District gathers input on 2014 bond projects
EVERETT - At North Middle School, a chunk of the roof fell in the cafeteria.
Earlier this month, the school in north Everett was evacuated because of a funny smell in the vents people thought was gas.
Kids are coming into their classrooms soaked from walking from building to building outside in the rain.
These are the things North Middle teachers said they are putting up with at an open house Monday, Sept. 16 held at the school. Teachers were quick to point out the patched up cafeteria roof during the meeting to exemplify how the 32-year-old school building is falling apart.
The Everett School District is gathering public input on what the district should include in a $200 to $250 million capital projects and technology bond it is preparing for voters in February 2014.
The Everett School Board is scheduled to approve the bond’s projects list in October.
People say North Middle, built in 1981, has already reached the end of its 40-year lifespan. The school is a prime candidate for replacement in the bond.
Woodside Elementary in the south end, also built in 1981, is also being considered for replacement or modernization in the bond.
Most of the bond’s projects list benefits fast-growing south Everett. Building a new high school and a new elementary school in south Everett are two other big items in the district’s bond plans.
To meet the district’s bare minimum list of needed repairs, it would cost $123 million, district officials say.
About the complaints at North Middle, district officials would have heard similar complaints from teachers at Garfield, James Monroe, View Ridge and other schools that have since been renovated and upgraded, district spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said last week.
School buildings are on a 40-year replacement cycle. Most north Everett schools have been replaced, Waggoner said.
Building a new North Middle School is estimated to cost $41.2 million in 2018 dollars. The cost to modernize the school is estimated to cost $55 million.
Either option would condense the North Middle campus into a two-story building like all the other district’s newer schools, Waggoner said.
The outdated open campus design forces kids to walk in the rain from building to building. This “California style” of school buildings, popular until the 1980s, never worked well in Washington’s climate, school officials said previously.
Teachers say North Middle in a state of disrepair and should have been fixed a long time ago.
“The place is a dump,” North Middle teacher Ed Glazer said.
Glazer teaches English Language Learning classes. He was quick to emphasize that kids are getting a quality education, but teachers have to work with the school buildings’ outdated design.
Glazer’s students call North Middle “the barrio school.” Barrio means neighborhood in Spanish, but his students say it to mean the school is the “ghetto school,” he said.
People at the meeting last week acknowledged the district’s growth is in the south end but parents and students in schools in the north end feel like their needs are being pushed aside, a teacher who declined to be named said.
The district’s new $23 million administration building set to open this fall was a sore point for North Middle parents, that teacher said.
Other schools are getting new athletic fields and school buildings, creating a clear disparity between north and south schools, district information systems director Scott Jenkins said. His son attends Evergreen Middle School.
Jenkins fixes problems at North Middle more often than other schools because computers are overwhelming the old school’s electrical capacity and blowing out circuit breakers.
“We can do all we can to keep this school going, but these kids deserve what every other kid gets in this district,” Jenkins said.
Glazer worries the district’s focus on south Everett will leave North Middle lost in the mix. He’s all for demolishing the school and building a new one.
The North Middle School meeting was one of two open houses the district held last week. The other was held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Mill Creek Elementary.
The bond also will include multiple technology upgrades throughout the district.
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