Struggling Everett Schools builds $24 million 'Community Center'

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 7:06 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 1:45 PM

EVERETT, Wash. – The Everett School District is spending $24 million on a new administration building. The move is drawing sharp criticism because the district is facing budget cuts and has laid off nearly 100 teachers in recent years.

“It’s going to do nothing to increase student achievement or enhance student achievement and it’s not going to do anything for the teachers,” said school board member Jessica Olson. "It’s extravagant, does nothing to help student achievement and they are doing it as a testament to ego just because they can.”

The district says the new building is desperately needed because its current administration buildings are falling apart. They point to the Longfellow Building that’s more than 100 years old, which they say is past its useful life.

“This has been a concern of ours and we watch it on a monthly basis,” said Hal Buemel, Director of Facilities and Planning for the district, referring to cracks appearing in the old structure.

It’s against state law for school districts to use money for buildings on things like teachers and classroom materials. The district says its new “Community Center” administration building is 20 years in the making and is a long-term investment.

“It would be like a family that’s saving money for a new roof that is desperately needed and deciding to splurge and use it for vacation instead,” said School Board President Jeff Russell.

The building is two stories and 66,000 square feet with a large community meeting space. It’s being paid for using rent money, interest on other properties and state construction money that’s been saved over the years.

The district says the building will eventually save millions of dollars in energy costs because the current administration buildings are old and inefficient.

It’s expected to be completed in the fall of 2013.

Report by KING 5's Jake Whittenberg compiled by Travis Pittman

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