November Bond Election looms as Task Force weighs alternate options

The community-led Long Range Facilities Task Force met again this week to continue their discussion of alternative options to a successful November School Construction Bond to help solve the overcrowding issues our district is facing.

Before they began their conversations around the evening’s possible solutions to overcrowding — which included changing a middle school to an elementary school and turning all elementary and middle schools into a K-8 model — they examined data about portable classrooms in the district.

Currently our district has over 200 portable classrooms in use.

Double portables — containing two classrooms — cost approximately $150,000 or $85 per square foot. But when you add in the cost of site preparation; utility and technology connections; fire and intrusion alarm wiring; student furniture; permits, architects and engineering time; and aluminum ramps, the cost jumps to approximately $600,000.

Even with the high cost, there are other reasons an infinite supply of portables isn’t a long-term solution. Currently, there is only room to site 16 more portables in the entire district. Once those spaces are filled, the only remaining option would be to place portables on sports fields, which would have a huge impact on sports; not to mention the additional demand those students would put on the common areas (including bathrooms) in the main buildings.

The Task Force weighed many alternative options, looking at long term solutions versus near term. Some options on their own wouldn’t solve the district’s overcrowding problem, but a selection of smaller changes, could add up to be a larger fix.

The idea of utilizing classrooms at adjacent school districts fell by the wayside, as all our neighboring districts had been contacted and had no space to spare. They were all dealing with crowded conditions as well, but many had recently passed bonds and were already building new schools.

The Task Force will meet again after the November 6 election.

You can follow the Task Force online at bethelsd.org/taskforce. There you will find updates, as well as fact sheets about some of the options currently under discussion.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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