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Some Coeur d'Alene schools facing safety, learning concerns due to overcrowding

According to the Coeur d’Alene School District, Woodland Middle School’s current enrollment is 21% over its max capacity.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Coeur d'Alene School District says three of its schools are overflowing and it expects the problem to get even worse, impacting more schools in the coming years.  

Woodland Middle School is the most overcrowded school in the Coeur d’Alene School District. Its principal says they are about a year away from needing to take drastic measures to create space for students.  

Watch the full story on KREM 2 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11.

Scott Traverse’s classroom hasn’t grown, but the student population has. 

“The kids are the same now as they were 20 years ago, there’s just more of them,” Traverse said.

Traverse has taught at Woodland since it opened in 1998. This is the eighth year in a row that one of his students found a photo of their parents on his wall.

Traverse said the school was full when it opened. But now, Woodland is overflowing. He said there have been times when every desk was full and kids had to sit on counters during class.

According to the Coeur d’Alene School District, Woodland Middle School’s current enrollment is 21% over its max capacity. Lake City and Coeur d’Alene High Schools round out the district’s top three most overcrowded schools.  

The district expects the overcrowding to get even worse. That’s because the growing development in west Coeur d’Alene is bringing in more families and their students. 

Woodland Middle School Principal Mike Lindquist said many families are getting priced out of town and the middle school is already feeling the squeeze.

“Student safety. That’s our number one concern with that," Lindquist said. "I mean instruction still goes on how it normally goes on, but when you have that many bodies and you’re trying to move them around and get them there safely, there’s concerns with that.”  

To reduce the number of students in the hallway at one time, Lindquist says the lunch schedule had to be adjusted.  

The school also expanded its footprint to three portables, each split into two classrooms. But the district wants to move away from this temporary band-aid. It believes the portables stress core buildings, they’re less efficient, and pose safety and security concerns.    

“As a portable teacher I was warned a couple of occasions that we might have to run into the building quickly because there were things going on outside,” Traverse said.  

Coeur d’Alene Long Range Planning committee came up with recommendations to address the immediate needs of its overcrowded facilities. This includes securing property to build a new middle school and elementary school. Then it needs to find a way to pay for all. Land for an additional high school is already secured, but it’s just a matter of when it will be needed.  

This story is part of KREM 2's Boomtown Week. Watch stories about the impacts of growth in Spokane and North Idaho all week long through Friday, Nov. 12.

Watch more Boomtown coverage on the KREM 2 YouTube channel: