After experiencing unprecedented inflationary costs in the construction market and examining new projections for student enrollment, Vancouver Public Schools is conducting a bond program review and holding several community forums to seek public input on future school construction and renovation projects. As part of this effort, district leaders are presenting a new option to consider.
Previously, VPS identified three possible options for two elementary schools that were slated for construction under the bond program. Those options include the following:
- Option 1: Defer the elementary school to be located at NE 25th Ave. and NE 88th Street for a future bond.
- Options 2a, 2b and 2c: Defer the Vancouver Innovation, Technology and Arts Elementary School or other projects (option 2b or option 2c) to a future bond.
- Option 3: Secure non-voted debt (bank loan) to address the funding shortfall.
With an updated enrollment forecast, VPS has developed a fourth option that the board of directors would like the public to comment on:
- Option 4: Build both new elementary schools, but at a lower enrollment capacity.
This new fourth option would allow both schools—the NE 25th Ave. school and VITA Elementary— to be built. However, instead of housing a combined total of 900 students at the two schools, the new option reduces capacity to 300 students at each school for a combined total of 600 students.
The cost savings of building smaller schools would enable both schools to be constructed within budget while still meeting the enrollment needs of two high-growth, high-development areas in the district.
Updated enrollment projections for Hough, Harney, Minnehaha, Eisenhower, Anderson, Walnut Grove and Hazel Dell elementary schools will be shared at the following public forums.
Jan. 29, 6-7 p.m. – Hough Elementary School, 1900 Daniels St.
Jan. 30, 6-7 p.m. – Hazel Dell Elementary School, 511 NE Anderson Rd.
Feb. 5, 6-7 p.m. – Harney Elementary School, 3212 E. Evergreen Blvd.
Feb. 6, 6-7 p.m. – Eisenhower Elementary School, 9201 NW 9th Ave.
The public forums provide interested community members an opportunity to receive more detailed information. Parents, staff and community members are invited to attend the date and location of the meeting that is most convenient for them. Feedback forms are available at each forum and online on the district’s website.
Flat enrollment district-wide and rising marketplace costs have caused the need to scale back the original bond project list. However, a new enrollment forecast completed by a third-party demographer and updated multi-family development schedules in the city and in the county prompted district leaders to re-evaluate the recommendation to defer one of the new elementary schools.
“We have been working with our demographer and city and county planners to update our 2015 planning assumptions,” said Todd Horenstein, assistant superintendent for planning and facilities. “This work now has been completed. We can meet our current and future K-5 enrollment need by scaling back the size of both new schools and providing enrollment relief to the adjacent schools.”
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