Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Facilities Master Plan 2020

So, I was reading the draft of the Facilities Master Plan today - and, yes, I do have a sense of just how sick that is - and I found a number of elements that were worthy of comment.

First, unlike the FMP 2010, this version does reflect - or at least give a nod to - some effort to actually plan things. There isn't any actual PLAN in the Facilities Master Plan, but there are references to elements of planning. For example, the document lists some Guiding Principles for facilities planning. There are some facility guidelines. There are clear statements about facilities working in support of academics rather than academics adapting to the facilities.

On page 10, there is a clear statement of their strategy to transform Seattle Public School facilities from their existing condition to state-of-the art facilities is through school-by-school renovation and replacement projects. If it sometimes appears that they are not interested in doing a bit here and a bit there, that's because they aren't interested in that. This is a contributing reason for why some buildings have fallen into such tragic disrepair - they would rather rebuild entirely than patch. Of course, this makes the work done at Sealth in BTA II (commons, library, etc.) a mystery, but their perspective is validated by the current plan to spend BEX III money to demolish that work done just a couple years ago.

On page 13 they flatly state that the plan supports larger schools. This is a clear reversal of the course that created The Center School just a few years ago.

On page 14 they discuss the importance of community collaboration. This isn't what you think. By Community Collaboration, they mean public/private partnerships with cooperative arrangements with agencies - not any effort to work with the people of the immediate community. There is, in fact, no mention of working with the people of any community on anything. If you are wondering whether the Denny-Sealth project, for example, met the minimum standards for community engagement on a capital project, the answer is that there is no minimum standard and no stated commitment to community engagement whatsoever. Community engagement is not in any way an element of the Facilities Master Plan. If it isn't here, it isn't going to happen. This is particularly surprising given that one of the elements of the strategic planning process is to strengthen relationships with stakeholders and partners.

There are references in a number of places (pages 16, 18) to providing adequate capacity, including and specifically adequate capacity for special programs. The special programs are identified as Special Education, Bilingual, and Advanced Learning. Given the push towards inclusion, I don't know where the capacity for Special Education and Bilingual programs is inadequate. There are only limited schools prepared to enroll some of the low-incidence and medically fragile students. Lowell has a number of physical features designed for this population, but the District is moving these students out of that building. I do know that the capacity for advanced learners in the north-end elementary and middle schools is inadequate, so I am looking forward to a facilities answer to that problem. Nowhere in the FMP is there any further reference to providing adequate capacity for advanced learners. This special needs group of students is not disaggregated in any of the demographic data as Special Education and ELL are.

On page 17: "Childcare programs will be operated by non-District providers in District facilities whenever possible. Planning for childcare spaces will be included with the planning for new and remodeled facilities; including any additions to elementary schools."

In a related note: "All Title I elementary schools should have early childhood educational opportunities."

Here's an interesting tidbit from page 19: "Life expectancies of the building shells should be 60 years." The renovaton of Hale has a 25-year life expectancy. Would anyone care to explain that?

Also from page 19: "The District will commit to adequately maintaining and repairing all building resources in Seattle Public Schools’ inventory." So they're going to fix up Wilson-Pacific and Magnolia school, are they? Not to mention Cedar Park, Fairmount Park, John Marshall, ML King, Sand Point, Rainier View, and Viewlands.

Pages 74-79 show ratings of the building conditions. Among the buildings in current use, the ten in the worst condition are:
Mann (NOVA) - 29.3
Hamilton - 31.4 - will be renovated in BEX III
Old Hay (SBOC) - 34.8
McClure - 41.5
Lincoln - 43.1 - will get patch work in BEX III
Nathan Hale - 44.7 - will be renovated in BEX III
Genesee Hill (Pathfinder) - 46.8
Meany - 47.3
Montlake - 47.9
Minor - 48.4

You will notice that while Hamilton and Nathan Hale (from BEX III) are on this list, Denny (53.5) and Chief Sealth (64.4) are not. Does anyone imagine that total renovations for NOVA and Pathfinder will on the next capital levy or bond issue? I have a hard time envisioning that.

Mann did get (will get?) a new roof, fire alarm, exterior restoration, arts & science room, waterline replacement, new science room, more exterior renovation, and a mechanical upgrade in BTA II. Although I'm not sure what mechanical upgrades the school got when the boiler there is reported to be 100 years old. Genessee Hill only got fire alarms from BTA II.

McClure got a seismic upgrade, an arts & science room, metal siding and a roof. McClure is getting new waterlines under BEX III. Meany got a new library (I thought they weren't going to do piecemeal improvements?). Montlake got ADA improvements, fire alarms, a new roof, exterior renovations, a mechanical upgrade, and a playground. Montlake is also getting new waterlines and improved indoor air quality from BEX III. Minor got an elevator.

In case you're wondering how schools buildings with better ratings got put ahead of schools with lower ratings, you can consult page 98, Prioritization of projects. Category 2 - emergencies which are merely urgent (as opposed to immediate) includes: clock system improvements, acoustics issues, and aged boilers. Lower priorities after those include site drainage, gym flooring, windows, ceilings, and roofing.

One last interesting piece. On page 114, one of the criteria for the prioritization of projects is availability of site: "The phasing of renovations and new construction is dependant on the availability of temporary school facilities to house students." In other words, they don't want to try to renovate two schools at the same time if the two schools both would use the same interim site.

1 comment:

Melissa Westbrook said...

All those things (and more) are precisely why I told the FMP sounding board committee that I wanted off and did NOT want my name on any document. It is all these oddities and "say what?" things that just made me uneasy.

You'll note that South Shore (New School) was not on that list. Well, oddly, Meng never assessed that property. Of all the ones to not assessed, the one that ended up on the BEX III list was South Shore.

Sure it would be great to renovate EVERY building but how can you do that? No, they need to keep up on the maintenance of buildings and not let it get to the point it is right now. Look for that BTA request in 2010 to be quite large and the project list as thought-confusing as the BEX III list.

Again, we wouldn't be at this time and place if the decision to NOT spend 2% of the General Fund on maintenance (as is suggested/required - I'm not clear on which it is - by OSPI)hadn't been made. We will never catch up on maintenance if something doesn't change.

And Nova, of course, doesn't have a chance in hell of getting renovated, they just keep patching it up. I'm glad those people have a sense of self and pride in what they do; lesser people might feel dissed.