Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Wilson-Pacific; FACMAC Weighs In

It might have gone unnoticed by some parents but the issues with Wilson-Pacific are near dire. This matters for two reasons.  One, there is a ripple effect to nearly every single capital decision in this district.  Two, next time, it could be your community. 

- The district will have 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."  You'll note that it is fairly clear this is for information, NOT for questioning the design.

Note - the vote on the W-P design took place tonight but the meeting is after the vote.  I'm not sure there will be pitchforks and torches but frankly, it's a little ridiculous to think a PowerPoint and a smile will soothe folks.

The Board voted tonight to approve the plans for the Wilson-Pacific project, with Director Peters voting no and Director Patu abstaining. 

Despite well-reasoned arguments from many parents and community members, the Board has decided to go with staff's input.  Staff is saying, from a chart in the boundaries report from September, that there is middle school room in the northend especially once Wilson-Pacific comes online.  Yes, I know this comes as a surprise to Eckstein (where several of their portables are going away and thereby negating space there) and to Hamilton which is near bursting at the seams. 

We were told that BEX IV needed this money precisely because they needed more capacity and now they say there will be extra capacity. 

- Here's the district's new FAQ on the project which is quite fascinating for several reasons. 

 I have never, ever seen such a detailed document on a project before.

 Also, while I understand the reasoning for the "E" shape of the building, I believe it will allow for less flexibility and I think that should be a primary consideration for every building in the district. 

Pinehurst is being designed for 150 students?  What?  I thought the idea was that the program is too small and needs to grow.  That's not much room even for an alternative program.  Very disappointing because, to me, it means if Pinehurst grows, they will be moved for lack of space.

I am also confused by this Q&A:

29. Is it true that once Lincoln High School is open, the high school students will use the Wilson-Pacific fields?
A: The Seattle Parks Department has told Seattle Public Schools that there is not capacity in the current system to provide a full slate of athletic opportunities for another comprehensive high school. The District will be working with Seattle Parks on an update to the joint athletic field plan with hope of adding capacity to both SPS and Seattle Parks facilities. 

Well, then if there is "not capacity" for athletic opportunities, where will that leave Lincoln?  (What I find amusing is I'll bet the district will jump thru many, many hoops to silence the howls if there are not enough athletic opportunities at Lincoln for students to compete in.   Wouldn't it be nice if they listened to parents and community the same way on so many other issues.)

I just attended a meeting for the Roosevelt/Ravenna community last night where the slumlord buildings were discussed (and the tally against them is about $3M now but there is really no answer as to when anything will change).  I did talk to some people about the lidding of the Roosevelt reservoir and that is years off and unlikely to come before Lincoln opens.

I again say the lack of an auditorium at W-P - for two schools and in a community with no community gathering space - is folly.  This is one of the largest sites the district has and they are underbuilding it seemingly over having more light in the building.  I've read the reports - natural light is important to learning - but the district also says, over and over, they want to be part of the community.

The information they have in the FAQ about having an auditorium is just not true.  There are ways - and I showed the Board an example - of having a multi-use auditorium that would be used on a daily basis. 

It is unreasonable to say that Wilson-Pacific's community could easily use any other  somewhat nearby school's auditorium.  

The area around Wilson-Pacific - Licton Springs/Aurora - has no community center or gathering place.  If the district wanted to be part of the community, the auditorium (along with the playfields) would be the natural thing to do.

- into the fray now, comes FACMAC.  This is the district's own committee and one whose past work they have backed.  FACMAC says this in a new document to the Superintendent and Dr. Herndon entitled, " BEX IV One-Year Review and Recommendation."  What is their recommendation?

Summary: FACMAC Recommends a Mid-Course Correction in the BEX IV Levy 

This memo highlights the need to make a significant mid-course correction in BEX IV Levy projects north of the Ship Canal in response to the higher-than-expected enrollment growth and the demand for high school seats. FACMAC recommends re-purposing $130 million of the levy in the following ways: 

- Convert Hamilton to an elementary school (capacity: 1000) 
- Convert Lincoln to a middle school (capacity: 1600) 
- Build Wilson-Pacific as a state-of –the-art high school (capacity: 2500) 

These changes will more effectively utilize available land and levy dollars to produce more seats. It will further  address  the  district’s  need  for  additional  high  school  seats  north  of  the  Ship  Canal. 

The $130 Million Question: Why Make a Mid-Course Correction? 

This recommendation has far-reaching implications. A review of current enrollment data reveals that the need for HS seats is far greater than originally anticipated. Furthermore, the overall enrollment growth in the district necessitates a new view on how we utilize existing space and funds to accommodate our increasing student population. 

By reconfiguring the way in which these three sites are deployed, the district can design a more cost-effective building that yields more seats while ensuring that student populations will be accommodated appropriately while construction is underway. 

As stewards of $130 million in taxpayer dollars, SPS has the trust of the public to make data-driven decisions, to utilize public monies as cost-effectively as possible, and to anticipate the capacity needs of our growing student population. The community has entrusted the district to operate with these objectives in mind and, as such, a thoughtful mid-course correction in the levy plan would be both welcome and expected.

Gee, where have we hear this before?  Oh I know - from numerous other parents and community members who have the expertise and knowledge to know this is the best use for the W-P site AND the will give the most flexibility to the district.  

One last thing and this is the thought from the wise Kellie LaRue - what if the district is wrong?  It's not like they haven't been wrong before on capital issues like school closings/reopenings.  The district is rapidly running out of any properties to develop and many sites can take no more portables.  The projections on enrollment six years ago were wrong; what makes these current assumptions right?  The numbers are proving to be quite unsteady. 

What is their contingency plan if all does not play out as they are assuming?  Is there one?

The district can continue to dig in its heels and make one of the worst mistakes in the history of the district. 

One that likely will haunt them. 

Our district has a pattern of turning over Boards, Superintendents and senior staff AND absolutely refusing to look at institutional history and patterns.  With that pattern, it's easy to make big mistakes, blame past officials and "move on." 

The ball is in the district's court.  But they should understand that this mistake, this time, could cost them the next BTA and/or BEX. 


Anonymous said...

I don’t know what was more difficult to stomach during last night’s Board meeting…the W-P vote, or President Peaslee’s condescending and sometimes scolding remarks. At one point, she told the audience that W-P could have had an auditorium if they had gone with former Director Kay Smith-Blum’s proposed design, with the elementary and middle school sharing an auditorium. Didn’t that proposal also include shared food service, lunchroom, gym and library as well as the auditorium? Wouldn't that have been considered a K-8 campus?

She also pointed out that, in answer to previous questions posed by other directors concerning the lack of option schools in the W-P attendance area, the Pinehurst/AS-1/Indian Heritage program would serve as the option school for the W-P attendance area.

IMO, the fact that it didn’t dawn on some of the other directors that they were actually placing an option program at the W-P campus which will serve the W-P attendance area speaks volumes to how the viability of the arrangement is perceived. Will kindergarten parents actually chose to place their 5-year old in a 150 - seat alternative program which is stuffed into a comprehensive (traditional pedagogy) middle school on a campus where other elementary school-aged kids get to enjoy perks like a grade K-5 library and a real playground? For the sake of the Pinehurst/AS-1/Indian Heritage program, I hope there is enough of a niche market to keep them going, but those are pretty tough obstacles to overcome.

Also during her comments, President Peaslee suggested that if Pinehurst/AS-1/Indian Heritage needed to grow, there was room on the 3rd floor of their wing at W-P to do so. So…evidently the remainder of the building is not needed to house comprehensive middle school students, and she knows this how???

To top it off, the audience was treated to a mini-lecture from “mom” Peaslee, in which she said that we needed an attitude adjustment! Director Peaslee seemed to imply that those who spoke out against the W-P re-design were hostile towards the Pinehurst/AS-1/Indian Heritage program, like it is an "us -vs- them" type of thing. Would this include those who wrote in with genuine concerns about the viability of the Pinehurst/AS-1/Indian Heritage program, given their future housing constraints and conditions? How about those who wrote in with genuine concerns regarding the continued growth the area is experiencing, and requested that the Board take another look at the data using post-open enrollment numbers before committing to a re-design which will disrupt logical flow and utilization of the building, and which will significantly reduce the capacity of the building as a comprehensive middle school?

The immediacy of the vote (and the Superintendent's reason for pushing it through and not postponing it) was claimed to be due to deadlines for state matching funds. Does anyone know if it matters to the State if the project is ill-conceived, or are the matching funds a sure thing?

- reality check

Anonymous said...

When I got home from testifying last night, I found this article by KCTS 9 on my facebook page:

It is all about how terrible portables are for health, educational experience and so on. It is one of those "short term" solutions that tend to stick around for our kids' whole educational experience once districts start using them as the way to increase capacity instead of planning more accurately for the number of kids we need to have seats for and building real buildings.

Check the article. There is a link that will tell you that currently Seattle has 191 portables. That's about 5500 kids in portables currently in Seattle's schools. It is the equivalent 15 350 kid elementary schools.

That is basically 15 MCGilvra's

We have 15 schools full of kids being taught in portables instead of buildings. Frankly, this disturbs me.

Last night I testified at the board meeting on behalf of Seattle Council PTSA. The gist of my testimony is that the vote on Wilson Pacific NEEDED to be delayed because:

--The community that will be going to the middle school has not been involved in the process because they didn't know they were going there. Community meeting next week is AFTER the vote, and it would be prudent to wait to actually connect with that community before pressing the go button.

--FACMAC is recommending a WILD course correction because their analysis is that the plan needs to change because there are more kids than we expected. They asked for the Board to delay. They are not crazy parents that would recommend something that drastic with out SIGNIFICANT analysis and discussion and vetting.

--We still have concerns about the reasonableness of the enrollment projections. The long RANGE enrollment projections are not based on current enrollment numbers. Since the district is growing by a 1000+ kids a year for the past few years, it would be wise to update the LONG range enrollment projections the new open enrollment numbers. In simple terms, basically it is like budgeting based on your checking account balance from 2 years ago.

And still, the board voted this in.

The most concerning parts of last nights discussion were that when Director McClaren asked HOW they will manage if there are more kids than expected, the answer was basically that we will continue to overfill schools, and add portables.

Folks at Whitman and Eckstein, for example think they were "right-sizing" with the growth boundaries vote and opening of JAMS. Hmmmm.

JAMS is already at 750 next year, and the 6th grade class is huge with a small ish 8th grade class. Both Eckstein and Hamilton are 950ish.

Next year only 20 something portables are being ADDED. Only 600 kids more will be living in portables next year.

Staff basically said last night that the strategy was to stay the BEX course in spite of the reality of our crazy fast enrollment growth in certain parts of the city. We'll just add portables and continue teaching classes in hallways.

Maybe it is time to start asking the City to look at assessing Impact fees to build schools? The enrollment growth IS more than they predicted, in part because the CITY is has increased the population density in some parts of the City by 3xs what they planned to. Development brings population and population brings kids. Kids need schools.

Even if we wanted to get another BEX levy on the ballot, it can't happen for another few years. ARe there other solutions? Or are we REALLY going to settle for our kids spending their education in portables?


Anonymous said...

At the first community meeting for WP, several people vigorously campaigned for the buildings to be separate, with the field in between. The original design was for one large building with some shared common spaces between them and the fields where they are now. The original design would have allowed for a shared auditorium. The original design would have been lest costly than two separate buildings. There will also be additional costs for the drainage to avoid flooding of the fields when the creek floods up north. The field is now in the path of the flooding.

So, there is some truth to what Peaslee says. Parents, you just shot yourselves in the foot.

community member

Anonymous said...

@community member

Are you saying that a 1000-seat middle school sharing common areas (lunchroom, library, auditorium, gym, etc...) would have been a feasible solution? Did you pass this idea by any middle school and/or elementary school principals? Seems like it would have been a nightmare to schedule the sharing of single common areas between such large schools. How many lunch shifts, etc... would it take? How would library time be schedule for that many classrooms?

Saving construction costs at the expense of operational feasibility doesn't sound like a good trade off to me.

-reality check

Anonymous said...

Should have read:
...1000-seat middle school sharing common areas (lunchroom, library, auditorium, gym, etc...) with a 650-seat elementary school would have been a feasible solution?

My point being that this would be too many students to schedule K-8 - style.

- reality check

Anonymous said...

The "shared" MS and Elem original design was adamantly disapproved of by every education professional on the SDAT (design) team re: education issues.

And it would have been EVEN FEWER seats than the current crummy design - the middle school wasn't even being designed for 1000, if I remember - and even less flexibility.

So this current iteration is crappy, but the squished together one was worse.

Signed: Math counts

Anonymous said...


Is there a list of what schools are getting portables posted somewhere?


- North-end Mom

kellie said...

The meeting was very deja vu of the closures.

There is this mythology in Seattle that we need to pass this now and if we are wrong, we can re-visit it later. The irony that was missed was that this was the "later" meeting for the BEX planning. During BEX, multiple Directors as what if growth is higher than expected and the answer was we will re-visit this along the way.

But now we are here and it the meeting is we already decided this, now you simply need to confirm what was already decided because nothing has changed. Despite the fact that BEX oversight committee said this building design "really boxes you in" and every principal that came to the SDAT meetings had serious concerns about how you would run a building like this and that was before the hybrid K8-middle school concept.

Those that know me, know that I have been to more Pinehurst closure meetings than many families from Pinehurst. This issue is just as much as providing a real and comprehensive solution for the AS1/Indian Heritage community as it is about providing a comprehensive middle school experience.

This building could have been easily designed so that there could be a plan to add a wing during the next BTA but event that was not an option.

kellie said...

During the closures, community after community presented ample evidence that there was substantial growth in their neighborhoods. Seattle is growing by 8-10,000 people per year, every year. This is going to mean more students but the band played on.

Opening JAMS and pushing the John Marshall building into service for the JA K8, next year is giving everyone a ONE YEAR break but by 2016, we are going to be right back in this situation. The sixth grade classes in the north end are still extremely large
- Eckstein is over 400
- Hamilton is almost 400
- JAMS is 340, which is incredible for a first year school and likely the only reason why Eckstein and Hamilton are as low as they are.

In two years, we will need to have an interim middle school at John Marshall, simply because Hamilton and Eckstein will be blowing up again. Add to that that JAMS will be complete full and McClure will be beyond over-capacity.

The funny part is that the entire plan, hinges on Whitman being almost empty at 650 students. I am good at numbers and I have absolutely no clue how that number was calculated.

kellie said...

The schools that really need to be concerned are the ones that can be shifted during the next inevitable boundary re-draw that will need to happen in either 2016 or 2017. In other words, don't think that because you are NOT in the WP future zone that this does not apply to you.

Hamilton will not be able to handle 5 feeder schools, so that means most likely West Woodland will be shifted OUT of Hamilton, particularly as Greenlake is scheduled to be shifted in as the linked school for JSIS and McDonald.

Eckstein with a 6th grade of over 400 and 7 feeder schools is going to need be reduced in some way. The plan is that Eckstein will be shifted down to 5 feeder schools when Wilson Pacific opens. So that means the portables will be back by then or the boundaries may need to be reduced further.

McClure is interesting. QA is going to need to pay attention. It was clearly stated last night that enrollment could be shifted TOWARDS McClure if needed. However, McClure is officially full next year and we have all heard about how QA elementaries are full. At the moment QA - Advanced learning has been shifted to Hamilton but it is unlikely that will be able to continue.

The bottom line - the plan is that we can add portables, lots of portables.

Po3 said...

"The meeting was very deja vu of the closures."

My thoughts exactly when I read this post this morning. At least Peters got the vote right and the issue isn't even in her district.

Here we go...again.

WonderingWilla said...

I'm still in shock over Peaslee's comments, and even Carr's, though hers weren't as much of a character assassination.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and those from staff were pretty unbelievable, too. Like when they tried to pass off SDAT meetings as open public meetings allowing public input. Were any of those SDAT meetings advertised or even put on the District calendar? From what I've heard, the only guests were those who had been invited to attend.
- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

North end mom-

I don't have that at my finger tips but some one who sits on the FACMAC and on the APP-AC as well as 5 million other committees and is a data analysis wizard said that she put a spreadsheet together to illustrate where all of the portables are in the district. I'm hoping she will share that, and wouldn't mind sharing it more widely.

Also, there is lots of interesting and good information in the FACMAC memo that is worth a gander.

Community member--

The systemic issue at hand is that the long range (i.e. more than one year out) enrollment projections have been off for many years now. IMHO, it is not entirely SPS's fault. It is HARD to predict the future, and school districts need to attempt to be conservative with $'s so they may tend to be conservative in the projections.

And, our City is growing in leaps and bounds for a variety of reasons that weren't necessarily counted in the projections. Thousands of more housing units have gone in to some neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods have increased (just over the past few year!) their projected population densities by 3 times what they were supposed to do by 2024.

The folks in JSCEE are smart and capable people. AND forecasting ANYTHING is like driving forward while looking in the rear view mirror. What the future will bring is hard to predict, and even the City was not saying that they would bring development on line as fast as they have in the past few years. And more families are moving into multifamily housing. And, And And... There are simply more kids than expected.

My thought is that we need to stop and take a fresh look at the reality of what is happening with enrollment instead of plowing forward because that was the plan.

When you say that "parents" shot themselves in the foot, I'm not really sure who you are talking about. The parent's involved in the planning for WP were working off a certain set of assumptions: It is was meant to be an elementary school and a comprehensive middle school. They advocated for what they thought would be the best design for those specs.

BUT, the specs CHANGED with the November vote to place a K-8 option school within the middle school. There are now 3 different schools that will be living in two buildings on One site together in this new plan. With what sounds like a field that floods, and no auditorium. In total there will be more that 1600 kids on this site (plus all the portables). That, incidentally, the parents of the kids that will be going to the middle school haven't been able to weigh in on because many of them don't even realize.

And while I wasn't yet on the board of Seattle Council PTSA at the time, The VP of SCPTSA testified that the board needed to STOP and re-evaluate the whole growth boundaries and facilities plan because what they were going to vote in was going to be like the NASA's Challenger. Many scientists KNEW there was a flaw in the space shuttle before it took off, but inertia took over and the plan went on and thousands of school children watched as a school teacher and other astronauts died on TV in a grand explosion.

We know we are seeing unexpected enrollment growth. But by how many more schools do we need to plan for in the coming years?

When are they going to stop just plowing ahead and do some planning?


Anonymous said...

See this info about the NASA Challenger Shuttle Disaster:

Some thing call the "go factor" ended up killing those people in front of thousands of school children.

I vividly remember sitting in the auditorium of my middle school with the TV rolled into the front so all of us could see, and watching in disbelief and horror as it blew up in front of our eyes. The teachers quickly tried to usher us back to class, but I still feel that sickness and sadness when I think of it.

Driving forward a plan that we already know isn't going to work is a bad idea.

I just wish I knew what more I could do to get the district to stop and take a fresh look at the facilities plan in light of the growing enrollment, instead of plowing forward.

Any ideas?


Ragweed said...

The FACMAC suggestion may be well thought out from a capacity management perspective, but I cringe at the implications from an educational persepective. A 1000-seat elementary school? or a 1600 seat Middle-school? These are recipes for schools where large numbers of kids are lost and fall through the cracks, and where teachers and principals have no capacity for keeping track of all their students.

One of the reasons why there is a recommendation of 500 as the maximimum size for an elementary school is because that is about the largest number of students that a principal can track and be reasonably familiar with. Our current push to 650+ is already above that and creating schools too large to have any sense of community. And 1000+ middle schools like Ekstein already have issues with brutal social pressure and a student perception that their teachers don't care (which I am sure is not the teachers fault - its just a factor of too many students to be able to know and engage them all). 6th grade comes at a critical time developmentally that is already hard socially, and I cannot imagine what an incoming class of 500+ would do.

There is also research that indicated 6th grade is a critical point at which Native students either engage or disengage with the educational system, and I imagine that probably applies to other communities of color and immigrant communities as well.

I get that with limited space and limited funds, some compromises must be made, but the idea of creating even larger mega-schools that will become the model for future public schools in Seattle is disturbing. If we are going to try to get the district to stop being so short-sighted in their planning, we cannot take an approach that only focuses on the capacity needs - we need to focus on the actual educational experience. Are mega-schools really the best approach? Is the emphasis on electives over engagement and community really what is best for kids, or is it part of a corporate mindset (more products to choose from)? And do large schools lead to a greater emphasis on test scores as a way to measure success, because we lose sight of the students as people and only see the aggregation?



Anonymous said...

John, I think you make some great points.

And how do we actually get the district to take a fresh and realistic look at the number of kids in our neighborhoods and plan accordingly?

At this point, we are looking at all schools in the North becoming mega schools (except maybe the option schools that get to keep their enrollment numbers locked in where they want them to be, but maybe that will be forced to change too?).

Portable farms and mega schools are looking like our present and future reality unless we start talking about building and opening up even MORE new schools in the North end than BEX planned for.

Or I suppose we could start talking about busing kids again if there is space in the South (which i don't think there is much of either)


Melissa Westbrook said...

Portable villages, mega schools, let's add split shifts for schools or year-round schooling.

Too many bodies and what to do?

I'm not keen on 650 seat "mega elementary" but guess what? Banda had a 600 seat one in his last district and he thought it was fine. The norm in this country is larger than Seattle's average size. If you have the resources and the buildings are built right, it can be fine.

I will have to watch the footage of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

I think that has already been forced to change. Just a few years ago Thornton Creek was a two class per grade school, and now it's 3, going to 4. I have had kids in both the two class per grade and the 3, and it's not the same for the kids and families at all. I wouldn't choose it again having seen what it looks like as a larger 3-up school, though I would over and over when it was smaller as a 2-up. There is much less community; the teachers are much less connected, cross grade connection is much less, and the curriculum has suffered greatly for the lack of ability to collaborate fully that can only be attained in a small school. I wish we had room for small schools in north Seattle and could replicate instead of expanding- small schools offer something no big school can, though they are not for everybody.

That said, I don't think we should subject all the high school kids in Seattle to split shifts and dangerously overcrowded schools because of the difference between a thousand kid middle school and a 1600 kid one. They are both big. And big can be good. None of these options allow for the benefits of small schools I talk about above. There's just big that won't work and bigger that might.

-TC parent

Robyn said...

John AKA Ragweed,

I was hoping you'd read this thread. I want to tell you straight-up that the big beef with the WilPac project is not what Peaslee stated last night. It is NOT the inclusion of the K-8 in WilPac MS. Not for me, anyway.

My big beef is the unwillingness to revisit the project with updated numbers....revisit the project now that feeder schools were identified instead of using out-dated hypothetical figures. The numbers used for BEX IV planning and PH's placement at WilPac don't reconcile with current enrollment numbers at the WilPac feeder schools.

My concern is completely opposite of what Peaslee so rudely stated last night. My concern is Pinehurst will never step foot on the WilPac campus as it's currently designed. I am worried that the minute reality hits the fan, PH will be up for closure again and it will happen when Peaslee is off the Board.

If that happens, all your hard work is lost. And, Seattle is forever stuck with a building that was altered to include a K-8. Science labs were relocated creating difficulties moving kids around the "E" and additional entrances and admin offices were built (among other things).

I honestly think the only way to truly save PH is to insist SPS stop and look at real numbers now that boundaries are drawn.

No one wants mega-schools, but it's the only option, really. You will be in a mega-school next year at Lincoln. If you have 190 kids like the gentleman said at the Board meeting last night and Lincoln has 700, that's a MEGA-school.

One thing I was thinking about last night is to reconfigure the 1000 seat WilPac MS into the Elementary and co-house PH there. It would make more sense from an educational perspective and allow PH to survive and thrive. Then, we build a more-flexible, less-expensive 1000-1200 seat rectangle. It could solve part of the problem, not increase costs and not require too much additional design work.

United we stand, divided we fall. Don't let Peaslee's rant divide us since it's not true.

Anonymous said...

More, smaller campuses clearly is not where the district is headed. They have broadcast this for a while now. I think changing that big boat plowing forward right now is useless. As a member of the community, I don't think we have a chance of winning. Activists are stubborn, but the bureaucracy in SPS is more so. Always has been, always will be, from what I can see.

Spending more time creating flexible, long-lasting, community-building spaces seems a more winnable place to put community efforts, but given the district's pushback on the community's raised issues re: Wilson-Pacific, I have my doubts on whether any progress can be made there, either. Still, there is at least a little hope in this area, I think.

It's a solid bet that a decade from now (early in a school building's lifecycle) the WP campus will need to address different issues than it will the day it opens. Educational program delivery and standards change, cohort sizes and socio-economic makeups change,technology changes.

At WP in 10 years we could have
a different advanced learning model, evolution of Pinehurst/Indian Heritage programming and cohort, more (or fewer) general ed middle schoolers, the need for more (or less) science, arts, physical education, special education spaces (all of which have specialized design needs). Technology advances could impact the "look and feel" of every single classroom.

So why not do the "what if" design thinking now? It's pennies to do the design and table it vs. massive dollars to address the issues later, under pressure of changing enrollment needs and facility usage.

It seems a very fair question to ask the district to spend the money to pencil out NOW, even if it can't be financed for a decade or more, where an auditorium would go on the WP campus. How technology could be quickly incorporated (anyone other than wonky me a fan of interstitial spaces?) And where extra permanent and/or portable classrooms would go, if needed.


Ragweed said...

A few responses I have, from a Pinehurst/Native Heritage (Licton Springs K-8?) perspective.

The current design plans for WilPac MS has the Pinehurst K-8 program in the first wing with a separate entrance, playground space and garden area. While there are still some issues with putting Kindergarteners in a situation where they share lunch and gym rooms with a mainstream MS program, some of those issues are being addressed in the design.

Secondly, parents have been choosing Pinehurst with an ugly building, limited play structures, and a lot of 2nd-rate facilities. Parents don't chose Pinehurst because of the amenities, they come for the teachers and the community. I would love to see what could happen if we did have our own building, built to specifications that come from the core values of the program (with a big central area where the whole school could gather each day, with a warm, inviting lobby area where parents, grandparents and elders could feel welcome to come and connect with their childrens' education, etc.) But for year people have chosen our school over other schools with nicer facilities, fancier libraries, and more electives.

Finally, I really appreciate all of the comments and support for Pinehurst, and I know that many of you have been stalwart supporters of our school. I share the concerns about finding a space where we can grow and about the issues with shoe-horning us into a comprehensive middle-school building. But this discussion also feels a lot like what we have been through during the last year-and-a-half, where every idea with where we could go was met with "there is no room here". There is no room anywhere, which is the excuse that Banda, English, etc used to try to shut us down. And I can't help thinking that the outcome of all of these concerns about the MS capacity at WilPac is going to be "The space at Wilson Pacific was needed for a comprehensive middle school. With a lack of other available space for the school, and the prohibitive cost of building a new structure for one program, the Superintendent recommends closing the school and assigning the students to their neighborhood schools."


Eric B said...

We're way past looking for the best option and down to looking at the least bad option. It's an unfortunate reality that there is little or no open land in North Seattle, where much of the growth is happening. Without more land on the horizon, we have to use our existing land as efficiently as possible.

There's already 700 or so students at APP@Lincoln. I can't say whether adding another 50% to that would be OK, but it gives options. If the APP cohort stayed about the same size, this would leave plenty space for Pinehurst there, which would be a far better place than in a wing of W-P. That would save space in W-P for the middle schoolers coming down the pike.

Whitman at 650 in a couple of years is just wrong. I don't know exactly where it is, but based on the five schools feeding it, I'd guess somewhere upwards of 1000, even after W-P peels off a few hundred students.

kellie said...

I don't really know about the portables but I do know that the 20 portables is not really representative of the homeroom growth.

In the just north of the ship canal home room growth.
* 4 (?) portables from Eckstein to Nathan Hale.
* JAMS with 750 students so that building is about as full as the K8 that just left.
* John Marshall opening with approximately 30 rooms.

It really is the opening of John Marshall that means that we have ONLY 20 portables this year. Plus the opening of Fairmont Park in West Seattle would also mean fewer total portables.

Anonymous said...


I share your concerns, and it peeves me to no end that the Board essentially set Pinehurst/AS-1 up for 3-4 more years of angst and uncertainty.

SPS is legally-obligated to find seats for every middle school student. If AS-1 gets squeezed out, then it won't be due to any uproar that is occurring now, it will be due to (another) middle school capacity crisis.

SPS has two properties that would work well, size-wise for AS-1/Indian Heritage, Cedar Park and Decatur. I truly wish they had reserved either of those sites for the AS-1/Indian Heritage program, because I think it would be much easier to grow the program if not squeezed into a comprehensive middle school building.

- North-end Mom

kellie said...

@ John,

As someone who has been to many AS1 closure meetings over the last decade, I applaud the programs survival.

My issue is pretty simple. The *original* WP plan (before the BEX plan was shifted to add JAMS) was to have a 1250 seat middle school. That was reduced to 1000, when it was clear that 1250 seats were not enough.

The plan that triggered Pinehurst's dislocation was that WP at 1250 was not enough so JA K8 needed to move so that JAMS could be a comprehensive middle school. To pay for this, WP was scaled down to 1,000 but I remember the instructions being to keep the cores spaces large so that if a wing needed to be added, a wing could be added during the next BTA.

IMHO, what should have happened was that the "extra wing" should have been put back in the budget when Pinehurst was moved to WP.

At a bare minimum, it would be cheap and easy to simply plan WP so that a wing could be added in the event that the community is right and growth is larger than expected. BTA is coming up soon and that wing could easily be included in the BTA budget. The issue is that by not building WP so that one more middle school wing could be added, we have this issue.

Once again, we have the illusion of empty space. The same illusion that triggered the closures, is the same illusion that creates the confidence in the board that Wilson Pacific and Whitman as going to have lots of extra space and therefore we don't need to budget for that wing, because we don't need it.

If for no other reason, the budget should have that wing because then Pinehurst would have its own wing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is no room for Pinehurst to grow in any real way at W-P. So I am puzzled what is to happen if it does.

ben said...

Just from a process point of view, asking for a fairly radical realignment of the building budget at the last moment was not very likely to succeed.

1. It invalidates the time and money already spent on planning for the BEX projects and randomizes the staff further and they barely perform well when trying to manage one thing consistently for more than a few months. Further some pieces like converting Hamilton involve re-renovating a building that just has been worked on.

2. This didn't really vet in the larger community that would be affected. What typically happens once this occurs is we start to hear both pro and con positions and what at first seemed sensible becomes much more nuanced. For example see the above discussion on mega schools.

3. As far as I can tell there was not much outreach to the board let alone the staff prior to the meeting. Theoretically you'd want to lobby and build up support prior to walking in and testifying and know that near a majority of members already agreed. When a motion fails 6 to 1 that means either you didn't really do so, the boards viewpoint were misjudged or you are engaging in a quixotic attempt more for publicity purposes.

4. Ultimately while I found this proposal interesting I thought it had large budgetary implications. I'm fairly skeptical of the cursory math in the FACMAC memo in the absence of some real cost analysis and would not be shocked to see things actually costing more.

Also as a side note the district should just dissolve the FACMAC or reconstitute it with new members and a reasonable role in the planning process. As it stands right now, it has no authority, its output is consistently ignored and it suffers from being politicized. What does the district want to accomplish by having it? It isn't a great bridge to the various school communities, it doesn't generate consensuses that stick, and it doesn't have the resources to come up with real alternative plans. It doesn't even seem to be a partner with the staff that has any influence.

Charlie Mas said...

Bad management and bad governance lead to bad decisions.

Question: "What if you're wrong and many more students show up?"

Answer: "If that happens then we will reconsider and adjust at that time."

That time is now. The many more students have already appeared. It is time to reconsider and adjust.

Charlie Mas said...

There are lots of elementary schools with 1,000 students. Lots of them all around the country. There are lots of middle schools with 1,600 students, and many, many high schools with 2,500 students.

I don't know exactly how big my elementary or middle schools were - but I know that my high school had about 2,800 students and that my graduating class included 748 of them.

Yet I had meaningful relationships with my teachers and just about all of the names and faces in the yearbook - at least those in my class - were at least familiar to me.

If Seattle is going to have little schools, then there have to be a lot of them. If there are going to be a lot of them, then the District is going to need lots of properties. The District doesn't have any more property and no way to acquire suitable properties. So little schools are off the menu.

Sorry, but it just can't be done.

Hey, maybe if the District still owned University Heights, Allen, and Queen Anne High School and still had use of Webster. Maybe. Maybe if the District could put a school at Oak Tree. But all of those maybes wouldn't fill a bucket.

So let's reconcile ourselves to this reality: lots of small schools are not on the menu. The only solution is bigger buildings. The recommendation from FACMAC makes a lot of sense to me.

Here's something great about a high school with 2,500 students: we had amazing electives. There were enough students to support classes in Ceramics, Shakespeare, film making, and lots of advanced classes. Students didn't get lost because there were enough people there for everyone to find their tribe.

robyn said...


I hope you didn't take that from anything I wrote. It's so hard to decipher tone from these posts.

I put a suggested long-term "solution" in my comments. It didn't in any way way suggest support for your program followed by "there's no room for you, though". My suggestion keeps you in the middle school! Please read my idea. I think it provides long-term stability to your program and accomplishes a few of the things you mentioned as ideal for PH.

Anonymous said...


I think the biggest message delivered by FACMAC was to ask SPS to pause, take a breather and reconsider some of the assumptions made in BEX planning.

I really like the idea of W-P being a high school campus. High schools most definitely should have field access.

I don't quite understand how Hamilton can function as a 1000-seat elementary school if it currently can barely handle that many kids in a middle school configuration. I thought elementary schools were less space-efficient than middle schools, but perhaps there are some spaces that could be repurposed to increase enrollment?

- North-end Mom

robyn said...

This is what I suggested for PH. It keeps you at WilPac. It gives you room to grow. You could have some of the things you mention as ideal for your school under this scenario. And, best of all, it could still happen this late in the game!
One thing I was thinking about last night is to reconfigure the 1000 seat WilPac MS into the Elementary and co-house PH there. It would make more sense from an educational perspective and allow PH to survive and thrive. Then, we build a more-flexible, less-expensive 1000-1200 seat rectangle for the middle school. It could solve part of the problem, not increase costs and not require too much additional design work.

Meg said...

I think the board and district administration are faced with a rather unattractive choice.

option 1. change BEX plans to try and create more capacity. This will flush a couple million in planning. It's likely to be frustrating, embarrassing and tiring.

option 2. stay the course. If the district is in every way correct, this may turn out okay.

Do I expect the district to have perfect projections? I do not. No matter how intelligently made, projections are likely to be off by a bit.

The problem is that the district rarely looks at what might happen if they're off (see: closures). It's pretty basic planning: what happens if we over-estimate? What happens if we underestimate? Their planning proceeds without allowance for margin of error or course correction.

If, in 3 years, it turns out less kids are enrolled than SPS thought, it won't be a big deal. Growth has been such that the projects underway will absorb current capacity needs.

But if MORE kids show up than they've estimated? It's a problem. A big problem. And the largest single project/property in this BEX is Wilson-Pacific. There may be fine things about the design, but it is NOT being built for maximum capacity flexibility (to allow for either building additions and/or portables). Wilson Pacific is a large property centrally located for the north end. If it's built for flexibility, it could help soften many of the capacity issues in the north end.If the district botches Wilson Pacific and refuses to build it to allow for capacity flexibility, it allows us to put a price tag on underestimating enrollment: $110+M.

SPS can use the BEX levy to increase capacity flexibility w/ Wilson Pacific, or they can spend that money to codify the problems they have.

Insisting on staying the course - despite information that should get them to reconsider - is likely to codify the problems in a very costly way.

But that's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please dismiss FACMAC and not because of the community volunteers, but because of JSCEE. This should have happened last year. No guidance from administration, committee members who should have rotated out but have not, no new members, no outputs to community, no apparent impact on staff or board thinking. Typical SPS dysfunction. The most knowledgeable on the committee will do just fine advocating without being attached to a pointless committee.


ben said...

@Melissa, Pinehurst never has to grow since its an option school its max enrollment could be controlled to remain exactly the same as it is now. The question really is what if the Middle School has to grow and separately what is the ideal size for Pinehurst and would it fit at that level?

@Charlie - There's a fair amount of space between acknowledging we have a capacity problem and saying the only solution is to build mega schools. The path of least resistance is actually to more efficiently use the current real estate i.e. double shift high school and/or run school all year long. I'm not a fan of that solution either but we're not going to inevitably end up with some of these ideas without spending alot of money and laying alot of ground work.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please clarify how double shifts work? It doesn't seem to me that there's enough time in the day to make it feasible. Anywhere I've seen it done, it was a temporary measure, and resulted in kids spending fewer hours in school. Or are we talking about one shift of kids going from something like 6am -12:30pm, and another group from 1pm -7:30pm? Or maybe the early group meets even earlier, and the later even later, so that they can have joint extra-curricular activities mid-day, for the subset who participate in those?

I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around that option, and would appreciate hearing some specifics on how split shifts have been successful elsewhere. Thanks!


Melissa Westbrook said...

"..randomizes the staff further .."

What does this mean?

" are engaging in a quixotic attempt more for publicity purposes. "

C'mon. What "publicity" is anyone seeking? It's more desperation at watching something go very wrong.

"This will flush a couple million in planning. It's likely to be frustrating, embarrassing and tiring."

It would not be the first time capital dollars got flushed so I have no problem with this. In fact, I'll go on record right now saying that I'll bet the fix-up money for Cedar Park will end up in the trash (meaning, they will tear down the building after the improvements).

"Pinehurst never has to grow since its an option school its max enrollment could be controlled to remain exactly the same as it is now."

I would agree that option schools don't have to "grow" but they should not be as tiny as Pinehurst. I can see a tiny special needs school. I was always under the impression Pinehurst wanted to grow.

HIMS, that's what I did one semester in junior high (ironically while they were building a new one) - I went to school from about 1 pm -6:30 pm (I was glad not to have the early shift). I don't recall what they did with activities.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your comments about the process, and I have a sense that you already know how hard it is to steer a steamliner with a bicycle wheel.

While it is true that FACMAC's specific recommendations to change course radically were too late to stop the vote (and I think they knew it, and BTW I'm not on FACMAC or really even know what goes on in their meetings because they don't publish minutes)...

The MAIN reason to testify was to again, PUBLICLY make the request to stop and pause and revisit the projections and do some facilities planning. It has been my constant refrain since last October.

SCPTSA and many others asked ADAMANTLY that the board NOT vote in the long range boundaries last fall, and instead only focus on the immediate needs AND re-visit the enrollment projections and true capacity needs.

BOD still voted in the growth boundaries plan, in spite of the many warnings and requests and begging. We've since been repeatedly asking for the enrollment projections to be updated using current information. FACMAC also had asked for this last fall.

Tracy FINALLY told me last night that she is in the process of finishing up that work and they will be out soon.

That's progress. I can't wait to see it.

But still, staff don't see that updating the facilities plan is a priority, because they are just trying to manage what is directly in front of them.

But I'll keep asking, because from a process stand point, an updated comprehensive facilities plan is what needs to be worked on in order to make better long range decisions that don't need to be reversed within a year or so.


Ragweed said...

@ Robyn

My second post was started right after my first - before I read yours, so I was not responding to your comment or any comments after my mega-schools bit. Takes time to write something, especially if you are multi-tasking:)


Meg said...

I did advocate for flushing a couple million in planning rather than forging ahead and wasting over $100M.

I listed the short-term drawbacks of that choice because they appear to be major factors in leadership deciding to stay with a bad plan.

TechyMom said...

I think we need to start looking at more creative solutions. Year round school, 9 weeks on 3 weeks off and staggered is one. The neighborhood elementary where I grew up did this, and it worked fine.

Middle and high schools could also offer summer classes for credit. UW does a great compressed schedule, which would be a good model to emulate.

Another is expanded schedules. I don't like shifts, but having more periods and kids take classes where they can fit them. Sometimes that means early or late schedules, or big gaps during the day. My high school did this, and it also worked fine.

Expanded schedules also allow acceleration and credit retrieval. I had a friend in High School who took extra classes and summer school and graduated in 3 years.

Another is to get kids through the system faster, including things like grade skipping, high school credit for accelerated middle school work, middle school kids taking classes at the high school, early graduation, running start, and encouraging single-subject homeschooling.

If we did some or all of these things, we would suddenly have a lot more wiggle room.

Eric B said...

@Ben, We have a fixed number of sites and an increasing number of students. The only way to make that work is with more students per site. That means "mega schools" unless we do even less palatable things like shifts or year-round school. I put that in quotes because the sizes discussed are well within the norm nationally.

Converting Hamilton requires virtually no change, except possibly replacing some toilets, tables, and chairs with smaller models. That's sofa change. As for pissing away money already spent on the projects to date? I'd rather throw away a poor set of plans than build a poor building.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So SCPTA and FACMAC have said, over and over, to please just take care of immediate needs and then work on a long-term plan w/o that immediate pressure.

Remember this, parents, because this is how seriously the district takes you.

I have to wonder why parents don't use their power.

Techy Mom, all doable things but I do not see this district getting it right.

Robyn said...

Apologies if I've already posted this. Here are current enrollment numbers for just the feeder schools that will make up WilPac and Whitman 6th, 7th and 8th grades in 9/2017. Don't forget, APP and PH are supposed to be at WilPac and that total was UNDER 800 kids. And, don't forget that Whitman "will have 400 open seats".

2nd 65
3rd 63
4th 78

2nd 61
3rd 43
4th 70

Olympic View
2nd 77
3rd 74
4th 74

2nd 35
3rd 48
4th 38

Broadview Thompson**
2nd 25.6
3rd 36
4th 23.6
Total AA kids at WilPac Day 1 811.2

North Beach

Loyal Heights



Total AA kids at Whitman 9/2017 929

robyn said...

I'm so sorry! I don't know why Whitman didn't post right.

Whitman MS Feeder Schools

Actual Enrollment 2013-2014

North Beach
2nd 44
3rd 46
4th 41

Loyal Heights
2nd 81
3rd 68
4th 72

2nd 88
3rd 69
4th 70

2nd 58
3rd 28
4th 30

2nd 73
3rd 81
4th 80
Total AA kids at Whitman 9/2017 929

Anonymous said...


To clarify the numbers you've posted:

881 for WilPac
929 for Whitman

and these are Just the Attendance area elementary, right? What about APP? The plan is that all or half of APP (depending on how full HIMS is) would be going to WilPac

If WilPac is only 850 seats, for the middle school portion, then it is already over enrolled, even without APP. APP for 2014 for the same grades =

2nd grade: 143
3rd grade: 142
4th grade: 170

Total APP in 2017 (excluding and growth or loss) = 445

If there is space at HIMS (which I don't currently know there will be) then even 1/2 of those kids =222

So, this simple roll up of existing kids in the existing feeder schools puts WilPac middle school over enrolled by 251 kids. If it is all of those kids, it is over enrolled by 473.

Incidentally, Whitman with all of its portables has already been up to 1200, so there are theoretically 271 seats at Whitman that could be used in 2017.

That leaves us with either no shortage (because 1/2 of APP got to stay at HIMS) or a shortage of 202 seats.

Maybe what they are thinking is that those 202 kids can go to JAMS? And/or that WilPac will open with portables for both elementary and middle?

Given these numbers, I can see how they think it might work, but that it completely relies on using everything existing (all PCP spaces etc) and adding more portables on all of the middle school sites as soon as the building opens, as well as re-drawing boundaries and possibly the APP pathway.

thanks for digging up and posting those numbers!


Anonymous said...

SPS hasn't thought about it ,because with the boundary redraw they had only 650 going to Whitman in a couple of years.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

sorry, just realized I posted open enrollment 2014 APP numbers and you were using 2013 data.

It is a close enough proxy for now...

Wondering said...

Eric or Meg,

What would it take to get more students into Whitman? The school will have plenty of capacity. Less students equals less funding, which is never good.

Eric B said...

@Wondering, The 650 students number for Whitman has to be a mistake. I don't know where or how, but it can't be right. Robyn estimated 929 students based on current enrollment at the 5 elementaries that will feed Whitman. My (much rougher) back of the envelope numbers were around 1000, but it doesn't really matter. Our problem will be how to fit in all of the students, not how to deal with budget shortfalls from lower student populations.

Robyn said...

Eric B, Eden, etc., I think SPS might have removed APP kids from the projections, but didn't add them back. I don't know if that is possible or true, but the numbers get a lot closer if you stick APP in to their projections. I looked up 2013-2014 NW APP and it's 393 kids. Gets us almost to where the numbers should be.

I emailed SPS asking if this could happen. I'll update if I hear back.

A parent, the numbers I posted above are the schools in the new Whitman boundary. SPS projection of 650 is wildly off.

Anonymous said...

This is both helpful but crazy. Why are parents doing the enrollment estimates? I know the long history of demographic projection fails, but why after the past decade does it seem nothing has changed?

North of 85th

Anonymous said...

For the person way upthread (John?) about no one wanting 1000 person elem. school (yes, it's the norm in many, many places - Fairfax County and all of Northern Virginia jumps to mind. In others two schools sharing a large building is also a norm):

An elem. at Hamilton would be full immediately.

700 plus in APP 1 - 5.
180 in AS#1 ... and since AS #1 is an option, guess what ... people with one kid in APP could choose AS #1 to keep both kids in the same building - and... the kids in the JSIS/McDonald area who can't get into the language immersion and who don't feel like going to Greenlake (or Greenlake gets too crowded) will also choose AS#1. AS #1 will grow very quickly.

If you don't want AS #1 to grow - and I think the community SHOULD want it to grow, b/c if you get to 250 or 300 maybe JSCEE will stop trying to shut it down, but in a district with this type of capacity crisis it's hard to see a 150 kid school being allowed to stay 150... but if you don't want to get bigger, there are two likely routes:

1) you can agitate to keep your spot in a comprehensive middle school (I predict 850 middle schoolers will make many K parents think more than twice - and that getting co-located w/the big middle school is actually a death-knell to enrollment even if the school actually ends up there, not booted again by capacity crisis)


2) you can agitate for exclusive use of a small facility that the district can't really make much bigger - The best example I can think of is the Nordic Heritage building in Ballard - the district owns the building, but the city owns the park next to it and part of the parking lot, and it's historic, so there isn't space to expand. It will need to be opened as a school serving someone, b/c there's no space anywhere else, but it just can't get big. So it's a spot for a small boutique school.

I think the building in Ballard (Nordic Heritage - can't remember the school name) is a better landing place from a stability view point than Decatur at Thornton Creek, b/c in the end the district is going to need the space Decatur is sitting on and it's not historic, thus not protected ... thus subject to being taken down and enlarged/portabled/whatever.

Elem. schools in the North? "If you build it, they will come."

They aren't making more land, and no one is lining up to gift SPS with 15 acres in the north of the city, so they must maximize the only big piece of land left - WP.

People, it could get so bad up north that SPS evicts Oak Tree and puts kids in portables on the parking lot. At least there would be a big theater. Could use the grocery as a gym. QDoba as Office/Admin. That's the only other big piece of land up north owned by SPS. Want 40 portables there?


Then let's get a big big big building at Wilson Pacific.

Signed: Math counts

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here;s the thing; the figures in the boundaries document reflect space in the north end for middle schools. It just doesn't pencil out and parents who have done the hard work know this.

Why the district - and the Board - are passing these low numbers off as correct is a mystery.

Ballardite said...


Banda told a group that it is highly likely that, in a few years, the Ballard HS boundary is likely to be moved to 70th. Do you know anything about this?

TechyMom said...

Is it possible that SPS is counting on losing some students to charter schools?

Anonymous said...

During the 2007 closure/split fiasco, I remember learning something I could hardly believe, and I am wondering if it has changed. Are APP students counted as going to an APP school, or are they still counted as being a part of the neighborhood school that they don't attend?

I hope the district has corrected their former practice, but it would be messing up the Wilson Pacific planning numbers if they haven't.


Anonymous said...

Oak tree
Seattle center
Convention center

Eric B said...

@Ballardite, When Lincoln comes on line (and maybe before), the HS boundaries will be redrawn. Exactly how they get redrawn is up in the air, and I don't think that anyone (including Banda) has any idea of what that looks like. Once leadership/enrollment decides whether Lincoln or Ballard serves Queen Anne and Magnolia, the lines will be fairly easy to draw.

If Ballard keeps QA/M, then its north boundary probably does come down to 70th or so. If Lincoln gets that area, Ballard probably moves a little into North Beach. But we won't know which it is until QA/M is decided.

Eric B said...

PS The Nordic Heritage Museum building is the Webster building. It has a wonderful carved wood relief around the stage in its cafetorium. As noted, no playground since that was sold to the city years ago for use as a park. NHM will be moving out of Webster in a few years into a new building. Even if they aren't ready to move out, my understanding is that the lease is a 6-month notice on cancellation like the NW Center lease. It will take renovation to bring it back as a school, though.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Techy Mom, the only real students on the horizon that SPS could lose to charters are from First Place (the charter that will serve high-risk students) but it's quite small and possibly some south-end students who might choose to go to the schools that get opened in South King County.

That solves nothing for them in the north end.

Ballardite said...


Do we have a timeline regarding Lincoln HS?

Thank you! Huf dah!

Eric B said...

@Ballardite, I think Lincoln opens in 2019-20. It's possible (but unlikely) that it could open in John Marshall a year or two ahead of that timeframe. I can't remember what's on tap for Marshall then.

WonderingWilla said...

@Ballardite, when did Banda say that about the HS boundaries going down to 70th? We're in the boundary for BHS right now, but I've always felt my 1st grader is Ingraham-bound

Anonymous said...

Loyal Heights and Bagley are suppose to go into John Marshall during their renovations.

A parent

kellie said...

The real issue with the projections is that the methodology relies on a five year average. Now that we are 5 years into the NSAP, the 5 year average will be much more accurate and I suspect that once there are updated projections, we will begin to see a better picture.

However, during the transition, the 5 year average was simply not accurate because the dynamics of the choice system and the geographic system were dramatically different in certain parts of the city.

So there is no assumption that students will be lost to charter schools. However, for north end middle school, there used to be a lot of students who went to Shoreline because under the choice plan, they were not assigned to a nearby school. If you did not do you paperwork during open enrollment, you were assigned to Aki and put on a wait list. That dynamic is still being factored into the "five-year-average" so even though the current 6th grade enrollment is nearly identical to the 5th grade enrollment, there is still a drop in the projections for 6th grade enrollment.

The entire notion that Whitman will have 650 students is just NOT credible when there are five feeder schools. Moreover, there is just no way that Hamilton can continue with 5 feeder schools, so one of those schools is going to need to be shifted out.

kellie said...

High School is a much bigger issue than when is Lincoln coming on line.

The official projections (which are have on the low side) say that we will be out of high school space with Lincoln on line and full and Rainier Beach completely full.

Roosevelt will be at or close to 1800 students next year. It was just rebuilt and designed for 1600. They are adding portables at Nathan Hale for next year and that is going to help a bit.

A small point that I find interesting is that the WSS for high school was set up so that 1500 was the top tier. It wasn't designed to go to 1700 and 1800 because there was never a plan to have high schools of that size but here we are and that is soon going to be the new-normal.

Ragweed said...

Kellie - your 1000 Wilson Pacific MS + ~250 PK/NH wing would be an ideal scenario.

We definitely would want Pinehurst Native Heritage to grow to the 250-300 range, but probably no more than that. One of the problems we have faced in the past is demands from the district that we grow into a 400+ school. There wasn't enough demand for a program as alternative as ours, particularly after we lost all-city transportation (we had a lot of folks from West Seattle, once). Plus there are certain things that don't scale - some of our success with kids who have not done well in mainstream schools is because it is a small community. It is ironic that after years of being told we need to grow, now we are being told that we may be capped.

Nordic Heritage might have been a good place for Pinehurst, but the Native Community has a big claim on the Wilson Pacific Site. We are committed to the partnership and to one unified school that combines our communities, so we are committed to that claim.

Finally, there has been a strong request, since before the BEX proposal, to rename the building at Wilson Pacific after the late Robert Eaglestaff, former Principal of Indian Heritage. This was promised by John Stanford at Robert Eaglestaff's funeral, but like so many promises made to the Native community, never fulfilled. There is a competing claim by another family, but with two buildings to name that should not be a problem. Please support the Native community call for the Wilson Pacific MS building to be named after Robert Eaglestaff.


Anonymous said...

I'm just going to agree with Charlie that "mega" schools are not the end of the world. I don't know the exact size of my schools, but each grade had around 5 classes (K-5). The upside was that, for example, each middle school had its own sets of honors and gifted classes. Each high school had a pretty good complement of extra-curriculars, sports, AP classes, etc, and like Charlie said, it was easy to find your tribe. You didn't have to go to one school in the district if you wanted a good music program. The district was pretty uniform, so if you moved within the district and had to change schools, you still had the same benefits and mostly the same curriculum. My high school had a gym, cafetorium AND separate auditorium (that the community frequently rented for dance recitals and the like).

I really like the idea of smaller, neighborhood schools for my child (who isn't even in K yet). But I would choose a mega school in a heartbeat over overcrowded schools or a campground with portables.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I also once lived in an over-crowded district that tried multi-track year-round schooling for a year (meaning, one class goes on vacation, another class moves into that classroom and occupies it and then goes on vacation when class A comes back). It was terrible, and such a headache, particularly for working parents. I'm pretty sure that's why they gave up so quickly. Just Melissa's (I think it was?) mention of year-round schools made my toes curl.


Anonymous said...

@ John: I applaud both the advocacy to name a building after Robert Eaglestaff and to keep his memory alive *within* those walls. Any child in any of the programs slated for residency on the WP campus would be enriched by learning about his life and his values.

Combined with additional learning around Billy Frank Jr., who passed away this week, all WP students would have wonderful grounding not only in recognition of NW Native Americans, but also a knowledge basis for our NW values of activism and environmentalism, and a foundation for understanding some of the big picture political issues (human rights, land use, social service priorities, education) that they will grapple with as they become adults.

Thank you for your thoughtful contributions to this blog's conversations.


PS: Your previous trial balloon of "Licton Springs K8" was also a great idea for naming the rebirth of the 2 programs. It paints a picture of the values of Pinehurst and the Indian Heritage program - and visibly affirms that they have a right to exist, specifically, at the WP campus.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I definitely would support the renaming of either building (but preferably the one housing the Indian Heritage program) after Mr. Eaglestaff. It is fitting.

Anonymous said...

Question: we keep talking about Pinehurst/Indian Heritage as a K-8 program. Has the high school portion of the program, that was the Indian Heritage High School before the merger, been eliminated? If not, then I think we should be planning for the educational needs of WP being a K-12 campus, not just a K-8 one. Perhaps some former Summit families could chime in about what those needs are.

Love the idea of naming the program/building/both after Robert Eaglestaff.


Anonymous said...

Portables at Nathan Hale? Where are they putting those? How much of the space around Nathan Hale is Nathan Hales and how much is the community center/parks? How many portables? Is there a plan somewhere? Are there projected numbers for how many more kids will be at Hale next year?


Anonymous said...

Is Daybreak Star a fit for AS1/Native Heritage school? It's a wonderful space for the Native American community, runs a headstart (I think) and last I read is DESPERATELY in need of money to stay open - being a long-term co-tenant there would be a win all round, wouldn't it?

It would be sad to me to see a lot of money and energy spent on creating a new program from the ground up at WP MS (b/c there isn't really a Native Heritage program in place right now, as I understand it), which also negatively impacts capacity and site flexibility, when a long-time successful heritage program that is nationally known for its great history languishes and fades in need of the exact type of partnership that AS1 and SPS Native Heritage could infuse.

Has anyone at AS 1 looked into Daybreak Star? With a push, I would hope SPS could enter into an agreement with them and hopefully the city if necessary - it would help save Daybreak too.

They're a really vital community resource, but they lost most of their federal funds in the sequester, I think.

I'd rather see SPS enter into an agreement to pay them rent, save Daybreak, provide an existing heritage program and mentors for the community, and also provide more seats at WP without creating a hodge-podge of a small K8 in a large MS ... I don't see a downside...

Signed: Daybreak Fan

Ragweed said...

I think Daybreak Star is too small to house the Pinehurst Native Partnership. They have a wonderful, large, public space, but I don't think they have enough classroom space for a school - a few head-start classes yes, but not a full K-8. Also, the emergency for DBS was resolved, at least for now, by a $150K grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe. But the original plan for DBS, back in the 70s, was for a full K-Higher Ed educational center to be built on the site, so who knows.

As for the Indian Heritage High-school - it was bled to death by neglect until it was only a handful of students in a blended Indian-Heritage Middle-college. Last spring they closed the program and moved the remaining students to the Northgate Mall Middle-college site. The ideal scenario would be a full K-12 school near Licton Springs, but that may be a long way off. There have been some efforts to re-start an Indian Heritage HS program within one of the existing High-schools - but at this point they have met with resistance.


Ragweed said...

Clarification on Wilson Pacific naming:

The Native Community has long been calling for the Wilson Pacific Building to be renamed after Robert Eaglestaff. Building names are board-voted and usually last for the life of the building. That should be an enduring legacy for the man who had such a positive impact on Seattles urban Native youth. It is also a tribute to contemporary Native culture - all other buildings in SPS are named after Native people who mostly lived more than a century ago (fighting against the "vanishing people" stereotype has been a big issue, so a contemporary figure is important).

The Pinehurt/Native Partnership will have a separate name from the building. Since the school and its location are potentially in flux, it would not represent an enduring legacy for Robert Eaglestaff. The final decision on the Pinehurst name is in the hands of Superintendent Banda and has not been announced. Licton Springs K-8 is high on the list of possibilities, however.

Anonymous said...

I think we're a little off track now. Back to thread - what can parents do to stop this current plan? If if it's already voted on, is it too late? What is the point of the community engagement?

Anonymous said...


"what can parents do? "

SHOW UP!!! May 13th 6:30pm
at WilPac. If there are 100 of us, and it's clear that we know Whitman is NOT going down to 650 kids any time soon, AND, we know that APP@Lincoln will fill the elementary with portables, AND we know that our secondary comprehensive school is going to be overenrolled with portables from day one -- we need to tell them.

Remember, when this district was closing schools, and parents TOLD them not to, 2 north elementary schools were saved from the closure (North Beach and Sacajawea) because PARENTS SHOWED UP!

So, what can parents do? A lot, but, only if we show up.

Our middle school has to be built smart: generic and flexible, so that over the next 75 years, it can serve our community. It is our money, it is our kids, we should tell them because even if they might not listen, that doesn't excuse us from telling them!

Tell them your perspective. But, know that it is our kids who will face a high school crisis, (year round or school in shifts), because they aren't listening.

Show Up

Anonymous said...

I'm sure most people who read this blog are aware, but just in case...

JAMS is expecting 340 6th graders next year. If enrollment stays constant, then JAMS will be over-enrolled by year three (2016-17).

If Wilson-Pacific is built such that it can't handle the next wave of middle school enrollment (i.e. once JAMS is full), then JAMS, Eckstein and Whitman will be taking on more portables.

I understand the reasons why there is a desire to place AS-1/Indian Heritage at Wilson-Pacific, but the capacity of the middle school (1000, with hopefully space to add portables if necessary) should not be compromised.

I like Kellie's idea of building out Wilson-Pacific as it was planned in the early stages of BEX planning, with a core to handle 1250 students, and with an additional wing to add capacity for AS-1/Indian Heritage.

This makes the most sense to me.

- North-end Mom

Lynn said...

The current building name is Woodrow Wilson School. A replacement building retains the original name unless the official name change process is followed.

Anyone can request a name change - here's the procedure if anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

Keep Woodrow Wilson; read his new biography, and see why students should be proud to belong to a building named after a nobel peace prize winning leader. Wilson's passion for peace, his vision for establishing a "league of nations" to support international peace, and above all, his absolute value of democracy and the protection and fostering of democratic values still resonates today.

-props to Wilson

Melissa Westbrook said...

What can you do?

Tell your legislator that you are concerned about taxpayer dollars not being spent in the most useful and flexible ways for public education buildings.

Ditto the City Council and Mayor.

If the CC and the Mayor got a flood of mail, it might make them take notice and ask questions. The more questions, the more concern.

The state gives some funding for capital projects for school districts. If legislators have concerned over how those dollars are spent, they might let the Board know that.

Joe Wolf said...

For HP, regarding portables at Nathan Hale:

We are placing a double portable at Hale (one of the two being re-used from Eckstein) this summer. We've identified a location for a potential second double ... and that's about it w/o seriously re-opening the departure crafted for the BEX III project.

I hsve a list of this summer's portable placements: Where, how many and why (GenEd growth or SpEd support) and will try to post it today in Open Thread.

Tingyu Wang on my staff has a database for all current portables: Location, etc. If would just ask that we not get dozens+ requests for this information. If one person can ask for the info. and distribute it to interested parties I'd be very appreciative. You can make the request to me at

robyn said...

I have turned into such a cynic just after being an "activist" for a month or two. The WilPac project is going to end badly and there won't be anyone to hold accountable.

Even if we send massive e-mails to the CC and Mayor, SPS will brainwash them with the same BS in the FAQs that are on the SPS website. They'll be told the same fluff we will hear tonight at the WilPac meeting. I feel like they should start singing some Bob Marley. "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is going to be alright."

The Directors wholeheartedly believe staff's numbers to be correct (save Sue Peters). I don't think staff has bad intentions, but when we have a $112 million opportunity to build on a blank slate while faced with a crazy capacity crisis, numerous approaches to calculating enrollment projections should be used.

We should be looking at worst-case scenarios or "stress-testing" results when building new. Instead, we are just relying on best case scenarios.

I wouldn't argue using the "old approach" to project enrollment at existing facilities since there's not to much that can be done differently. However, we should slice and dice data in numerous ways when we have the opportunity to build new.

Some of the assumptions used are flawed and the Board should have a detailed understanding of why so many of us think so. I understand it is a hard thankless job, but, in my opinion, spending $112 million of taxpayer money should have their undivided attention and they should abstain if they don't understand some aspects of the calculations.

robyn said...

@Ragweed, I'm absolutely on board with naming the new WilPac building after Robert Eaglestaff. I think it would lead to incredible learning opportunities for students in the building.

I just hope SPS gets WilPac right and the 'Licton Springs K8' actually ends-up at the WilPac site. Your community deserves it. I think staying under SPS's radar and being grateful for having a home might backfire.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One thing to ALWAYS remember - if you are unhappy now, you can always remember and vote the opposite way. And make sure the Board member you vote against knows it.