Elementary relocation; problem for local neighbors? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Elementary relocation; problem for local neighbors?

SPOKANE, Wash. - To move or not to move? That really is the question on the South Hill, as neighbors and parents have very different opinions on what should happen to Jefferson Elementary School.

The Jefferson School modernization is just one of the many projects Spokane voters approved by passing the 2009 school bond.

A site selection steering committee is studying whether to renovate the existing school on the corner or 37th and Grand or build a new school on the Hart Field site.

If it's decided to renovated the existing school, students will be bused to another district site or sites. If a new school is built, the students will remain the current location until construction has been completed.

The committee is looking at two different locations for a new building. One would be on the north side of Hart Field, right across from Sacagawea Middle school. The other would be on the west side of Hart Field on the corner of 37th and Manito Boulevard. It's at that location where neighbors are standing up and putting up signs reading "Don't Move Jefferson School" in their yards.

"They're moving it right here on historic Manito Boulevard, a major walking area for the city and totally disrupt the area," said Sally Fullmer, who would live right across the street from where the school would be built. "The traffic is not set up to handle the traffic like it is on 37th, this would create another arterial."

However, some parents argue the busy traffic on 37th and Grand is a problem and it would be a good idea to move the school to a less traveled area.

Abby Roose says the west side location is ideal.

"It's the best option in terms of price, the cost would be a lot more to move students for a year and improve the sports field, not just move them," said Roose. "It saves the most trees and moves the school to a spot where there's less traffic."

A spokesperson with Spokane Public Schools said it is only in the fact finding stage right now and is looking for community input to help make a decision.

The school district plans on holding at least two more public meetings on the issue and are also inviting people to comment on its website, www.spokaneschools.org and the Jefferson Elementary website.

In June, Spokane Public Administrators are expected to make a recommendation to the school board based on the steering committee's study and community feedback.

If the decision is made to build a new Jefferson Elementary School, the old school will not be torn down. The district said it will make use of the historic 1908 building, possibly for administrative and support personnel use, or will sell it for commercial use with the restriction that the building be maintained.

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