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Area schools see flux as new year nears

Hallways filled with boxes and stacked furniture, classrooms awaiting a carpenter’s hand or a paintbrush or bathrooms in various stages of disrepair – any or all of that could unnerve educators establishing a new school.

Spokane Public Schools’ first Montessori principal puts the chaos in perspective.

“The kids will come. The teachers will teach and the little stuff will take care of itself,” Shannon Lawson said. “I feel calm and reassured that everything will get done.”

Schools are literally on the move in the state’s second-largest district as the first day of class approaches.

• Montessori programs at Jefferson and Balboa elementary schools are being centralized in the old Havermale School building on West Knox Avenue.

• High school students who attended the Community School at Havermale are moving to the former Bancroft School at North Monroe Street and Maxwell Avenue.

• Pratt Elementary will reopen as Eagle Peak for the district’s students who struggle the most with behavior.

• Construction is done at North Central High School’s Institute of Science and Technology and landscape and interior work is in progress. The new building will open on schedule.

• Starting this year, the Multi-Agency Adolescent Program for students experiencing mental health struggles also will be located on the North Central campus, in portables at the corner of Washington Street and Indiana Avenue.

• Hutton Elementary students will attend classes in the former Jefferson Elementary, now called Camp Hutton, as their school is renovated.

• Finch Elementary students will go to school for a few more months in the former Westview Elementary.

The changes reflect the district’s commitment to expanding options, said Superintendent Shelley Redinger.

By moving the Montessori program to a central location, for example, more students will be able to attend the program and there’s potential to add kindergarten and middle school classes.

The Community School will remain a project-based school, but join a nationwide program called New Tech Network. “We are really ramping up the technology resource in all learning,” said Cindy McMahon, that school’s principal. “There’s a huge emphasis on collaboration. Teams of students work together to meet benchmarks and then make a presentation to a community member.”

Pratt Elementary, the only Spokane school located within Spokane Valley city limits, has been shuttered since 2007, and workers are busy replacing drywall, moving in furniture and updating technology.

Neighbors of the school, who protested its closure, seem happy it’s reopening, Redinger said.

North Central’s Institute of Science and Technology is nearing completion, and educators are excited to see the dream come to fruition. With equipment sophisticated enough to do doctoral-level scientific research, even Gov. Jay Inslee had to take a tour.

“It’s the most amazing space,” said Principal Steve Fisk. “I’m super excited, not just for North Central but for the Spokane district, that we will be able to offer a one-of-kind program that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country.”

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