Schools overcrowded, more students to come

By Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Oct 02, 2013

Have you noticed all the new housing developments being built in our area?

Just off the Mukilteo Speedway south of the Albertson’s store, land has been cleared for an apartment complex that will have 201 units, some with as many as four bedrooms.

There are 22 single-family homes being built near Mukilteo Elementary and another 30 homes being built on property that many of us remember as the old pony farm near Lake Serene.

Also being built in our school district is a development with 102 single-family homes south of Lake Stickney on Jefferson Way and another with 69 single-family and multiple-family units farther east on Madison Way.

Just south of the intersection of Highway 99 and Airport Road, an apartment complex with 280 units, some with as many as five bedrooms, is expected to start construction next spring.

All of these new homes will bring new students to Mukilteo schools. Yet, you may have heard that our elementary schools are already overcrowded.

We made the news last summer because we had to turn down state money for all-day kindergarten because we simply don’t have the classrooms that are necessary to hold those sessions.

Overcrowded elementary schools is not a new problem in the Mukilteo School District. In 2006 and again in 2008, we asked voters to approve a package of construction projects that included the building of a new elementary school.

At the time, we told voters that our forecasts predicted that our enrollment in elementary schools would increase by about 400 students by 2012, which is almost enough to fill an entire building.

While they came very close, the ballot measures failed to get the 60 percent supermajority that is required by state law, so the new school wasn’t built.

Yet, the students kept coming. And, instead of getting the 400 students that we predicted, our enrollment increased by about 550 students during that time.

To accommodate those new students, we added 17 portables to our elementary campuses in the past five years.

The portables provided the classroom space that we needed, but they also took away from the playgrounds and caused the core facilities such as bathrooms, the lunchroom and library to be greatly overcrowded at many of our schools.

Many of our elementary schools have become very large because of this enrollment growth.

The three largest K-5 elementary schools in Snohomish County are located in our school district. We also have three of the largest 14 such elementary schools in the entire state!

Our largest, Horizon Elementary, now has more than 800 students, which is about the same as you would find at a middle school.

We will be holding two public meetings in a couple of weeks to talk about all of this and to present our recommended solutions.

One meeting will be held at Voyager Middle School at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct.15, and the other will be held at Harbour Pointe Middle School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17.

We hope you will attend so you can get more information about this important issue that is impacting the children in our community.

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