Two new elementary schools originally were identified as construction projects to be funded through the 2017 bond measure. One was designated for NE 25th Avenue south of NE 88th Street to serve the surrounding areas as a neighborhood school. Through a partnership with the city of Vancouver, the other school was planned to be located behind the current Fort Vancouver Regional Library Operations Center and adjacent to the Historic Reserve. Vancouver Innovation, Technology and Arts Elementary School first would serve families from the downtown area. According to city of Vancouver data, approximately 4,000 multifamily housing units are at different stages of development downtown. VITA also would be a kindergarten through fifth-grade magnet school of choice open to all elementary students in the district, subject to space availability. The district would use a lottery process to determine admission to the school for students living outside the downtown area. Architectural designs were developed for VITA Elementary, and the project is ready for construction bids.
Flat enrollment and rising marketplace costs have caused district leaders to re-examine the rationale for building the school on NE 25th Avenue at this time. Operational budget constraints also are an important consideration.
Public meetings are scheduled at several district elementary schools to give the community an opportunity to provide input on the possible construction of these two new elementary schools.
Forums took place at Minnehaha and Walnut Grove elementary schools on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15. Future forums will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on the following dates:
- Jan. 27: Anderson Elementary
- Jan. 29: Hough Elementary
- Jan. 30: Hazel Dell Elementary
- Feb. 5: Harney Elementary
- Feb. 6: Eisenhower Elementary
The district’s board of directors has examined in-depth the following three options:
- Defer the NE 25th Avenue elementary school project to a future bond program.
- Defer the VITA Elementary School project to a future bond program or modify the overall scope of the remaining bond projects yet to be started.
- Secure a loan to provide sufficient construction funds to enable the district to complete all of the 2017 bond projects.
A school board work session is scheduled for Feb. 25 to evaluate and consider community input. A decision is expected at the board’s March 10 regular business meeting.
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