On Thursday, February 9, Interim Superintendent Jarvis shared the following announcement with the BSD community regarding the recommendations to consolidate schools in the 2023-2024 school year.
View the recording of Interim Superintendent Jarvis’s recommendation to the Board.
I would like to acknowledge that the past several months have held difficult and stressful discussions for community and staff. I appreciate the immense importance of this undertaking for the health of the Bellevue School District.
Over the past three years, enrollment in the Bellevue School District has declined by 1,552 students and is projected to continue to decline. Declining enrollment has deep financial impacts and very small enrollment at the school level creates educational challenges. To maintain and continually improve the quality of education for each and every student, the District must make some adjustments. To this end, the district is addressing the issue with three key approaches: increase enrollment, consolidate schools, and adjust expenditures. My message today will focus on school consolidation.
As proposed for the 2023-2024 school year, the recommendation for consolidation is as follows:
- North Area: Combine Ardmore Elementary at Bennett Elementary, Cherry Crest Elementary, and Sherwood Forest Elementary.
- South Area: Combine Eastgate Elementary at Spiritridge Elementary and Somerset Elementary. Move Spiritridge Advanced Learning to Woodridge Elementary.
- Midwest Area: Combine Wilburton Elementary at Clyde Hill Elementary and Enatai Elementary.
Several convergent post pandemic factors have brought forth the need for consolidation in Bellevue including a limited availability of affordable housing, low birth rates, losses of state and federal pandemic era funding, local employment reductions and a curtailing of corporate visas and work permits. To do nothing in response to the tide of these factors is not a professionally responsible option.
Opportunities for ongoing community engagement will continue through school and community committees, transition planning teams and participation at hearings. The engagement of school communities at both the schools recommended for consolidation, and school communities receiving students is critical to this process. An abbreviated timeline of next steps community members can expect are as follows:
- Thursday, February 16, 4:30 p.m. – Consolidation study session with Board and Community Committee
- Monday, February 27, 4:30 p.m. – Hearing for the purpose of taking public testimony regarding the recommendation to consolidate Ardmore Elementary School with Bennett, Cherry Crest, and Sherwood Forest Elementary Schools.
- Tuesday, February 28, 4:30 p.m. – Hearing for the purpose of taking public testimony regarding the recommendation to consolidate Eastgate Elementary School with Spiritridge and Somerset Elementary Schools and to relocate Advanced Learning from Spiritridge to Woodridge Elementary School.
- Thursday, March 2, 4:30 p.m. – Hearing for the purpose of taking public testimony regarding the recommendation to consolidate Wilburton Elementary School with Clyde Hill and Enatai Elementary Schools.
A full timeline can be found on the Planning for the Future – Process Timeline webpage and will be updated as information becomes available to support the transition of impacted members of our learning community.
I appreciate the thoughtful and impassioned responses which, I believe, demonstrate a love of local schools and an appreciation for the excellent educational experience school staff provide. I also appreciate the difficulty of this task for staff, and I want to commend them for their outstanding technical work in looking at options and multiple factors to reach a reasonable solution. The final recommendation is mine as the Superintendent, and I have offered these recommendations to the Board, together with the plans to move forward.
My complete recommendation along with supporting documents are available on BoardDocs for the community to review. They can be found by navigating to the “Meetings” tab and selecting the February 9, meeting agenda.
Dr. Art Jarvis, Interim Superintendent