SPANAWAY, Wash. -- Three hundred and seven votes kept the Bethel School District bond from passing in the November election, so the district is hoping to try again in February’s special election.
If approved, the bond would build three brand new schools, including a brand new Bethel High School. It would also renovate and expand six other schools, including a new wing on Graham-Kapowsin High School.
Tight moves on the mat are part of wrestling practice at Bethel High School.
“I would say it’s more dangerous than anything,” said Ashleigh Buckley, team captain of the Bethel High School wrestling team.
Dangerous she says because the mats aren’t in a wrestling room, but in the school cafeteria.
“You don’t typically see wrestling practice held in cafeteria,” said coach Mario Ragazzo.
It means students spend extra practice time putting up lunch tables to put down mats.
“We don’t want to eat where people sweat and bleed, sometimes that’s kind of gross and safety hazard kind of gross,” said Buckley.
“We don’t really have a choice,” said wrestler Joshua Walker. “It’s sad when your team members can’t participate in tournaments because they’re on concussion protocol from hitting their heads on tables and twisting ankles on the concrete floor,” he added.
Bethel High School is overcrowded. Built to house about 1,200 students, it now has nearly 1,700.
“59.22 percent of the voters said 'Yes.' I think that’s important for people to remember,” said superintendent Tom Seigel, referring to the construction bond which failed in November just shy of the 60 percent super-majority required by the state to pass.
“We’re overcrowded and we need help,” said Seigel.
But it’s been a wrestling match with voters who have only passed four of 20 bond measures proposed since 1980.
“I’d like to see our school redone, not even a sports aspect, just from a classroom aspect. We have leaks in the roof, there’s a whole list you can go down,” said Walker.
Now students are joining the team to fight for more space so they can practice more and clean up tables less.
The special election is on Feb. 12. More information can be found here.
If the bond fails again in February the district will look into re-drawing boundaries for next school year and more drastic options like year-round school in the school years to come.