Northwest NEWS

February 1, 1999


School committee picks move option that affects most K-5 students

Hope was to prevent 'agony' of another near-term readjustment

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Approximately 160 kindergarten through fifth grade students will switch schools next year in the east end of the Northshore School District to ease overcrowding at East Ridge Elementary, if the school board agrees to a boundary review committee's recommendation.

   The option would shuffle more students than two other proposals, but school officials say it will prevent the "agony" of another boundary readjustment in the near future.

   Beginning this fall, students from the Paradise Lake Road area and Lexington neighborhoods would attend Bear Creek Elementary instead of East Ridge. Students on the west and east sides of Cottage Lake would be moved from Bear Creek to Cottage Lake Elementary.

   Northshore figures show the move would ease enrollment numbers at East Ridge, but in the next two years, Bear Creek will be "packed to the gills," in the words of Pamela Steele, district communications coordinator.

   It will also be tight at Cottage Lake, which will be undergoing renovations soon, but district figures show enrollment number for all three elementaries dropping below capacity by the 2001-2002 school year.

   The recommendation, which ten of eleven members of a committee of district parents without students agreed to, came last Wednesday night at the end of the fourth meeting on the subject. Typically, it was not taken well by affected families.

   Beforehand, though, parents were given an hour for public comment last Wednesday night. Recognizing that it was a thankless job, speakers tipped their hats to the committee for their work, but lobbied for various boundary adjustments nonetheless.

   Some parents argued that growth projections for East Ridge would actually decrease in the years ahead as zoning and lack of developable land keeps builders out. But district officials say that land will undoubtedly be found for more homes.

   It appeared as if parents along 212th Ave. NE were pitted against those in Lexington. One woman from the former hoped that parents from the latter would still speak to her in Safeway. As it is, students on 212th will continue attending East Ridge, though one proposal had them schooling at Cottage Lake. Also, East Ridge kindergartners who would have gone to Bear Creek will now attend East Ridge, Steele said.

   Afterwards, Sue Scheid, a Lexington resident with two young children, felt her kindergartner was doomed to 50 minute bus-rides to Bear Creek in the coming year instead of going to the closer East Ridge.

   Scheid also expressed discontent with the process, and though she felt the school board probably wouldn't overturn the committee's recommendation, she said she would speak to them anyway.

   Steele said boundary adjustments are done to ease overcrowding and when a new school opens. Without the move, district figures show that East Ridge would have remained over capacity through 2003, and the other two schools under capacity. The last realignment came several years ago when Timbercrest Junior High opened.

   As it stands, the boundary committee will meet Feb. 3 at the Ricketts Building in Bothell at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to ease student transitions and other issues.

   According to an East Ridge newsletter, parents, teachers, and playground supervisors have been reporting that students "were expressing extreme anxiety about moving to a new school." But the reality was that students were going to be moved.

   "The committee obviously examined all the proposals, weighed the pros and cons of each. They recognized there was no perfect solution and voted with integrity," Steele said.

   She said school board action was scheduled for March 9.