The District included $5 million in BEX IV for "Planning for a downtown school", but no money for construction.
In the proposed changes to the attendance area boundaries, the downtown area, currently in the Hay/McClure attendance area, would be shifted to the Lowell/Meany attendance area. There are hundreds of empty seats at Lowell - plenty for all of the Seattle Public School students living downtown. The last report from the District demographer did not suggest the explosive growth in the number of school-age children living downtown that the school's supporters anticipate, but the new report from the DSA suggests that we do need an elementary school downtown, that the capacity at Lowell is not sufficient, and that Lowell offers poorer proximity for downtown students than the District provides students in other neighborhoods.
There's some history to this - a deeply flawed study from the DSA, expressions of support from Mayor McGinn, a fleeting offer of some space in a building, the usual evasions from Pegi McEvoy - but that's all history. Today the District doesn't have their own demographer and the Downtown Seattle Association has a new, much stronger study. So here are the questions:
- Are there or will there be enough students downtown to support the creation of a downtown attendance area elementary school?
- Are there or will there be enough students downtown to support the creation of a downtown option elementary school that would be the choice of a lot of families living there or with jobs downtown?
- What assumptions are used in the growth projections?
- Are the factors that fueled the rapid growth continuing? If it was driven by construction, will that construction continue?
- Is this the perfect opportunity for a charter or what?
- Is this school just to benefit Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen - and would that be okay if it were?
- Are Lowell, Gatzert, Hay, and TOPS too far away for downtown families?
- Is T T Minor too far away for downtown families?
- Does the new streetcar or the extension of the light rail have an impact on access to Gatzert and Lowell?
- Is there an appropriate space anywhere downtown for a school?
- How could the District ever afford to buy (or lease) land downtown for this school?
- Would a land swap for the Memorial Stadium figure into this?
- What would this mean - if anything - for the Center School?
- Do we only need an elementary school? What about middle school and high school?
- Could any downtown school location be "walkable" for elementary students given the heavy traffic and major roadways?
- The focus is on South Lake Union - is that where it should be? Should the school be located in the International District? Cascade?
- Should downtown residential developers be assessed an impact fee to pay for the capital cost of a downtown school?