School board delays action on overcrowding at Jackson

Any measures to cope with situation will not take effect until the fall of 2020
By Dan Aznoff | Jul 06, 2018

Any solution to deal with overcrowding at Jackson High School will be delayed for more than two years to give officials with Everett Public Schools time to study possible solutions and give parents time to prepare for changes.

Directors of the school board voted unanimously Tuesday night, July 3, to hold public forums and create a committee to examine options for the fastest growing areas of the vast district. The committee will mirror the group that recommended boundary changes for the newest elementary schools in the district.

The defeat of a school bond that would have provided funds for a new high school to serve increased enrollment from new residential developments in Mill Creek and the surrounding communities has prompted the district to examine other options.

Mike Gunn, executive director for Facilities & Operations for the district, told the board that the district staff has been working overtime since the defeat of the bond issue to examine alternatives that will maintain the quality of education without funds for an additional campus and much-needed improvements to facilities at Jackson.

The board asked staff to present a list of potential solutions at the meeting in late August. At that time, the board is expected to create a committee to study the options and make recommendations to Superintendent Gary Cohn.

Staff will focus on changes to school boundaries that could shift as many as 375 students to other high schools in the district as well as the addition of even more portable classrooms at Jackson. Other possible solutions include year-round school or modifications to the daily schedule.

Gunn indicated each of the alternatives could have negative impacts to extra curricular activities, including sports and drama.

Without any action, the district will be forced to add an additional 13 portable classrooms to the high school campus in Mill Creek before the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Jackson was built to accommodate 1,500 students. Current enrollment exceeds 2,100 students and is projected to top 2,300 in the next four years, according to Jackson principal Dave Peters.

The two-year delay in any action by the board was a calculated risk based on the timeline needed to place another bond issue on the ballot. The primary election in 2020 is scheduled for August. The general election will be in November.

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