Voters shot down the Peninsula School District’s levy during November’s general election.
There will currently be no new school to accommodate the influx of additional students resulting from the new home construction underway along the north region of Gig Harbor.
The school board must find some way (within its limited budget) to absorb the new elementary students expected as early as next September.
Officials say middle schools and high schools are not expected to be a problem, as they still have some extra capacity for the increased student load. The issue is with the elementary schools.
The elementary schools on the Gig Harbor Peninsula, where the growth is occurring, are already at or over designed capacity. The schools on the Key Peninsula have some extra capacity, but not enough for the expected increase.
Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto believes that “at least some redistricting appears to be unavoidable.”
“Redistricting” is where the boundary lines for each school are redrawn and students are shifted from one school to another, resulting in students changing from a school in which they are established to a different school where the kids must make new friends and encounter new teachers, programs, rules and facilities.
“The Key Peninsula will definitely be affected by redistricting,” Cuzzetto said. “We need feedback, comments and suggestions from parents on both peninsulas to find the best way to make this work.”
The school board has tasked Cuzzetto to come up with four possible capital financing options and to schedule meetings in the community to gather input about the options.
An open public meeting is set for 6:30 p.m., Jan. 14, at the Key Center Library, where those options will be presented to the public and feedback will be gathered. Subsequent meetings will also be hosted at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 15 at the Gig Harbor Boys & Girls Club, and 6:30 p.m., Jan. 16 at Goodman Middle School.
Cuzzetto also is seeking volunteers to serve on a redistricting committee, which will address the overcrowding of elementary schools and develop proposals on how best to solve the problem.
“We need a well-rounded group of committee members, made up of parents, school staff and other interested persons throughout the district,” Cuzzetto said. “We definitely need residents of the Key Peninsula. I do not want to see a situation where the KP schools experience significant changes, with KP residents left out of the process.”
The school board will select who serves on the re-districting committee, with the first committee meeting in late January. Committee recommendations will need to be submitted to the school board in April. Evening meetings are expected, but the number and frequency of meetings has not yet been determined.
UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS