Thursday, November 05, 2009

Proposals on the Table for the MLK Building and Grounds

From the Central District News website, a story about 4 proposals for the use of the now-closed Martin Luther King, Jr. school and grounds. It looks like 2 private schools want it (Bush and Hamlin Robinson). Bush is offering use of the fields (they are non-lighted) to the community when Bush isn't using it. This is tempting because they are offering the highest price and the offer of field usage. The other two offers are community-based. One is from a community group (Citizens for a Community Center at MLK) and the other from the First AME church. The two community groups were trying to work together to present one offer but it didn't work out. A decision is expected in January.

So this is one of the first buildings to really have bidders. As I have mentioned previously, when I worked on the CAC, we had many e-mails about what to do with closed buildings. It fell into the two camps above. Sell to the highest bidder or give preference to the community. Given there is no community center there, I might lean towards the latter. But Bush is offering a lot of money and even made an offer for leasing the space.

So what's the right thing to do and/or what's the best thing to do? I have not seen that the district, despite this being public land, has solicited public input about the decision. Anyone else?

29 comments:

jamie said...

A religious group that is not the highest bidder seems like an obvious no-go. Choosing between the highest bidder and a community center is a much harder choice.

Robert said...

I would say a private school/competitor would be a bad choice as well. I vote for the rec/community center but didn't one of those just go under in Wallingford?

Kathy Barker said...

One of the reasons public schools are struggling is because people send their students to private school. I know, I know, everyone has a very special reason why their very special child can't go to public school...but if more of those private school kids went to publics schools, this would not be happening.

To add such moral insult to injury- to not only CLOSE A SCHOOL but to then sell that school to Bush- is offensive.

Some things really are more important than money. If MLK is sold to Bush, the bottom line is that the BUsh school profits from all those students and families hurt by the closing of MLK.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Kathy Barker said " I know, I know, everyone has a very special reason why their very special child can't go to public school..."

I find this VERY insulting. Once again, let's not diss on people's children. Everyone does what they believe is best for their child. What about the people who go out of District? Or use a fake address to get into one of the more desirable public schools?

Our family spent 8 years putting our hearts and souls into public schools and we only saw our school deteriorate under mismanagement by the District, despite our protests and best efforts. So please, do not disparage any of the parents on this blog who are here because we care about public school. I am very tired of the inference that it is somehow MY fault (in that I am not sending MY child to a failing school) that the school is failing.

Ms. Barker...would you send your child to Rainier Beach High School in it's present incarnation?

kellie said...

Public property belongs to the public. Even if a private school is offering a little more cash now, it is not likely that extra cash would ever be used to create more public property. Once public property is gone, it is gone forever.

MontMom said...

Is the community center group hoping to buy or lease?

Kathy Barker said...

SolvayGIrl1972, don't take it personally. We all make different choices for ourselves, for various reasons. But the choice that was good for you was not necessarily good for the district.

And yes, I would put my kids into Rainier Beach High School.
(If I were a teacher or student at Rainier Beach, I would find this very insulting.)

dj said...

The closings of T.T. Minor and MLK have left neighborhoods without obvious community gathering centers; for that reason, I think it would be great to choose the community center proposal. If it flops, I imagine Bush will still be there in a few years to expand its grounds; but once Bush expands its grounds, the community will never get the land back.

Ananda said...

Only one proposal is a lease, and that is the Bush proposal. Most money, not selling the land, community use, it would be foolish not to take thier offer.

Maureen said...

...but not Madrona?

I agree that selling to Bush could be helping the competition, but I think there is a price difference at which it would make sense. If they are willing to pay such a huge premium because of the location that SPS could buy the Central District a community Center somewhere nearby AND still make a handy profit, it might be worth it. I doubt the differential is that large though.

Maureen said...

Oh, I didn't notice that the Bush one is a lease. Couldn't SPS lease the fields to Bush and the building to the community Center?

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of communities and schools...

Were WASL statistics used in decisions to close MLK (as they were in the case of AAA)?

I'm just starting to figure out that while teh Supreme Court ruled two years ago (in the Ballard/Kentucky co-case) that schools can't use race as a tiebreaker in assignment, evidently race CAN be used in closing schools: NCLB uses "failing school" designations to target schools, and those are based on race categories.

Likewise, where the district closes a school using WASL scores as one of the deciding factors, it is using race as a means to close the school.

(If the school were then sold to a predominantly white private school then that would be just the icing on the cake, eh?)

NCLB has to go, as does the use of race categories in WASL result grouping. It's, well, racist.

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of communities and schools...

Were WASL statistics used in decisions to close MLK (as they were in the case of AAA)?

I'm just starting to figure out that while teh Supreme Court ruled two years ago (in the Ballard/Kentucky co-case) that schools can't use race as a tiebreaker in assignment, evidently race CAN be used in closing schools: NCLB uses "failing school" designations to target schools, and those are based on race categories.

Likewise, where the district closes a school using WASL scores as one of the deciding factors, it is using race as a means to close the school.

(If the school were then sold to a predominantly white private school then that would be just the icing on the cake, eh?)

NCLB has to go, as does the use of race categories in WASL result grouping. It's, well, racist.

dj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj said...

Maureen, that might be a decent argument, but for the fact that obviously the district will not be buying the area a community center.

SPSMom said...

"And yes, I would put my kids into Rainier Beach High School."

Really? Will you really be enrolling your children RBHS in the next year or so?

seattle citizen said...

Kathy, SPSmom, Solvay...
This is a tough discussion you're having. Be gentle. We've talked about this before, and it's very central to issues facing the district. Like with some other topics (religion...economics...race...) it can easily get flamey. That usually ends the discussion, eh? Or, in my case, I descend into rhetoric and entrenched inability to listen to other POVs...

ArchStanton said...

We all make different choices for ourselves, for various reasons. But the choice that was good for you was not necessarily good for the district.

When the district continually makes choices that are not good for me, it has no reason to expect that I will continue to make choices that are good for the district.

Many parents start out with a good faith effort to support public schools by enrolling in SPS, but find that their needs are not being met (whatever they are) and wind up choosing a different solution.

As someone pointed out in another thread; public school is FREE. It takes a pretty compelling reason for people to shell out the cost of a new car annually if the free option is adequate.

seattle citizen said...

I shouldn't have veered from the Martin Luther King thread...sorry...

I hope it stays in the community.

ArchStanton said...

Hardly your fault, seattle citizen...

When is someone gonna' post something about this evening's meeting?

emeraldkity said...

No, one of the reasons why SEATTLE public schools are struggling is because-
high cost of living- mediocre public transportation- less overall racial diversity and affordabilty than in the suburbs- and fewer families with children than in almost any major city in the country ( except San Francisco- which has even higher COL) little continuity about where your child will attend school- whether they will have transportation from year to year, history of lack of accountability in just about every area & lack of respect for the taxpayers and families who have tried to make " it work" because they believe in public schools.




If we hadn't been able to get great financial aid from private schools, we would have bought my childhood home, which was in the Lake Washington school district ( one of the best in the state IMO), and within walking distance to elementary, junior high and high schools.

But since we did get great financial aid- they attended private for at least part of their schooling as do many children in Seattle- I don't feel guilty- but I would have felt guilty if I didn't do everything I could to get them " a good enough" education.


However, I do not trust the district to sell buildings or land for market value ( plus this is not a good time to sell anyway)

They need to have an outside manager for their properties, possibly have the city take care of it?

seattle citizen said...

I don't personally believe there is ANY good time to sell. This is public property - it's like selling off part of Mt Rainier. Shouldn't we be buying MORE property, instead of selling it? (not necessarily the District, but the public generally.)
Any money from sale will be gone, *poof* in an instant, then the property is also gone. Why not, as a last resort (not that I'd do it, but to illustrate the point) raze the structures and leave the land as a public holding, pea-patches, parkland, whatever...

hschinske said...

I would be *even more* upset if concerns over benefiting a private school meant that NO ONE AT ALL benefited, and the school was neglected and perhaps vandalized. There are all kinds of reasons we shouldn't sell, but I have no moral objection to leasing to Helen Bush.

I think the best educational environment is one in which ALL types of schools flourish. No one says it's bad for the University of Washington (or for that matter the community colleges) to have private colleges like Seattle University in the same town.

Helen Schinske

Mum o 2 said...

Wow - this is a tough one. My first instinct says to take the Bush lease option. They will maintain the property well until we the public are ready to use it. AND we get to use the grounds when not in use by the school.

But the neighborhood center option feels like it would be best for the community overall. I know how much I use our community center and find it to be a real plus for our neighborhood.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"They need to have an outside manager for their properties, possibly have the city take care of it?"

Charlie says this all the time and it might be a good place for a new Mayor to start to help our district.

Meg said...

One of the private schools making a bid is a school for children with dyslexia. I thought they made some excellent points (several people from there spoke at the 10/21 board meeting) - their kids aren't going to private school because they WANTED private school. Most of their children will return to public school as they are better able to manage their learning differences.
Is it still a private school? Sure. But it's a whole lot different than Bush, and I would say it's as worthy as a community center.

LynneC said...

I can't speak to which proposal would be better off from a financial standpoint for the district, but I am familiar with Hamlin-Robinson school. It is an excellent community resource. Meg is correct, the families who opt to send their kids to HR would love to have their kids in public school but kids with dyslelxia and similar learning issues are often not well served in a public school classroom, even if they qualify for special ed support. The school is currently located way down south and it would be wonderful to have it more centrally located. Just an example of how it's best not to stereotype private schools and make assumptions about the reasons why families sometimes need to make that choice.

dan dempsey said...

If it is the job of the Seattle Public Schools to serve the community, then it seems the choice is between the community center and Hamlin-Robinson.

If the SPS thinks their mission is to take assets that the community paid for and sell them to the highest bidder that borders on total failure to understand their place in the community as well as history.

I believe if the long view is taken that only Hamlin-Robinson and the Community Center should be in the running. Considering the SPS continuing failure to serve educationally disadvantaged students adequately should not Hamlin-Robinson be the most seriously considered option?

In the interests of full disclosure three of my four children are dyslexic. From my second oldest: "The only truly valuable skill I learned in high school was how to put up with meaningless BS. It has served me well in many jobs."

I would support Hamlin-Robinson.

emeraldkity said...

One parent said it is better to have more F/RL kids because the school gets more money. (And where is the tipping point for it not being good?)

I disagree strongly-
Money can only buy so much.

Involvement in after school activities, free time to volunteer in the classroom, fundraising for supplies and projects, supervision on the playground and on field trips are not restricted to those of middle or higher income, neither is having education and responsibility a family value,

However, when families are stretched to take care of basic needs- they have little time , energy or motivation to do extra, let alone do extra with other peoples children.
Modeling of appropriate behavior and raising expectations is critical to the success of children & the extra funds that a school gets from having a high FRL population can not buy that.