Larrabee Elementary to house homeschooling program after June closure

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 10, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Larrabee Elementary will close its doors as a school this June, but some time in the next school year it will reopen as the home of Bellingham School District's new homeschool partnership program.

The district is developing a Family Partnership Program that will offer guidance, curriculum support and materials, and educational space for homeschooling families who live within the district's boundaries.

The homeschooling program was one of three proposed uses for Larrabee after the school board voted in May 2013 to close the school because the building wasn't adequate for an elementary school. A repurposing think tank worked on ideas for how to use the school, including as a building for district office space or as a preschool. The think tank, and ultimately Superintendent Greg Baker, found that the homeschooling program would be the best fit for the space.

The district identified about 400 homeschooled students within its boundaries, and more than half were enrolled in partnership programs in other districts.

Larrabee Principal Kate Baehr will develop the program with homeschool families and be the program's principal. Details about the program are still coming together. It's unclear how much space the program will need, so other community partners or programs may be able to share the building.

Larrabee neighbor Wendy Scherrer said she was glad that the school would still be available for public use.

"As a neighbor to Larrabee Elementary and as a board member of the Happy Valley Neighborhood, I am pleased that the Bellingham School District staff decided to preserve this smaller neighborhood school building," she wrote in an email. "Repurposing this building and the playground for educational and recreational purposes complements the surrounding land use."

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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