Sunday, June 14, 2015

Take the Seattle 2035 Draft EIS Survey

They are taking input until Thursday, June 18th (why not Friday?).  Here's the one question on Seattle Schools - see anything missing?   Here's the survey.

4. As Seattle grows the City could encourage Seattle Public Schools to increase school capacity in growing neighborhoods. How high a priority should each of the following actions be?  (Rank from "very low priority" to "very high priority."
  • Build new schools
  • reopen old schools
  • provide for temporary school facilities (e.g. portable classrooms)
  • better planning, coordination, and use of existing facilities
Not a lot of understanding or nuance in those choices.  And, while I do not think the District has done an exactly stellar job in "planning, coordinator and use of existing facilities," I also think - given the City's tone-deafness on pre-k room - that they could do no better.

They also have this as part of the question, "How high a priority is each of the strategies for achieving racial and social equity?"

- Provide better access to quality education for marginalized populations

That's a fairly vague statement because I don't know how the City would do this (as the City).


kellie said...

The City of Seattle is so disconnected from the state of public schools and capacity, that this question is pretty meaningless. Option 1 is very complex and options 2-4 have been largely executed or are underway.

That list is a simple list of most expensive to least expensive options with zero context.

1) There are no real properties for building new schools

2) All but three closed buildings are either open or scheduled to be re-opened.

3) Portables buildings have been aggressively located, wherever possible.

4) While long term planning has been largely politically driven and not well targeted, the facilities folks who are actually accountable for the day to day stuff have done a remarkable job making existing facilities have more capacity. The work at Mercer was exceptionally well done.

Anonymous said...

I guess that explains why our principal is taking every nook and cranny away from teacher-use and putting it towards special use. Our school's numbers have actually gone down but we are getting special programs to fill the gap and hallways are now being overtaken for OT equipment and other special use. The fluctuations at our school are interesting. Our principal wants to keep an AP. But But even though we were not built for large numbers, we had them because it was a highly desirable school. Nooks, crannies and hallway space/storage was crucial. Now I think the principal is inviting special programs to keep our numbers up and they bring with them a need for increased space. It's one thing to have lots of kids sort of crammed in classrooms and another to have fewer kids but space equally taken by equipment and specialists.

I'm not judging one over the other but just pondering it. Wondering if this change is District-generated or principal-generated. Again, our school is not built for large numbers even though we've crammed them in for a number of years. So teacher-used extra space will be considerably cut back. My school is going through huge change.


TechyMom said...

I marked "build new schools" high and the others low. This is something the city might actually be able to help with, for example using city land or eminent domain.

Melissa Westbrook said...

TechyMom, but wouldn't it have been good to ask residents if they would want the City to help fill the need for schools by "X,Y or Z?" and yet they didn't?

TechyMom said...

Yep, that would have been better. But, new schools is the only thing on the (not very good) list that makes any sense at all for the city to do.

kellie said...

@ puzzled

Yes, you are describing what I was describing. Most elementary schools were built for under 300 students and the majority have many more than that at the moment.

From the point of view of this question, SPS has already done all of the optimizing of "surge capacity" that can reasonably be done and has pushed the envelope in many locations in order to add seats when required.

Something that very few people and other organization understand is that public schools are the only organization that is REQUIRED to provide a seat for every student who arrives. All other government services have caps and waiting lists and open enrollment periods and can decide that you don't get the service. Schools have to give you a seat somewhere.

The question on the EIS is one of those standard questions in the category of ... "Should SPS just get more EFFICIENT about using their already existing space?" I think it is more than safe to say that SPS is extremely efficient with the current spaces.

If you go back to the enrollment counts for 08-09, the vast majority of schools had wait list that year. Those enrollment numbers are a great indication of the design capacity of a building. This is because at that enrollment number, SPS said, this school is full and we are going to place you at another school.

All enrollment ABOVE those numbers are extra efficiency.

These questions make it clear that the City of Seattle is profoundly disconnected from what is happening in schools. Their belief that space can be made if someone just wanted to badly enough, misses the fundamental reality that ... every nook and cranny has already been examined for optimization.

The work at Mercer to preserve the middle school feeder pattern in that area is proof that SPS is constantly looking at more efficient ways to use space whenever possible.

Lynn said...

@ kellie,

On the topic of Mercer, what effect do you think keeping Kimball students there will have on Washington? Only Thurgood Marshall, Bailey Gatzert and SE/SW and central region HCC will be assigned to WMS once Meany reopens. HCC will take almost 2/3 of the seats at that point. Will the district be OK with that? Is there any chance Magnolia and Queen Anne HCC will be assigned to WMS? That would make sense to me.

Sorry for so many questions. I was surprised to hear about the change for Kimball.

kellie said...

@ Lynn,

It is really challenging to predict the impact on Washington at this time. While there is an official "growth boundaries" plan, there are so many elements of that plan, that have already been compromised that the entire growth boundaries plan is deeply suspect. However, there is no process to addressing that core issue.

Capacity is so razor thin that there is a desperate need for the "Annual Process" to daylight all of the moving parts, as there was with the NSAP Annual transition plan. However, is there is any annual process now, I have no clue what that might be.

The only things we do know for certain is that

* While overall growth has been inline with projections, the location of the growth has NOT been in line with projections.

* Meany and Wilson Pacific are likely to come online about the same time and there will most likely be an entire re-boundary process to support that because growth has not occurred in the same places as projected by growth boundaries.

* The Washington / Meany division is highly suspect and extremely unlikely to be the actual plan in a few years when Meany comes on line.

* The boundaries for Hamilton were deeply suspect, are not working now, and should have already been re-drawn for the 2015 school year. As such, who knows if it will continue to make sense to send HCC to Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

These questions make it clear that the City of Seattle is profoundly disconnected from what is happening in schools.

Never were truer words spoken - I think the issue is that the City is profoundly disconnected from much of what's happening - schools, development, transit etc etc etc. My husband was telling me about a story over on Crosscut re: Capitol Hill and the impact of development/construction on the area - one hand not really knowing what the other was doing - sound familiar?

There's so very much wrong with the management of this city - why does cluelessness over SPS surprise anyone ;(