The Puyallup School Board is getting its first look this week at a recommended bond plan that would help relieve some growth pressure at elementary schools in Pierce County’s second-largest school district.
A 28-member committee that includes parents, district employees, high school students, architects and others presented the board with two alternatives at Monday night’s board meeting. One would raise an estimated $295 million, the other about $292 million, over 21 years.
Both proposals would help the school district whittle down, but not totally eliminate, its use of portable classrooms.
The $295 million package would pay for six elementary school projects, each offering 30 homeroom classrooms for students. Additions, remodeling and some new construction would take place at Firgrove, Northwood, Sunrise, Pope and Shaw Road elementary schools.
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A new elementary would be constructed on district-owned property on South Hill, at 144th Street East and 80th Avenue East. It could relieve some of the overcrowding at nearby Zeiger Elementary, currently the district’s most crowded, according to school officials.
District officials say this proposal would add capacity for 2,325 more students.
The $292 million bond package would cost slightly less because it would include only five school projects. Firgrove, Northwood and Sunrise would be refashioned as 30-homeroom schools. But both the new school and Pope would be larger, with 44-homerooms. This would require the school board to revise the district’s current standard.
This second option would increase student capacity by 2,720 students.
Under both proposals, Firgrove, Northwood and Sunrise would be replaced on their existing sites, while Shaw Road and Pope would be remodeled and expanded.
Dana Sheets, a member of the committee that recommended the two alternatives, has children at Northwood, as well as at Kalles Junior High and Puyallup High School.
“It’s time to put our kids first,” she said Monday night. “Enough postponing. We are not getting any smaller.”
Puyallup has tried and failed to pass school bonds four times over the past decade; the last one was approved by voters in 2004. District officials say a backlog of building needs, along with renewed growth in the suburban district, have squeezed district elementary capacity to the maximum.
As a relief measure, the school board voted last month to begin moving some sixth-graders to junior high schools in the fall. Students at Zeiger will be the first to make the move, shifting to Ballou Junior High.
Both bond proposals would cost taxpayers about 3 cents per $1,000 dollars of assessed property valuation, officials said.
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.
Corine Pennington, the district’s chief financial officer, said several factors play into that reduced rate.
For one thing, the district would be able to refinance about $34 million of a capital-technology levy approved by voters last year. Another factor is the improving economy, which has raised district property values nearly 7.8 percent in the last year.
The school board is scheduled to discuss both committee proposals at a study session at 9 a.m. Friday at the district’s main office in downtown Puyallup.
The board could vote to place the measure on the November ballot as soon as its next meeting, April 20.