In the Northshore School District (NSD) board study session on January 14, the school board directors were updated on proposed changes to elementary school educational programs, the impact on enrollment at Bear Creek Elementary School and current adjustments due to increasing enrollment at Kokanee and Fernwood Elementary Schools.
The opening of a new elementary school on Maltby Road will allow for some of the educational programs within NSD to be relocated. The district currently has various programs that provide different education experiences. The programs are Dual Language, Parents Active in Cooperative Education (PACE), Northshore Family Partnership, Functional Skills and Academics (FSA) program and the Elementary Advanced Placement (EAP) program. With the additional classroom space being added, the district is evaluating moving programs to provide equitable access to the various programs offered. In regards to the EAP program, there is a focus on having an EAP school in each of the four high school’s feeder pattern. Currently EAP is in Bear Creek, Sunrise, Lockwood and Woodmoor Elementary Schools.
With the EAP students shifting school locations, one impact will be fewer students attending Bear Creek Elementary. District employees are researching what will be the best academic options for Bear Creek students. Two of the options being considered are to make Bear Creek Elementary a pure specialty school with no general education classes provided. If this option is adopted, current Bear Creek students will be shifted to nearby elementary schools – Wellington, Cottage Lake or Eastridge Elementary Schools. The other option discussed is to change the boundaries to draw more local students back to Bear Creek. The current Bear Creek boundaries were modified in the 2017-18 school year with the opening of North Creek High School. Public input will be sought to assist the district in making a recommendation to the school board. A final recommendation will be made by May of 2019.
Another area of concern is increasing enrollment at Kokanee and Fernwood Elementary and lack of classroom space. The district is evaluating moving incoming kindergarteners at both elementary schools to other schools this fall as a short term adjustment prior to changing boundaries in 2021 with the opening of the new elementary school.