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Mead Schools turn to Olympia to help temporarily solve overcrowding

Mead Schools turn to Olympia to help temporarily solve overcrowding

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Mead School District is growing at an unbelievable rate and the consequences are more than just a lack of space but also hampers students' ability to learn.

It's simple math, a growing community plus a lack of schools to house the influx of students equals a big problem. The district estimates they have grown by over 1,000 students since they last redrew their boundaries back in 2007, now they are running out of room to put everyone.

"Not only are we struggling with regular population growth, but we don't have the facilities to offer all day kindergarten, or the K-3 classroom reduction," District Superintendent Tom Rockefeller said.

If something doesn't change soon, Rockefeller says they'll be in serious trouble.

"It's looking like we need as many as 55-60 classrooms in the very near future," he said.

The long-term solution would be to pass a bond to build news schools but it could be years before it comes to fruition.

In May Northwood Middle School will break ground on their new facility. They'll keep the old gymnasium and build outwards. The new middle school will then leave about 30 classrooms just sitting empty, but using that facility now to house students would be illegal.

By law, if the state gives money to replace a school, the district can no longer use the old building to house students.

"When we're in this classroom crunch that just doesn't make sense right now," State Representative Marcus Riccelli said.

Riccelli introduced a bill this month that would allow the district to use vacant schools to house students until a new school is built. Riccelli understands the growing need from both a legislator's point of view as well as a parent's.

"I did spend a whole night in a lawn chair with a sleeping bag over me trying to get my son in kindergarten up there, but we have a broader issue at hand. We need more classroom space to make sure we are providing every kid a fair shot at their education," he said.

The district is holding two public forums next month for parents to come and share ideas to help find a solution.


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