Kennewick’s growing student population is getting new halls to roam.
As winter draws to an end, the school district is gearing up to start work on two new elementary schools and expand a third.
The state awarded the district a $51 million grant to reduce K-3 class sizes. Kennewick schools were the largest beneficiary of the $234 million the Legislature set aside in 2016.
The school district started the year with 17,949 students in September. That’s 444 more students than last year. And Superintendent Dave Bond has said elementary schools saw the most growth.
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District officials began asking for bids recently for a 16th elementary school, planned in the Clearwater Creek development.
The 38-classroom building is expected to cost $21 million.
The project, initially planned as a 22-classroom building, is the final building that was included in the $89 million bond passed by voters in 2015. District officials decided to add to the building after receiving the state funds.
About a month after the board approves that contractor, district officials expect to go out for bid on a new 30-classroom dual-language elementary school.
38 Classrooms in elementary school No. 16
30 Classrooms in elementary school No. 17
The facility is planned for the site of the former Desert Hills Middle School off 10th Avenue. The district is demolishing most of the current aging buildings.
The pair of two-story elementary schools are expected to open for the 2018-19 school year.
Also, architects already are planning the addition of 18 to 20 classrooms to Amistad Elementary near downtown Kennewick. Construction is expected to start in 2018, with students using the new classrooms the following year.
As new schools are built, the school board will need to adjust school boundaries.
The last time the district’s board voted to change the boundaries was in November 2015, because of the addition of Sage Crest Elementary and Chinook Middle schools. Bond said the district plans to follow a similar pattern.
“We’ll start with an analysis, and at the June retreat give the board, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking,’ ” he said.
They plan to narrow the choices to two or three options, then take them to the community for feedback.
In the past, district officials held five meetings — four to collect feedback and a fifth to present a final option.
The board is scheduled to make its choice by November.
Picking names for the new schools will begin once principals are chosen this fall. The principals will lead the process for picking the names.
District policy is to name its facilities after people who achieved national or local prominence, after geographical characteristics of the area the facility is located in or other important events or achievements.