When Cedarcrest Middle School was built way back in 1982, it’s safe to say that few people imagined it would still be in use — and mostly unchanged — in 2019.
The aging building has served its students well for nearly 40 years, but Cedarcrest is in desperate need of an overhaul.
A proposed School Construction bond would do just that. If approved, the bond would fund a renovation and expansion project at Cedarcrest that would add 17,000 square feet of space and increase student capacity to 900.
The bond would also build three brand new schools, including a brand new Bethel High School. It would also renovate and expand six of our other schools, including a new wing on Graham-Kapowsin High School.
Similar bonds went before voters in November and last February. Voters rejected both bonds, making them the 16th and 17th such bond failure in the last 21 attempts since 1980. The issues with Cedarcrest and other schools still exist, so the school board is putting the same bond back on the ballot in February.
While expansion is important, Principal Scott Martin said he is equally excited about the safety improvements that would come with renovation. Specifically, he said the central staircases near the front office are overcrowded with students and often create chokepoints that can lead to dangerous conflicts.
“One of the biggest things in terms of creating a good learning environment is being able to navigate safely, in a way that is functional and allows things to flow,” Martin said. “A lot of the distractions and disruptions to the learning process come when there are conflicts, when there are too many people in one space, and when kids can’t get to classes.”
Cathie Carlson, Bethel’s Director of Construction and Planning, said the bond project would renovate much of Cedarcrest’s interior to make it safer and less congested.
“It just doesn’t function very well,” Carlson said of the current layout. “The common area is very undersized for the student population and the circulation in the building is not good. So we’ll be improving that by doing some interior renovations in the core area of the school.”
To help with its growing student population, Cedarcrest has brought in 10 portable classrooms over the years. Those classrooms, which are housed behind the main campus in an area known as “portable city,” would likely no longer be needed once the expansion project is completed, according to Carlson.
Martin believes bringing those students back into the building would make Cedarcrest safer and help build a sense of unity and school spirit.
Election Day is February 12. More information about the bond is available here.