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Some students say South Kitsap High overcrowded; district official calls it a ‘myth’

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. —  Some students at South Kitsap High say they feel like sardines, crammed and overcrowded at school.

The school district has been adding ninth-graders to South Kitsap High, making the school a traditional four-year program. This means hundreds more are now attending the school compared to just last year.

Students tell Q13 News they are late getting to classes because the hallways are so packed and it’s a struggle to get lunch in because the lines are so long. Students are snapping pictures and video that shows a sea of students from wall to wall in the hallways

“Hallways and staircases coming to complete stops, it’s really concerning,” junior Hayley Campbell said.

Campbell created a Facebook page to show the growing pains at the school. “It’s insane,” Campbell said.

Now that all the freshmen have been moved over, the high school has over 600 students more than last year.

“Freshmen do need to be at the high school because they are high schoolers, they need their options and their credits,” Campbell said.

But Campbell said more needs to be done to alleviate the overcrowding.

On Monday, the school district said the situation is less than ideal with 2,800 students.

“Ideally I think we should have two high schools,” Assistant Superintendent Jay Villars said, but adding that he would not call the school overcrowded.

“There is -- not for the capacity of our school. We have overcrowding in a lot of our elementary, schools” Villars said.

Villars said the student population at South Kitsap High meets capacity because of how big the school is.

“It's always had the perception that it’s overcrowded and big --  and that's a myth in our community,” Villars said.

The district also promises that the students are safe, saying they can all evacuate safely in case of an emergency.

They say the 350,000-square-foot school has a fire capacity of 17,500 people.

“There is not a fire hazard right now; we’ve been assured by the fire department,” Villars said.

But former teacher Andrew Stebor says the fire capacity seems too high. He’s experienced the packed school himself and worries for the future.

“Long-term solution is to get a new bond,” Stebor said.

Stebor said no one is to blame for the current situation. But he’s hoping the community will step up and approve a bond so they can build another high school.

In the meantime, Campbell said, students need more time to get from class to class.

“I am just hoping we can get two minutes longer on our passing periods,” Campbell said.

As for the bond, voters rejected such measures in February and April 2016, and then again in February 2017. A bond requires a 60% supermajority for approval.