After reviewing community feedback gathered from seven public forums, multiple meetings and dozens of online comments, the Vancouver School Board directed Superintendent Steve Webb and his staff to move forward on all projects originally planned for the district’s current phase of facilities improvements.

To address the inflationary costs of construction and stay within the overall bond program budget, both the Vancouver Innovation, Technology and Arts (VITA) Elementary and an elementary school to be located on NE 25th Ave. will be built at a reduced size with the opportunity for future expansion. Community feedback favored this approach over any of the other options.

The board’s direction comes after deliberating the various options and considering cost reduction strategies, available funds, new enrollment projections and community member opinions. With this option the board does not need to amend the scope of the bond program.

“We want to honor the feedback from our community and complete all of the bond projects that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2017,” said Board President Wendy Smith. “We also are fully committed to being responsible stewards of the public resources entrusted to us.”

Building each of the two new elementary schools for an enrollment of 300 students will enable both facilities to be constructed within budget while still meeting the enrollment needs of two high-growth, high-development areas in the district. In putting the projects out for construction bids, the district will include additional classroom spaces as “alternates” to provide the option of making those schools larger if the project bids are lower than expected.