Moving forward: After another bond failure, what’s next for Bethel?
The failure of the 2018 bond to get the required 60% supermajority is going to have a major impact on the future of our district. It will not go quietly into the night. There are going to be changes in our district, and some of them may be drastic. There is simply not enough space for students to learn in.
Administrators and the School Board are currently gathering data and weighing options that will be shared with our parents and community at a later date. Ideas already on the table include:
· Larger class sizes
· Split shifts
· Year-round school
In 2017, our community-led Long Range Facilities Task Force looked at the district as a whole and said we needed more space. The 2018 bond reflected that need. With its rejection by voters, other options are now needed to make our existing buildings work with a fast-growing student population.
Will we run another bond?
The 2018 bond failed at 53.98%. That’s a very low percentage, and would require a large number of yes votes to get up to the 60% supermajority required by the state. That is a fact the School Board is keeping in mind as they decide when to put another measure before voters.
Another thing that must be weighed is that as time goes on, construction costs will continue to rise. So with each bond failure, key improvements will get more expensive, and timelines for fixing old schools and building new ones will keep getting pushed further out. With planning, permitting and construction time, the time required to build a new elementary school is three years. For a high school, four years.
We want to encourage parents and community members to share their thoughts and ideas on how to cope with a growing community of students in the same amount of space we’ve had for a decade.