • All students benefit (all students eventually go to FHS)
  • New facilities support and enhance current student programs (such as Career Technical Education [CTE], athletics, music, and more)
  • PAC is a community resource and an excellent facility that needs upgrading
  • Significant savings from reduced maintenance and more efficient utilities can be used to address facilities or educational programming in the district


  • Ferndale High School - $103 million 
  • Upgraded PAC - $5 million 
  • Security upgrades - $1 million (rounded)
  • Most critical needs - $6 million
  • Total cost - $115 million

North Bellingham Elementary School

We considered remodeling and re-opening North Bellingham but did not include it in our draft recommendations for a variety of reasons that we discussed with the School Board (slide 20 of our presentation). We will revisit this discussion at our next meeting. 

Next steps

Now that we've heard from the School Board we will meet again on March 7 to consider their input and finalize our recommendations.  

News from our meeting on January 31, 2018

Ferndale High School

At our January 31 Task Force Meeting, we discussed three options for Ferndale High School (see "Ferndale High School options" drop-down menu).

Here are our main considerations:

  • Affordability of options
  • Desire to build facilities that support Ferndale Pride
  • Request from School Board to make this a signature project
  • Concerns about whether updating existing facilities (gym, cafeteria, and the performing arts center [PAC]) provide the same level of long-term lifespan that new facilities do (not creating additional maintenance concerns down the road)
  • Providing a school facility that maintains or enhances existing programs (Career Technical Education [CTE], athletics, music, etc.)

After considering the three options the District proposed, we added a fourth option at our February 12, 2018 meeting. This is our preferred option. It would keep the PAC (with mechanical and electrical upgrades) while building the remaining areas of the school as new.

Earlier discussions on other recommendations

Security upgrades

Security of our students and faculty is of great concern to us. At many of our schools, it is challenging to manage access and to rapidly implement a lockdown, if needed. The consultant experts for the District provided a list of structural security improvements needed to make sure every school in the District provides a safer and more secure environment for our students, faculty and visitors. We will be recommending that list of security upgrades be included in this bond. These improvements include items such as:

  • Access control for more secured entrances at schools in need
  • Door locking systems
  • Exterior wall-mounted LED lighting
  • Fences and gates
  • (Others - see security upgrade document linked below)

Click here to view the list of security upgrades, (includes rough cost estimates) as determined by the District's consultants.

District Accountability

We will be recommending that the School Board convene a Community Oversight Committee to ensure that bond funds are spent according to what is detailed in the bond package, and that all projects are implemented as planned. We have developed a draft description of how such a committee could be established, its roles and operating guidelines. We think this is a critical step for the District to take to demonstrate accountability to the community.

Critical Needs

The current list of facilities needs throughout the District (as determined by a team that included district maintenance staff, architects and engineers) is substantially more than we can address in one bond issue. Click here to view the list of current needs, (includes rough cost estimate, not yet prioritized). It is important that we identify the most critical needs and dedicate funds to those projects. We've asked the District to work with their internal staff and consultants to put that list (including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing needs) in priority order. We'll address this topic at our February 26, 2018 Task Force meeting, determining how we think it should be narrowed and prioritized.

North Bellingham Elementary School

We're considering whether to recommend reopening North Bellingham after doing a partial remodel. The remodel would include building a new connecting roof over open spaces to connect the school's five separate buildings. This remodel would demolish the unsafe 1938 building and create one connected school with interior hallways and common spaces. View our factsheet on North Bellingham School for more information. As we look at the prioritized list of critical needs, we'll consider how North Bellingham fits into that list. We will be discussing this topic at our next Task Force meeting on February 26, 2018.


Please visit our feedback page to give us your thoughts on our work so far.