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.
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
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
- Convert Hamilton to an elementary school
- Convert Lincoln to a middle school (capacity: 1600)
- Build Wilson-Pacific as a state-of –the-art high school (capacity:
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
The $130 Million Question: Why Make a Mid-Course Correction?
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.
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.