Future Pasco STEM school boundaries ready for public input

Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 14, 2014 

Pasco school administrators spent weeks developing preliminary boundaries for the future Rosalind Franklin STEM Elementary School in west Pasco.

Now it's a matter of seeing what residents have to say about them.

"No matter what you do, someone's not going to be happy," said Superintendent Saundra Hill at the beginning of a study session Tuesday on the proposal.

West Pasco residents will be able to review and comment on the proposed boundaries at meetings beginning Wednesday. But some board members already have concerns about how the boundaries could be received in some neighborhoods.

"I just know there will be a lot of parents who will be frustrated," said board member Amy Phillips.

Franklin, located near Road 52 and Powerline Road, will open this fall, the first of three science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, focused schools. All three schools will be paid for by a $46.8 million bond approved by voters early last year.

Franklin's proposed attendance area would be entirely within McGee Elementary School's current boundary, and it would cause boundaries to be shifted for several other schools.

McGee would gain students from the Clark Addition, currently assigned to Edwin Markham Elementary School, as well as some homes south of Interstate 182 currently assigned to Mark Twain Elementary School.

Minimizing student travel times to and from school was a key goal in developing the boundaries, said Assistant Superintendent John Morgan. The district also wants to reduce overcrowding at all west Pasco schools.

"Our goal is to not have any elementaries at 900 kids," Hill said. "We might meet that for a year or two."

The district plans to allow students who will be fifth-graders to remain at their current school or let families seek an exemption from attending the school within their new attendance zone. Families will have until the end of February to file those requests.

There's also the possibility for families to "opt-in" to Franklin, though Principal Deidre Holmberg said only 64 of nearly 200 students who've filed those requests don't live within the proposed boundary. Even if those students weren't allowed to attend Franklin, most won't be affected by the new boundaries.

"It would be a minimal impact to their families," she said.

But Phillips is bothered that homes close to the new school but east of the proposed boundary would remain in McGee's attendance area, she said.

Board member Steve Christensen is concerned about students living in the Clark Addition, off Clark Road, not having a clear-cut route to McGee, he said.

"Though I'm sure it's closer to McGee (than Markham)," he said.

Hill said the proposal is just the first to be developed and the district will rely upon parent input to refine it. But it's critical that the boundaries be established in the coming weeks.

"We have got to know who's going where because we've got to staff this school," Hill said.

The meeting schedule:

-- 6 p.m. today at Edwin Markham Elementary School.

-- 6:30 p.m. today at McGee Elementary School.

-- 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Mark Twain Elementary School.

-- 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ruth Livingston Elementary School.

-- 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at Maya Angelou Elementary School.

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

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