More than 1,300 Everett students face school change

Elementary students must switch schools as the district prepares to open its 18th elementary.

EVERETT — As it tries to solve a thorny and pressing elementary boundary issue, the Everett School Board opted Tuesday night for a combination of the superintendent’s and an advisory committee’s recommendations.

In a 3-to-1 vote, a boundary revision, which included moving 157 Mill Creek Elementary students to Penny Creek Elementary, passed. All told, more than 1,300 students will switch schools.

As the district prepares to open its 18th elementary in fall 2019, the school board needs to redraw the boundaries that determine where students attend school.

The motion to combine aspects of the two proposals came from Director Pam LeSesne. She, along with directors Carol Andrews and Traci Mitchell, said they voted to move the students because of potential overcrowding at Mill Creek Elementary.

If the students stayed, the school would require an estimated 11 portables by 2022, and would be 250 students over capacity in 2019.

Board President Caroline Mason was the only “no” vote.

“I’m very challenged by this decision. I think we all are,” Mason said. “I see some very committed parents here tonight.”

Since May, parents from Mill Creek’s Northpointe neighborhood have raised a concern that the walking route to Penny Creek is dangerous. Parents circulated a petition asking the district to reconsider the move and a number of parents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

Earlier this month, the superintendent recommended the board let the 157 Mill Creek Elementary students avoid being moved to Penny Creek Elementary, a departure from the advisory committee’s proposal. Cohn said the Penny Creek area has room for growth that Mill Creek doesn’t.

“I’m disappointed in the board’s decision,” said David No, a Northpointe parent. “We came out in strong force to vocalize our concerns and I think we made a very strong case.”

Additionally, students from Forest View Elementary will remain on their campus if their driveways connect to 156th Street SE. Families living south of 156th Street will send their children to the new school.

The vote was originally scheduled for September 2018, but the district pushed the date forward to provide more time for families as students prepare to move.

After Cohn made his recommendation, the district offered additional online input from June 8-15. More than 140 people left comments.

Funding for the new school came from a $150 million bond passed by voters in 2016. The bond also allocates funds for property for another elementary. The district is looking at buying up to 22 acres in the south end between Sunset Road and Strumme Road for elementary 19, which could be completed as early as 2023.

Joseph Thompson: 425-339-3430; jthompson@herald Twitter: @JoeyJThomp.

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