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Ellensburg faces overcrowding at elementary schools, asking locals to vote on $60M bond

Ellensburg faces overcrowding at elementary schools, asking locals to vote on $60M bond

ELLENSBURG, Wash.- Ellensburg Elementary Schools are way over capacity, and employees there say they are basically out of options on how to keep up with the extra heads coming in. In total they have about 475 extra students flooding the schools.

"It's just a lot of kids and a lot of activity going on in a really small space," says Principle at Lincoln Elementary School.

This has caused each elementary school to build multiple portable classrooms to hold the kids, 24 total if you combined every elementary school. Executive Director of Business Services ESD Brian Aiken says having that many is a major safety concern.

"Anytime you have 24 portable classrooms it's really hard to lock those down and secure those in an event of an emergency," said Aiken.

Aiken says at both Lincoln Elementary School and Mount Stuart Elementary, the crowding has caused some teachers to hold classes in hallways. Teacher meetings are being done in closets, and because of how old the two schools are, roof problems and poor air ventilation have been a problem.

On the November election ballot, they are asking locals to vote on a $60 million bond to add a brand new elementary school that would house 500 students, and remodel both Lincoln and Mount Stuart Elementary.

Aiken says this will allow the schools to be under capacity, and make room for the future students in the next five or more years.

"There's only so much cafeteria space, there's only so much gym space and music space and so on. It just gets to the point that we are running out of options," said Aiken.

For the two current elementary schools, they hope to add more classrooms for students and make electrical and maintenance repairs.

If approved, the state will contribute $15 million, and would leave the city to pay $60 million. The 20 year bond would start in 2019, and Aiken says it would not increase the local tax rate since other local bonds and levy's would be paid off or lowered by next year.

One parent who has two children going to school at Lincoln Elementary say the kids deserve better, and change needs to happen if they want their kids to have the best education.

"Investing in out kids is the best thing we can do as a community, and addressing these issues now instead of later gives these kids the best chance and the best opportunity," said Joseph Epperson.

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