FAQ: Boundary Changes

  • Why is Spokane Public Schools changing attendance boundaries?

    With the addition of three new middle schools, SPS will be moving to a 6th-8th grade middle school configuration. Because of student-age population growth in Spokane, we need to balance enrollment at existing schools while creating space for state-mandated lower class sizes in grades K-3. Boundary adjustments are needed to support this change in grade configurations, relieve overcrowding, and accommodate student growth throughout the district.

    While changes of this magnitude are always challenging, the boundary adjustments will have many benefits, including:

    • Nearly all SPS students will have the opportunity to attend a K-12 school with their neighborhood friends and cohort.
    • Balancing enrollment at each grade level ensures the district is able to meet lower class size targets and that students can attend their assigned school, which is not currently the case due to over enrollment at some schools.
    • More opportunities to “choice in” for families choosing to elect a school other than their assigned school, especially at the high school level.

    Since 2017, SPS has worked toward a plan that accommodates the highest number of families as possible while solving issues that have lingered for decades.

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    What is the process for adjusting district attendance boundaries?

    In 2019, SPS formed a Boundary Study Committee that included parents, community members, staff and administrators representing all regions of the district. The group’s first task was to develop School Boundary Guidelines that would provide guidance for boundary adjustments. After the SPS School Board approved the guidelines, the School District formed a Boundary Adjustment Committee that began meeting in January 2020 to develop proposed boundary changes.

    A series of online community forums on proposed school boundary changes were held in April 2021. After receiving feedback on the proposed changes, the Boundary Adjustment Committee will present a recommended set of adjustments to the school board for adoption by June 2021. See a timeline of events here.

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    Who is on the Boundary Adjustment Committee?

    The committee includes volunteer community members and parents representing neighborhoods across the district. It also includes staff and administrators from across SPS as well as two school board members and a Spokane Education Association member.

    • Northeast Area
    • Northwest Area
    • Southeast Area
    • Southwest Area

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    What are the School Boundary Guidelines?

    The guidelines are listed in no particular order and are not ranked. The Committee considered each item equally when determining their proposal.

    Communication and Process

    • Prioritize community engagement.
    • Ensure a consistent and transparent process.
    • Provide regular communication with city and county planning departments.

    Diversity

    • Consider cultural and socio-economic diversity within schools through attendance boundaries and program offerings.

    Legacy (previously referred to as Grandfathering)

    • Incorporate legacy status as needed to transition students into neighborhood schools as attendance boundary changes are implemented.

    Neighborhoods

    • Support walkability and shorter commute times.
    • Recognize natural and artificial boundaries.
    • Keep neighborhood cohorts together.

    School Quality

    • Each SPS school should be a high-quality offering with attractive programming and support for high student achievement.

    Transportation

    • Keep transportation costs as low as possible.

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    Did the Boundary Adjustment Committee consider eligibility for free and reduced-price lunch?

    One data point the Boundary Adjustment Committee used to create draft boundary maps is the percentage of families at each school who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (FRPL). These numbers reflect only the families who live within the physical boundaries of each school, and were used to provide a baseline for planning.

    In reality, many SPS families choose to have their student attend a school other than their neighborhood school, also known as “choicing in.” In the 2020-21 school year, for example, North Central High School saw a 3-5% reduction in the overall FRPL rate because of choice and the Institute of Science & Technology option program.

    Free and reduced rates can shift dramatically from year to year, depending on how many students choice in to any given school and other circumstances. The ongoing pandemic and recession are also likely to skew free and reduced numbers this coming year.

    Between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, 43% of elementary schools saw a swing of 4% or more in FRPL rate. Examples:

    • Adams: - 5.17%
    • Finch: - 5.35%
    • Franklin: - 4.17%
    • Grant: + 5.01%
    • Hamblen: - 6.35%
    • Holmes: + 4.79%
    • Indian Trail: - 4.19%
    • Lidgerwood: + 4.44%
    • Madison: - 4.45%
    • Ridgeview: - 5.67%
    • Roosevelt: - 5.21%
    • Montessori: - 5.05%
    • Whitman: - 5.77%
    • Willard: - 4.84%

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    How do free and reduced-price lunch rates affect the resources a school receives?

    The number of students who receive free and reduced-priced lunch (FRPL) can help schools qualify for federal and state funds, like the Title 1 program, which provide additional resources. When a school’s FRPL rate increases, they gain more supports in relation to that need. These numbers fluctuate from year to year, and often change depending on how many students choice in to a specific school.

    Percentages often don’t tell the full story. At Lewis and Clark High School, for instance, 38% of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Since LC is the largest school in SPS, that 38% equates to about 750 students. Compare this to Shadle Park, where a 54% free and reduced rate represents fewer than 650 students. In terms of actual numbers of students who qualify for federal assistance through the free and reduced program, LC ranks behind Rogers and North Central but ahead of Ferris and Shadle Park.

    As we plan for next school year, providing additional resources to students most in need is a top priority across our district. Schools will receive extra staffing for intervention supports based on factors like the overall number of students, how many students receive special education services, and the rates of free and reduced-price meals.

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    How do the proposed boundary changes address program equity between schools?

    As they are currently drawn, our school attendance boundaries have created some large schools and some small schools. Schools with more students can offer more electives, classes, and programs, both in type and number. LC, for instance, is able to offer four years of Japanese, and several sections of most AP classes. That means students have more class variety to choose from and more opportunities to find classes that fit into their schedule.

    By creating similar enrollment among schools, we can provide more equity in class and program offerings. The proposed boundary adjustments shift several hundred students from south schools to north schools in order to achieve this balanced enrollment and support program equity.

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    Would transporting students from other neighborhoods lead to more balance among the free and reduced-price lunch rates at each school?

    When school districts try to manipulate populations through bussing, it is often high poverty students who are disproportionately impacted. This puts families at a disadvantage, both in terms of the time it requires students get to and from school and loss of access to neighborhood school staff and resources.

    As one example, to balance out FRPL at Rogers High School, 265 Rogers students (20% of the student body) would need to be bussed to higher-income schools and 390 students in higher-income schools would need to be bussed to Rogers. This would dramatically disrupt the school, which has a successful 90% graduation rate.

    It’s also important to note that school districts that have attempted to bus students for integration have consistently lost in court challenges.

    By transitioning to a 6-8 middle school model and completing the proposed boundary changes with an emphasis on cohorts, more SPS students will be in closer proximity to their schools throughout their K-12 experience.

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    What are the benefits of using the “cohort model” when making boundary adjustments?

    Our district’s Boundary Adjustment Committee has worked hard to minimize the number of students impacted by these changes. The cohort model will allow most students to stay with their classmates from elementary to high school.

    Whether students enter the school system in kindergarten or late in their 5th grade year, the cohort model allows them to move on with their peers, rather than being split. Click the links below to learn more about how the cohort model works and see research that backs up this approach.

    The cohort model also allows for collaboration among teaching staff. For example, a high school music director, counselor, principal, basketball coach, or Spanish teacher could job swap with their middle school counterpart and know that all the students they’re seeing are going to move up to their school. This is much trickier when a school is splitting because it can take on characteristics of recruiting, or not giving full attention to students from another feeder pattern.

    Research examples:

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    When will the approved boundary adjustments go into effect?

    • June 2021 – Boundary adjustments approved and announced.
    • August 2022 – Boundary adjustments implemented on the North side of the school district.
    • August 2023 – Boundary adjustments implemented on the South side of the school district.

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    Which school boundaries would change in the draft maps?

    The draft boundary maps contain changes for these elementary schools, in addition to all middle and high schools:

    • Adams
    • Arlington
    • Audubon
    • Finch
    • Franklin
    • Hamblen
    • Holmes
    • Hutton
    • Lincoln Heights
    • Linwood
    • Moran Prairie
    • Mullan Road
    • Sheridan
    • Wilson

    The draft boundary maps contain no changes for these schools:

    • Balboa
    • Bemiss
    • Browne
    • Cooper
    • Garfield
    • Grant
    • Indian Trail
    • Jefferson
    • Lidgerwood
    • Logan
    • Longfellow
    • Madison
    • Regal
    • Ridgeview
    • Roosevelt
    • Stevens
    • Westview
    • Whitman
    • Willard
    • Woodridge

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    How will the school feeder patterns change?

    School feeder patterns designate the schools that students follow as they move from one grade to the next. The goal is to keep students together as they feed from elementary school, to middle school, and finally to high school. 

    Potential school feeder patterns based on draft boundary changes are:

    Ferris High School

    Chase Middle School

    • Franklin
    • Lincoln Heights
    • Moran Prairie 
    • Sheridan

    Carla Peperzak Middle School (new)

    • Adams 
    • Hamblen


    Lewis and Clark High School

    Sacajawea Middle School

    • Grant
    • Hutton (depends on home address – check map)
    • Jefferson
    • Roosevelt
    • Wilson (depends on home address – check map)

    Carla Peperzak Middle School (new)

    • Hutton (depends on home address – check map)
    • Mullan Road
    • Wilson (depends on home address – check map)


    Rogers High School

    Garry Middle School

    • Arlington
    • Lidgerwood
    • Whitman

    Shaw Middle School

    • Bemiss
    • Cooper
    • Longfellow
    • Regal


    North Central High School

    Glover Middle School

    • Audubon
    • Finch
    • Willard

    Denny Yasuhara Middle School (new)

    • Garfield
    • Holmes
    • Logan
    • Stevens


    Shadle Park High School

    Salk Middle School

    • Balboa
    • Linwood
    • Madison
    • Woodridge

    Pauline Flett Middle School (new)

    • Browne
    • Indian Trail
    • Ridgeview
    • Westview

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    What is the Legacy policy?

    The board-adopted Legacy policy allows subsets of students to remain in their previously assigned attendance area school if they have been assigned to a different school because of the boundary adjustments. Subsets are defined as going into (rising) 10th-12th grade, 8th grade and 5th grade at the time of boundary change implementation, scheduled for 2022-23 in the North and 2023-24 in the South.

    Transportation will be provided for one year for elementary and middle school Legacy students. High schoolers can use STA bus passes if school bus service is not available.

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    Will SPS still offer open enrollment so students can apply to attend any school they want?

    Yes, SPS will continue to offer students opportunities to attend a school other than their assigned neighborhood school, known as “choicing in.” Students can apply to attend any school, but acceptance depends on available capacity for neighborhood students. The district’s Option programs, such as Spokane Public Montessori, APPLE, The Community School, Spokane Language Immersion, and others, will not be affected by school boundary changes. Enrollment in Special Programs, such as MAP and Pratt Academy, will also remain unchanged.

    Transportation is not provided for students who choice in to a school.

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    If I have already “choiced into” a school that is not my assigned school, do I get to stay?

    All students in 3rd grade and up this year (2020-21) can stay at the school they choiced into without reapplying. All students who are in grades K-2 this year (2020-21) and kindergarteners starting in Fall 2021 will need to reapply during the open enrollment window, which is Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, 2022.

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    When will the new middle schools be built or replaced?

    Shaw and Glover middle schools will be replaced with new schools in 2020-21, with expected completion in August 2021. This will:

    • Allow us to use state construction matching funds.
    • Leverage existing staff for planning.
    • Provide an additional year to plan, staff, and budget for new schools.
    • Give additional time to adjust school boundaries.

    The new Denny Yasuhara (northeast) and Pauline Flett (northwest) middle schools will be built in 2021-22, with expected completion in August 2022. Building both new schools at the same time allows the School District to move all Northside 6th graders into middle school at once, beginning with the 2022-23 school year. This will also relieve overcrowding at 22 of the district’s 34 elementary schools.

    Replacing Sacajawea and building the new Carla Peperzak Middle School will take place during the 2022-23 school year, with expected completion in August 2023. Completing these two projects concurrently allows us to move all Southside 6th graders into middle school at the same time, beginning with the 2023-24 school year. It will also relieve overcrowding at the remaining 12 elementary schools.

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    Why are we changing elementary & high school boundaries if we're only building new middle schools?

    We haven’t had major boundary changes in nearly 40 years. In addition, the legislature has added resources to fund full-day kindergarten and lower class sizes, and our district has replaced and remodeled several schools on their current sites to increase elementary enrollment capacity. As a city and a school district, our population has not grown in proportion to the location or sizes of our schools, and more growth is anticipated. As a result, we have some elementaries that are overcrowded and some that have capacity.

    As housing and demographics have shifted, high school enrollment numbers have also shifted, resulting in dramatic differences in school sizes and the ability to offer similar comprehensive high school programs.

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  • Why is my middle school changing?

    Our schools have a maximum capacity for students. Moving 6th graders up into our existing middle schools means that some 7th and 8th graders will need to move out to make room for them. This is why we are building the additional three middle schools. The chart below gives an example of what this would look like:

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Why can't I go to my nearest middle school?

While spread out across the district, our middle schools are not all centrally located in a way that serves all the students within walking distance of where they live.

Using a 1.25-mile radius around each school (which captures 700-800 students at most schools), 4,000 of our students are near a school, many are within range of multiple schools and 2,000 are outside of that range.

within
outside

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Why can't I go to my nearest high school?

While spread out across the district, our high schools are not all centrally located in a way that serves all the students within walking distance of where they live.

Using a 2-mile radius around each school (which captures ~1,500 students at most schools), 6,000 of our students are near a school, many are within range of multiple schools, and 1,750 are outside of that range.

within
outside

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Timeline: Boundary Changes

class

 2015-16:
  WA State Legislature requires smaller class sizes for grades K-3.

 

study

  2016-17: SPS Grade Configuration Study 
  2017-18: SPS Boundary Guidelines Study

 

approve

 November 2018:
  Voters approve SPS bond to build 3 new middle schools & replace the 3 oldest to support moving sixth graders into middle schools.

 

school

   2018-19: Middle School Program Design Study
   2019: Middle School Facility Design Planning

 

map

  2020 to Present:
   Boundary Adjustment Study

 

north

2022-23:
North side boundaries adjusted; new Denny Yasuhara and Pauline Flett middle schools open.

 

south

2023-24:
South side boundaries adjusted; new Carla Peperzak Middle School opens.

Additional Resources

Boundary Adjustment Committee Members

Northeast Area

  • Lacie Magin
  • Molly Merkle
  • Amber O’Conner
  • Lindsey Shaw

Northwest Area

  • Brent Christensen
  • Aaron Dingfield
  • Cassidy Doohan
  • Scott Harmon
  • Keith Reilly
  • Peter Richter
  • Julie Shepard
  • Rod Tamura
  • Brian Vandenburg
  • Amanda Young

Southeast Area

  • Kristin Day
  • Rob Dennie
  • Katrina Hawker
  • Bryan Schutz
  • Heather Stratton
  • Gary Teale

Southwest Area

  • Chris Barton
  • Alex Evans
  • Ginny Kleman
  • Kristin Markham
  • Kathleen Murray Lohrmeyer
  • Megan Read
  • Jamie Traeger

Staff Support: Committee Facilitators

  • Mark Anderson, Associate Superintendent, Capital Projects & Facility Services
  • Craig Numata, Director, Budget
  • Ryan Rowe, Supervisor, Fiscal Analysis & Data Reporting
  • Phil Crocker, Boundary Consultant
  • Harium-Martin Morris, Boundary Consultant

Principals/Assistant Principals: Elementary

  • Northwest: Kale Colyar, Woodridge Principal
  • Central: Steph Lundberg, Holmes Principal
  • South: Beth Nye, Adams Principal

Principals/Assistant Principals: Middle School

  • South: Jeremy Ochse, Sacajawea Principal
  • North: Matt McFarland, Salk Principal

Principals/Assistant Principals: High School

  • Central: Steve Fisk, North Central Principal
  • South: Theresa Meyer, Lewis & Clark Assistant Principal
  • Northeast: Joe Phipps, Rogers Assistant Principal
  • Northwest: Andre Wicks, Shadle Park Assistant Principal

Central Staff

  • Andee Atwood, Director, Accounting Services and Purchasing
  • Bybee, Heather, Chief Academic Officer
  • Greg Forsyth, Director of Capital Projects
  • Dani Galvez, Transportation
  • Sandra Jarrard, Communications Director
  • Shawn Jordan, Executive Director – Secondary Schools
  • Clint Price, Executive Director – Elementary Schools
  • Michael Warnecke, Transportation

Spokane Education Association

  • Corina Fletcher

School Board Representatives

  • Jerrall Haynes
  • Nikki Lockwood
  • Michael Wiser

As Needed

  • Cindy Coleman, Chief Financial and Business Services Officer
  • Adam Swinyard, Superintendent

Meeting Materials & Minutes

Boundary Planning Data

This document includes the data points used by the Boundary Adjustment Committee to estimate potential impacts of different boundary options.

Articles about Student Cohorts

SPS map