Boundary changes now lie in the hands of Spokane Public Schools board; more input taken next week

SPOKANE, Wash. — Thousands of students will be heading to different schools than they planned. Spokane Public Schools is getting closer to redrawing boundary lines. This hasn’t been done in more than 40 years and was a necessity since the district is getting three new middle schools.

Families choose where to live, sometimes, based on schools.

That’s what Kayla Reid did with her family. Her oldest is in elementary school; they’re looking at the future. The plan for her middle school changed with the boundary lines, now having to go to a brand new middle school.

“When we decided to choose a home, we decided that West Central was it for us. We decided because of diversity,” Reid told 4 News  Now.

Equity is a big issue families are concerned about with the new boundary changes. Some students, like Symetria Gongyin’s younger brother, will have to now go to North Central High instead of Lewis and Clark High because of the boundary changes.

She’s concerned the changes in the boundary changes will widen a gap in her brother’s school.

“There’s some elitism about schools on the South Hill and where LC is and seeing that reduce in free and reduce lunch rates,” she said.

In documents in the school board meeting, graphs show free and reduce lunch rates for schools. Once boundary changes take effect, North Central High will have higher free and reduce lunch rates; Lewis and Clark High will have fewer.

The graph shows that Lewis and Clark High currently has 40.5 percent of its students on free and reduced price lunches. North Central is at 58.6 percent. If the boundary changes happen, Lewis and Clark High would go down to 28.2 percent with North Central High going up to 69.2 percent.

Mark Anderson, the associate superintendent of Spokane Public Schools, says the goal of the boundary committee is to keep students in their neighborhoods together throughout their K-12 career.

“Free and reduced lunch count is an easy metric to use, but it doesn’t define the quality of education. The measure really used for providing funding and resources to school, not the quality of the school,” he said. “The best measure for quality is quality of teachers. North Central, though their rate may or may not go up, the quality of their program is excellent, they have the option program.”

Trying to keep kids together in their neighborhood is tough for the boundary committee. Some students who live right near Shadle Park High are supposed to go to North Central High in the new boundary plans.

Anderson, again, says it’s the committee’s priority to try and keep the same group of kids go through elementary, middle and high school together. That’s what happened with the Shadle Park High boundary line.

Parents can choose which schools their students could go to. Priority will go to families with siblings having to go to other schools as well as certain grade levels.

In the board presentation, more people from the West Hills, River Run and Palisades communities gave input.

4 News Now obtained a letter from families in the River Run neighborhood, asking the school district to keep their students where they’re at. Families said they moved to the River Run area to go to Hutton Elementary, but with the new boundary changes, they’d be going to Finch Elementary.

The letter says the chose to live in the neighborhood because it connects to the South Hill and for the qualities of the schools in southern Spokane.

In Wednesday’s board meeting, Anderson said they’re asking the school board to consider three different things to study after going through the boundary adjustment process.

  • Look at mitigating impacts for students affected by the boundary changes, River Run as an example
  • Look into magnet program placement at high schools on the north side
  • Look for options to expand the APPLE program to K-8 students

Parents and schools are working toward a common goal: Making sure their students are getting the best education.

The school district feels its changes in boundary lines can help with that, by lowering class sizes and avoiding overcrowding in schools.

Since the committee took public input, it made few changes to the boundary lines.

Spokane Public Schools has a page dedicated the the boundary lines and has an FAQ for families. For more information, click here.

There will be another opportunity for public input next Wednesday, June 2. The board will take a look at the boundary plans again June 16 and 23, with a possible approval on the 23rd. Changes will go into effect for the north side the 2022-23 school year. The south side’s changes will go into effect the following school year.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Breaking down Spokane Public Schools’ proposed boundary changes