Bethel has been experiencing a population boom in the last decade, including 717 new students who have joined the school district in the last two years alone, according to a Bethel School District press release.

“We last opened up a school in 2009,” Superintendent Tom Seigel said in the press release. “Our schools are full.”

With all the new construction in the community, Seigel expects to be adding students at a rate of 300 a year for the next decade.

A Boundary Review Committee has been tasked with easing that overcrowding by creating new school boundaries, which will be implemented next year.

“The last couple of times we did this, we had new schools coming on line,” Assistant Superintendent David Hammond said. “This time, we don’t.”

The committee consists of parents from every school in the district, as well as principals from all 27 Bethel schools. District administrators and two school board members are also present, but are not voting members of the committee.

“It’s a reality check,” School Board President John Manning said in a press release. “It’s a fact of life that we have to do this, and it’s best to involve everybody that this is going to impact. There’s just no easy way around it, and it’s best to get the information out there sooner rather than later.”

The ever-expanding student population in Bethel has demanded 201 portable classrooms, which are now housing 5,000 of our students. That is so many portables that the district is nearly out of space to put them.

Voters have failed three bond attempts in the last three years that would have built new schools while also renovating and expanding old ones, according to the press release. Without the money from a passed “school construction bond”, there isn’t a ready-made solution. That’s why the task before the Boundary Committee is so critical.

The biggest outlier on the horizon is whether the November “School Construction Bond” will pass the state’s required 60 percent supermajority or not. If the bond passes, the first new building wouldn’t come online until 2021, according to the press release.

“We can’t hold our breath until then,” Hammond said in the press release. “If the bond passes, that doesn’t mean our work is done.”

Voters will decide on the bond on Election Day, Nov. 6. Ballots were mailed out and need to be returned to the Pierce County Elections office by 8 p.m. election night.

After the election the Boundary Review Committee will meet again in November. All meetings will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Educational Service Center, 516 176th St. E., Spanaway, WA 98387 unless otherwise noted. The dates of the November meetings have not been announced.

More information is available at www.bethelsd.org/boundary