Spokane community members voice concerns on planned school boundary changes

SPOKANE, Wash. — The new boundary proposal for schools has brought on a variety of worries and Spokane Public Schools board members heard a lot of those tonight during a public forum, and there were some pretty clear concerns.

For 40 years, parents in Spokane knew where their kids would go to school, based on where they live, but now, some are in limbo, wondering if that’s about to change. They’re also worried that new school boundary lines might break up diversity and equality in some schools.

Many feel the community and students aren’t being given enough time to share their thoughts. Others think certain communities are being overlooked and the changes would create a massive divide.

Sweeping changes could be coming for Spokane Public School families, because boundaries are being altered and many people aren’t too fond of the proposal.

“Decisions of this magnitude should not be rushed through,” said retired teacher Lili Hare.

One of the biggest concerns many families have is equity, especially when it comes to free and reduced lunches. In the proposal, North Central High School will have higher free and reduced lunch rates.

“But unfortunately the proposed boundaries revert most of the middle-class neighborhoods back to Shadle Park, give LC [Lewis and Clark] even less free and reduced lunch students and do very little to help the northeast schools, including Rogers, to be more socially economic and racially balanced. This further divides our schools,” Hare said.

Some people feel certain communities are being left in the dark.

“For many years, northeast Spokane has been overlooked, under-resourced and under-served and this proposal of boundaries seems to kind of fit that same theme,” said Boundary Adjustment Committee member Lindsey Shaw.

Cohorts was another big topic. The proposal is intended to keep students together, where some students who live near Shadle Park High School would go to North Central.

Families can apply to go to another school, though it depends on availability and other factors. If students are reassigned to another school, they can use the legacy policy to stay where they’re at, but only certain grades can do that.

“Any changes to our boundaries must make our schools more inclusive and equitable. With these new changes, I’m particularly concerned about how funding for these schools will be affected by boundary changes,” said SPS graduate Katie Hawkinson.

One of the biggest concerns is what some say is a lack of input from students and families directly impacted by the changes. Some people asked for more public forums before any decision is made.

“But I do hope putting a pause on this to hear more from the communities most affected, and also consider even more — even further on how we can better support the BIPOC and lower income students to whatever final boundary changes are implemented,” said community member Chad Kuntz.

On Wednesday, June 16, the board will take the final adjustments into consideration, and a decision could be made by June 23, though changes wouldn’t happen until 2022.

If you missed tonight’s public forum, you can still e-mail the board about the changes. You can also use the public comment period during a meeting to speak.

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