Spokane Public Schools is considering a wide range of school building projects, with an eye on asking voters to pass a bond in early 2024.
The projects include a modernization of North Central High School, replacing The Community School, remodeling Chase and Garry middle schools, and either remodeling or replacing three elementary schools – Adams, Balboa and Madison.
Also on the table is the construction of a new elementary school in the fast-growing Qualchan area in southwest Spokane, expansion of the popular Apple program to include students through eighth grade and other projects.
During a special meeting Wednesday night, the board of directors will get an update on those recommendations, which were produced by a work group drawn from district staff, teachers, students and community members.
No action will be taken at the meeting.
Superintendent Adam Swinyard emphasized that the district is in the early stages of assembling its wish list for the 2024 bond
“I think the core priority is going through a very transparent and intentional process to set a vision for programming and the needs of families and the district in the next 5 to 10 years,” Swinyard said Tuesday.
The district last held a capital bond campaign in 2018, when voters passed a record $495 million expenditure that paid for three new middle schools and replaced three others, among other projects.
That bond passed with 69% approval, well above the 60% supermajority required.
It capped a 15-year run of bond success. Since 2003, Spokane voters have approved more than $1.1 billion to remodel or build new schools in neighborhoods across the city.
At this early stage for the 2024 effort, it’s unclear how many projects the district will pursue, but aligning middle school curriculum figures to be high on the list.
Sixth-graders will soon move to middle schools – this fall in north Spokane and a year later on the South Hill. Replacement buildings are already at Shaw and Glover.
And while Salk Middle School appears adaptable to the new “neighborhood” learning approach incorporated into the new designs, that’s not the case with Garry and Chase.
“What surfaces is an interest to ensure that the middle school model can be implemented in those middle schools, and we would look to make adjustments,” Swinyard said.
Among the most pressing needs is the replacement or remodeling of Adams Elementary, located at 37th and Regal. Built in 1910, the building was already too small in 1974, when the district added its first portable building to handle the overflow of students.
Balboa and Madison also are being considered for modernization. Meanwhile, the district is tracking population growth in the Qualchan area and already owns property off Highway 195.
Another possible project is the modernization of the old Pratt Elementary building to accommodate a move of the Apple program – now housed at Franklin Elementary – and its expansion up to eighth grade.
Also, North Central would see extensive modernization of the current building that was constructed in 1980.
Another large project under consideration is a new building for The Community School, which currently is housed in an old elementary school building at Monroe and Maxwell.
Moving forward, the district has a long to-do list before submitting a bond proposal to go before voters in February 2024.
It must prepare cost estimates of the proposed projects, determine the state match funding for projects, review bond capacity and financing to include estimated tax rate and seek community input.
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