Planning for reboundary and year-round schools

The future of our district isn’t written in stone yet, but the hammer and chisel are now on the table.

Earlier this year, the School Board unanimously passed Resolution 13. The resolution allows administrators to begin planning ways to help our overcrowded schools if a voter-approved school construction bond is not passed in November. This includes planning to adjust the boundaries of all schools in the district in 2019, and a move to year-round schools starting in 2021.

Resolution 13 is a result of three recent bond failures that would have built new schools to reduce class sizes, alleviate overcrowded schools, improve security, and replace old inefficient building systems.

Along with adjusting school attendance boundaries and year-round schools, Resolution 13 also gives other options for solving our overcrowding issues, including changing Elk Plain School of Choice back to a K-5 school and converting one middle school to an elementary school.

None of these options are the district’s first choice. We would much rather be building new schools and fixing and expanding our old ones. But that requires bond money. So the future of this district is in the hands of our voters.

“We can’t stick our heads in the sand,” said School Board Director Brenda Rogers.

“We needed to set up a plan. This is going to impact everybody,” School Board President John Manning agreed.

Members of the School Board all insisted that the planning process for reboundary and year-round schools must involve many different voices, including parents, staff and the community.

Superintendent Tom Seigel said that normally it takes three years to build an elementary school, but if a bond is passed in November, that timeline could be accelerated to avoid going to year-round schools in 2021.

“To the best of our knowledge, there are no districts in Washington that are operating as year-round schools,” said Seigel. “So we will be looking outside the state for guidance as the planning begins.”

Bethel was on a year-round system from 1974 to 1981, also due to failed bonds and overcrowding.