Richland School Board considers which schools to move

Tri-City Herald staff writerMay 12, 2013 

A Richland alternative school needing a larger and permanent home may not need to move far.

Richland School Board members recently discussed the costs and time needed to build a school for Three Rivers HomeLink.

Plans call for an estimated 15,300-square-foot building that would cost about $3 million to build and could go on district property near the intersection of Williams Boulevard and Goethals Drive.

But it’s not clear whether it would be HomeLink that would move to the new site or the district’s alternative high school, River’s Edge, which shares space with HomeLink. Neither school’s principal sounded excited at the meeting about relocating from their current site next to Lewis & Clark Elementary School and Southside United Protestant Church.

Finding a new home for HomeLink was one of the projects in Richland’s $98 million bond approved by voters in February.

The school currently uses classrooms and other space in Southside, as well as a classrooms in portable buildings at adjacent River’s Edge. HomeLink has about 400 students and is unable to grow in its current space.

Kevin Knodel, the district’s executive director of capital projects, proposed a modular structure for HomeLink that would have 10 classrooms, a library, cafeteria and office space. He said it could be built and opened in about a year once all the components were ordered.

“This is what (HomeLink) felt they needed,” said Assistant Superintendent Todd Baddley.

The new space would be similar to what River’s Edge currently has, prompting the discussion that either school could move.

The site at Williams and Goethals has access to public transit buses and there are facilities nearby, such as a gym at Central United Protestant Church, that either school could look into using.

HomeLink Principal Eric Sabotta and River’s Edge Principal Dan Chubb told board members that they have come to rely on Southside’s building and the relationships they’ve built with its staff.

Chubb said he also would be concerned about moving to the new site, because it is near a skate park that could be a distraction for some students.

The board agreed to have staff investigate building at the Williams and Goethals site, as well as the feasibility of a partnership with Central United Protestant. The district also will look at possibly keeping both schools near their current location.

However, board Chairman Rick Jansons said he wants to hear directly from each school’s principal on the pros and cons of moving before a decision is made.

“If we filter stuff, we’re going to make a bad decision,” he said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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