MLSD looks at changing school attendance zones

by Charles H. Featherstone
Staff Writer | February 12, 2020 11:37 PM

MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School District is proposing a sweeping reorganization of the district’s elementary school attendance boundaries in anticipation of the completion of Groff Elementary School in fall of 2021.

The reorganization, which will tighten up attendance boundaries and reduce the number of students attending most of the district’s anticipated 11 elementary schools, is expected to directly affect 738 families, according to a presentation that is expected to be given at Thursday’s regular school board meeting.

The presentation, which was briefly linked to the agenda of the school board’s upcoming meeting on Tuesday, will allow board members to review the proposal, make recommendations and “discuss impacts and data,” according to one of the presentation’s slides.

The timeline anticipates further review of the proposal by district personnel in February, feedback from parents and staff “utilizing digital and online resources” in March and April, leading to possible board approval at a meeting on Apr. 23.

According to the presentation, the proposed boundaries are “data driven” and reflect both “geographic proximity” and the “best use of school capacity” given projected enrollment beginning in fall 2021.

Total elementary school attendance is expected to reach 4,250 in the fall of 2021, about 100 students more than currently attend the district’s 10 elementary schools.

The maps produced as part of the presentation envision that Groff Elementary will serve families in the southeast portion of the district, taking in a number of students who currently go to Lakeview, Sage Point and Garden Heights, especially those who live east of state Route 17 or south of Interstate 90.

The presentation notes that five of the district’s 10 elementary schools — Garden Heights, Lakeview, Park Orchard, Peninsula and Sage Point — are currently at more than 100 percent capacity, with Park Orchard straining the most at 107 percent of capacity with 479 students.

The proposed reorganization shifts district boundaries considerably and estimates all of the district’s elementary schools at between 87 and 92 percent of capacity. Three schools — Garden Heights, Lakeview and Peninsula — will all see utilized capacity decrease by more than 15 percent, with 90 Peninsula students slated to attend other schools in the MLSD.

However, North Elementary, located in the Larson Community on the former Air Force base, is expected to gain 69 new students under the proposal, bringing enrollment to 90 percent of capacity, or 338 students, from the current 73 percent, or 269 students.

The proposal also adjusts what the district calls “feeder pattern schools,” with the expanded North and Larson Heights areas directing their students solely to Endeavor Middle School, which would see its projected enrollment rise by 36 students to 322 in 2021.

Frontier Middle School, which would see its total enrollment fall slightly, would receive students from Knolls Vista, Midway, Park Orchard and Peninsula. Students from the remaining elementary schools — Garden Heights, Groff, Lakeview, Longview and Sage Point — would go to Chief Moses Middle School.

All of the district’s middle schools would see their capacity utilization rise: to 95 percent for Frontier, 96 percent for Chief Moses, and 99 percent for Endeavor, the presentation states.

To craft the proposal, the district utilized online software available from Minnesota-based GuideK12, a company that specializes in data analysis and mapping to help schools and districts “view information spatially.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.