Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Puget Sound Education Meetings of Interest

Meeting on Wilson-Pacific on May 13th

From the district:

To address growing enrollment and capacity needs, Seattle voters passed the 2013 Seattle Public Schools Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy. As a result, a new middle school and new elementary school are scheduled to open in time for the 2017-18 school year.
A newly renovated play field will be located between the two new buildings on the site at 1330 North 90th Street.  

The project is now in the design and permitting phase and thereafter, the existing structure will be demolished.

A School Design and Advisory Team (SDAT) composed of community members, professionals, Mahlum Architects and Seattle Public Schools Capital Projects staff have worked to create the design of the two school buildings and the entire 16.8-acre school site.

The comprehensive neighborhood middle school will be constructed to house 1,000 students, including students from the Pinehurst K-8/Indian Heritage program (They will soon have a new name), while the elementary school will house up to 650 students, including the north end elementary Advanced Placement Program.

The design of each school is intended to create a quality learning environment to prepare our graduates for college, career and live and to fulfill the three major goals of Seattle Public Schools:

• ensure educational excellence and equity for every student;
• improve systems District-wide to support academics outcomes and meet students’ needs; and
• strengthen school, family and community engagement.

You are invited to attend a community meeting on Tuesday, May 13, 6:30 p.m., at the Wilson-Pacific building’s SeaMat Center where information will be shared about the project and the schools’ designs.

Contact: Tom Redman, Facilities Coordinator,  Phone: (206) 252-0655    

Okay, this is all good and well but (1) a very late date (and I suspect by design) for any changes to the building plan and (2) "information will be shared" but they don't want input and it's likely a pro forma information presentation and a little venting session.  Without specifics and because it's in a month, then I have to see this as a CYA by Capital staff and not authentic engagement.

From the Road Map Project:

Registration is now open for the next Road Map Project Education Results Network (ERN) meeting! 

ERN meetings are open to anyone who wants to improve education in our region and participate in the Road Map Project. Those who attend an ERN meeting can expect to hear the latest updates on the Road Map Project and provide input on key elements of the work. Lunch will be provided and there is no cost to attend.

Road Map Project
Education Results Network meeting 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Renton Pavilion
233 Burnett Avenue South
Renton, WA 98055


We hope you can join us on May 8th! Agenda information will be included in future Road Map Project newsletters. Email with questions. 

This could be interesting as several SPS schools are involved.


Anonymous said...

Only a mass, and I mean MASS showing from the community at the Tuesday May 13th 6:30pm Wilson Pacific meeting at Wilson Pacific will get the District to stop and retool this plan.

Otherwise, it will be full-steam ahead and then generations will have to deal with the consequences (raise your hand if you are waiting for Sealth to take over the 'co-located' Denny building, forcing Denny out? How great was that plan? Can you say BEX V?).

The comprehensive middle school stakeholders (yo! families with kids in grades 1 and 2!!) should come out and speak up. The limitations of WilPac will affect ALL 4 other middle schools of the north. If Whitman or Eckstein really want to get rid of some portables so that their core facilities aren't so stressed, they need to come out and make sure WilPac is built rationally. We are all in this together. Please, please come. Let the District know that school buildings need to meet the needs of students.


Kate Martin said...

I did request of Tom Redman an opportunity to have a community generated meeting about W-P so that the format could be developed by the community for the community. He did volley the emails once, but he has not replied to my last email which was 10 days ago. It seems that NW district council could be a good venue to have that meeting or a community council - Licton Springs? - but I worry that there will not be a good opportunity to interact with the project if it's an SPS generated meeting.

Robyn said...

I just read through all the WilPac SDAT presentations and accompanying minutes.

SPS and the Board claim the stakeholders and community were thoroughly involved in the design process. Don't fall for it when that's what we are told at the "informational meeting" on May 13th!

Here are points to e-mail the Board about the Community Engagement Charade NOW!

1. 8 out of 9 meetings were held before the November 20, 2013 Board meeting that placed a K-8 inside a comprehensive middle school.

2. Until Cindy Watters (HIMS Principal) attended the last meeting, there were NO middle school representatives. Her questions and concerns were ignored since the designs were already in the permitting process!

The meetings were almost 100% elementary APP parents whose kids are going to JAMS not WilPac. They are GREAT, SMART people, but they are NOT stakeholders for WilPac MS.

3. When addressing design concerns, the same comment was made at virtually every SDAT meeting: Don't do "x,y,z" since parents are NOT signing up for a K-8! (Again, this is nothing against the K-8 since no one knew it was going to be placed inside the WilPac middle school when those comments were made.)

4. SDAT meeting #3 (comments from minutes):

a. Schools should be designed to maximize portables. The "E" shape severely restricts use of portables.

b. Music program will be shared. Not appropriate for gym, cafeteria or library. (my comment -Ignored: No auditorium.)

c. Fields should not be shared. Parents are not signing up for a K-8.

Meeting #4. Presentation = Car free living. That's laughable given the location of Wilson Pacific and elementary APP kids going there.

No minutes online for meeting #4.

Meeting #5 comment from minutes:
a. Don't design a horseshoe circulation. (My thought here: they made it worse than a horseshoe with the E-shape. And, I noticed in the presentations the building shell design never changed meeting to meeting after feedback, the buildings were relocated on the property or spaces within the building were redesigned).

Meeting #7 minutes comments:

1. E shape too dramatic, wasted space.
2. The school should not be designed as a K-8 as each school has its own educational program.
3. Where will you put portables?

Meeting # 8 minutes comments(FINAL MEETING and only meeting after Pinehurst was saved and relocated to WilPac):

1. Only 6 MS portable will fit and 4 ES portables. All probably needed day one.
2. MS reduced to 850 kids. Even though capacity crisis, Board directive to include the K-8 reduces number of seats. No square footage can be added due to budget.
3. Lincoln High School will use WilPac fields.
4. School interior redesigned to incorporate K-8. Science labs were in each "wing" of the E. Now all in middle wing requiring cross-building travel between classes. (One of many changes that will last forever.)
5. 10 buses calculated into designs. Question: Why? Lincoln APP already has 12. What about SPED, the K-8 kids, the additional 120 kids that will be in elementary APP, and the middle school APP kids who will get bus service? (don't even get me going that the walk-zone for WilPac MS extends out PAST 85th and 15th Ave NW! So much for car-free living. Are these kids really expected to walk basically from Puget Sound to I-5?)
6. Again, design eliminates space for number of portables needed.
7. No auditorium, no lockers.
8. Single egress from classroom wings into main hallway will be unsafe and crowded. Kids will not get to classes within allowed 5 minutes.
9. Concern raised there is not enough classroom space.

Again, all these important questions and concerns were raised (as well as many others) in the final meeting. However, the Board, architects and SPS says there was sufficient stakeholder involvement.

kellie said...

I think this meeting is the result of all the attention this building is now receiving.

The real issue is that enrollment growth has out-paced capacity planning and therefore this building is completely out of sync with the needs of the area. We need to add flexible generic capacity that can be used for decades that puts the needs of students first.

If you have concerns about capacity please sign the
Wilson Pacific Petition. We need to look at capacity holistically for the entire region. I hope this starts that conversation.

kellie said...

After a lot of conversations about why the auditorium is so important, I thought I would share this notion.

In the education world, there is a huge debate about whether middle school is the start of secondary education or the extension of elementary education. You can see there is all the variations of K-8 and 6-12 and stand alone middle schools.

IMHO, the lack of an auditorium is a decades long commitment to the extension of elementary version by not putting them in a building that is fully designed as a secondary school building.

There are elementary buildings with cafetoriums and there are secondary buildings with auditoriums. It is that simple and we are most likely going to need to convert some middle schools to a high schools and vice versa as capacity ebs and flows over decades.

We need secondary buildings that are flexible because the high school capacity crisis is just around the corner and it will eclipse all of these middle school issues very quickly.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think it is tragic yet hilarious that the official district letter doesn't get the correct name for APP? It's not the "Advanced Placement Program"! It's Accelerated Progress Program. I mean, seriously. That pretty much says it all about the district's attitude towards it.

-Rare Commenter

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wrote to the Board and here is what I said (partial):

Please consider:

- as a long-time district watcher, I was quite surprised to learn a couple of things at the last Operations Committee meeting. I did not realize that the Board didn't actually vote on school designs but rather, just on spending the dollars.

- I'm surprised because I also found out that the BEX Oversight Committee doesn't review designs either. The head of that committee, Stephen Palewicz, stated this at the Operations Ctm. meeting. (My thought was that the BEX Oversight Ctm. reviewed the designs, said okay and that the Board's vote pivots off that review and a review of the dollars - apparently not).

Who is reviewing these plans? Just Capital staff? I'm not sure I understand the role of the BEX Oversight Committee at this point (and you might consider redoing their charge).

- these buildings are here to stay for (hopefully) 40-50 years. Please do not be the Board that allowed a major mistake to happen and then we are stuck with a site where (1) the building is not accommodating as many students as it can (2) it is not built for maximum use by both school communities and the neighborhood.

I ask you to intervene and I make the case for - yes - doing the right thing. You don't want to look back and regret not acting.

Anonymous said...

I agree the real switcheroo here is there was a big cry for W-P ES-MS. BUT now, in 2014, it's for MS-HS. 4 years makes a big difference when those school age kids are now looking at MS and beyond. 4 years from now, it'll be the college bubble. What people should be clamoring for is a new HS. But hey, keep on about THE auditorium.


Robyn said...

Behind, If there's an auditorium and the building is built generically (not what's happening now), it could be used as a high school if needed someday. That option is pretty much being ruled out with the designs presented by Mahlum, the architect.

As I posted above, I went through every SDAT presentation and the accompanying meeting minutes. I was shocked by how many times Mahlum, the architect hired by SPS (AKA Seattle Taxpayers), told the SDAT attendees they really didn't have much say on the design of the buildings. They presented org charts at many meetings showing how "low on the totem pole" the SDAT members were. However, they also included slides saying how "rich" the community engagement process has been. I am not able to reconcile these conflicting statements since all the feedback provided by the community seemed to be ignored by Mahlum.

Folks need to push back on Mahlum's ability to win future projects if they aren't willing to adjust their work to fit the true needs of SPS stakeholders - students, parents, community members AND the tax payers funding these projects.

mirmac1 said...

On other building news, this announcement on the SPS homepage:

"Louisa Boren Building will be the home to Arbor Heights Elementary and K-5 STEM for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years

Principals' letter to community, families and staff

Seattle voters approved the Seattle Public Schools Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy in February, 2013. The levy includes funding for the new construction and modernization of 17 school buildings, including the new replacement of Arbor Heights Elementary. The new Arbor Heights building is scheduled to open in September 2016 on the present Arbor Heights site at 3701 SW 104th Street. In the meantime, the Louisa Boren Building at 5950 Delridge Way SW will be home to Arbor Heights Elementary program and the K-5 STEM at Boren programs.

The two programs will share space on the Louisa Boren campus for the next two years. There will be sufficient space for each program. Arbor Heights will have its own classrooms in the north wing of the building, while K-5 STEM will continue to be located in its present classrooms.

There will be some shared room spaces, including the lunchroom and library: the two principals will create a schedule for each program’s use of shared rooms. The school nurse will be shared by both programs.

We will continue to update this “Boren Building News” web page as we receive more information."

For those of you not in the loop, there's been increasing concern that K-5 STEM was impeding AH's use of what was (and should remain, in my opinion) the interim site at Boren - pushing them into scuzzed out dilapidated portables. I am glad the some saw the errors of their ways.

It would not surprise me if some of the piss poor capacity decisions made last year will be revisited this year.

Community? said...

We are all in this together except?

Pinehurst worked with the district for most of the 12/13 school year to find a site for our school. We were put on the chopping block a month before the BEX was finalized with a promise to work with our community to find us a new site.

Queen Anne- for Cascade
Cedar Park- for Oly. Hills interim site
Share site:Decatur at Thornton Creek- Not Welcome
Co-location at Jane Addams K-8- Not Welcome
Co-location at Broadview Thomson- Not Welcome

We really are all in the same crowded boat,please don't try to throw us overboard for some dream of a school that will supposedly fix our capacity problems for the next fifty years.

kellie said...

@ Community,

I don't believe this is an either Pinehurst or WP issue at this point.

Simply put, Pinehurst, Indian Heritage and Cascade were all three displaced by BEX planning with no future home. Instead of just owning up to this and acknowledging that more capacity needed to be added to include the students being displaced, they are trying to squeeze Pinehurst into a building that will soon be full.

The original WP middle school project was supposed to be built for 1250. That size was reduced when JAMS was added. IMHO, that was huge mistake because adding JAMS displaced the JA K8, which then displaced Pinehurst K8, which then left Pinehurst without a home. If the capacity of the building was designed to be more flexible, there could be another wing added and those 250 seats added back would be space for the new Pinehurst / Indian Heritage program.

The bottom line here is that there isn't enough capacity and that this building is being designed to provide IN-flexible capacity when what is desperately needed is flexible capacity.

Kate Martin said...

I think we be prudent to build a high school somewhere between WP and North Seattle College and create a real campus.

Robyn said...

@community, I would love to meet with the Pinehurst community so you could realize my intentions are good (as are the intentions of the incredible people I've met over the past two weeks due to WilPac concerns). The problem, as Kellie graciously points out above, lies with Mahlum, the District hired architect, and their unwillingness to design the flexible building we ALL need and SDAT members asked for repeatedly.

Please read through the SDAT presentations and the minutes. You'll notice, as I did, every "variation" has the same exact building footprint - even when the k-8 was incorporated into the WilPac site! They would relocate it, flip it, redesign the inside, but, in my opinion, the architect ego kept them from giving us what we need - a simple, inexpensive, flexible rectangle! (or whatever else would fit the bill)....

You really need to take a look at the final meeting minutes when the SPS representative says 'the k-8 will not stay in the building if their capacity grows or shrinks'. So, I ask, why would you move science labs, etc. around to build kindergarten rooms if the k-8 won't stay?

We aren't throwing you overboard, we are trying to throw you the life ring. Mahlum, the architect, is throwing you overboard by not providing a building that will fit all of us AND provide room for your program to grow. When we run out of middle school seats due to a ridiculously designed building, who do you think will go? APP and Pinehurst for won't be the attendance area kids. The stupid "E" shaped building doesn't allow for the number of portables the site could hold if the building was designed differently.

If I were a Pinehurst parent, I'd hop on this bandwagon for the sake of my program. Insist Mahlum give us a flexible building that will work for the next 100 years!

United we stand, divided we fall.

mirmac1 said...

As someone in the industry, there is no way I can imagine that a consultant goes "rogue" without the complicity or utter incompetence of the client.

I learned tonight that the district Internal Auditor (someone whom I admire a great deal for his integrity) will be auditing the Genessee Hill design. Given the speculation re: WP, I will suggest to him that his office look at the charges re: Mahlum and WP.

Kate Martin said...

Let me lead you to the bigger picture. The Comprehensive Plan for Seattle is not all that comprehensive because the Seattle School District does not participate. It's not Mahlum, it's SPS. Mahlum is just following protocol to get paid. We have a bigger row to hoe.

Let's insist on a community based meeting. I sent Tom Redman another message yesterday saying the same. I'll call Mahlum.

mirmac1 said...

Kate, we're compatriots in the same field. I think it is the City's job to follow the district's lead re: enrollment and growth patterns. Unfortunately, I see a pressure for the district to turn to COS for guidance and assistance, and I have no faith that there is anything there. If COS (Seattle) was prepared to provide property, tax incentives, zoning preferences - then I'd say there was a partnership. Unfortunately, the inbred ed reformers at City Hall just don't offer those solutions. They just offer up whatever talking points Gates is pushing next.

Community? said...

Where can I find the minutes referenced?

"You really need to take a look at the final meeting minutes when the SPS representative says 'the k-8 will not stay in the building if their capacity grows or shrinks'. So, I ask, why would you move science labs, etc. around to build kindergarten rooms if the k-8 won't stay?"


Kate Martin said...

Kate, thank you for contacting me regarding your request for a community meeting for the Wilson-Pacific BEX IV project. We will be having a Wilson-Pacific BEX IV Community Meeting on Tuesday, May 13th at 6:30 p.m. in the Wilson-Pacific SeaMat Center.
Best Regards,
Tom Redman
Capital Communications
Seattle Public Schools

kellie said...

Robyn just summarized the issue even better than I did. Good for you for reading all of those meeting minutes!

Mirmac is also correct, I don't think Mahlum went "rogue." However, I do think that either the instructions they have been given or the way they are approaching the building is deeply out of touch with the reality on the ground that we need flexible buildings that can provide capacity that puts the needs of students first.

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

I truly don't believe this is an us vs them conversation. The board voted to add 170 more students to the building. In rough terms that is 6-7 portables being added to a building that is full. But rather than realize that they were making that decision, the decision just just swept away under the "notion" that the building was going to be "half empty" anyway.

Does any parent on the ground think that this building was going to be half empty for long?? That is the issue.

The issue is the same seats are being promised to too many people.

* the new attendance area.
* the new combined Indian Heritage/Pinehurst program
* APP for the Wilson Pacific and Whitman attendance areas
* a back up relief valve in the event that there is no longer room for any APP at Hamilton.

That is a lot of promises.
* So what happens when the attendance area student population grows?
* What happens when Pinehurst inevitably grows? Every time there is just one year of no closure threat Pinehurst grows. That is some serious power there.
* What happens when Hamilton is flooded with more neighborhoods students in two years when McDonald is a full feeder school and APP is once again relocated?

We saw at Lowell how impossible it was for TWO groups to be guaranteed the same building. I don't know how to being the process of THREE groups being promised the same building.

Robyn said...

@ community,

Here are the presentations and minutes. The comment I am referring to is on page 4 of the February 24, 2014 minutes.

SDAT-09 Questions/Comments:
1. School Board decision added the 150-student Pinehurst K8 to the middle school while maintaining the 1000 student capacity.
a. SPS Response: If Pinehurst K8 reduces much in program size or
grows in program size is will likely not be located in the middle
school. This program has been at this capacity for a while now and
we needed a number to use for the basis of design. Capacity of the
school as a while stays at 1000-students as there is no budget to add square footage.

If the link doesn't work, that should be easy enough to type into your browser.

Please note that the final meeting was the ONLY meeting that included a middle school principal. Cindy Watters from HIMS attended. As a well-respected Principal and someone dealing with the day-to-day issues of severe overcrowding, she should be heard. She posed numerous questions and concerns that were brushed over by SPS, Mahlum and the construction folks.

Maybe the Mahlum architects haven't gone rogue, but they aren't learning from past 'mistakes' like how problematic the horseshoe shape building is for Hamilton and how difficult it is not to have an auditorium. When Ms. Watters pointed this out, it was pretty much ignored.

I really believe it is in PH's best interest to be on top of the building design. It benefits your program if the WilPac MS is designed as basic and flexible as possible. It helps the MS AND PH if there's an auditorium since two schools are sharing a gym, music rooms, lunch room, etc. Please read this comment from the 2/24/14 minutes, as well. It was also ignored/glossed over:

SDAT-09 Questions/Comments:
1. If Stage is off the gym then there can be no PE classes during school assemblies and other performances when chairs are used (middle school principal attending design review for the first time).
a. Without seating dedicated to the stage either program in the gym or the dining/commons will be displaced.
b. Stage off the gym also displaces after-school athletic practice.
c. Who sets up tables and chairs?
d. Plan tests will be done to confirm whole-school seating for the stage.

Robyn said...


Exactly, and, don't forget that there will be additional impacts on WilPac from the Lincoln HS students that will be coming daily to use the fields.

I also think too many parents in this District sit back and think, Thank God my kid is at Whitman (insert any school name) and not going to be subjected to this cr--.

Well, they WILL be dealing with it since they will have MANY more portables placed on their school grounds if this crazily designed, inflexible building is actually built. The kids need classrooms not outdoor courtyards.

Here's what SDAT members had to say about the "E" shaped building (this was also brought up in the final meeting, the only meeting after PH added to WilPac campus, and SPS gave no updates to Mahlum on number of portables to incorporate):

Daylighting to the classrooms is not a priority of some SDAT parent members.
With this configuration, smaller scaled environmental learning areas, are the locations for portables eliminated?
a. Though not shown on the most recent site design, the site has been master-planned to accommodate the number of portables as
directed by the district. New plan testing will be provided to the

Anonymous said...

They keep calling Pinehurst's new program a k-8 but isn't it a k-12? What is happening to the Indian Heritage High a School part of the program?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac, I learned that the district letter on Boren is NOT entirely correct.

Part of Arbor Heights program will be out in one or more portables. I can't get a straight story on why given the size of the at building. But I think the district wants to hold onto the space between STEM K-5 will go STEM K-8 in the next year or so.

I understand the desire of STEM K-5 parents to want their children to continue on in a program. Welcome to the club of Seattle Schools starting programs with no continuance vision (see dual language) and no real money to fulfill the needs of the program (Cleveland STEM).

But other schools should not suffer or be neglected because of one school's program.