Larrabee Elementary to close at end of 2013-14 school year

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 12, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - Next school year will be the last one for 93-year-old Larrabee Elementary, according to the Bellingham School District.

Starting in fall 2014, Larrabee's 185 students will be split between nearby Happy Valley and Lowell elementary schools after Larrabee's closure in June 2014.

A district Facilities Planning Task Force recommended the closure of Larrabee last fall along with a variety of building projects for the district over the next 10 years - including rebuilding Happy Valley and adding a new gym and cafeteria at Lowell.

Larrabee's lack of space and inaccessibility for students with disabilities were cited as reasons for closure.

Though many parents and members of the Larrabee community opposed the school's closure, the school board approved it 4-1 on May 9, with Scott Stockburger the lone vote against it. The Coalition to Save Larrabee Facebook page was still active in early June.

In the May vote, however, the school board did not specify when Larrabee would close.

It's still unclear exactly how Larrabee's students will be split between the schools. Parents and staff from all three schools can apply to be part of an Attendance Area Committee starting in September. That group should make a recommendation about boundaries to the superintendent in December. A final decision on boundaries will be made in early 2014.

Space is available at both schools to accommodate the new students by reorganizing classrooms, district spokeswoman Tanya Rowe said.

A think tank weighed closing Larrabee at the end of this year, in June 2014, by June 2016 or in a rolling closure. The group ruled out this year and the rolling closure as not feasible, but there was strong support for closing next year or by June 2016.

The district opted for the 2014 closure to allow Larrabee families to become part of the communities at their new schools and let them be part of the planning process for construction at the schools.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her school days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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