Riverview School District looks at changes to school boundaries, plans new elementary school for growing enrollment

Steady student enrollment growth in the Riverview School District over the past few years, combined with anticipated growth in the next few years have prompted school district officials to consider a boundary change process to address capacity needs in the short term. Longer term, the district is expecting to put a bond proposal before its voters in 2020 to build a new elementary school, on Big Rock Road in Duvall.

The two schools to be affected by the boundary change now under discussion by committee are Stillwater Elementary School, between Carnation and Duvall, and Cherry Valley Elementary School in Duvall.

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Stillwater enrollment this year is about 449 students, a small drop from the 460 reported last year, and an even smaller increase from the 447 recorded in 2014-15. Cherry Valley enrollment is at 516, up from 508 in 2015-16 and from 502 the previous year.

“Our student enrollment increased by 2.4 percent this year, so we’re definitely growing,” said Riverview School District Superintendent Anthony Smith.

Portable classrooms have already become necessary. Stillwater added a portable classroom last year, and Cherry Valley added two the year before. Both schools do have room for additional portables, too.

“Both schools are basically at capacity,” said Riverview School District Superintendent Anthony Smith, “but the rate of growth is going to be so much more in the Cherry Valley area,” in the near future. Currently, Duvall is projecting another 750 homes to be built in the next few years, he said. Carnation has roughly 275 homes in various planning stages, 99 of which have been permitted.

“Like most districts do, we’re trying to impact as few families as possible, while planning for the tremendous growth that’s going to go on in the Cherry Valley area,” Smith said.

The committee is debating among three proposals for changing the school boundaries, affecting 54, 32, or five students. Riverview School District will host a community forum on the boundary change proposals being considered, at 7 p.m., Monday, March 13, at the Riverview School District office, 15510 1st Ave. NE, Duvall.

“We want the people impacted to have the chance to talk freely, and really, for as long as they want to,” Smith said.

Nothing has been finalized regarding a change in school boundaries. The school board will decide, following the public forum whether to pursue the change.

However, Smith noted that the district will still need a lasting solution, in the form of, among other capital improvements in the district, a new elementary school, to be sited on a 10-acre parcel on Big Rock Road. The district bought the land for $1.9 million last year from the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which had previously planned for a satellite campus in the city.

To pay for the new school, Smith said the district is planning to run a capital facilities bond in 2020.

However, Smith said, “the bond isn’t going to be about just another elementary school.” It will also feature security upgrades at all school buildings, and additional capacity at the already-full high school, he said. If voters approve a bond then, it’s likely the new elementary school wouldn’t open until 2023.

“That’s if we pass a bond in 2020,” Smith said.

The board considered running a bond sooner, but decided not to put anything on the ballot that might conflict with the four-year levies for maintenance and operations, technology, and possibly transportation that are planned for renewal in 2018.

“The real issue is what the community can endure,” Smith explained.

Looking further out, he added, the district will likely be looking to purchase a 40-acre parcel of land starting in 2020, as it plans for a new middle school, and the bond to pay for it possibly in 2028.

One challenge Riverview, and any growing district, will be facing is the increasing scarcity of large parcels of land within city limits, Smith noted.

“Property is a lot more expensive, and it’s finite,” he said.

The Riverview School District covers the communities of Duvall and Carnation and includes Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, Tolt Middle School in Carnation, three elementary schools, one multi-age school and alternative education programming. Learn more at www.riverview.wednet.edu.

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