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Bethel students produce documentary about school conditions ahead of bond vote

Student filmmakers in the Bethel School District hope their documentary about crowded and aging schools will convince voters to pass a bond.

SPANAWAY, Wash. — The Bethel School District has a complicated history with bond issues – only four have been passed in the last four decades, according to the district.

In November, a bond to support the district failed by just .78 percent. 

“It was heartbreaking,” said Doug Boyles, Director of Communications for the district.

Now Bethel is back on the ballot in February – and a group of students hopes to give voters more context on their needs.

Seniors Logan Rosell and Alayna Raymond and juniors Angelo Alfonso and Marc McNamee have produced a new documentary on YouTube: “Bethel High – A School in Need.”

In the films, the interview classmates and staff on facility issues like leaks, stains, and overcrowding.

The group described chronic traffic jams in the hallways.

“It’s a very stressful thing,” said Raymond. “You fear, you’re going to be late for class, then you get a tardy, all that stuff.”

Credit: KING5
A shot from the students' documentary shows water stained ceiling tiles.

“It was so crowded I could barely get through,” said Alfonso. “I ended up being late to my first class on the day of high school.”

They were inspired to create the film after the razor-close margin on the November bond.

 “It’s important because it shows how much we actually care,” said Rosell.

The February initiative is critical to support the rapidly expanding district, Boyles said. The district expects to add about 300 students per year over the next decade. Already, 5,000 students are in portable classrooms, Boyles said. 

“It’s affecting student learning,” Boyles said.

The February bond would fund two new elementary schools, a new Bethel High, and expansions or renovations on six other buildings.

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“Bonds have a storied history in the Bethel School District,” said Boyles. “It’s been 13 years since we last passed a successful bond, and we’ve only passed four bonds in the last four decades.”

He said it’s difficult to communicate the tax impact to voters. He said the district hears from people that they want to vote yes, but feel taxed out.

The students hope their film shows voters – and taxpayers – what they’re supporting.

“Even though we’re not going to be here by the time we have a new school, we know it’s going to positively impact future students and their learning conditions,” said Raymond. “That’s the main reason why we did it.”

You can watch the students’ film here.