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Signs of our times April 12, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Growth.
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Some schools in Washington state cannot provide enough full-time kindergarten slots to all children in attendance area, because they do not have enough classroom space. Increased density and shifting demographics are likely among the factors that have led to increased kindergarten enrollment, and will likely cause more enrollment pressure in years to come.

SignIncreased density can occur when property owners subdivide or request “short plat” lots, seek private amendment requests, add accessory dwelling units “ADUs” (add-on structures that people live in), or seek to increase density through multi-family zoning. In some Puget Sound communities, such as Kirkland, Redmond, and Bellevue, you’ve probably seen signs like this often.

In addition to increased density, another trend is smaller homes being torn down in favor of larger homes. Often the original homeowner has no children living at home, whereas the new homeowner might be a young professional with school-aged children. Traffic on our bridges is an incentive for Seattle families to move closer to employment centers when they have children.

This blog is not suggesting that the growth is all positive or all negative, but districts need to approach the issues head on. Many large projects are underway or are being considered, such as new condos everywhere, Google leasing a new building site in Kirkland, and significant renovations to Park Place and Totem Lake (including possible office space).

Despite the state’s intent to phase in full-day kindergarten, citizens might wonder how districts with growth pressures will manage. If dozens of children are already being turned away for full-day kindergarten in some schools, and no new facilities are planned, what’s the solution? Districts have to provide classroom space for grades 1-12, but most are only required to offer half-day kindergarten for now, which enables twice the number of kids to be taught in the same classroom. Let’s hope high-growth districts don’t handle growth by turninig away even more children from full-day kindergarten in the next few years.

Links about growth in the “Eastside” communities near Puget Sound:

{Some projects are preliminary or in planning phases, and information could have changed or be in the process of evolving. The links are provided to give an idea of the scope of growth, but be aware that the content is outside the scope of this blog and might not reflect the latest plans.)

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