Richland School Board special meeting set for Nov. 8

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldOctober 31, 2012 

Editor's note: Time has been corrected.

The Richland School Board meets Nov. 8 to discuss the future of Jefferson Elementary School and the planned rebuilding of three other elementary schools as part of a proposed $98 million bond measure.

Board members will review new information on the bond, which is scheduled to go before voters in February, said a release from the district. The public is invited to attend the 5 p.m. meeting at the district's administrative offices.

The bond, approved by the school board in August, is needed to address growth south and west of Richland and improve aging facilities in central Richland, district officials have said.

How the bond affects Jefferson Elementary and three other schools -- Lewis & Clark, Marcus Whitman and Sacajawea elementary schools -- has generated some controversy in the district.

If approved by voters, the bond would close Jefferson Elementary as a K-5 school and make it a home for Three Rivers HomeLink, an alternative education program that serves nearly 400 students in grades K-12.

The three other schools would be rebuilt to hold more students and accommodate students relocated from Jefferson Elementary.

Parents and community members connected to Jefferson Elementary have rallied against the bond, criticizing the district for not reaching out to them for input and not doing due diligence in determining whether the school needed to be closed or renovated at all and what the effects would be.

Board members have defended their decision on the future of Jefferson, saying fewer students will have to be bused than if any other central Richland elementary school was closed.

They said students will receive a quality education regardless of which school they attend, and it would be more difficult to renovate the three other schools than it will be to rebuild them from scratch.

However, the board requested more information on Jefferson Elementary from district officials during the last regular board meeting.

Chairman Rick Jansons also made two proposals to keep the school open, including having HomeLink share the building with the current K-5 school.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service