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Lake Washington School District plans for growing enrollment

Submitted by the Lake Washington School District

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) outlined today the specific actions it will take over the next year and beyond to accommodate its rapidly growing enrollment. The total number of students served by the district grew by more than 1,600 in the last two years, more than any other King County school district. An increase of approximately 4,000 students is expected over eight years.

The district proposed two bond measures this year, in February and April, to provide funding to build new schools. Neither measure gained the supermajority (60 percent) needed to pass although both received a majority of votes.

King County Elections certified the special election results on Tuesday: 52.59 percent approved and 47.41 percent rejected.

“We have a number of actions planned for next year, many of which would have been needed no matter the outcome of the bond measures,” noted Dr. Traci Pierce, superintendent. “However, without the potential of new school buildings in two years, we will also have to determine additional actions for the future.”

The actions planned for 2014-15 include:

• Continue the temporary boundary adjustment between Rosa Parks and Wilder elementary schools.

• Implement the planned temporary boundary  for new housing developments involving Rockwell, Einstein and Mann elementary schools.

• Begin a district-wide process to review and adjust all school attendance boundaries, for implementation in 2015-16.

• Add four portable classrooms each at Mann and Wilder elementary schools, and add two at Redmond Elementary School.

• Limit all-day kindergarten sections as needed.

• Move Rockwell Elementary School’s preschool to another location.

• Move the Mead Elementary Learning Center program for special education students to McAuliffe Elementary School.

• Begin a new Quest program for gifted students at Blackwell Elementary School, serving students who would previously have gone to Alcott Elementary School for Quest.

• Send Sammamish area students entering middle school Quest in 2014-15 to Evergreen Middle School instead of Redmond Middle School.

• Limit variance approvals at all levels.

• Modify facilities at Redmond and Evergreen middle schools to increase capacity.

The district-wide process to adjust attendance boundaries is expected to rebalance enrollment. The goal is to maximize the use of current classroom space by moving students from overcrowded schools to schools that have some space available or where additional portable classrooms could be added. The district currently has more students than permanent classroom space and some school campuses cannot accommodate any additional portable classrooms.

A process to determine the new boundaries will begin in the fall of 2014, with board approval of new boundaries occurring in time for kindergarten enrollment in February 2015 for the 2015-16 school year. The boundary process may leave in place the current temporary boundary changes or could further modify those school boundaries.

Other actions that may be needed between 2015 and 2017 include limits to all-day kindergarten, continued limits to variance approvals, moving district programs to other schools, adding portables and modifying the facilities at Juanita High School to increase capacity.

At its May 5 work session, the district’s board of directors discussed potential funding for some of the items called for in these actions. A total of $40 million in unallocated funds is available from bonds sold from the 2006 measure as well as unspent state construction funding assistance. Using funds from either source would require that the board hold a public hearing and vote to repurpose the use of the funds.

The board had previously indicated that unspent funds from the 2006 bond measure could be used to support pool and athletic field partnerships, if a bond measure passed. Board members at the work session noted that this interest was contingent on passing a bond, which did not happen.

“Unfortunately, we need that money now for classroom space,” noted school board President Jackie Pendergrass.

The board has not made any decisions concerning the potential for any future ballot measure.

 

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