Capacity Management questions, comments and concerns
I believe this list summarizes the current status of my thinking. I would not complain about a decision if I couldn't offer a better one.
1. While the proposal shows evidence of capacity reduction, there is little evidence of capacity management – which would include expanding capacity where needed. Elementary capacity in the northeast is improved and elementary capacity in Queen Anne/Magnolia might be. The proposal does nothing to improve middle school capacity in the northeast or high school capacity for Magnolia, Queen Anne and the Montlake Cut.
2. This process has revealed the dishonest and unfair way that building renovations have been prioritized in the past. It’s obvious that the buildings in the worst condition were passed over for renovation in favor of other buildings in less need. District needs to acknowledge and apologize for that. The District also needs to resolve to follow a fairer process in future.
3. Although building conditions in the 50’s justify closing schools, two schools (NOVA and S.B.O.C.) are getting moved into a building with a condition rating in the 40’s (Meany). Does this move presume that the building will be renovated in the immediate near-term future? If so, then shouldn’t that be explicitly stated? Where will these schools be housed while Meany is being renovated? How about putting NOVA at Horace Mann as an interim site?
4. The plan to close Meany Middle School does not make sufficient allocation for Central Region students now enrolled there. There is no room for them at Washington, so they will have to be bussed out of the Region. How is this acceptable for 200 students at Meany but not acceptable for 55 students at Cooper? The District needs to make room for Central Region middle school students at the only other middle school in their reference area: Washington.
5. To make room at Washington for all of the neighborhood students, the District should move middle school APP – intact – to Hamilton. That would leave plenty of room for all Central Region students at Washington. There will be plenty of room at Hamilton for all of middle school APP when the school moves into their new building. It may require about half of the students from the Southeast region to return to their reference area schools. The presence of APP at Hamilton would the school more attractive to northeast region families and could relieve some of the overcrowding at Eckstein.
A variation on this idea would be to put middle school APP in a new middle school in an 800-student middle school at John Marshall. This would more directly address the need for additional capacity in the Northeast, but all of the empty seats at Hamilton make it a second choice.
In either case, the District should discontinue providing transportation on demand to Hamilton and McClure for Southeast Region students.
6. There is no legitimate reason for closing Lowell. The stated reason – to improve access to elementary APP – isn’t credible. Although the travel times for families in the South and Southeast will be marginally improved, the travel time for families in the North, Northeast, Northwest, Queen Anne/Magnolia, West Seattle-North and West-Seattle South will be increased by at least an offsetting amount.
7. Elementary APP is getting moved from Lowell in part to save two buildings in the Central and South clusters from closure. It is a false rescue. Very few families in the neighborhoods around those buildings will be able to enroll their children in those schools after the APP students and their siblings take up 80% of the available seats.
8. If the District wants to create an A.L.O. at Hawthorne, then they should. There is already one at Thurgood Marshall. These schools don't need APP students in the building for them to form an A.L.O. It's insulting – and vaguely racist – for the District to suggest that they do.
9. The contention that there is no building in the north-end for the north half of elementary APP is false. Space is available at Decatur, Jane Addams, John Marshall, Lincoln, Wilson-Pacific, Sand Point and McDonald. The space is there; the District is choosing not to use it for elementary APP.
10. It would be far better to leave the north-end half of elementary APP at Lowell along with the Special Education programs there, and add a general education program. This might allow the District to close either Leschi or Thurgood Marshall - depending on how many out-of-cluster students enrolled in the general education program. That would create elementary general education capacity in the north end of the cluster where it is needed and eliminate it from the south end of the cluster where it is in excess.
11. The contention that there is no building other than Rainier Beach for Summit is false. Space is available at John Marshall, Lincoln, Wilson-Pacific and – if elementary APP is moved out - Lowell. The space is there; the District is choosing not to use it for Summit.
12. Although the district claims that there is no space right-sized for Summit other than the empty seats at Rainier Beach High School, Lowell is about the right size and in a much better location. It may require some renovation, but it is due for it. The building condition at Lowell should not be an impediment; Lowell has a higher building condition rating than Meany, and the District is moving two schools into Meany. Moving Summit to Lowell would allow the closure of Rainier Beach High School. Surely we would save more money by closing Rainier Beach than we would save from closing Lowell.
13. An even better solution for Summit would be to move it to Lincoln and co-locate a 1,000-seat comprehensive high school at Lincoln. Then move high school APP to Lincoln and close Rainier Beach. This would eliminate high school capacity in the south-end where there is a surplus and add to the high school capacity where it is needed. Although the capacity in the south-end would be reduced, by moving high school APP north, 400 students would be removed from the area high schools as the 400 students from Rainier Beach are added to them. As a result, there would be no overcrowding or loss of flexibility.
14. All city draw programs such as Summit and APP should be placed centrally, but the District is emptying out their central locations. Lincoln, John Marshall, McDonald, T T Minor, Horace Mann, and Lowell – all central locations – will all be vacant while the District claims that they don't have central locations available.
15. Move Pathfinder to Cooper. Keep Arbor Heights open. Add Spectrum to Arbor Heights to take up some of the excess capacity and to improve geographic equity and access – there is no Spectrum in the West Seattle-South cluster. Make Gatewood a dual cluster school to make additional seats available for West Seattle-North students.