In the Classroom

Passing West Ada's bond won't end overcrowded schools

If voters approve West Ada School District’s $96 million bond for three new schools and expansion of another to ease overcrowding, there will still be schools in the district that are too full.

School officials focused on three areas of overcrowding with the bond: South of Interstate 84, easing the number of students at Mountain View and Rocky Mountain high schools, and getting some room back at Eagle and Heritage middle schools.

But as parents in North Meridian know, Paramount, Hunter and Prospect elementaries are over capacity.

Prospect Elementary, 4300 N. Red Horse Way, is built for 650 students and has 718 kids.

Hunter Elementary, 2051 W. McMillan Road, is making room for 748 students in a school built for 650.

Paramount Elementary, 2051 W. McMillan Road, has had up to 830 students, in a school built for 650. Current enrollment: 685.

West Ada has addressed crowding in North Meridian quietly. It has been building Willow Creek Elementary over time, using money it gets from a voter-approved plant facilities levy. Unlike bonds, which are essentially a way to borrow money, the plant facilities levy is a pay-as-you-go approach. West Ada District gets money from the levy each year and puts it toward maintenance and other building issues.

Willow Creek, at 6195 N . Long Lake Way in Meridian, opened two years ago as a school with grades kindergarten through second. It added third grade this year and will add fourth and fifth in the 2015-2016 school year.

Total cost when completed: $11.5 million.

Paramount has been the most impacted by Willow Creek. Enrollment has declined at Paramount by 145 students.

Now the district may soon turn its attention to Prospect and Hunter elementaries. School officials may consider redrawing attendance zones at both those schools to divert some children to Discovery and River Valley elementaries, both about 100 students under full enrollment.

But even while district officials try to take the pressure off Prospect and Hunter, they are eyeing undeveloped land west of Ten Mile Road and wondering how much of that will go under subdivisions, creating a potential need for even more schools.

One sign of their concern: on the bond voters will consider Tuesday, the district wants $2 million to buy property west of Ten Mile Road for another high school it expects will be needed in the years ahead.