All meetings will be held the Educational Service Center (516 176th St. E. Spanaway, WA 98387) from 10:30 to noon unless otherwise noted.
All meetings are open to the public.
- October 3, 2018
- October 30, 2018
- November 14, 2018
- December 3, 2018
- December 18, 2018 (School Board Meeting, 7 p.m. at ESC)
Boundary Committee Updates
There is a storm coming…
With ballots still being counted for Bethel's School Construction Bond, the Boundary Review Committee sat down this week to discuss the scope of their work if the 60% supermajority was not reached, and construction on new schools cannot begin in the near future.
During their latest meeting, the group reviewed the new homes and developments within the district boundaries .
Dr. David Hammond, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools, said the forecasted student population growth, including 296 new students from the new houses currently for sale, and the 973 students from the proposed subdivisions, is darkening the horizon.
“The storm is offshore right now,” he said. “But it’s getting ready to come onshore in a couple of years. But we don’t have the plywood for our windows, and we don’t have the sandbags. We are not prepared.”
The Boundary Committee broke into small groups and began problem solving, searching for remedies for the approaching storm. They also discussed which schools have a little capacity left to share — either in their main buildings or in their portables. This would help spread out the crowding so schools that are severely overcrowded, like Shining Mountain Elementary, could breathe a little easier.
Hammond encouraged creative conversations among the group members. Everything was on the table, from putting portables on Art Crate Field, to taking no action at all.
The group also heard from Karen Campbell, Director of Transportation, who shared some guidelines the district had adhered to in the past during boundary changes, including keeping a watchful eye on travel time for students, and the fact that only 9% of roads in the Bethel School District have sidewalks — making walking to and from school very dangerous, especially in the winter months.
Campbell also encouraged the groups to look at who would be at the bus stops in the early morning hours.
“Who is at the bus stop at 5 a.m.? It can’t be a kindergartener,” she said.
The Boundary Review Committee meets again on December 3.
KOMO News drops by the Boundary Committee
This week the Boundary Review Committee met for the second time to discuss the needed boundary changes for the 2019/20 school year. KOMO News dropped by to listen in on the discussion and ask a few questions.
The committee discussed special programs in Bethel that have specific placement needs. These ranged from preschool programs, to programs for medically fragile students.
At the meeting, committee members also reviewed the current boundary maps, along with building capacity projections through 2023. They then worked in small groups to discuss their areas of concern in regards to changing the boundaries next year. These included:
- Overcrowding at the north end schools
- Safety concerns – including safe walking routes, limited bathroom space, and campus security
The next meeting of the Boundary Review Committee will be November 14.
“Our schools are full”
Overcrowding demands boundary changes in Bethel School District
Bethel has been experiencing a population boom in the last decade, including 717 new students who have joined us in the last two years alone.
“We last opened up a school in 2009,” said Superintendent Tom Seigel. “Our schools are full.”
With all the new construction in our community, Seigel expects to be adding students at a rate of 300 a year for the next decade.
A Boundary Review Committee convened this week, crowded shoulder to shoulder in the boardroom as if in solidarity with the Bethel students packed into overcrowded classrooms. The committee is tasked with easing that overcrowding by creating new school boundaries, which will be implemented next year.
The committee consists of parents from every school in the district, as well as principals from all 27 Bethel schools. District administrators and two school board members were also present, but are not voting members of the committee.
“It’s a reality check,” said School Board President John Manning. “It’s a fact of life that we have to do this, and it’s best to involve everybody that this is going to impact. There’s just no easy way around it, and it’s best to get the information out there sooner rather than later.”
The exploding student population in Bethel has demanded 201 portable classrooms, which are now housing 5,000 of our students. That is so many portables that the district is nearly out of space to put them.
Only four elementary schools still have room to add new portables, and they’re in the “wrong place,” meaning they are not situated where our community is growing the fastest.
Meaning, a boundary change is needed now.
“The last couple of times we did this, we had new schools coming on line,” said Assistant Superintendent David Hammond. “This time, we don’t.”
Voters have failed three bond attempts in the last three years that would have built new schools and renovated and expanded old ones. Without the money from a passed School Construction Bond, there isn’t a ready-made solution. That’s why the task before the Boundary Committee is so critical.
The biggest outlier on the horizon is whether the November School Construction Bond will pass the state’s required 60% supermajority or not. Hammond said If the bond passes, the first new building wouldn’t come online until 2021. “We can’t hold our breath until then,” he said. “If the bond passes, that doesn’t mean our work is done.”
At this first meeting, the committee heard from principals who described the current conditions in their over-crowded schools.
- Bethel High School has 1,700 students, and only 4 bathrooms in the main building.
- There are 711 students at Graham Elementary, a building built for 400. Half of the students are in portables.
- Clover Creek Elementary was built for 525 students. It is now home to 777. The orchestra class meets in the hallway because there is no available classroom space.
- Graham-Kapowsin High School is the largest school in Pierce County by number of students. It is now home to more than 2,000 students.
The goal of Boundary Review Committee is to come up with some potential boundary revisions that are feasible and financially responsible. The impact on student achievement will also be considered.
This will be a fast-moving committee. They will meet a number of times before making their recommendations to the School Board in December. Members are also encouraged to reach out to their school community to gather input from other parents and staff members.
The community will be notified of the new boundary changes by February 1, 2019.
The next meeting of the Boundary Review Committee is scheduled for October 30. The meeting is open to the public.