Hellgate Elementary wrestles with future growth and affordable housing

Skylar Rispens

The Hellgate Elementary School District is bracing for impact as student numbers and housing prices for teachers both climb.

The district has been on pace with most of its enrollment projections since 2015, but blew past them between 2020 to 2022 by nearly 100 students. High percentages of new enrollees moved into the district from out of state, particularly Washington, Florida, Texas and California.

This year though, enrollment is lagging.

“What’s interesting to me is we have the smallest kindergarten class that we’ve had in 10 years,” Hellgate’s Superintendent Molly Blakely said during a Zoom call hosted by the Reserve Street Public Working Group on Tuesday morning.

Hellgate has recently been accustomed to having about 200 kindergarten students enrolled — this year there are 145.

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Blakely speculates that housing prices are to blame.

“We have a lot of people out in our area whose kids have gone through Hellgate Elementary, they don’t have kids in school anymore, they still continue to live here, which is a great thing,” Blakely said. “But I don’t see that there’s a lot of young families moving in and purchasing homes because the

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