Richland School District looks for new home for HomeLink

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMarch 28, 2014 

three rivers homelink home link school homeschool

Three Rivers HomeLink is Richland School District's alternative education program for homeschooled students. The district is considering 4 sites to be the new home for the program, which currently is housed in a church and some portable classrooms.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Richland School District will look at four sites as it plans for a future home for Three Rivers HomeLink alternative school.

The board agreed during its regular meeting this week to have an architect conduct site reviews at Lewis & Clark and Jefferson elementary schools and property on Wellsian Way.

HomeLink uses classrooms in a church and some portables near Lewis & Clark.

Another piece of property on Williams Boulevard will be considered as a place to move River's Edge High School, also near Lewis & Clark, opening up the River's Edge facility for the alternative school.

"In my mind at least, Lewis & Clark is the preferred site and that's what I've heard from (HomeLink)," said Superintendent Rick Schulte.

HomeLink has about 400 students in grades K-12. It operates on a parent partnership model, where students come in for select classes and workshops but their parents are the primary educators.

The alternative school has outgrown its space at the church, leading the board to include about $10 million in a $98 million bond to build a bigger facility for HomeLink. Voters approved the bond a year ago.

Past board discussions have involved a modular structure for HomeLink, as that kind of facility could be quickly built and expanded. However, the district is coming up on a deadline to determine a site for the alternative school if it is to open in time for the 2015-16 school year, Schulte said.

Staff, parents and students would prefer to stay at Lewis & Clark, because it is easily accessible via main roads and highways and is in a familiar neighborhood, Schulte said. If feasible, the district could do some basic preparation work for HomeLink's new building when Lewis & Clark is rebuilt as part of the bond.

The district should look at other sites just in case there's an issue at Lewis & Clark, Schulte said. He suggested district property on Wellsian Way because of the relative ease of access it would provide families. Jefferson has been considered as a site for more than a year.

The board also has considered relocating River's Edge to the Williams property. Board member Rick Jansons said he wanted that property evaluated as well.

Also at this week's meeting:

-- New shrubs could be planted along the fence at Fran Rish Stadium on Lee Boulevard sometime this spring.

The Bonneville Power Administration removed bushes that were along the fence because they were within the utility's easement. Students, parents and boosters have complained that the loss of the bushes took away from the secluded and park-like feel of the stadium.

The district was looking at installing a 6-foot-tall wall between the stadium and the street, but district administrators learned Tuesday that new shrubs could be planted.

Board members agreed with administrators from Richland and Hanford high schools that the option of a wall or bushes should be taken to a committee of boosters, parents and students for a decision.

-- Six people will be interviewed for the principal position at Richland's newest elementary school.

The school, not yet named and located at the corner of Westcliffe Boulevard and Brantingham Road, is scheduled to open for the 2015-16 school year.

Schulte said the district had a good pool of candidates to choose from. He expects to have the new principal start in July, so that they can be involved in the planning and preparations for the new school.

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

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