December Community Questions

Photo of Superintendent Linda Quinn

Ferndale School District

Response to Community Questions/Concerns
December 2018


1. How did the Ferndale School District determine the cost of the proposed new Ferndale High School facility?


The cost of a new FHS is based on square footage and is comparable to other local school construction projects. Fortunately, we have many comparisons to work with as many school districts in Whatcom County have built high schools in recent years. The Ferndale School District worked with an architect to determine requirements for space and then projected a cost based on that requirement.


The reason our project may look more expensive than other local projects is that our building is much bigger. We have only one high school in Ferndale, and a new building will be designed to house 1600 students. Other high schools are much smaller. For the sake of comparison Blaine High School’s student count was 674 in 2017.


2. I was told that my student lives inside the “Walk Zone” for the school district. Can someone explain to me why they cannot ride the bus?


“Walk Zones” are determined by the State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. OSPI has designated “One Mile Walk Zones” for all districts across Washington as part of the process for determining the transportation budgets they receive. That means districts do not receive funding for “basic” bus riders (meaning general education students, not students with special needs, students who are homeless, etc.) if they live within one mile of the school they attend. Walk zones for each school can be found on the Transportation page of the district website. Additional information and contact information for Student Transportation at OSPI can be found at


One additional note about the “Walk Zone” concept: In recent years, the method for calculating the walk zone changed and is now determined by “walking path” versus “as the crow flies,” which was the previous standard. This change added many new eligible bus riders.


3. Where can I get additional information about athletic schedules and the cost of attending games?  


Admission is charged for football, volleyball, basketball and wrestling events in the Ferndale School District. Ferndale School District high school students with valid ASB cards may attend games free of charge. Additionally, senior citizens may purchase an Annual Senior Gold Card for $5.00. Senior Gold Card holders receive free admission to all Ferndale School District home events including athletics, plays, concerts and any other program with charged admission.


For additional information:


4. What groups currently use the Ferndale High School Performing Arts Center?


Community members may request the chance to rent the Ferndale Performing Arts Center. The space has been used during the past five years for: 

  • College and university presentations and special speakers
  • Community dance recitals and performances
  • Community music concerts
  • Community safety forums
  • Community teacher workshops
  • Community theater group rehearsals and performances
  • FSD middle school dramatic rehearsals and productions
  • Eagle Scout projects – concerts, fundraisers, etc.
  • National drama tour group workshops and performances
  • Funerals and memorial services
  • Weddings
  • Graduations of local educational institutions
  • Political informational forums
  • Annual meetings of local businesses
  • NWC athletic director conferences/trainings
  • NW youth leadership conferences

If the proposed bond is successful in February 2019, the Performing Arts Center will be refurbished, and the community will be able to continue renting and using the facility when it is not in use by the Ferndale School District.


5. If the February 2019 Bond Proposal is successful, where will the new school be built?


The new school will be constructed on the same site as the existing Ferndale High School next to the old building. This will allow students to occupy the existing building until the new facility is ready for them.


6. How old is the current Ferndale High School?


The school was originally built in the 1930s and has had a series of upgrades and additions throughout the years. The last major renovation and addition was completed in the 1970s. Minor improvements (the addition of a new weight facility and some classroom conversions) were completed as part of the 2006 bond.


7. Where do excess funds go if the proposed bond projects come in under budget?


If the proposed bond projects come in “under-budget,” the Community Oversight Committee will review budget and make recommendations to the School Board for best use for the remaining funds. (NOTE: All of the funds will be used for facilities improvements at one of the district’s buildings. They cannot be used for textbooks or salary increases or other general fund expenditures.)


8. Why do we need a new Ferndale High School?


As with anything that is used and loved for years, Ferndale High School has reached a point beyond ability to repair. Current conditions affect and limit student learning.


Safety is also an ever-increasing concern. Ferndale High school has 80-100 different access doors, a situation that makes it virtually impossible to create a campus that meets today’s security standards.


We have stewarded the Ferndale High School Facility for many years, and we are now asking the community to help us build a new space that will provide a great start to every student’s future.


9. Why doesn’t the School Board entertain public comments at the end of their meetings as well as at the beginning of their meetings -- like they used to do?


Prior to 2016, the School Board used to hear public comments at the beginning of their meetings only about items on the agenda, and then again at the end of the meetings about any topic of the speaker’s choosing. Dissatisfied with the way the public comment process was working, Board members devoted time at two different meetings in October 2015 and November 2015 to consider how they could improve their communication with stakeholders through the public comment process. To this end, they instituted several new practices in December 2015. These included:

  • Allowing patrons to speak at the beginning of their meetings about any topics of their choosing, not only those topics reflected on the agenda, thereby eliminating the need for them to sit through an entire meeting to have their say.
  • Removing the public comment period at the end of the meeting in favor of allowing Board members time to interact one-on-one with those audience members who were still present.
  • Providing written responses, posted on the website at the end of each month, to questions and concerns received from stakeholders during the previous month, including those that were expressed as public comments at Board meetings.
  • In addition to the forms available at Board meetings for stakeholders to leave written questions or comments for School Board members, providing a portal on the district website for such communication (originally called “Let’s Talk,” now called “The Listening Post”) In addition to The Listening Post, the board also established its own online form to receive comments and signups for folks to speak at meetings. It is located at
  • Redesigning School Board study sessions to allow more interactive dialogue between the School Board and the public.