Overcrowding, tax aversion on collision course

Jun 06, 2012

The Mukilteo School District is juggling tighter budgets and a growing student population. There’s a train wreck coming.

Facing the one-two combination of a general anti-tax mood and the continuing recession, educators have been cramming ever-larger numbers of students into existing schools.

There are now 92 portable classrooms spread across the district, the equivalent of about four-and-a-half schools.

Thanks in part to continuing job growth in the aerospace sector, families continue to move to Snohomish County.

According to Deputy Supt. Fred Poss, the district has added an average of 80 elementary school-age children per year since 2003, 735 students in all – more than the population of a typical elementary school.

And state officials are considering making all-day kindergarten mandatory.

If implemented, Poss said the Mukilteo district would have to come up with 25 more classrooms.

Administrators are working on options, including the possibility of putting a construction bond before voters by 2014.

But school officials aren’t optimistic.

“My personal impression is that until the voters have a sense of real pain, ie; the need for a year-round calendar or double-shifting, it will be a tough sell to pass a bond,” school board president Judy Schwab said.

Carolyn Webb, executive director of business services, agrees.

“The politics are such that raising taxes just won’t sell in the state at this time,” she said. “A lot of people are hurting.”

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