March 3, 2011 in Washington Voices

Central Valley School District’s future crowded

Bond failure complicates Greenacres’ capacity problem
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Central Valley School District asked voters last month to approve a $69.6 million construction bond. That initiative was rejected, receiving only 46.77 percent approval. It needed 60 percent to pass.

The bond would have paid for a new elementary school, renovation of outdated schools and expansion of Evergreen Middle School, which would have dealt with the overflow of students coming from Greenacres Middle School.

Greenacres has the capacity for 696 students – more if you include the portable currently on site. It is at capacity with 756 students. At the beginning of the school year, 20 students new to the district were sent from Greenacres toNorth Pines Middle School.

District spokeswoman Melanie Rose said those students have been invited back to Greenacres, but 10 of them chose to stay at North Pines.

Even if the bond had passed, the district would have faced overcrowding at the school next year.

“We’ll have to put some temporary solutions in place as we move forward,” said Superintendent Ben Small. “What those are, we certainly don’t have all the answers yet.”

Those answers won’t come until Small makes a recommendation to the board of directors March 14.

Small said next year could be a challenge in regards to population at Greenacres Middle School. In years past, students new to the district have been overflowed to other middle schools. Next year, students from Greenacres, Liberty Lake and Progress elementary schools may be bused to other middle schools.

“The fifth-graders that we know are coming for this coming fall, we can’t accommodate all of them,” Rose said.

Small said it is still too early to speculate when the district will put another bond before the voters. He also wasn’t ready to infer why the bond failed.

“Any time you need 60 percent there are going to be multiple reasons why we didn’t reach 60 percent,” he said. “For us to just say it’s one reason and then not learn from it is wrong. The thing that we do know is that this was not a failure because of any area or district, so you couldn’t look to the Ponderosa district and say it failed there. It was a districtwide issue. It wasn’t just one side of the district or the other.”

Small said that the district has not made plans for community input.

“There’s nothing planned right now,” he said. “But you can be assured of this: It’s a community-based plan that involved our community heavily and we are going to move forward in that same transparent way with community involvement that we did last time. I think it’s really important for us to stick to those principles.”

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