Class may have ended for good at Pratt Elementary, but the Spokane Valley City Council’s vote Tuesday to help fund a community center there has Edgecliff residents hopeful they can keep the building open for neighborhood programs.
With few businesses, churches or other large places to gather in the area, many Edgecliff residents described the school as the heart of the community and argued passionately against Spokane Public Schools’ decision to close it this year.
As the city solicited proposals for the $36,000 it set aside for social service agencies in next year’s budget, neighborhood organizers and Valley Partners requested $20,000 to help keep the space in the building available to the community.
The council granted that request at its Tuesday meeting, and a $10,000 private donation had been promised earlier if the city pitched in.
After the vote, Weed and Seed program director Gail Kogle said she was excited to work with Valley Partners, which offers an array of social services in the Valley at 10814 E. Broadway Ave.
“What’s the most critical that we do, and where do we go from here?” she said are what she’d be asking neighbors next.
The decision comes as the Weed and Seed grant that funded many anti-crime efforts in Edgecliff is set to expire. Aided by more than $250,000 from the grant over the last five years, Edgecliff SCOPE, sheriff’s deputies, the Department of Corrections, the school and other groups have worked to push out drugs, property crime an other problems that were rampant in the area 10 years ago.
The grant helped pay for the recent neighborhood cleanup, which removed tons of garbage out of Edgecliff every year at no cost. The neighborhood also organized after-school activities at Pratt, computer classes, movie nights and other programs that often took place at the school, which was a designated Weed and Seed safe haven.
As he made the his presentation on the community center idea to the council, Valley Partners CEO Ken Briggs said the school district would agree to let the neighborhood continue using the school if the neighborhood paid for the electricity and other costs associated with keeping the building open.