Written by Charlie Mas
One of the buildings that may be closed in Phase II of the closures and consolidations is Montlake. The Montlake program may find itself relocated, not to Seward as the CAC initially suggested, but to Lowell. Elementary APP, now at Lowell, would be relocated to another building or buildings.
Lowell is one of the largest elementary schools in Seattle. The building has a planning capacity over 500. Because Lowell is home to a low-incidence special education program, would be room there for no more than 350-400 students in a general education program. Lowell could house all of the students at Montlake plus 100 more. That's room enough to provide students from Capitol Hill and Eastlake with the access to a neighborhood school they now lack. This neighborhood sends a higher percentage of their children to private school than any other neighborhood in Seattle. They use private schools, to a large extent, because their cannot gain entry to any of the public schools of their choice. Repurposing Lowell as a neighborhood school would have the potential to pull up to 100 students from private schools into the public system.
The tricky bit, of course, will be finding a new home for the 460 elementary APP students projected for Lowell next year. There is no other elementary school large enough to hold them all, yet APP is a community like any other. Just like Graham Hill, Viewlands, or Pathfinder, they do not want to be split up. Aside from reasons of community, splitting the program could damage APP's effectiveness, there would be extreme difficulties in finding new locations and re-creating the program. There would be inequities, real and perceived, between the two halves of the program.
APP may be leaving Lowell, but it is definitely leaving Washington. Washington middle school is overcrowded and it has been decided that the students who have to go are APP. Again, this will be tricky. Not only is there no middle school with room for all 440 of them, there is no middle school with room for half of them. As with the elementary program, the community does not want the cohort split, for reasons of community, reasons of academic effectiveness, and others.
Acceptable solutions for elementary and middle school APP are possible, but it is unclear if the District will work with the community to find them. Little time remains before September 18 when parts of Phase II are announced.