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With our district growing, a ballot measure may be needed l Mukilteo Schools

 


Five years ago, a supermajority of about 64 percent of the voters in the Mukilteo School District approved a ballot measure that gave us the authority to finance improvements to many school facilities. The largest of those projects was the construction of Lake Stickney Elementary, which opened in the fall of 2016, and the construction of Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, which opened a year later.

You’ll recall that when that vote was taken in 2014, our elementary schools were overcrowded to the point that we couldn’t offer full-day kindergarten. We simply didn’t have enough classrooms available. Adding the two new schools has provided us with much-needed space and has allowed us to offer full-day sessions for our kindergarteners, but in the meantime, the enrollment growth has continued.

During the time that has passed since that bond measure was on the ballot, the total enrollment in Mukilteo schools has increased by more than 350 students. To put that number in perspective, our typical elementary school holds about 600 students. What’s more, our most recent enrollment forecast predicts that we’ll add another 750 students in the next five years and about 1,300 students in 10 years.

There’s also a growing need to make facility renovations. We take seriously our obligation to be good stewards of the public facilities that we have, but every building requires more attention as it gets older. Mariner High School will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Our oldest schools, Olympic View Middle School and Fairmount Elementary, were built in 1952. Kamiak High School is already 26 years old, Columbia Elementary is 30, Mukilteo Elementary is 37, and Serene Lake Elementary is 51, to name a few.

With all of this in mind, a group of parents, community members, and school district employees have been meeting since April to consider the school district’s facilities and prioritize which out of a long list of needed improvements are the most urgent.

They have looked at the enrollment forecasts and the capacities of our school buildings, for example. The members of the committee also heard about an assessment of building conditions and how that aligns with capacity needs, the technology components of past ballot measures, and the safety and security efforts in our schools.

The committee is still meeting. They’ve discussed the strategies that schools use to address classroom capacity and how various facility needs are assessed. They’ve been looking at the athletic fields and playgrounds at our schools to see what kinds of improvements they might need, and they’ve developed guiding principles that will lead them to setting priorities and making decisions that are mindful of the entire school district.

The group is scheduled to complete its work later this month and I’m anxious to see the result of their effort. The advice that we will receive from the committee members will help the school district greatly as we consider next steps.

If it turns out that another ballot measure will be necessary next year to finance additional facility improvements, you can be assured that with the valuable advice that we’ll get from these committee members, the proposal that would end up on the ballot will be a well-thought-out plan for meeting current and future needs.

 

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