Kennewick schools celebrate year of growth, new high school

It’s been an exciting year in the Kennewick School District – one marked by growth, expansion and innovation.

We’ve celebrated milestones, including the opening of the new Kennewick High School, classroom additions and athletic facility upgrades at Kamiakin and Southridge high schools and the debut of a new online school program.

We’ve also spent time planning for the future, guided by our new strategic plan and our vision that all students are “known well, safe and destined to reach their highest potential.” As part of that planning, we’re preparing two levy measures – to support educational programs and operations, as well as technology needs – for the Feb. 8, 2022, ballot.

Our school district is home to more than 3,000 staff members and 18,600 students, and we’re looking forward to a strong 2022 that builds on all we’ve accomplished in previous years and sets the stage for continued improvement and success.

Growth and expansion

We kicked off the 2021-22 school year by opening the new Kennewick High School, capping off years of dreaming, planning, preparation and construction.

Kennewick High is now completely transformed, with a new two-story, 292,000-square-foot facility replacing the 1950s-era buildings that made up the Lions’ old home.

The new building ties all the school’s programs together into a single space that can accommodate 2,000 students, leaving room for future enrollment growth.

Two buildings from the old Kennewick High remain and are incorporated into the new school design: the Lion’s Den Gym and the remodeled auditorium. New athletic facilities include a track, field, tennis courts and baseball fields.

We celebrated the new Kennewick High with a ribbon cutting and public tours that drew current staff and students, community members, and many proud Lion alumni from throughout the school’s long history.

This year, we also celebrated the completion of two other major capital projects: classroom additions and athletic facility improvements at Kamiakin and Southridge high schools.

At Kamiakin, we added 12 new classrooms – bringing the school’s capacity to 2,000 students. We also added parking and made several athletic facility upgrades, including replacing the school’s grass field with artificial turf, replacing the track, adding restrooms, concessions, a grandstand and sports storage, and rebuilding the tennis courts.

At Southridge, we added 12 new classrooms, which – just like at Kamiakin – bring the school’s capacity to 2,000 students. We also added a 3,200-square-foot weight training facility, resurfaced the track, added track storage, added a bus loop, replaced the existing grass field with artificial turf and made HVAC improvements.

The Kennewick, Kamiakin and Southridge construction projects were all part of a bond package approved by school district voters in 2019. The bond also included Phase II of the Amistad Elementary replacement and expansion, which wrapped up in 2020, plus two future elementary school projects.

Those future elementary projects are: replacing the existing Ridge View Elementary and building the district’s 18th elementary school in a high-growth area. The new Ridge View is expected to open in the winter of 2024.

We invite you to track the progress of all our capital projects at ksd.org/District/Departments/Capital-Projects.

Kennewick High School has been transformed into a modern school, replacing 1950s-era buildings. (File photo)

New school program

This year also marked the debut of a new KSD school that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar home: Endeavor High School, our online program for students in grades 9-12.

Endeavor uses accredited Apex Learning and Apex Literacy Advantage courses that meet district and state learning standards, with supervision by highly qualified KSD teachers.

The new school is part of our robust online learning program, which also includes online classes for students in grades K-8 through Mid-Columbia Partnership.

To learn more about online learning, please visit: ksd.org/programs/online-learning

Planning for the Future

Even as we’ve celebrated innovations and accomplishments this year, we’ve also been planning for the future.

Our district is preparing to run an Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) Levy and an Instructional Technology Improvements Levy on the February 2022 ballot. These measures will provide district funding for the next four years.

The measures are replacement levies, not new initiatives, meaning they’ll take the place of the existing EP&O and technology levies that district voters approved in 2018.

Levies provide funding for health and safety, student learning and staffing, instructional support, operations and maintenance, athletics and activities and technology, and they cover costs that aren’t funded by the state or federal governments.

Thank you to our community

We want to thank our Kennewick School District community for supporting us, this year and always. The community steps up to help our district in myriad ways, from donating school supplies for students in need to volunteering for committees.

We look forward to continued partnership as we keep growing, expanding and innovating, and as we work to ensure all our students are able to reach their highest potential.

Traci Pierce is superintendent of the Kennewick School District.

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