Lake Washington School District to redraw boundaries districtwide

May 15, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: May 15, 12:02 p.m.

Children on the north end of the plateau may find themselves going to a different school within the next few years.
On May 6, the Lake Washington School District announced the first steps in its plan to accommodate growth over the next few years. District officials said they expect 4,000 new students in the school system over the next eight years.
The school board proposed two bond issues earlier this year, the first for $755 million and the second for $404 million, to fund construction of new schools. Neither reached the 60 percent approval threshold required for bonds.
Superintendent Traci Pierce said in a statement that the district has planned a series of actions to try and reduce the strain of overcrowding, beginning with the next school year.
She said that many of these actions would need to be taken anyway, but that since no new buildings will be opening within the next couple years, the district will have to look at more ways to fit students into already crowded schools.
One issue likely to draw controversy will be the start of a districtwide boundary study. The district will re-draw its boundary lines, potentially for every school, in an effort to shift students from schools where the overcrowding is more acute to areas where it’s less noticeable.
The district expects to begin the study this fall and hopes to have it complete in time for the 2015-16 school year. It has not released information about who will perform the study and if the group’s meetings will be open to the public.
Beyond starting the study, the district has a series of changes planned for next year. Those with a direct impact on Sammamish include:

  • Moving the Mead Elementary School Learning Center program for special-education students to McAuliffe Elementary.
  • Beginning a new Quest program for gifted students at Blackwell Elementary, serving students who would previously have gone to Alcott Elementary for Quest.
  • Sending Sammamish-area students entering middle school Quest in 2014-15 to Evergreen Middle School instead of Redmond Middle School.
  • Limiting all-day kindergarten sections as needed.
  • Limiting variance approvals at all levels.

Changes planned for other parts of the district include:

  • Continuing the temporary boundary adjustment between Rosa Parks and Wilder elementary schools.
  • Implementing the planned temporary boundary for new housing developments involving Rockwell, Einstein and Mann elementary schools.
  • Adding four portable classrooms each at Mann and Wilder, and adding two at Redmond Elementary.
  • Modifying facilities at Redmond and Evergreen middle schools to increase capacity.
  • Moving Rockwell Elementary’s preschool to another location.

Beyond those changes, the district outlined possible changes for future years, which could include moving some programs to different schools, adding portables and modifying Juanita High School to increase capacity.
The school board has about $40 million from other bonds that it has not spent, and some state construction money that it can tap into. Before the board could use any of those funds on new projects, it would need to hold a public hearing and take a formal vote.
The board hasn’t decided about future ballot measures, but it cannot ask for another bond during this calendar year.

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