The West Valley School District will have a community forum Tuesday evening to review proposals for possible grade reconfiguration for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The conversation comes in anticipation of new Apple Valley and Summitview elementary campuses, expected to be completed for the 2021-22 school year. The expanded and updated campuses give the district an opportunity to reassess school boundaries and look at what grades are in each building.

Ordinarily, the district’s six elementary schools hold students in grades K-4. Fifth and sixth graders in the district are at a separate middle level campus on South 75th Avenue; seventh and eighth graders are at the junior high on Zier Road. Freshmen have their own campus. High school students in their sophomore through senior year are at the high school campus.

The district is considering research that shows fewer student transitions are better for learning outcomes, and parents in the district have expressed interest in a K-6 elementary school system, Peter Finch, the district’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said previously.

A committee of community members and staff have held a series of focus groups since November to weigh pros and cons of various options. They are evaluating:

  • The current system of K-4 with a separate middle school campus for fifth and sixth graders.
  • K-5 elementary schools.
  • K-6 elementary schools.

If the district shifts to a K-6 system, the existing middle school campus will be transformed into a seventh elementary campus.

Pros to a K-6 system listed in a committee report include schools developing more of a “neighborhood school” culture, and improving the delivery of specially designed instruction for students with special needs by having one point of contact across all grade levels. Cons include additional curriculum needed for fifth and sixth grade students as well as playground equipment for the seventh elementary campus, and a lack of space for separate band and choir specialists at the elementary level.

The full details for each elementary proposal, pros and cons, and data collected by the committee will be reviewed during a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wide Hollow STEAM Elementary School. The information is available at www.wvsd208.org/apps/news/article/1158073.

Angela Von Essen, the district’s assistant superintendent of business and finance, said Finch and Superintendent Michael Brophy have spent extensive hours studying different possibilities and speaking to community members and staff.

“There’s several proposals that have come up and some good ideas,” said Von Essen. “There’s a variety of input providing some different scenarios for us to consider and research. Do we have the capacity? Is this doable?”

She said the community meeting would provide an opportunity for more members to share their thoughts on the various proposals with the board. The committee will review the community feedback during a meeting Thursday.

The proposed changes could lead to ninth grade students remaining in the main high school campus, allowing the ninth grade campus to be used for career pathway programs.

The potential programs at the freshman campus will be discussed at a community forum at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Wide Hollow STEAM Elementary School.

The school board will review all proposals during a Feb. 25 meeting and decide whether to make changes.

Reach Janelle Retka at jretka@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @janelleretka