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News >  K-12 education

Spokane Public Schools’ forums on new boundaries may be contentious

UPDATED: Thu., April 15, 2021

North Central High School paraeducator Kelly Harmon, center, offers directions to a student looking for a classroom for the first time this school year earlier this month in Spokane. North Central is one of the schools where some students would be sent to other campuses as part of Spokane Public Schools' new boundary proposal.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
North Central High School paraeducator Kelly Harmon, center, offers directions to a student looking for a classroom for the first time this school year earlier this month in Spokane. North Central is one of the schools where some students would be sent to other campuses as part of Spokane Public Schools' new boundary proposal.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The lines have been drawn.

Now, expect a few battles as Spokane Public Schools tries to finalize proposed boundary changes that will affect thousands of families for decades to come.

The product of thousands of hours of work by a 40-member committee, the proposal was unveiled on March 30. The changes are forced mostly by the coming addition of three new middle schools, but also by a desire to improve walkability and preserve neighborhood attendance areas.

Now comes the hard part.

Beginning Thursday night, the district will hold a series of four webinars in which patrons can submit questions about the proposed boundary changes, which would begin to take effect in the fall of 2022.

Thursday night’s session will run from 6:30 to 8 and will focus on North Spokane Schools.

Another north side-specific webinar will be held Monday at the same time. South Hill schools will be covered on April 22 and 26. Links are available for registering for all the forums at www.spokaneschools.org/Page/4955.

The sessions will use a webinar approach, allowing the public to enter questions and comments via Zoom.

The district has already received plenty of input since March 30.

“It’s been fairly mixed,” said school board President Jerrall Haynes, who also served on the boundary committee. “A lot of people are in support of what they have seen so far, and some are not.”

The latter include some families in the River Run neighborhood, where students will be shifted to Finch Elementary from Hutton, which is overcrowded.

In another major shift, many students in the Indian Trail and Five Mile area would be shifted from North Central to Shadle Park.

Also, community members have expressed concerns that the new boundaries will worsen inequities within the district.

For example, the number of students on free and reduced-price lunch at North Central would increase from 57% of the student body to 68%.

Also, the proposed changes would create a new middle school in northeast Spokane that would have 88% of students receiving free and reduced-price meals.

Regardless, the district wants to hear from stakeholders, Haynes said.

“Let us know that you’re disappointed, and let us know why,” Haynes said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 15, 2021 to reflect that some students from Hutton Elementary School would transfer to Finch Elementary School under a new boundary proposal. Due to a copy editor’s error, an earlier version incorrectly stated which school’s students would be sent to Finch. 

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