The Puyallup School Board held a special meeting Friday morning to kick off the first of two public hearings on a proposed bond measure in an effort to relieve current overcrowding in the district’s elementary schools.
A group made up of teachers, parents and community members packed the Education Service Center to hear from the board.
A 28-member committee that includes parents, district employees, high school students, architects and others presented the board with two proposed bond measures at the March 16 school board meeting. One would raise an estimated $295 million, the other about $292 million, over 21 years.
The first option (A 2.1) the board discussed would include six projects to create 30 homerooms for elementary students at Firgrove, Northwood, Sunrise, Pope, Shaw Road, and the addition of a new elementary school. This option would add 2,325 students to the elementary student capacity, with the total projected cost of $295,308,393, or .03 per $1,000.
The second option (A 2.2) the school board is examining — the less expensive option of the two — includes five projects, providing Firgrove, Northwood and Sunrise elementary with 30 homerooms. It would also add 44 homerooms to a new elementary and Pope Elementary. This option would add 2,720 students, with a tax rate of .02 per $1,000 or a total projected cost of $292,512,055.
Officials say the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $6 more per year in total Puyallup School District-levied taxes — less than what an owner would’ve had to pay under a failed bond proposal two years ago, according to a News Tribune report.
Puyallup has tried and failed to pass school bonds four times over the past decade; the last one was approved by voters in 2004.
Dr. Tim Yeomans, superintendent of Puyallup schools, said some of the feedback he and the board has received recently asks the question why the board didn’t get this plan underway sooner.
“We’ve been looking forward 12 years at a time,” he said during Friday’s meeting.
Following the presentation of the options, the board was then able to ask questions and discuss the options presented.
“A 2.1 looks to be the most adequate,” Dane Looker, board vice president, said about the bond options.
Pat Donovan, president of the school board, still had questions about the options on the table.
“A question I heard,” Donovan said, “and I remember hearing comments about it, is the difference of these two does not include Shaw Road and the Highlands. With A 2.1, how are we dealing with that growth immediately around Shaw Road?”
Rudy Fyles, chief operations officer for the district, made it clear that with whichever bond option the district decided to go with, it would mean board members could anticipate a re-study of the elementary schools boundaries.
“Any of these solutions would have to look at school boundaries,” he said.
Friday’s hearing did set aside time for those in attendance to ask questions or comment, but no one chose to speak.
The board could vote to place the measure on the November ballot as soon as its next meeting, set for 6 p.m. April 20 at Glacier View Junior High, 12807 184th St E.
Donovan summed up the complex situation of overcrowding at elementary schools in simple terms.
“It’s like pushing air into a balloon,” he said. “It has to go somewhere.”