Hazelwood Elementary could bring in more students next year

January 7, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

Hazelwood Elementary School’s attendance area could get larger next year.

The Renton School Board voted at its Dec. 8 meeting to alter the district’s elementary school boundaries in the 2011-2012 school year, if the district decides to open Honey Dew Elementary School, 800 Union Ave. N.E. in Renton.

The change would expand Hazelwood Elementary’s attendance area south, bringing in as many as 40 new students to the school who would otherwise attend Kennydale or Bryn Mawr elementary schools. No children in Hazelwood’s service area would be moved to other schools, as Hazelwood’s service area would only be made larger.

Honey Dew was previously used as an elementary school, but was closed due to population changes. The district opened the school for kindergarteners this year.

Whether the district will open Honey Dew as a full elementary school hinges on the district’s budget for the 2011-2012 school year, and district officials will make a recommendation to the school board in spring regarding the school’s full reopening.

Hazelwood Elementary is at 80 percent capacity, with 453 students and a capacity of 564. The change would potentially boost the student body to 493 students, which would put the school at 87 percent capacity.

District spokesman Randy Matheson said the district’s goal is to have schools at 90 percent capacity.

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 has not served as a full elementary school for more than 17 years, it has housed students from across the district during renovations at other schools.

District officials have been preparing financially to fully reopen 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 in the 2009-2010 school year for the effort.

The Boundary Review Committee recommended the boundary changes that the school board then approved. The changes would also mitigate overpopulation in the district’s other elementary schools, which school board member Pam Teal, who represents Newcastle, applauded.

“I am happy to know that our elementary schools will have 90 percent capacity balance, allowing needed space in some of our very overcrowded schools,” she said.

However, if the school board chooses not to reopen Honey Dew as a full elementary school, it will still be used on a limited scale, such as it is now, Matheson said.

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