JAN. 23, 2015: DEMOGRAPHIC STUDY PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR BOND ELECTION
In anticipation of a future construction bond, we want you to have the facts about a recent demographic study. Earlier this month, Dr. Les Kendrick – one of the leading experts in Washington state – presented his demographic findings about our district to the school board. Kendrick’s review looked at enrollment projections and population growth trends throughout Bethel and Pierce County.
Kendrick noticed that between October 2013 and October 2014 our district had the fourth largest gain in enrollment in Pierce County - with an increase of 179 more students. He expects this growth to continue in our area for many years to come and attributes the influx of people to two major things: affordable housing and the grandchildren of baby boomers that are now entering school.
“You’re a growing district, so you’re going to see growth no matter what,” said Kendrick. “We’ve had a period where growth slowed because of the housing bubble bursting. We’re really staring to see some changes in that and I’m actually expecting enrollment to show gains everywhere over the next decade or so.”
One interesting piece of Kendrick’s research is the number of new houses on the market and in the pipeline for Bethel. According to him, we are second only to the Sumner School District when it comes to housing growth. The database, as of November, indicated that there were almost 1,000 homes for sale in the district and another 5,000 scheduled for construction in the near future.
Kendrick said generally speaking, “The more affordable the area is, the more housing growth and K-12 growth you tend to see.” He projected steady growth in the district over the next 20 years, with as many as 1,500 more students in the next six years, alone.
In light of reports like Kendrick’s, the school board is now considering a bond to improve facilities and expand school capacity to support instructional programs and our growing student population. Based on the board’s priorities, the bond would build a new elementary school, replace Bethel and Challenger high schools and overhaul Cedarcrest Middle School. Evergreen and Naches Trail elementary schools would also receive facelifts and other updates. There are also plans for a pool, turfed fields and improvements for many school sites.
Important facts about growth in our district:
Bethel is the 16th largest and 12th fastest growing school district in the State.
Demographic studies show we are currently in a cycle of growth, which will continue for at least the next 20 years.
Growth is being fueled by an increase in birth rates and an influx of new, affordable housing.
Bethel has 1,000 homes on the market and 5,000 more in the pipeline. More homes = more students.
The district is running out of space and is rapidly adding portables to accommodate new students and program needs.We have posted a copy of Dr. Kendrick’s board presentation to our YouTube page. To see it, go to:
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