The dust has settled on our historic February bond election and the hard work of designing and building schools is now underway. We know that you, as members of the Bethel community, have entrusted us to be good stewards of your tax dollars. Part of that stewardship is keeping you informed and educated, so we will be using this space to give you regular updates on all our bond-related projects.
Things are progressing nicely with the architectural design of our newest elementary school, and it’s looking like the School Board will begin reviewing the plans next month.
While we don’t yet know the exact design, we do know that Elementary #18 will be the largest elementary school in the district. The school will be 80,000 square feet, and will be home to 700 students — and that’s not counting the space in back for four double portables (8 classrooms) which will house an additional 200 students. In order to comfortably accommodate all of those students, Elementary #18 will utilize a three-wing model, similar to Spanaway Middle School.
Elementary #18 will also get “half street improvements” — these include pavement from the center line, curbs, gutters, stormwater facilities, and sidewalks — along the entire parcel owned by the district on Waller Road. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons we won’t be able to build a sidewalk any further than our property lines because Pierce County won’t allow us to just put in a sidewalk or an asphalt pathway. They require complete “half street” improvements. In addition, those improvements would need a larger right-of-way than what currently exists, so it would also require the district to acquire quite a bit of property from multiple property owners, which would be cost-prohibitive.
All this means that Elementary #18 will be a bus-only school for the most part, which means few, if any students will be authorized to walk to school due to safety concerns.
New Bethel High School
When the new Bethel High School sign went up on the district-owned property located behind Rainier View Church near 224th and 70th in Graham, it raised some questions from the community that we wanted to answer in this month’s update. We are also adding the questions to our bond FAQ page, which you can find at www.bethelsd.org/bondprojects.
I thought the new BHS was going across from North Star Elementary?
Confusion over the location of the new BHS site is common, especially with the location of the new sign. There really isn’t a place to put the sign on 224th, so the sign is located on the west side of the district-owned property on 70th. Here’s a map (left) that shows the location — across from North Star and behind Rainier View Church — where the new school will be built.
So they’re building BHS closer to Graham-Kapowsin High School. What does that mean for students in Roy?
A lot of work still needs to be done by the Boundary Review Committee, which is scheduled to reconvene in the fall. Prior to each new school opening up, the committee will work on setting boundaries for the new schools, which will inevitably adjust boundaries of the other schools.
One thing the Boundary Committee is committed to is to working hard to limit the disruption to families. Both the committee and the district want to make sure that communication is at the forefront, so there will be plenty of time for parents to prepare for the changes that are coming.
What is the old Bethel High School building going to become?
After the new Bethel High opens in 2023, the old BHS building will be used as a “swing school.” This will allow students and staff from Cedarcrest, Evergreen, and Naches Trail to move out of their current buildings while construction crews get to work on their expansion and renovation projects that are also being funded by the bond.
This process will not only help accelerate the construction of each project, but also saves money with the reduced construction time.
The district’s bond rating was recently reevaluated, and we still stand strong with an Aa2 rating. Only six of the 295 districts in the entire state have a higher rating.