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Lake Washington School District predicts 4,000 more students in years ahead
The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) predicts enrollment growth of more than 4,000 students in the next nine years.
During Monday’s meeting of the district’s Board of Directors, Dr. Traci Pierce, superintendent, and Janene Fogard, deputy superintendent, presented the district’s latest enrollment projections.
The report showed a need for more classroom space to house those students. While the district is serving 25,408 students as counted in October 2012, that number will grow to 29,696 in the 2021-22 school year.
Pierce explained that the district is doing preliminary planning for funding measures it may put on the February 2014 ballot. She noted that the district is looking at enrollment projections and other data to help inform initial planning, and will seek community input later in the spring.
Her goal is to have a recommendation to the board by late May or June for measures to be considered in February 2014.
A bond measure could include funding to build new schools or additions to current schools to house the current and growing enrollment. Another option to meet enrollment needs could include changing feeder patterns or boundaries to send students to schools where there may be excess capacity. However, there is not enough excess capacity alone to meet the total space needs expected.
Janene Fogard recalled that before 2010, the district saw enrollment begin to increase again, after several years of small declines. In 2010, the district predicted a need for two elementary schools and space at the secondary level. A measure to provide that space and to modernize Juanita High School did not pass. A levy in 2011 did pass, providing extra space through additions at two high schools plus a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Choice high school.
Fogard reviewed the predictions for enrollment in each of the district’s four learning communities, the geographic area served by each of the four comprehensive high schools in the district. (Note: these projections did not include students enrolled in the district’s choice schools, smaller schools that serve students from all over the district. Projections assumed that the same proportion of students in each area who now attend choice schools would continue.)
The greatest need will be in the Redmond Learning Community, served by Redmond High School. Enrollment projections estimate there will be 2,280 more students than permanent classrooms in that area by 2021-22. If all of the portable classrooms now on school campuses were in use, the space needed would still be for 1,209 students.
Lake Washington Learning Community, the area served by Lake Washington High School, shows that enrollment will be 1,603 students more than permanent capacity by 2021-22. There are fewer portables in use in these schools, so if all the portable classrooms now on school campuses were in use, the space needed would be for 1,212 students.
The area served by Eastlake High School shows a need for space for 236 students at high school and 124 at middle school by 2021-22. Total capacity including portables will provide enough space for elementary school.
The area served by Juanita High School has enough space for the projected numbers of elementary and middle school students but will need some space at the high school level. There will be 321 students more than permanent building capacity, 142 if space in portable classrooms is counted.
The district last passed a bond measure in 2006, which provided funds for one new elementary school and to modernize 10 other school buildings. Those schools were in the second phase of a planned four-phase modernization program, which would update district school buildings every 30 to 40 years. If the modernization program schedule is followed, the final two phases of the program would include bond measures in 2014 and in 2022.