The Pasco School District will launch its next round of school boundary changes next week, considering a proposal that could shift students throughout east Pasco and potentially divide grades among some schools.
District administrators will present the proposal during a study session before the board’s regular meeting Nov. 25, before meeting with teachers the next day and parents in the coming weeks.
The new boundaries will end up affecting six elementary schools and the early learning center east of Highway 395 and south of Highway 12.
Administrators didn’t release details about the district’s proposal, they will have to contend with the patchwork boundaries in east Pasco when redrawing the lines.
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The possibility of splitting grades among some of the schools, such as first- through third-graders in one school and fourth- through sixth-graders in another, also is part of the proposal.
“It is just a starting point,” district spokeswoman Leslee Caul said.
Marie Curie STEM Elementary School is being built on land adjacent to Whittier Elementary School on Broadway Street in east Pasco. The school will have a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, focus and is part of a $46.8 million bond approved by voters in February 2013.
Barbara McClintock STEM Elementary School will open next fall on Road 60 in west Pasco, but it will not affect boundaries because it will be an early learning center.
Three of the six east Pasco elementary schools — Rowena Chess, Emerson and Virgie Robinson — do not have contiguous boundaries, potentially complicating how the district could keep student groups together.
Whittier and Curie being right next to each other, and Virgie Robinson only blocks away, could pose a hurdle to carving up an area where many students live relatively close to multiple schools.
The situation prompted district officials to consider splitting grades between two or more of the schools. The district spoke with staff about how students could be split up and also met with some parents, though it didn’t release details of those meetings.
Teacher representatives said splitting up grades would affect teacher assignments, and that could lead to contract negotiations.
The district also faces fast student population growth. Virgie Robinson has almost 1,000 students, more than most middle schools and some high schools.
“They took a lot of things into consideration,” Caul said of the boundary committee.
The district redrew boundaries in west Pasco last year ahead of Rosalind Franklin STEM Elementary School opening this fall at Road 52 and Powerline Road.
The board ended up drawing lines that sent students living north of Burden Boulevard between roads 60 and 44, including the Clark Addition off Clark Road, to Franklin. All other students north of Interstate 182 between roads 68 and 36 would attend McGee Elementary School. Edwin Markham Elementary School took students outside those developments.
The final west Pasco boundaries were a shift from the district’s original proposal, partly in response to parent criticism that families living close to the new school originally weren’t assigned to it.
However, some parents said under the final boundaries they lived as far as two miles from their assigned school despite being only a few blocks from Franklin.