Letters to the Editor

Rockwell Elementary needs modernization | Letter

I am a mother of two kids in the Lake Washington School District (LWSD). I’m writing in support of the LWSD levies and bond measures. I want quality instruction for my children and future students in modern buildings that can handle tomorrow’s technical and educational needs.

My home elementary school, Norman Rockwell Elementary, has been dealing with an overcrowding issue (currently at 17 percent over enrollment capacity), which can potentially hinder student development and safety at the school. Enrollment is expected to climb throughout the school year as new families move into our area, and as new housing developments, our neighboring elementary schools in the district face the same overcrowding issues. Overcrowding has an impact on everyone in the school, students, teachers, staff and parents. From classroom size, increased parking lot traffic to increased complexity in managing whole school transitions such as recess, lunchroom and general assemblies, no activity is left unaffected. Here are just a few examples of how overcrowding could potentially impact student development and safety at the school.

• While max class sizes are governed by district rules and teacher contracts, growing enrollment frequently leads to cases where class sizes are pushed above the targets.

• Last year, third grade was in this situation with 33 students in a class and this year some of our second grade classes have up to 28 students currently.

• More children to be monitored on the playground and before and after school.

• Overcrowding leads to increased use of portables; the use of portables is becoming more commonplace in our school district. Currently 20 percent of the Rockwell student population is housed in five portables. Portables provide sub-standard classroom conditions including no water, poor ventilation and in three out of the five Rockwell portables, no air conditioning. Temperatures can reach up to the mid-80s on a warm day and remain stuffy throughout the year.

• Recent security changes at the school also mean students housed in portables have limited access to restrooms in the main building as keys are now required to access the building from the portables.

• Insufficient space for physical education classes — we have two gym classes at a time in our gymnasium.

Additionally, Rockwell is long overdue for modernization. As the bond measure in 2008 did not pass, Rockwell has continued to provide the best education it can for it students, yet changes in teaching over time lead to the need to change learning spaces to support appropriately the education program and process. If the bond measure does not pass, our schools will continue to be overcrowded, the use of portables will increase and school boundaries will likely be changed. This will affect real estate values and will impact the overall quality of the community.

Please vote to approve the three LWSD measures. Our Education Hill area needs a new school to accommodate the new housing developments and current overcrowding in the area, as well as modernize Rockwell Elementary.

Ellie O’Rourke, Redmond Learning Community



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