The Spokane Public Schools board will get its first look Wednesday night at plans to redraw school boundaries.
The board will hear a full report from the district’s boundary review committee, which has spent the last 14 months crafting a plan to accommodate the impending move of sixth-graders into middle schools.
Maps outlining the proposed changes, which could affect thousands of students and their families for years to come, will be presented.
No action will be taken at Wednesday’s virtual meeting. Next month, the boundary committee will hold three public forums to review the proposed changes and gain feedback.
The committee is expected to recommend final boundary changes for board action in June.
The changes will take effect in fall 2022 on the north side of the school district and a year later on the south side.
The district hasn’t undertaken a comprehensive boundary change since 1982, when it moved ninth-graders to high schools; that’s partly because the process is complex and fraught with controversy.
“There will be people who will not be happy,” Harium Martin-Morris, a consultant and former Seattle Public Schools board member, told board members when the process began.
Since January 2020, a boundary review committee has held 14 meetings.
Its aim, according to district documents, “is to support neighborhood communities by developing attendance boundaries” that support walkability, recognize natural and artificial boundaries and keep neighborhoods together.
Those goals appear to be directed toward keeping cohesive neighborhoods around elementary schools.
At the same time, the district hopes that “each school in the district should be a high-quality school offering attractive programming and supporting student achievement.”
To level the socioeconomic differences between neighborhoods, the committee might consider more drastic changes in the middle schools and high schools.
For example, the North Side will eventually have six middle schools feeding into three high schools: Rogers, North Central and Shadle Park.
Currently, some students from distant Five Mile are bused to North Central. With the addition of a new middle school on the current Albi Stadium site, the committee could recommend a more contiguous approach and send those students (along with those from Glover) to Shadle Park.