Everett seeks advice on how to prepare for growth at district's high schools

Everett has to figure out how to deal with crowding at its high schools. (Photo: KOMO News)

EVERETT, Wash. -- Everett Public Schools will host the first of three meetings Tuesday on how to address growth at the district’s high schools.

The meetings, which are being called community conversations, come just three months after voters failed to pass a multi-million dollar bond to build a new high school.

There are three main options the school board is considering right now to address growth, a district spokeswoman told KOMO News. But it’s open to hearing any ideas about how to ease overcrowding.

The overcrowding is easy to find.

The moment the afternoon bell rings at Jackson High School, it can sure feel like a zoo trying to leave campus to head home, several students said.

"It's crazy. It's way too overcrowded," said senior Zach Stomberg.

"If you're not claustrophobic, you are fine," added junior Brandon Vo.

Right now, more than 2,100 students attend classes at Jackson High School, officials said. That's about 400 over the school's current capacity.

A $330 million dollar bond proposal put before voters in February would have funded a new high school and added classrooms district-wide to help deal with growth. But the bond failed to reach the 60 percent super-majority needed to pass.

"The back-up plan hopefully would be to extend the school anyway possible. That’s what I’m thinking voters are going to do," said Vo.

One back-up option that could be considered by the school board is to change high school boundaries to shift enrollment from south to north, district spokeswoman Leanna Albrecht said. Another option is to adjust schedules. A third option would be to add more portables at Jackson High School.

Jackson High School already has 17 portables.

The school would need 13 more portables to help house the 2,500 students expected at the high school by 2023, Albrecht said. That’s the equivalent to the size of an elementary school of portables, she added.

"We are the fastest growing district in Snohomish County," Albrecht said. "This region is one of the fastest growing in the state and one of the highest in the nation. That has to do with the economy. That has to do with the area. So, we expect significant growth over the next decade and beyond."

The district wants input before any decisions are made, Albrecht said.

By this fall, the school board is expected to pick a preferred option that would take effect in the fall of 2019, Albrecht said.

By that time, Stomberg will be long gone.

"It’s grown. It’s grown a lot," Stomberg said.

The second community meeting will be held at Everett High School on from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17. The third meeting will be held at Jackson High School from 6 to 7:30 p..m. on Tuesday, May 29.

Right now, no decisions have been made about another bond attempt, Albrecht said. But the school board has asked for information on timelines for potential bonds in 2019 or 2020, she added.

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