State grant bringing change to one Kennewick elementary school - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State grant bringing change to one Kennewick elementary school

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KENNEWICK, WA - It's the first day of school for many area districts, and several, including Kennewick School District, are getting creative in handling rapidly-increasing enrollment numbers.

Reporter Rex Carlin took a tour of one of the KSD schools that will see some of the most change in the coming years.

Amistad Elementary in Kennewick is a school that, thanks to a grant from the state, will look a lot different in the next couple years, and could look even more different if the district's proposed spring 2019 bond passes.

The 51-million dollar state grant is aimed at reducing K-3 class sizes district-wide. To do that, the grant will be used to expand the voter-approved, 26-classroom elementary school opening in the Clearwater Creek development next year up to 38 classrooms, construct a new building for the district's new dual-language elementary school, and add 20 classrooms to Amistad's campus.

In the minds of parents, these additions are much needed.

"Better education for the students," said Echo Broyles, a Vista Elementary parent. "It adds more of a one-on-one for the students. Also, for transportation, with it being so overcrowded, there's more of a distance you have to drive just to get to and from the school."

Amistad's current building will also be remodeled if the district's proposed 2019 bond passes...a bond that also proposes a complete demolition and remodel of Kennewick High School, replacing Ridge View Elementary, and creating an eighteenth elementary school in the district.

With an ever-increasing number of students flowing into the district, Broyles says she's concerned over the enrollment numbers at Vista Elementary. Vista is one of the schools that will be alleviated when the new Clearwater Creek school opens next year.

"It kind of worries me as far as what kind of education is she getting," Broyles said.

To help create space for potential designs for Amistad's expansion, KSD bought all the properties along the strip of land between S. Kent Street and the school...clearing the way for even a potential new alignment and front entrance for the school depending on what design the district chooses.

For Broyles, transportation within the district has been a big concern and she believes school expansion can improve some of those problems.

"So that would help as well with the overcrowding schools, the new school would actually alleviate a lot of the pressure that the bus drivers have with so many kids."

So many kids...a representation of the influx of people moving into the Tri-Cities.

That proposed bond will be on the ballot in the spring of 2019, and KSD officials tell us all of the projects proposed on the bond will be shovel-ready...meaning as soon as it passes - if it passes - construction can begin.