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Eagle Rock Multi-Age: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

On March 28, 2023, the School Board of Directors voted to consolidate and disband the Eagle Rock Multi-Age Program at the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year.

What follows is a Frequently Asked Questions-style summary of answers to many of the questions we have been receiving during this process, and because of the recent School Board decision.

Q: What is the status of the Eagle Multi-Age Program?

A: By a vote taken at the March 28, 2023, School Board Meeting, the Eagle Rock Multi-Age Program will be consolidated and disbanded into Riverview’s comprehensive elementary schools at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Returning Eagle Rock students will be transitioning to existing elementary schools or programs, beginning with the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Q: With Eagle Rock Multi-Age consolidated and disbanded at the end of the 2022-23 school year, what will the district be doing to ensure students and families still feel part of a school community?

A: The district has committed to connecting families with school volunteer opportunities in our comprehensive schools, as well as making sure each school’s PTSA organization is aware of, and reaches out to, Eagle Rock families transitioning into their new school.

Additionally, Riverview will partner with a representative group of Eagle Rock parents, students, and staff to help determine transition opportunities. Examples include, but are not limited to, school tours, meeting teachers and staff, scheduling conversations with principals, and providing an overview of available programs and resources of interest to students and families. We look forward to developing a collaborative transition plan with our Eagle Rock families.

Q: Why does the district need to address this issue with what seems to be a quick timeline?

A: The existing conversation regarding potential changes to the future of the Eagle Rock Multi-Age Program began in the fall of 2022. Once a determination was made that a recommendation to consolidate and disband was the only viable direction for the district, meetings were scheduled with Eagle Rock staff and families on February 6, 2023, to discuss the challenges faced with maintaining Eagle Rock beyond this school year. During those conversations, the district informed families of the recommendation the district was proposing to the School Board and shared the issues involved with making this decision. Holding those meetings and sharing a recommendation to the School Board put a process in motion that not only met the requirements of Board Policy 6883, but would allow, if the Board voted to consolidate and disband Eagle Rock, students, staff, and families the opportunity to focus on implementation, next steps, and ensure all involved are engaged in the transition process.

Q: Is the district following the law? What about policy and collective bargaining agreements?

A: Washington law requires school districts to have a policy for when a recommendation has been made to close a school for instructional purposes. RCW 28A.335.020. Consistent with this law, Riverview School District’s Board Policy 6883 speaks to the requirements necessary in closing a school. All existing labor agreements are available on the Riverview School District website, by clicking here.

Q: Eagle Rock has been in this district for many years. Why is Riverview now stating that it cannot continue to provide smaller schools with smaller class sizes?

A: Questions about the fiscal viability of Eagle Rock Multi-Age have been discussed for many years, dating back to the tenure of previous superintendents, Dr. Anthony Smith, and Conrad Robertson. Given the current funding model, small elementary schools are not financially sustainable in a district of our size. Current funding in Washington state is based on costs associated with running a 400-student elementary school.

With existing budgetary constraints, the district is forced to look at two main options: 1) Consolidate a smaller school with limited enrollment and transition those students into our existing comprehensive elementary schools; or 2) Cut and/or eliminate services, staff, and supports at other schools to continue providing resources to a school which does not generate enough revenue to remain fiscally viable.

Q: If Eagle Rock presents a fiscal challenge, as the district claims, how has the school been able to remain open during the district’s overall decline in enrollment?

A: The district did not have a clear view on whether the enrollment decline would be permanent, short-term, or long-term. Enrollment losses in Riverview, in neighboring districts and across the state and country, were believed to be because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2021-22 school year, Riverview, like other districts, continued to follow state requirements that accommodated adequate spacing, smaller class sizes and higher staffing levels. The district was also following mandated safety measures and other requirements directly related to COVID-19.

When the October 2022 enrollment numbers were made available, it became clear that enrollment was not returning to pre-pandemic levels. Several factors play a part in this: lower birth rates, higher housing costs, a wide array of educational opportunities for families, including private schools and virtual options, families relocating to more affordable communities, and Riverview simply not seeing a boost in student enrollment that matches new housing starts and families moving into our communities.

The impact of inconsistent enrollment will continue to impact the district’s financial position in the 2023-24 school year.

Q: Where can I see the presentations and discussions on this matter?

A: Effective January 2023, all School Board meetings are now livestreamed to the community, then archived for on-demand viewing. Members of Riverview's administrative team provided an initial presentation at the February 28, 2023 Board Meeting. A parent advocacy group, Save ERMA, presented their research and findings in support of retaining Eagle Rock during Public Hearing at the March 14, 2023 meeting. During the March 28, 2023 meeting, prior to the Board vote, Superintendent, Dr. Susan Leach, and Director of Business and Operations, Meisha Robertson, provided additional information to address Board questions which emanated from the previous presentations.

All School Board meetings are available for viewing here:

Q: Is Riverview significantly overspending on professional development/learning, relative to neighboring school districts?

A: No. This claim is addressed by Riverview during the district presentation during the March 28, 2023 Board Meeting (meeting linked above).

Q: Is comparing budget codes a good methodology for comparing how districts spend money?

A: Comparing budget codes is not an efficient way to determine whether a district is overspending, relative to other districts. Just as one budgets differently than a friend or neighbor, or can view a similar expense differently, school districts have the flexibility, within the law, to develop budgeting styles and practices that work best for their system.

That flexibility makes it nearly impossible to tell whether you are making a proverbial “apples-to-apples” comparison. Additionally, labor costs vary widely in our state. Specifically, in King County, labor costs range significantly higher than in other parts of the state, which may have districts of similar size but have a different socio-economic background.

Q: Is Riverview overspending in Transportation, relative to neighboring school districts?

A: Comparing transportation costs between school districts can be difficult. Several factors must be considered and not all school districts operate the same. Factors to consider include ridership, whether the routes are rural-based or city-based, etc. Simply dividing the number of students by a budget code used for transportation expenditures fails to put into proper context the uniqueness of a school district’s transportation challenges. In Riverview, for example, most of our routes are rural door-to-door routes, more costly to operate than a city route where large groups of students gather at a relatively small number of stops. Some districts utilize Metro cards or public transportation. Other districts run an “every other week” schedule because of driver shortages.

With the recent suggestion that the district reduce transportation costs by $500,000 to help keep Eagle Rock open, the district would be forced to eliminate approximately one-third of our driver workforce. This would impact hundreds of students in our district who need district transportation to attend school each day.

Q: Is Riverview overspending in Office and Clerical Staffing, relative to neighboring school districts?

A: Again, comparisons district-to-district can be difficult. With the recent suggestion that the district reduce office and clerical staffing by $500,000 to help keep Eagle Rock open, the district would be forced to eliminate approximately 8-10 positions, which could include: building and office managers, registrars, attendance secretaries, counseling office support staffing, a payroll and benefits coordinator, department support staff, etc.

Q: What plans are in place for the Eagle Rock campus, now that the program is set to be disbanded?

A: The district has no plans to use the Eagle Rock campus or portables currently. In time, the site could potentially be used for storage.


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