With an estimated 1,600 additional students expected in Puyallup schools within the next five years, school district officials say they’re running out of space fast, especially at the elementary level.
A plan is in the works to shift sixth graders from the district’s most heavily impacted elementary schools to junior high schools that have available space. It would begin with Zeiger Elementary School this fall.
The public is invited to attend a series of community forums starting Monday to learn about enrollment growth and the proposed plan, which officials hope is a temporary fix.
Their permanent solution would be building more classroom space. The Puyallup School Board has asked a citizens committee working on a bond proposal to accelerate its work, with an eye on Nov. 3 as a possible date for an election.
Superintendent Tim Yeomans will attend the upcoming forums to outline the impacts of enrollment growth and hear public comments on the plan to relieve crowding.
The district plan was revised this month from an earlier version discussed by the school board in November and December. It proposes moving sixth-graders from seven elementary schools to five junior highs over a three-year period. Specifically, the plan proposes:
2015-16 school year
• Move Zeiger Elementary sixth graders to Ballou Junior High School. Portable classrooms would be moved from Stahl Junior High to accommodate the sixth graders arriving at Ballou.
2016-17 school year
• Move Woodland Elementary sixth graders to Aylen Junior High.
• Move Shaw Road and Sunrise elementary sixth graders to Ferrucci Junior High.
2017-18 school year
• Move Edgerton Elementary sixth graders to Glacier View Junior High.
• Move Mountain View and Northwood elementary sixth graders to Edgemont Junior High.
With more than 22,250 students in 32 schools, the Puyallup School District is the second-largest in Pierce County and the eighth-largest in the state.
Enrollment at some schools is several hundred students beyond the number they were built to serve. Zeiger, for example, has 830 students this year in a school built for 550. Woodland serves nearly 700 students in a school also built for 550.
Puyallup School District voters last approved a school bond in February 2004.
“We already lead the state in the number of portables,” said school board member Dane Looker. “We are adding portables to areas that probably shouldn’t have portables. There is just no more room left.
“But we realize the public needs more time to see what is really going on,” he added. “Unless citizens rally to get the next bond passed, we are going to be in dire straits.”