Superintendent: Bethel School District may consider drastic changes after voters reject bond measure

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SPANAWAY, Wash. -- Inside Bethel High School's weight room, the ceiling is cracking and the floors are in danger of collapsing. The small portable room is also not tall enough for students lifting weights to extend their arms all the way up .

“The ceiling tiles fall down at least once a week,” student Dakaline White said Wednesday.

Hundreds of students are learning in rundown portables that are from the Korean War era.

“I think we just get use to the smell,” teacher Gregory Southworth said.

That musty smell lingers with windows that won’t open.

“How many kids do you want to cram in a small space?" Superintendent Tom Seigel said.

That is the question Seigel is struggling with now that voters on Tuesday rejected a $237 million bond to provide money to fix the district's problems.

“If we had a simple majority, we would have this thing fixed  (and) we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now,” Seigel said.

With about a dozen schools needing critical repairs and half of the district's schools so overcrowded students are eating lunch on the floors, Seigel says they are in a crisis.

“We have grown 900 kids in the last two years; there are 3,000 kids coming,” Seigel said.

Seigel says if state lawmakers continue to not fully fund education, the district will have to wrestle with some unpopular decisions, including changing school boundaries.

“It creates great turmoil in our community,” Seigel said.

On top of boundary changes for schools, the district may have to consider year-round school.

“Have more kids share the limited number of buildings in the entire year,” Seigel said.

Students say the limited space they have is embarrassing and unsafe.

“We are trying to get an education and the ceiling is falling, water leaks, holes on the floors, I know we deserve better,” White said.

A majority of voters are in favor of the bond but it needed a super majority of 60% to pass.

Going forward, the superintendent hopes lawmakers will change the rules so future school bond measures will only need a simple majority and not a super majority to pass.

 

 

 

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