Two new multifamily housing developments will likely prompt the first of many boundary changes for Spokane Public Schools.
“It’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come,” said Superintendent Shelley Redinger.
The two developments, the 240-unit Copper River Apartments and the 75-unit Catholic Charities development, are expected to add about 100 elementary students to the district.
In response to the new developments, administrators recommended changing the attendance boundaries of the development area from the Hutton/Sacajawea/Lewis & Clark boundary area to the Audubon/Glover/North Central boundary. The board of directors supported that move Wednesday, although they did not vote.
The district will now work to communicate with families impacted by the changes and develop transportation routes. The board will officially vote on the boundary changes in June.
Over the next several years, there will likely be more changes to class configuration and school boundaries. The district plans to change attendance boundaries by 2021 and may move sixth graders into middle school. Those changes are in response to increasing enrollment and new statewide K-3 class-size reductions.
“Keep in mind, this is short-range planning,” said District Associate Superintendent Mark Anderson during Wednesday’s meeting. “We really probably need a new school on the west side of town.”
Anderson emphasized the importance of changing the boundaries early. That way, families moving into the new apartments know where their children will go to school, he said. More time also allows the schools to prepare for the new students.
Kimberly Stretch, principal of Audubon Elementary, attended Wednesday’s meeting. She said her school has room and she welcomes the new students. However, she emphasized that some of the students, particularly from the Catholic Charities Project, may need extra attention.
“Know those families will need extra resources, and those kids will need extra support,” she said.
The 76-unit Catholic Charities development west of Fort George Wright Drive, near Spokane Falls Community College, is expected to be finished in a year, Anderson said. It will serve homeless families and is just one piece of an ambitious Catholic Charities building blitz aimed at ending chronic street homelessness by 2020.
Meanwhile, some of the Copper River Apartments will be complete in September, with all 240 finished and occupied by January.
Hutton Elementary, the school that currently serves that area of Spokane, is already at capacity, according to documents presented to the board of directors. Sacajawea Middle School, as well as Lewis and Clark High School, are also nearing capacity.
Audubon Elementary, Glover Middle School and North Central are not at capacity and are relatively close to the new developments.
Board member Michael Wiser supported the change, but encouraged staff to keep transportation and classroom space in mind moving forward.
“I guess my strong input would be we go the extra mile if we had to add a bus line for choice programs or add a portable,” he said.