Renton may reopen old elementary, change boundaries

May 7, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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In fall 2011, the Renton School District plans to reopen Honey Dew Elementary School — five miles southeast of Hazelwood Elementary School at 800 Union Ave. N.E. in Renton — to accommodate population growth trends in the district.

The reopening would alter elementary school boundaries throughout the district as of fall 2011, potentially bringing about 30 more students to Hazelwood who would otherwise attend Kennydale Elementary School or Bryn Mawr Elementary School.

No children in Hazelwood’s service area would be moved to other schools, as Hazelwood’s service area would only be made larger. Also, the changes would have no effect on middle or high school boundaries. For example, students from the Kennydale service area shifted to Hazelwood Elementary would still attend Demmitt Middle School and Renton High School, as current middle school and high school boundaries dictate.

Although Honey Dew’s full opening would be in fall 2011, district officials plan to open the school on a limited scale next year to accommodate overflow. Students from Highlands Elementary School would attend Honey Dew next year.

Honey Dew Elementary School, 800 Union Ave. N.E. in Renton, will open on a limited scale in September and as a full elementary school in September 2011. The school’s opening will change elementary school boundaries in the Renton School District in September 2011. Contributed

District spokesman Randy Matheson said he and other district officials understand how hard boundary changes can be on families.

“The last thing we want to do is move families from one school to another,” he said. “We understand the impact on a family that it would have.”

He said boundary changes are designed to be long term to minimize the effects on families, and they are necessary as a last resort when growth trends overcrowd schools.

District officials have been preparing financially to open Honey Dew, and Matheson said it would cost the district about $1.6 million to do so. However, he said the district has been preparing financially for the school’s opening, as officials set aside $600,000 in the 2008-2009 school year and $500,000 this school year for the effort.

Matheson said district officials try to keep the schools at 90 percent capacity to allow for people moving into a given area to have their children attend their neighborhood school. As of January, Hazelwood had 481 students and was at 93 percent capacity. The district’s elementary schools house between 550 and 600 students, Matheson said.

Honey Dew

More than 17 years ago, the Renton School District used Honey Dew as a full-time elementary school. However, as growth trends changed, the school was no longer needed and it was closed.

However, the school was used over the years to house students from the district’s other elementary schools while schools were being renovated, as every elementary school in the district has been renovated or rebuilt.

Honey Dew was renovated earlier this year with funds from a 2003 bond issue. With 16 general classrooms and three kindergarten classrooms, the school would accommodate about 490 students, district officials said. The school also includes a music room, library and media center, gymnasium and cafeteria.

The school would primarily service those within walking distance of the school.

Secondary school boundaries

The Enrollment Review Committee will reconvene this fall to examine boundaries for middle and high schools. If members determine that some schools are drastically above the desired 90 percent capacity, it may reconvene the Boundary Review Committee to possibly make boundary changes for secondary schools.

Matheson said McKnight Middle School is the only middle school that is the most overpopulated, and it has more than 1,100 students.

“We don’t want to see McKnight grow any bigger than it is,” Matheson said, again emphasizing that changes to boundaries will be a last resort.

The Enrollment Review Committee consists of one parent volunteer from each school in the district. For more information on how to get involved, contact the principal at your school. The Boundary Review Committee typically consists of the same members as the Enrollment Review Committee.

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One Response to “Renton may reopen old elementary, change boundaries”

  1. KW on May 7th, 2010 9:11 am

    McKnight is one of the largest middle schools in the state (a couple years ago it was #2!) The building was designed to serve around 900 students. Yes, perhaps the district can keep adding portable classrooms, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the general overcrowding–the hallways, lunchrooms, gyms, etc., are all at capacity and bordering on dangerously overcrowded. I don’t see how the district is going to fix overpopulation at that school without a boundary shift. Perhaps it’s time to look at more creative solutions; for instance, reopen Honeydew as a magnet choice K-8–perhaps focused on the arts or the sciences. Seattle has had great success with its popular K-8 choice programs. This could be a test case for the district and take some pressure off crowded East Hill schools in general. But the district has chosen not to think outside the box, and parents, students, and teachers continue to pay the price for doing the same old thing.

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