Gig Harbor school boundary changes approved

Elementary school boundaries on the Gig Harbor peninsula will change starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

In a 3-2 vote Thursday night, the Peninsula School Board approved the district staff’s recommendation to balance out enrollment on the Gig Harbor peninsula. No schools on the Key Peninsula will be affected.

The student population will grow at Artondale, Discovery, Voyager and Harbor Heights elementary schools. About 250 students will change schools, according to the redistricting committee’s recommendation in November.

The approved plan includes two provisions to ease the transition for some affected students:

Both options require paperwork with the district and function similarly to a transfer process.

The district still has a list of items to consider before the plan is implemented, said Karen Andersen, the district’s chief financial officer. Up next is a communication effort to notify all parents that a change is coming. The district also must figure out a transportation plan.

Redistricting is viewed as a quick fix to ease overcrowding at elementary schools on the Gig Harbor peninsula. The district owns land in the North Gig Harbor area, across from the YMCA, where it would like to build a new school. But the failure of money measures on the ballot in both 2013 and 2014 has thwarted its plans.

“A long-term solution is to build another school ... so we have to deal with the short-term solution,” Peninsula Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said.

Purdy Elementary has the highest enrollment, with about 700 students and a maxed-out number of portable classrooms.

Some Purdy staff members are concerned about redistricting splitting up their tight-knit group, Andersen said.

“They’ve kind of gotten used to (overcrowding),” Andersen said of Purdy’s staff. “There’s some angst there about change and what that might look like.”

Discovery Elementary is also at the heart of the redistricting plan. It will take in students from the southern end of Purdy’s boundary and send students to the southern end of the Gig Harbor peninsula.

The process of drawing the maps and coming up with solutions has taken more than a year.