Northshore also faces question of expansion

NORTH CREEK — Everett isn’t the only local school district considering building a high school in Snohomish County.

If all goes according to plan, voters in the Northshore School District will decide in February whether they’re willing to pay for a new $130 million campus in the North Creek area east of Lynnwood and north of Bothell. If the bond measure passes, the four-year high school could open in the fall of 2017.

Northshore already has three large King County high schools: Bothell, Inglemoor and Woodinville. A fourth high school would be part of a larger overall strategy to find enough classroom space for students in a district where the bulk of growth has been in the north end, primarily in Snohomish County.

The plan includes moving sixth-grade students into middle schools and ninth-graders into the high schools. Northshore is one of the state’s last large districts with high schools that do not include 9th grade.

The Northshore district straddles the King-Snohomish county line. It has 20,080 students, up more than 740 from 2010. Roughly a third of the district’s students — 7,300 in all — live in south Snohomish County.

Enrollment in the northern portion of the district has been on a “steady upward trend” for more than a decade, according to a district report. “This is due to the availability of land for new housing and the greater affordability of housing within the area,” the report said.

The district has a 61-acre parcel set aside for a new high school that could accommodate 1,600 students. The site north of Maltby Road is in the 3700 block of 188th Street SE and is known as the Goemaere property. The land is near Fernwood Elementary School.

The Northshore School Board is expected in October to vote on whether to place the new high school on the February ballot.

That is the recommendation of a task force that examined enrollment issues in the district.

Parents in south Snohomish County have felt the consequences of growth first-hand. Some kindergarten students from Canyon Creek, Crystal Springs and Kokanee elementary schools have had to be bused to other schools because there isn’t enough room.

“That’s always painful,” Northshore School District spokeswoman Leanna Albrecht said.

With roughly 750 students, Canyon Creek Elementary now has a larger enrollment than three of the district’s six junior highs.

At Fernwood Elementary, next to the site of the proposed high school, two large developments being built are expected to add 450 homes.

The task force also looked at instructional issues before making the recommendation to move freshmen into its high schools, Albrecht said.

As it stands, 450 freshmen — more than a third of its ninth-graders — are bused from their junior high schools to high schools so they can take advanced math and world language classes. For now, that’s all the district can offer.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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