Northwest NEWS

February 8, 1999


School proposals back on table after outcry

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--All options are back on the table.

   That's the news after a proposal to shuffle Northshore School District elementary students drew sharp criticism from some parents who were caught without enough time to respond to the potential change.

   District officials acknowledged last week that a boundary review committee's schedule had been too short to fully consider three options adequately and have added additional meetings in February to work on ways to solve overcrowding at East Ridge Elementary.

   Afterwards, Cottage Lake-area parents were happy that the district saw the process had failed to address their concerns.

   "We're quite relieved to have a chance to organize our thoughts and our opinions to influence the decision," said Mark Spain, a parent of second and fifth grade Bear Creek Elementary students, last week.

   Spain, and others who live around Cottage Lake, didn't receive word until mid-January about a proposal that would move their sons and daughters from Bear Creek to Cottage Lake Elementary as part of a move to ease crowding at East Ridge.

   News came home in a newsletter after the third of four committee meetings. Less than two weeks later, the committee recommended that students from the Cottage Lake Beach Club and what's known as the 185th Avenue pocket (on the west and east shores of Cottage Lake) be transferred from Bear Creek to Cottage Lake. Afterwards, district officials were bombarded with phone calls.

   "When we realized how many phone calls we were getting and heard from Bear Creek parents who didn't think it would impact them--and when it did, they didn't have time to present their concerns--we rethought this and said, 'they're right,'" said Pamela Steele, the district's spokeswoman.

   While Bear Creek parents had little time to rally, parents from other areas did have time to lobby the 11-member review committee on two other proposals.

   As it stands, the committee met last Wednesday night and will meet Feb. 11 and 25 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Ricketts Building in Bothell. Four proposals that would move various numbers of K-6 students in the eastern end of the district are again under consideration.

   "And it is conceivable some hybrid proposal might emerge," said Dick Withycombe, a consultant brought in to facilitate the boundary meetings. He warned, though, that if such occurs, and it affects a portion of the community not touched until then by school adjustments, the committee would be back to step one.

   The school board will take a look at the committee's recommendation March 9 with a vote slated for April 13.