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Spokane Schools Ask Public About Reconfiguration Options

Spokane Public Schools is holding a series of public forums to explore options for reducing class sizes in the district’s lower grades. That may lead to changes in which grades are assigned to which schools.

The state of Washington has required school districts to lower class sizes to a 17:1 student-teacher ratio for kindergarten through third grade.

Associate Superintendent Mark Anderson says Spokane will have to build more schools to meet that mandate.But the question is, should the district stay with its current alignment of kindergarten-through-sixth graders in elementary schools? Or should it tweak that structure?

If it keeps sixth graders in elementary school, Anderson estimates the district will have to build up to five elementary schools. If it moves sixth graders to middle school, he figures three new middle schools will have to be constructed.

“Either way we go, no matter what we do, school boundaries are going to have to change," Anderson said. "That’s always a sensitive topic because folks get used to their neighborhood school. There would be less boundary changes in moving sixth graders up than building five new elementary schools, where you’d pretty much have to change all the boundaries for elementary schools in the district.”

The district has formed a grade configuration committee to study the options. Members of that committee are presenting their initial findings in a series of community forums at each of the district’s six middle schools.

A third possibility is to configure elementary schools at kindergarten-through-eighth grade and get rid of middle schools.

The school board will decide later this year. Once it does, the district will figure out how to adjust school boundaries to even out the student numbers. Then, in 2021, the district will ask taxpayers for the money to build the new schools.

The district is holding a public forum tonight (Tuesday) at Garry Middle School. Thursday’s meeting will start at 7 at Chase Middle School. The district will also hold community meetings Tuesday and Thursday at Salk and Shaw Middle Schools.