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District Officials Present Two Options for Easing Overcrowding at Rosa Parks

Parent feedback is being considered on whether the district should temporarily move two grades out of the school or adjust the school's boundary.

One thing is for certain: Doing nothing is not an option.

That was the message from Lake Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce as she addressed parents concerned about overcrowding at Rosa Parks Elementary School in the school's gym on Thursday evening.

The school is . Home construction is continuing to occur within the Rosa Parks boundaries, leaving officials to project the school would be 45 percent over capacity by 2015-2016, with 1,034 students.

Parents were presented with two short-term options on Thursday evening: move two grades away from the campus to another school, or adjust the school's boundary to remove a portion of students.

Which option do you prefer? Tell us in the comments section.

Both changes would be temporary, as the district is confident voters will pass a bond measure in 2014 that will allow it to build a new school on property it owns in Redmond Ridge East—even though a measure that would have done just that was voted down in 2010. If the measure fails, a district-wide boundary adjustment would take place.

"We are planning on running that bond, and passing that bond," Pierce said.

Both options would be in place for three school years: 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Pierce said. In 2016-2017, either the new school would open or the district-wide bound boundary adjustment will take place.

LWSD spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said officials are still working out the details of both short-term options, including which grade levels would be moved and where the temporary boundary would be. The district has not officially said which school the students would be moved to, although many parents assume the extra students would attend Wilder Elementary in Woodinville, which is 38 percent under-capacity.

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Cost estimates between the two options are also still being calculated, but Reith said either option would probably affect about the same number of students.

Meanwhile, parents are invited to submit written feedback forms and offer their thoughts on both proposals. The forms, currently available at the school's office, invite respondents to rate both options of a four-point scale and offer pros and cons for each proposal.

Susie Doehne, who has a daughter in first grade at Rosa Parks and is pregnant with her second child, said she is in favor of the temporary boundary adjustment. Too many questions remain on the grade-level option, she said, and it would make sense for students that live closer to Wilder to attend school there.

"I just think the numbers speak for themselves," she said.

In any case, Doehne said it's reassuring that the district is taking action on the issue. Her daughter just began attending full-day classes at the school, and Doehne said she hasn't noticed any problems yet, but it's apparent things could get much worse.

"If you look at those enrollment numbers, that's kind of frightening," she said.

Kelly Landers and Heather Snow, who each have two children at Rosa Parks, said they are still weighing the merits of each option. Snow said she is worried the two choices will divide the school between families living in Redmond Ridge, which is adjacent to Rosa Parks and would likely not be affected by a temporary boundary adjustment, and those who live in Redmond Ridge East, which is closer to Wilder.

"This should be something decided as a community and not divide us as a community," said Snow, who lived in Redmond Ridge for four years before moving to Redmond Ridge East about a year ago.

Landers said a key advantage of the grade level option is that it would keep cohorts of students together, but she said it's tough to put her support behind that scenario without knowing which grades would move to a new school.

Either way, Landers said she knows making a change is necessary.

"The reality is parents have a harder time with change than kids do," she said. "It's one of those rip-the-Band-Aid-off moments, I think."

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Guest Opinion: Swift Action Needed to Help Kids at Bursting Redmond School

Melissa September 28, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Rosa Parks is just the tip of the iceberg! I believe Wilder is likely the only elementary in the district that is under capacity. I am sure the other three Redmond schools Rockwell, Mann, and Redmond El are all over capacity as well. The district admitted at a meeting 3 years ago that they saw the development in the area compounded by the local, regional and national baby boom that started in 2003 but have waited until things got this bad to react. They switched to the middle school model and passed a small tax increase to shift the overcrowding in the schools from the elementary level (due to the baby boom) to the high school level. They built a STEM school and expanded 2 high schools with the money. BUT they still have overcrowded elementary schools! And now they plan to ask for more money in 2014, money they were denied in 2010. Even IF they pass something in 2014 (which by the way is 2 years away in case someone didn't notice this) it will take at least a year to draw up the plans for the schools and at least a year to build them. That is at least 4 years from now! For a child in kindergarten in an already overcrowded school s/he won't see any relief from overcrowding until 4th grade and at that point they only have two years left of elementary. So what happens district wide if they can NOT get more money from the tax payers? Here's a tax free solution they can implement NOW and fix the overcrowding NOW - year round school running on three tracks.
Susan September 28, 2012 at 09:02 PM
The official September enrollment count showed that Redmond Elementary is 37 students undercapacity at 401 students, Mann is 30 students overcapacity at 421 students, and Rockwell, is 31 students overcapacity at 606 students. All three of these schools are forecasted to remain close to these levels for the next 3 years. Although each school may have their issues, no other elementary school in the district is experiencing the level of overcrowding that Rosa Parks is dealing with and the skyrocketing enrollment forecasted for the next 3 years.
Caitlin Moran September 28, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Hi Melissa and Susan, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've just added a PDF copy of Dr. Pierce's presentation to this story. It contains the official enrollment numbers and capacities for each Redmond elementary school (page 9)—along with growth projections (page 13). Another thing I should mention is that all written feedback on the Rosa Parks proposals is due by Oct. 5.
Kaumudi Karnik September 29, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I vote for temporarily adjusting boundaries so that some kids are shifted to Wilder Elementary.
Susan September 29, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Although the superintendent said that written feedback is due October 5th, the school will not be open that day, so the real deadline is next Thursday, October 4th.
Caitlin Moran September 29, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Thanks, Susan, that's important to know.
Denise Waters September 29, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Teachers are working and the offices will be open on the fifth.
Melissa October 01, 2012 at 04:37 AM
If you don't believe this is a district wide issue take a look at the info in the attached link http://www.lwsd.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/News/Levy-2011/LWSD-Space-Needs-and-Solutions.pdf This is information provided by the school district prior to the Feb 2010 special elections. Pay special attention to pages 4-6. Notice that as of 2010 Parks was below capacity, while 15 other district elementary schools were at or over capacity. This year Rosa Parks was expected to jump to the middle of the over capacity schools. By 2014 it was expected to jump to only the second most populated elementary in the district. Now the projections in this link may have been off, Parks may have grown beyond expectations. But, so may have other schools, you can not deny the fact that even back in 2010 the district knew that 17 of its 27 elementary schools would be at or over capacity by 2014. That is 63% of it's elementary schools with an additional 4 schools technically having available space only in portables. Now move on in that link to the overcrowded middle schools by 2014, there's 2 out of 7 overcrowded. And that is the year before the '03-'04 baby boom hits middle school. What will that look like in 2016? The levy passed in '10 so the high school graph never came true. But we still need more space district wide in elementary and middle school. But is the district planning to address this issue district wide in the bond. Or just for the two most overcrowded schools?

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