I think some of the District's urgency around capacity is real and some is manufactured. They have a real need for additional elementary school capacity in West Seattle and the northeast. They have a real need for middle school capacity in the north. The high school and central region middle school capacity needs aren't all that urgent.
Outside of capacity needs, they do need to take care of the World School without further delay and the renovation to Arbor Heights cannot wait.
Keeping the cash flow in mind, I would make a little re-order of the projects. The chart with the projects and their price tags is a bit misleading since the money isn't actually spent only in the year that the project completes. Still, any changes in timing have to be made with an eye to the cash flow.
The big changes I would make would be to shift Arbor Heights from 2019 to 2015, to swap the order of Schmitz Park and Thornton Creek, and to delay the move from John Marshall to Pacific Middle School for a year.
The smaller recommendations would be to make Fairmount Park an attendance area school and let STEM choose another home, to put half of north-end elementary APP at the new Thornton Creek school, and to put Van Asselt into a renovated Old Van Asselt and Wing Luke into the AAA instead of replacing the Wing Luke building.
Refer to the chart as you follow along.
2012-13 - The District plans to do some work at Boren with non-BEX money and continue to house APP at Lincoln. I presume they have already started the work at Fairmount Park. The bulk of the funding for the work at Fairmount Park (85% of it) comes from non-BEX money that we already have. They should be spending it now if they aren't already. They should also start the work at John Marshall now. It's financed with non-BEX money and the need for north-end middle school capacity is urgent. Let's try to get Pacific at Marshall opened a year earlier.
2013-14 - The plan calls for non-BEX spending at Columbia, Van Asselt, and John Marshall. If we have this money then why are we waiting to spend it? If this work hasn't started then get it started now. Van Asselt is for Interagency and Columbia is for Meany. I don't see the urgency for the work at Columbia, but it's coming from non-BEX money, so why not start it sooner if we can. This is the first year for the new Fairmount Park school meeting at Boren. Good. That expedites the relief. Fairmount Park will be small, mostly K-1, so there should also be room at Boren for Arbor Heights. Let's get them in there next year while their school is renovated. Boren can hold a nearly new STEM, brand new Fairmount Park, and a dislocated Arbor Heights. That building is big enough for it.
More than anything else, they need to get started on the work at John Marshall to make that ready as a middle school. That is one of the most urgent needs in the District and they need to start it NOW.
2014-15 - This is the first year that BEX IV money gets spent and it goes for Mann, the least urgent project in the whole plan. That's just dumb. Of course, there's no reason to defer it and the District probably wants the space for World School expansion or for construction crews renovating Meany as a middle school. BEX money is also spent this year to finish Fairmount Park. It would be a poor allocation of resources for K5 STEM to move into Fairmount Park. We need that building as an attendance area school. There's no real urgency to move STEM out of Boren and, once it is moved out, it can go to Schmitz Park, to Hughes, or, with some finagling, to Roxhill. If it goes to Fairmount Park, however, the net additional capacity will be almost nil. Yes, we gain the seats at Fairmount Park, but we lose the seats at Boren. We need a big net gain, not a small one. STEM should stay at Boren and Fairmount Park should be used to relieve overcrowding at other schools. With Fairmount Park moving out of Boren there will be more room for STEM and Arbor Heights.
The District thinks that this will be the first year for a number of other schools, including Meany Middle School at Columbia, Interagency at Van Asselt, and Pacific Middle School at John Marshall. This is the best thing in the whole BEX IV Plan. Creating a middle school at John Marshall as early as possible (couldn't they do it in the previous year?)
It's good for Interagency to get a space, but Meany at Columbia is a crazy idea. Columbia is a tiny building and there is no real urgency to create this school. Think about it - why do we need additional middle school capacity in a part of town where we closed elementary schools four years ago and where we still have surplus elementary school capacity now? Defer the start of Meany Middle School at Columbia. We don't need it and it won't fit there anyway.
2015-16 - First, swap the timing on Thornton Creek and Schmitz Park. If Fairmount Park is used as an attendance area school, then the capacity crisis in West Seattle becomes just that much less urgent. One more year is all we need. The Thornton Creek project, however, needs to be pushed earlier. They are comparable in costs and neither one needs an interim site, so swap them. Also, this is where Arbor Heights should go. The BEX cash flow will support Arbor Heights and Thornton Creek in the same year. It will just mean a delay in other BEX IV projects. They can wait. They are not as urgent as Arbor Heights. Olympic Hills joins APP at Lincoln this year. Or at least half of APP.
The District is going to have to address a critical question in this year: will half of north-end APP go to the new school at Thornton Creek? Reasons for: The cohort will be big enough to be viable and the District should place programs close to where students live. A large number of elementary APP students live in the northeast part of the city. Plus, the transportation to Thornton Creek APP could be shared with the option school at Thornton Creek. Reasons against: It will suck up half of the capacity that we're trying to create in this part of the city. But the APP students deserve a school close to home just as much as any other student. Since a lot of would-be Thornton Creek students will end up at the attendance area school on the property, the option school can draw more students out of the other, overcrowded schools in the area. The genius of the new atttendance area school at Thornton Creek is how it will relieve overcrowding all around the area, not just locally. Also, an expanded Olympic Hills will be coming in just two more years.
2016-17 - Now comes Schmitz Park and their move to Genessee Hill. This is also the year when a lot of the non-construction BEX IV projects get done. This is the year that the World School moves out Meany and goes to T T Minor. I don't know why the District hasn't acknowledged this yet, but that's where the World School is going. It's tempting to have NOVA move out at the same time, but I think the District wants NOVA out of there sooner. In part to allow the World School room for growth, and in part to get started on the Meany renovation. Maybe they can work on the NOVA side of the building while World School uses the rest of the building.
2017-18 - In this year Olympic Hills can move back into their new school and APP is scheduled to move out of Lincoln as well. It's pretty safe to say that at least half of it will go to Wilson, which will open this year as well. North Beach moves into Lincoln to takeover the elementary classrooms there. The District thinks it will also open Meany and Pacific Middle Schools in this year. I would suggest, for cash flow reasons, that they push Pacific out another year. I know how contrary this seems after my urgency around creating this school. The use of John Marshall gave them immediate relief from the overcrowding in north-end middle schools. Once they have that, the need to move the program to its permanent location is less urgent. Meany, because it is something of a small ticket item at just $14.5m and because there's no real urgent need for it, can happen earlier or later (or not at all). This year is fine if this is a year when it fits into the cash flow.
2018-19 - This is the year when the North Beach addition is completed and those students return there from Lincoln. It is also the year when Pacific can open after four years at John Marshall. That will leave Marshall available for occupation by the first year of Lincoln High School Students. Of course, any students graduating from the 8th grade at Pacific and moving on to the 9th grade at Lincoln will simply stay in the Marshall building. The District calls that a smooth transition to high school and regards it as a strong positive.
Maybe by this time the District will have found a permanent home for K5 STEM. Remember them? I left them at Boren, but I reckoned that they would eventually land at Hughes. Unless, of course, there is a good reason to merge them into Roxhill. I suppose they could also land in an expanded Schmitz Park, renovated since the departure of that program for the Genessee Hill building. There are pros and cons for all of these locations, but I think the STEM community should have more say in it than anyone. Certainly more than me.
The district plans to move Wing Luke into the Van Asselt building this year while renovating Wing Luke.
This project piques my interest. How bad is the Wing Luke facility? Is it really in greater need than Bagley? To what extent is Wing Luke getting this total rebuild for political reasons, just so there is some project in the southeast? I don't know. I'm asking. Maybe it is absolutely necessary. Maybe not. Here's what I think. Instead of fixing up Wing Luke, let's fix up the Old Van Asselt building. Then, let's move Van Asselt back into it. When we do, we can move Wing Luke into the AAA building and leave the Wing Luke building as the interim site. Not only would it be cheaper, when we're done we won't have two attendance area schools (Wing Luke and Van Asselt) just three blocks apart.
I think that instead of rebuilding Wing Luke at a cost of $45m we might be able to better spend that money elsewhere. That money could fix up the Old Van Asselt building, make some needed renovations at Bagley, and buy bathrooms and cafeterias at a few schools. It could provide the funds to make Hughes or Schmitz Park ready for STEM. It could pay for interest so we can borrow money against future levy revenue to expedite some projects.
One more question: when Wing Luke moves in, where does Interagency go?
2019-20 - This is the first of two mop-up years. It's mostly used for additions like Queen Anne and Mercer. I'm not sure how the District thinks they will be able to move Lincoln High School into the Lincoln building in this year, just one year after North Beach Elementary moves out. I would think that there would be a lot of work involved in converting a small elementary space into a large high school space, but maybe they will have done most of the work in previous years, putting science labs and language labs and a band room and other high school specific architecture in the East Wing while the elementary students are in the West one. Or something like that.
2020-21 - The only project completed in this year is Wing Luke. Wouldn't it be better to fix up Old Van Asselt, move Van Asselt back into it, and move Wing Luke in the AAA building? I think so.
What do you think?