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Cedar Program grows up, moves out

While Coupeville School District is celebrating the passage of a major school renovation bond, the district’s Cedar Program is also undergoing changes, with a move to bigger quarters planned for next fall.

The school board May 17 approved a lease with Seattle Pacific University for the use of several buildings at Camp Casey Conference Center during the school year for the district’s homeschool supplement program.

The lease agreement includes full-time use of classroom B and shared use of the Quartermasters building, staff quarters A or D, the gymnasium and outdoor fields, at a cost of $3,000 per month.

Classroom B has approximately 2,300 square feet of useable space, with three classrooms, an office space, two restrooms and a storage closet.

According to the lease agreement, Camp Casey management agrees to refurbish the building for the program’s use, including repainting the interior and installing new carpet and vinyl throughout.

The gym facility includes a three-quarter-size hardwood floor basketball court and a recreation area with ping pong and pool tables.

Cedar co-director David Pfeiffer is excited about the move, which will allow the program to offer a wider variety of classes.

“It felt like a whole lot of positives and natural connections,” he said.

For example, being right on the beach will enable them to offer marine science classes and work with volunteers at Admiralty Head lighthouse. The camp also has its own marine lab, or students could easily take the ferry across to Port Townsend to visit the marine lab there.

Use of the gym and soccer field at the camp will enable them to offer more “P.E. type” classes, Pfeiffer said.

The offerings will expand, but Pfeiffer said the program will continue to keep its focus on the arts, which is the core of the curriculum. They will still offer several languages, violin, choir, painting, dance and drama.

Co-director Deb Lund was looking forward to having a real auditorium for the budding actors, complete with a stage on which to strut and fret their hearts out.

Lund and Pfeiffer said they hope to expand the arts offerings, and will be adding guitar and piano lessons in the fall.

While homeschool parents in the program are expected to provide the basics of education for their children, the Cedar Program supplements that core with things the parents may not have access to, such as art, music and language.

Pfeiffer said they offered a chemistry class for the first time this school year, something not many parents would want to tackle at home.

Coupeville Superintendent Bill Myhr said the Cedar Program has been an amazing story, starting in Oct. 2002 with just 17 students. Enrollment is now up to 57 students, for an equivalent of 45 full-time students. The program draws students from all over the island, not just the Coupeville School District.

That translates into real money for the district, with each “full-time equivalent” equalling $4,800. At that rate, the program is more than paying for itself, and Myhr said it will continue to pay for itself even with the move to larger quarters.

Rent at Au Sable was $13,300 for the school year, compared to $27,000 at Camp Casey, but that includes a lot of auxiliary costs such as utilities, and it’s a much larger space.

In a survey of Cedar Program parents, 25 of 28 favored the Camp Casey location, which is more accessible by bus.

“It’s an exciting move,” Myhr said. “It’s meeting the needs of an important segment of the community.”

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