With Mead School District facing budget cuts, parents try to save Riverpoint Academy

click to enlarge Riverpoint Academy - COURTESY MEAD SCHOOL DISTRICT
Courtesy Mead School District
Riverpoint Academy

Traci Logan moved into the Mead School District a few years ago because she heard amazing things about the schools — especially Riverpoint Academy, a project-based STEM school.

"We toured the school and [my son] was so excited," Logan says. "He said, 'We have to go here. I'll do anything.'"

Logan's son is now a junior at Riverpoint Academy. But soon, the school could close down. It's a potential casualty of budget cuts facing school districts across the state. Mead School District is no different: Mead faces a $12 million budget shortfall, and the district has proposed cuts that include a two-year closure of Riverpoint Academy, a closure of MEAD Alternative High School and other program and staff cuts.

They're cuts that some parents and community members feel disproportionately impact more vulnerable children.

"The overall feeling is that the cuts are unevenly angled toward the kids that need the help most or are unconventional learners," Logan says.

The school district has proposed nearly $15 million in cuts overall. Included in those are losses to teachers, school nurses, counselors, social workers and paraeducators, among others (check out the proposal here). Mead, of course, isn't the only school district facing budget cuts. Spokane Public Schools recently started the process to lay off hundreds of teachers and staff, and Central Valley School District is facing a similar $12 million budget shortfall.

Riverpoint Academy enrolls roughly 170 students with plans for 200 student next year, and it serves as an alternative to traditional high schools. Instead of classrooms, it has open spaces. It strays from class lectures and instead provides more personalized instruction for students. For the last few years, the graduation rate has hovered near 100 percent, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It consistently has a wait list for enrollment.

Logan says it's especially important for students who are hands-on learners like her son.

"It's a learning environment that we all wish we had in high school," Logan says.

MEAD Alternative High School, meanwhile, enrolls around 100 students, with more than 55 percent considered low-income, according to OSPI. By comparison, only 27 percent of Mead School District as a whole are low income.

The district is currently in the process of hearing feedback from the community before making a decision on the budget. After hours worth of testimony at the school board on Monday night, the district will get more feedback during a special meeting tomorrow at Northwood Middle School at 6 pm.

"We understand that the district faces some difficult decisions, and that easy or painless solutions would have already been pursued if they were available," Logan says. "Closing Riverpoint, however, is a step too far and in the wrong direction, not just for our current students, but for the district as a whole."

Those unable to attend can provide comments using a comment form here.

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.