The Mead School District may have to build a new high school without public water after a Spokane County Boundary Review Board decision.
The board’s Monday night ruling is the latest challenge in Mead’s 2 1/2-year battle to relieve overcrowding by building a second high school.
The delay could cost the district a chance to meet a June 30 deadline to qualify for the $9 million in state matching funds for the $37.5 million project.
Calling the school “urban sprawl,” three of the five board members voted against Whitworth Water District’s plan to extend pipes onto the 80-acre site.
The Boundary Review Board is a volunteer board appointed to judge whether annexations and extensions of public services, like water, are in the public interest.
In this case, BRB members worried:
that the school’s environmental impact study and site selection process were inadequate;
that the school would promote urban development in Peone Prairie, northeast of Spokane.
That it would take land listed by the Soil Conservation District as prime farm land out of production.
“It’s up to us to draw the line,” BRB member Annemarie Wiser said. “If the school goes in, we will hear this issue again of drawing the line farther east. People will say it’s just another 80 acres.”
District superintendent Bill Mester said the school board will likely appeal the decision to Spokane County Superior Court.
“We have a 12-inch water line right up to the edge of our site,” he said. “If you consider using a well, it would be much better for public health and for the aquifer to bring public water over.”
Regardless of the decision, Mester said, the district won’t withdraw from the Mount Spokane Park Drive site.
“The Boundary Review Board’s decision does not follow existing law,” said Mead’s attorney, Tom Kingen.
Just two months ago Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen ruled the district’s selection process and environmental impact study were thorough and reasonable. Eitzen was ruling in an appeal of Mead’s site selection brought by the Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of Peone Prairie.
And the BRB’s authority to refuse to let Whitworth extend its water service within its own service boundaries is being questioned in court and in the Legislature.
Mead is proceeding with its plans. Its blueprints are being reviewed by Spokane County for building permits.
Mead has 500 more students in junior and senior high school than the existing buildings can hold. The district is currently handling the load with 24 portable classrooms.
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