It was a historic day for the Puyallup School District.
On Nov. 3, voters approved the first bond measure in 12 years with a supermajority vote. The money authorized by more than 69 percent of voters will build a new elementary school on South Hill that’s scheduled to open in 2019. That same year, larger replacement buildings at Firgrove and Northwood elementary schools are also scheduled to open.
In 2020, a new, larger Sunrise Elementary and an expanded Pope Elementary will open.
With nearly 70 percent of Puyallup voters saying “yes,” district officials say it’s an overwhelming validation from the community.
“It will benefit generations of kids,” said Brian Fox, the district’s executive director of communications. “It’s for our kids’ sake. Our children and our children’s children will benefit from this.”
While students and teachers in the district won’t see results immediately in terms of overcrowding, the community is still excited for what is to come for Puyallup schools.
“The feeling is just excitement and gratitude,” said Maddie Names, co-chairwoman of the bond campaign. “Teachers are excited, parents are excited, business owners are excited that almost 70 percent of voters said yes to this.”
While three of the five construction projects included in the bond won’t be completed until Fall 2019, and two others in 2020, Fox said the district is in the process of pursuing other grants to get the construction process started sooner, since growth inside the district isn’t projected to slow down.
“They are selling 80 new homes a month in our community,” Superintendent Tim Yeomans said. “Everywhere you go, there are developments of hundreds of homes. We have to respond.”
“The school board is in the process of applying for a class reduction grant,” Fox said. “It will give the taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck.”
While the district continues to grow, the plan to reduce overcrowding at the elementary level by continuing to move sixth-grade students to junior high early for the 2016 and 2017 school years, just as the district did this year in moving students from Zeiger Elementary to Ballou Junior High.
The Puyallup School Board is reassuring the community that moving students to junior high is only temporary.
“We still want our sixth-graders in elementary schools,” said board member Kathy Yang in an interview with The News Tribune. “We have done some work to make sure we get the bond sales going as soon as possible and get the construction rolling as soon as possible.”
Staff writer Debbie Cafazzo contributed to this report.
Here’s the current schedule of future moves planned for sixth-graders in Puyallup. Officials say plans could change, depending on enrollment changes this year.
Fall 2016: Woodland Elementary sixth-graders to move to Aylen Junior High
▪ Shaw Road and Sunrise elementary sixth-graders to move to Ferucci Junior High
Fall 2017: Edgerton Elementary sixth-graders move to Glacier View Junior High
▪ Mountain View and Northwood elementary sixth-graders move to Edgemont Junior High