As a resident of the oldest neighborhood in Liberty Lake, Sharon Carlson can’t imagine her children going to any other school than the one just down the road from her home.
So when the Central Valley School District proposed an enrollment boundary that would bus her children away from Liberty Lake Elementary, she rallied with other parents and residents to prevent that from happening.
“We are the original Liberty Lake community,” Carlson told the Central Valley School Board on Monday night. “I feel like we are being cut out.”
The board heard Carlson’s plea.
After 30 minutes of emotional testimony from Carlson and about a dozen other parents and residents, the board unanimously voted to postpone a decision establishing new enrollment boundaries for two new schools planned in the eastern half of the district.
The boundary changes, recommended by a committee charged with establishing which children would go to those schools, propose busing more than 70 students from the west side of Liberty Lake to Greenacres Elementary School.
Residents said the community on the west side of the lake was there before any of the new developments overwhelming the school system, and should be allowed to remain at Liberty Lake Elementary.
“The original Liberty Lake community has been so supportive of the Central Valley School District,” said board President Anne Long.
“I’m ill at ease when I think of not including them” in the Liberty Lake Elementary boundary.
The board agreed that it needed more time to pore over data and to come up with additional solutions to help alleviate crowding in the eastern half of the district.
In May, the school board approved a $55.2 million bond proposal to build new elementary and middle schools in the Liberty Lake area.
It’s after those schools are built that the new boundaries would take effect, possibly as soon as 2007.
The Liberty Lake and Greenacres areas have grown by more than 1,000 homes in the past decade, and an additional 2,000 homes are planned.
As a result, Liberty Lake Elementary is bulging. It was built in 1997 for 650 students, and is expected to have an enrollment of more than 800 students next year.
Under the proposed boundary changes, the new elementary school would be made up of about 400 students from Liberty Lake, Greenacres and Progress elementary schools.
Currently, all middle school students east of Barker Road to the Idaho state line attend Greenacres Middle School.
The new boundary would stop at Harvard Road. Students from Harvard Road to Idaho, north to the Spokane River, would attend the new middle school, which would be adjacent to Liberty Lake Elementary.
It’s capacity would be 650 to 750 students.
Little opposition was heard Monday about the proposed middle school boundaries.
The bulk of the complaints were about the elementary boundary’s effect on those living on the west side of the lake.
Some parents have said they would not vote for the bond to build the schools if the district goes through with the changes.
“We knew we would have to make some cuts somewhere, and that would be difficult,” said Tony Cheshier, chairman of the boundary review committee.
The committee agreed that the 70 students from the west side of the lake needed to be shifted to keep the school under capacity. Otherwise, even with a new elementary school, Liberty Lake would be overcrowded.
Cheshier said the committee could not give the board a proposal that included an overcrowded school “when the whole point of building a school is that it is suppose to alleviate the growing pains.”
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