Changing school boundaries is NOT a black and white decision

The last time the Boundary Review Committee met, they came up with ideas for where school boundaries might be adjusted to help ease the burden of some of our overcrowded schools.

After that meeting, our Transportation Department took those suggestions and came up with some boundary adjustments for the committee to review at their meeting this week.

To ease the impact on families, the adjustments suggested included entire neighborhoods of houses, so boundaries didn’t run down the middle of a subdivision. The smallest neighborhood impacted had 35 students, and the largest had 226.

The elementary schools impacted by the suggested changes were Clover Creek, Frederickson, Graham, Nelson, Rocky Ridge, and Shining Mountain.

There weren’t as many options for our high schools. Both Graham-Kapowsin and Bethel High are both overcrowded and Spanaway Lake only has so much room. But the possibility of moving two neighborhoods (about 200 students) from GK to SLHS was discussed.

There were no suggested boundary changes for the middle schools, as they are currently not as overcrowded as the other schools.

The Boundary Committee also suggested that any new housing developments coming online in more crowded areas be bused to less crowded schools. The new Lipoma Firs development was specifically mentioned, as most of it will be in our district — around 1,100 homes in three phases. We are already seeing the impact of Phase One, and there are more students to come.

The group had other ideas, such as shifting programs like Endeavor and SPED to less crowded locations, and putting all elementary specialists on carts, so they would travel from room to room instead of having a designated classroom space.

None of these options is anyone’s first choice. But this is where the district is at with four failed bonds since 2016. There is also no guarantee any of these changes would help for more than a few years, as the district continues to grow at the rate of 300 students per year. That’s the size of a new elementary school every two years.

Aside from school boundaries, there was also a lot of talk about the failed bond, some of the ideas the Long Range Facilities Task Force is exploring, and where the two groups overlap.

The Boundary Review Committee will meet again on Jan 9.

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