The Mercer Island School District owns and operates one high school, one middle school and three elementary schools. A fourth elementary school is scheduled to open in 2016. Altogether, the School District owns 108.6 acres of land, including those lands dedicated to parks, open space and recreational uses. The District served a 2014 school population of 4,316 students in approximately 461,000 total square feet of “educational” space.
In 1994, the voters approved a $16.4 million bond issue to modernize the three Elementary Schools. All these schools underwent $6 million remodels that were completed in September 1995. In 1996 voters approved a bond issue to modernize the High School. The total cost of the renovation, which included some new construction, was $37.2 million. In February 2010, the community approved a six year capital levy for nearly $4.9 million per year, targeting minor capital replacement costs and improvements at each school site. Included in the levy were funds for the addition of music and orchestra rooms at Mercer Island High School, portable classrooms for elementary and middle schools, hard play area resurfacing at the elementary schools, replacement of the turf field and repair of the track at Mercer Island High School, painting, re-roofing, pavement overlays, security improvements, and other improvements.
After months of public discussions, meetings and work by the Mercer Island community, school board and district, a bond proposal was approved by the board in September 2013 to address overcrowding in Mercer Island schools. It was then approved by more than 74 percent of Mercer Island voters in February 2014. The targeted facilities projects include:
•building a fourth elementary school on the district-owned North Mercer campus;
•expanding Islander Middle School, including 14 new classrooms and lab spaces, commons and cafeteria, gymnasiums, music rooms and administrative space; and
•building 10 additional classrooms at Mercer Island High School, including four lab spaces and six general education classrooms.
Annually, the District develops projections primarily utilizing the historical enrollment trends tracked each October for the past five years. In addition to the cohort derived from that historical database, the District looks at much longer “real growth” trends as well as birth rates and female population patterns. Current enrollment projections show an anticipated increase of approximately 356 students over the next six years, in addition to an increase of approximately 250 students over the last six years.
Provision of an adequate supply of K-12 public school facilities is essential to enhance the educational opportunities for our children and to avoid overcrowding. A variety of factors can contribute to changes in K-12 enrollment, including changes in demographics, the resale of existing homes, and new development. The District is engaged in an ongoing long-range planning process to maintain updated enrollment projections, house anticipated student enrollment, and provide adequate school facilities. Future needs, including proposed improvements and capital expenditures are determined by the District, which has prepared a separate Capital Facilities Plan.