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Superintendent proposes idea for Theler's future

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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The Mary E. Theler Community Center could be the future home of an early childhood education resource center, if school board plans come to fruition.

Superintendent Dana Rosen-bach presented a brief overview of a potential plan for the future of the Mary E. Theler Wetlands and Community Center during the North Mason School Board meeting last week. The board scheduled a study session at 5:30 p.m. July 21, an hour before the next board meeting, to further discuss the idea.

"We have some really good ideas and some things I believe we can move forward on and talk about in July," Rosenbach told the board.

During the June 16 board meeting, Rosenbach presented the idea of splitting the Theler property into the original three land parcels and dealing with each separately.

Those pieces are the overflow parking lot, the 5-acre community center and play field, and the 55-acre wetlands.

Rosenbach proposed the district maintain ownership of the community center and play field, and turn that parcel into an early childhood education resource center.

"We are finding, like many other districts, that kindergarten isn't early enough to get kids ready by graduation," she said, adding that while preschools are available in the North Mason district, there are "way more kids than they are able to serve."

In addition to preschool facilities, the center could include support and programs for teenage parents, those who don't speak English or parents of children with developmental disabilities.

Rosenbach said grants are available for that type of center or facility.

"There are a lot of powerful things that can happen," Rosenbach said.

Rosenbach said a government agency, which she did not name, is exploring the possibility of taking all three Theler properties; however, she added that "at this point, I don't think their proposal would meet all of, the things we want it to do with that property in that form."

District officials have been speaking with other government agencies, including the state Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, and the state Parks, Service.

"It gets more attractive to them in looking at each of those three pieces, and it gets more attractive to us," Rosenbach said.

Should the district decide to split up the properties, Rosenbach said the district could surplus the 55-acre wetland property and transfer ownership of the property and a grant for trail maintenance to another agency.

"I think that meets all of the requirements and all of the needs of the community and the district," she said. "It maintains that access for recreation for all of the community and for US to use for science.... but it also allows us to focus on our mission."

Several school board members said they looked forward to hearing more at the July meeting.

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Original Publication Date: June 23, 2016

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