One of the most-asked questions to the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) is around building one or more new schools.
However, the largest hurdle is time. The yearslong process would include organizing and passing a bond measure, planning and designing a school, and constructing and furnishing the building.
Meanwhile, the issue of unbalanced enrollment is here now. And CFAC is first working toward a plan to adjust elementary school boundaries to better balance enrollment. After that process to ease overcrowding is finalized, CFAC will turn its attention to studying the issues around building one or more new schools.
Another question that has repeatedly come up from public forums asked why the district didn’t start the process to build a new elementary school a few years ago?
A few elements factor in when looking back. First, the district’s enrollment was trending down during the Great Recession until it started slowly rebounding in 2016, but not at a pace that would necessitate planning for a new school. Then, by the time enrollment was reaching pre-recession levels, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and enrollment levels dropped. Now, enrollment levels are rising again — quickly at the three Stanwood schools. And a study on our enrollment trends and projections indicate continued growth this decade, particularly in Stanwood.
It’s important to note that the middle schools and the high schools are not estimated to reach capacity in these projections — only the three Stanwood elementary schools are projected to reach or exceed capacity.
The District already owns two plots of land — one on Camano Island and one near Warm Beach — for potential future schools. The District could also look into buying land in north Stanwood, where the bulk of the forecasted housing growth is expected within the city’s Urban Growth Area.
Passing a bond to build a school requires 60% voter approval — more than the 50% approval a levy measure requires to pass.
Potential building sites and a campaign to seek voter approval for a bond are just a few of the many factors CFAC will study next.
For now, be sure to see the most current CFAC information, including the latest proposed draft map, on its regularly updated website HERE.
Look for the next CFAC letter in the coming weeks after the committee has had time to study new draft maps and make revisions based on recent community feedback.