Overcrowding reaching critical point in Tahoma School District




Posted on December 15, 2011 at 9:16 AM

RAVENSDALE, Wash. -- Overcrowding has reached a critical point, according to the Tahoma School District.

Some school leaders and parents are trying to come up with a way to deal with the growing number of students and a limited amount of space. Total enrollment for the district is about 7,400 students. At that number, Tahoma schools are full. As a result 25% of the district’s students are in portable classrooms at any given time, according to the district's public information officer Kevin Patterson.

The Ad Hoc Citizen Committee on Student Housing was formed to come up with possible solutions to the overcrowding issue. The group recently drafted a proposal. It boils down to two possible solutions. One, try to re-run the April 2011 bond measure. The $125 million construction bond was rejected by voters last April. If a scaled back version passes this time around, problem solved, according to the committee. If the bond does not pass, then the committee recommends the district move to year-round school or have students attend classes in double shifts.

As for short term solutions to overcrowding, the list of ideas includes the following:

  • Using computer labs and music rooms as regular classrooms
  • Eliminate all day kindergarten
  • Use the school district’s headquarters to house classes
  • Lease commercial space or churches for classes
  • Shift some junior high students back into middle schools where there is more room
  • Encourage more online learning
  • Use gymnasiums as regular classrooms and waive PE classes
  • Encourage early graduation

School Board President Mary Jane Glaser said she is concerned the proposed ideas could water down what the district wants to accomplish. Parent Erin Weaver is worried about that too.

“We are reaching today a tipping point on whether we are going to see continued success, or whether we are going to have some of our quality programs erode,” said Weaver.

CLICK HERE for the complete proposal from the Ad Hoc Citizen Committee on Student Housing