SPOKANE, Wash. – The East Valley School District met Thursday to discuss plans for next year and the possible closure of East Valley Middle School. This closure would follow last years shut down of Mountain View Middle School.
One of the biggest issues in the district is money. Since 2008, the district has tried five times to pass a bond to get money for a new performing arts center, athletic facility and building renovations. However, each time it has failed.
Now, the biggest question for next year is what to do with the upcoming eighth graders.
Right now, the four elementary schools in the district are pre-kindergarten through seventh grade, which means only the eight graders are at East Valley Middle School for the entire day.
The new model could mean eliminating the middle school altogether and keeping the eighth grade students at the elementary schools.
"With the bond not passing, where are they going to house the 8th graders next year? My two children will be 8th graders," said Deanna Mallet, who has two kids in the district. "The gym is not big enough, they do not have showers, they do not have lockers, how can they have electives if there's not enough rooms?"
Everyday around 12:15 p.m. her two seventh graders are bused from East Farms Elementary to East Valley Middle School for lunch, physical education and their electives.
"Their lunch situation is tough because East Farms is the last school that is bused to East Valley Middle School for lunch, so many times they have maybe ten minutes to eat their lunch before they start P.E.," Mallet said.
The trip between schools is almost twenty minutes. However, the school district says it does not impact student learning.
"The travel time is not taking away from students academic achievement and it is allowing them the opportunity to get together in a community and enjoy choir and drama," said East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel. "We had some science, they eat lunch there and experience students from across the district, so that when they hit the high school they are going to be prepared."
However, since the seventh graders are part of two separate schools, parents worry they are not developing social skills they will need when they get to high school
"It really has an isolating effect on the students and on the teachers, and that has a lot of social impact on school spirit," Mallett said. "There is no ASB in our school, you know, how are sports going to work?"
Pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schools are not completely new.
"This model has the potential to actually be a preventative to drop outs and the shock that occurs from the transition to the ninth grade level," Glenewinkel said.
At Thursdays meeting, Mallet hopes other parents will voice their opinions and take part in the decision making process for next year.
"Get involved, back your school, vote for the bond, ask the right questions and make sure things are working as they should," Mallet said. "East Valley School District is a great school district, we have the best teachers in Spokane and I just encourage people to get involved."