The Tacoma school district, stung by criticism from parents over a lack of communication about construction delays at Wainwright Intermediate School, is surveying parents about options.
The district also announced two public meetings, on April 12 and April 13, to hear from parents.
The school in Fircrest was to open this fall for students in fourth through sixth grades, with seventh- and eighth-graders arriving in subsequent years.
But problems that school officials describe as a perfect storm — an unusually wet winter, coupled with a shortage of materials and labor — mean the school won’t be ready to open until months into the 2016-17 school year.
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Just under 550Current Whittier Elementary School population
The school district proposed housing Wainwright students at nearby Whittier Elementary School until the new school opens — officials estimate January at the latest.
Parents complained to the School Board about the plan, which would involve housing students temporarily in the school computer lab and other nonclassroom spaces, and in a basement with mobile partitions and carpeting.
The survey, which was sent to Whittier parents, asks them to weigh in on that option, as well as a second one that would involve busing Wainwright sixth-graders to Hunt Middle School.
At Hunt, the Wainwright students would share a campus with students from Stewart Middle School, which also is under construction.
Under the second scenario, fourth- and fifth-grade Wainwright students would remain at Whittier until move-in day at Wainwright, and students wouldn’t need to use basement classrooms.
Both plans have advantages and drawbacks, but parents at last week’s School Board meeting seemed to favor the Hunt option. Some parents wonder about a third option: waiting until fall 2017 to launch the new Wainwright.
District officials say housing everyone at Whittier would keep the new school community together, while the Hunt plan would separate sixth-graders.
More than 700Whittier population with Wainwright Intermediate School students
Parents worry about temporary crowding at Whittier, which currently houses just under 550 students. With the addition of Wainwright students in the fall, the school population would rise to more than 700, according to district estimates.
Parents say that would mean a shortage of restrooms and an overcrowded lunch room.
Moving to Hunt would require substantial work and money, the district says. One empty building there currently is unheated.
“We are trying to get the pros and cons from the wider community as we look more closely at the budget,” district spokeswoman Alicia Lawver said. “We want to hear from parents.”
Wainwright/Whittier public meetings
Tacoma school district representatives will be at Whittier Elementary School, 777 Elm Tree Lane, Fircrest, on two nights in April to hear parent concerns:
7 p.m. April 12
6 p.m. April 13.
District officials would like to have an idea of how many parents plan to attend and ask parents to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents also can share their thoughts about the plans using the same email address.