Bethel School Board discusses overcrowding now that bond fails again

SPANAWAY - The Bethel School District bond has failed to pass as election results were certified Tuesday night. The bond measure, which would have funded construction of new schools to address severe overcrowding, failed by 307 votes.

The school board met to have a study session discussing what comes next.

“Frustrated, very frustrated,” said Marcus Young, a school board member and parent of three children who attend the district. He says he’s concerned about long-term impacts of overcrowding on students.

“Kids slip through the cracks, both in academics, and if we push them to the next grade and they don’t have the esteem they need, all you’re doing is building a cycle that will show its head at some time,” said Young.

A state required 60% super-majority was needed to have passed the bond. It fell short by 307 votes coming in at 59.2% when election results were certified Tuesday night.

“If I don’t have kids and haven’t had kids in my house in the last 10 years who haven’t been in schools, I really don’t understand true importance of a bond on the ballot,” said Young.

Superintendent of Bethel Schools, Tom Seigel says the district spans across cities like Spanaway and Fredrickson within its 202 square miles, which Siegel says makes it tough to reach voters.

“This community is just difficult to communicate with. We don’t have a core city like Puyallup or Tacoma and a corresponding core school district,” said Seigel.

At the study session, a rough outlook.

“There’s a whole bunch of bad choices out there and you have to select among the least worse,” said Seigel.

The board is considering running the bond again early next year since they were so close this time.

Among other options on the table are boundary changes, and year-round schools, which Young says would throw off a stable schedule families like his have already built.

“We are on a schedule. You have to be, We have four kids in the house,” said Young.

Since 1980 only four bond measures have passed for Bethel Schools.

The district is urging parents to push legislators to revisit the 60% super-majority requirement to pass bonds.