BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A Denver metro area school district is playing catch up in the face of a rapidly growing number of students.

The Brighton 27J district has tripled in size in 15 years and is still growing. Now district leaders want voters to pass a bond issue to build more schools. But at $248 million it will kick up a fight.

Hundreds of parents, teachers and school staff were expected to show up at a school board meeting on the issue Tuesday night. Some of the students are having to get up for school before sunrise, and the problem is only going to get worse if nothing is done.

Freshman Annalixy Fuentes wakes up for school at 5 a.m.

“Oh yeah, it’s always crowded,” Fuentes said. “So I go in at 7:20 a.m. and I get out at 2:22 p.m.”

She’s one of some 2,050 students at Prairie View High School — a school built for only 1,600.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get through the hallways,” Fuentes said.

Principal Jaime White says the school’s rising numbers forced them into a split schedule last fall.

“It’s impacted us in every way imaginable,” White said.

White says younger students start at 7 a.m. with older students staying as late as 5 p.m.

“There’s no way we can hold another 700 to 800 kids in this building,” White said.

Packed hallways at Prairie View High School (credit: CBS)

Packed hallways at Prairie View High School (credit: CBS)

The population problem is district-wide.

“We are in desperate need of space,” Superintendent Chris Fiddler said.

Fiddler says the student population has tripled since the year 2000.

“In the year 2000 we had about 5,000 students district wide. This fall we welcomed 17,000 students,” Fiddler said.

They want to pass a $248 million bond that will build four new schools and make the current schools larger.

“The longer we do this the more complicated it gets,” Fiddler said.

The bond has to be approved by the board, and then approved by voters in the November ballot. A similar measure failed last year. Fiddler hopes this time is different, as at the end of the day it’s the students who are paying the price.

“It’s not good for kids, and families don’t like it much either,” Fiddler said.

Fiddler is confident the board will approve the measure with the public voting this November. If it’s approved they will break ground on new schools right away with a new high school opening in 2018.