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August 29, 2016

UPDATED: State grant to pay to enlarge two elementary schools, build new home for dual language program

The Kennewick School District will use a $51.1 million state grant to help build the district’s 16th elementary, add 20 classrooms to Amistad Elementary and construct a new building for the district’s dual language program at the site of the old Desert Hills Middle School.

The Kennewick School Board of Directors approved the projects at its Aug. 17 meeting. The projects will be completed by the fall of 2019 and are aimed at reducing classroom sizes in kindergarten through third-grade. Elementary students in all areas of the district will benefit from the board’s decision.

“All of the approved projects are designed to reduce class sizes in grades K through 3,” stated Superintendent Dave Bond. “We strategically selected projects that will free up class space and reduce overcrowding in our existing schools in east, central and west Kennewick.”

Board members have approved the construction timeline for the projects to be paid for by the grant:

  • Elementary #16, approved by the voters as a 26-classroom building in an $89.5 million bond, will be expanded to 38 classrooms and will open in the Clearwater Creek development in Fall 2018.
  • The new Dual Language elementary school will open in Fall 2018.
  • The 20-classroom addition at Amistad Elementary will open in Fall 2019.

The district received the largest individual share out of about $234 million awarded by the state. The district qualified for the grant money based on a number of weighted factors, including the number of needed classrooms, the current student-teacher ratio, the percent of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and when the district most recently passed a bond.

The board and district administrators have worked since May to identify the best use of the money to meet the district’s needs.

Mid-Columbia Partnership, the district's homeschool program, will also move to the old Desert Hills site to its own dedicated facility while making use of the gym already at the location. That project will be paid for another funding source outside the grant.