Local Schools Not An Option For Some Mead Students

MEAD — Students in the Mead School District headed back to school yesterday, but in a lot of cases, they’re not going to the school closest to where they live.

In some cases, siblings are even being split up and sent to different schools.

Prairie View Elementary School, built on the Five Mile Prairie, was finished only two years ago. It was supposed to solve crowding problems, but before it was finished it was full.

Now nearly 100 Mead district students are being bused to schools not in their neighborhood, in some cases passing their neighborhood school on the way.

“In order to keep class sizes reasonable, we have to shuttle families away,” says Ralph Thayer with the Mead School District.

It’s happening all over the Mead School District. Students shuttled from Prairie View and Midway elementaries to Farwell and other schools in the district.

“They’re at capacity,” Thayer says. “We had no other option but to shuttle families coming in to different schools.”

In some cases, siblings are even split up and sent to different schools.

“To have your family split up, to be shuttled, would be tough,” says Thayer.

So while Midway may have too few second graders, it may have too many kindergarteners. Last year at Midway, they had 57 kindergarteners. This year, there’s 83.

Yet, with every district school bursting at the seams and budget cuts from Olympia, the growth continues.

“We get stuck in neighborhoods where kids aren’t allowed to go to neighborhood schools,” says Jim Cook.

Cook got so fed up he’s sending his kids to private schools. He says the problem’s not with the district, but with uninhibited development. There are new homes everywhere in already overcrowded areas.

“When they move, they think they’re going to their neighborhood school,” Thayer says.

But chances are, if you move in to the Mead School District now, you won’t be going to the school next door.

“If we continue to grow, we’ll continue to have these issues,” says Thayer.

And parents will pay for it.

“With close to five dollar diesel, we as taxpayers are paying to bus kids,” Cook says. “We’re paying to drive them to alternative schools.”

At this rate, growing about 120 students a year, the district would need to build a new elementary school every 3-5 years to keep up. The district would like to impose impact fees that would be assessed to developers. It is a per-lot fee they would pay that would go directly to pay for schools.