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School crowding could lead to the "P" word


The school board is being pushed to make decisions on overcrowding at the new school. Could a portable classroom be in the district’s future?

It’s a possibility, says Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Paul Turner.

The most critical grade level is the second grade, with the fifth grade also being pushed.

The two second grade classes are maxed out now and quite possibly will turn away new students.

“The optimum class size for grades 1-6 is 24, with the maximum size at 28,” Turner stated.

The district, according to Turner, has a policy that allows four ways of turning a student away. A student applying for entry, and with a class full, can be turned away for lack of space, for having an attendance or discipline problem at their last school, or if it creates a financial problem for the district.

When the new school was built, an area was prepared for possible portables in the fenced area on the elementary side. Turner said that all the utilities are stubbed in and would allow a portable classroom or two to locate in that area.

“We could probably locate a used portable for $50-75,000,” Turner said. “I don’t know where we would get the money.”

That decision would have to be made at least in time for the next school year, Turner added.

If the district went the portable route, it could house the preschool class there and open up a classroom within the main building, he said.

The two fifth-grade are also being pushed by the number of students, “although they are not as crowded as the second grade,” Turner pointed out.

The district could develop solutions to overcrowding besides portables, but there was no plan of what that might be.

Overcrowding will be a test for the school board, which ultimately will have to make the decision.

Among goals set by the school board for this year is getting Center School and its surrounding property sold.

The district purchased the building and the 8.465 acre site in October 2014, for $155,000, and spent another $10,000 for an appraisal. The complex was appraised for $190,000.

“Selling Center School is one of our highest priorities,” Turner said. “It would help us if we had to purchase a portable.”

Center School has become a vandalism target, which also has developed added costs for the district. Vandals have broken windows, thrown paint on carpets and walls, and scattered items around the rooms.

The district will get its first report on school opening numbers this Friday.

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