Rosa Parks population reaches 789
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
September 14, 2012 · Updated 10:19 AM
Frustrations ran high at Lake Washington School District’s (LWSD) school board meeting on Monday as members of the Redmond Ridge community shared with trustees their concerns about the overcrowding issue at Rosa Parks Elementary School.
As of this week, the school’s population is 789 — 25 more than the district’s August projections for this year and 76 more than the school’s total capacity, which includes 10 portable classrooms. The capacity for just the building is 483.
Julianne Bogaty, whose daughter is in second grade at Rosa Parks, said one of their main concerns stems from the fact that the school has been overcrowded for a number of years, but the issue has been continuously put on hold to the point that it has reached a state of emergency.
“This is an individual issue that needs immediate action,” she said. “We’re going up and up. We’re bursting at the seams.”
The next biggest elementary school is Louisa May Alcott Elementary School just outside of Redmond, which has a population of 659.
A RECENT DEVELOPMENT
One of the reasons for this spike in population has been the addition of Redmond Ridge East, a new development that has grown significantly in the past few years. Children from this community, which Bogaty said is separated from Redmond Ridge by a forest, as well as some main roads, also attend Rosa Parks. Suggestions have been made to send students in these neighborhoods to Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School in Woodinville, which is a little less than three miles north and has a population of 343. The school’s capacity is 552 students.
Bogaty said Redmond Ridge and Redmond Ridge East are each distinct and self-contained neighborhoods, which would make the separation easier.
Once the commenting period of the board meeting concluded, LWSD board member Chris Carlson said he would like to hear from members of the Redmond Ridge East community and their take on the issue since no one was present Monday.
NEED FOR A NEW SCHOOL
Aubree Scolnick, who has lived in Redmond Ridge East for two years and has a preschooler set to attend Rosa Parks soon, said she wonders why students aren’t being filtered into Wilder.
“That would help at least temporarily to put a small dent in the problem,” she said.
Scolnick acknowledged that with a population nearing 800 at Rosa Parks, they could only send so many students to Wilder for fear of overcrowding that school.
“Clearly a new school will have to be built at some point,” she said. “The community is growing at a rapid pace…so one will see more and more families trickling in and a need to have a quality, well-functioning school for their children to attend.”
Scolnick said when she first heard about the overcrowding issue at Rosa Parks, she wasn’t too concerned because there were plans to build a new elementary school that would split the population.
This new school was part of a failed $234 million bond measure in 2010. LWSD has plans to issue another bond in 2014, which would include a new elementary school on Redmond Ridge. However, it would take another couple years for the school to be complete — if the bond even passes.
Kathryn Reith, communications director for LWSD, said they dealt with a similar overcrowding issue on the Sammamish Plateau at Samantha Smith Elementary School, which was close to 800 students for a few years before Rachel Carson Elementary School opened in 2008. She said when they went through the re-boundary process for the plateau, they surveyed parents, asking for specific criteria in how they thought the community should be split.
Reith said they would need to have a similar process for Rosa Parks and Wilder.
“There’s two schools involved here,” she said. “We have a responsibility as a school district to ask the right questions of all the potential parties involved.”
Sharon Brunelle, who has a fifth-grader at Wilder, said she thinks it makes sense to have some of Rosa Parks’ students apply for variance and transfer to Wilder until a more permanent solution, such as a new school, is attained. Variance is when a student attends a school outside their neighborhood.
“With the loss of the sixth-graders (due to the district-wide grade reconfiguration), Wilder now has some classrooms sitting empty,” she said. “Why not ease the burden on Rosa Parks by transferring some students to Wilder? I don’t see a downside for anyone.”
Brunelle added that it has also become more difficult for them to find volunteers to fill vacant positions at Wilder — having a larger parent pool to draw from would be a plus.
“I understand the boundary issue is a hot button, but it seems to me that we would not need to change boundaries if we implement a temporary solution by ‘variancing’ some students,” she said. “It may not solve the overcrowding problem, but it would ease the burden a little in the short term.”
Reith said the district approaches variances on in an individual basis. The district does not suggest it as it is not very efficient.
On Sept. 27 at 6:45 p.m., LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce and other district officials will meet with the community to work on both short-term and long-term solutions to the overcrowding problem. The meeting will be at Rosa Parks, located at 22845 N.E. Cedar Park Crescent on Redmond Ridge.
In the meantime, some immediate action has been taken to mitigate some of the issues: Additional aide time has been allocated to lower the student-to-adult ratio on the playground during lunch recess; recess has been split to so only two grades are on the playground at once. Monica Garcia will serve as a part-time associate principal and district funding will be provided to the building budget to help offset some costs for the school.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.