What seems to be the explanation for this "mandate" for investment in charter schools is the idea that (1) SPS isn't building new schools (wrong) and (2) that school facilities could be built into housing.
On the first issue, we all know SPS is opening up every building they can (and those are some schools that have been closed so long, they might as well be new) and, as well, the district IS opening two new schools at the Wilson-Pacific site. I have no idea why someone would say the District isn't building new schools if they didn't know for sure but you'd have to ask members of the Committee.
Now if the City thinks that having charters will serve all these new students, they clearly don't know charters. For one thing, charters are deliberately smaller so any idea that a charter high school would serve even half the number of a comprehensive is a dream.
I have no idea if this idea of housing with a school attached would only be for charters but it if were, that would be a clear signal of the Mayor's direction and it's not working with Seattle Schools. If there were the possibility of asking the district first if it wanted to use the space and then, if not, finding a charter, that would make more sense.
End of update.
Too impolite? But it is my real and true reaction to my preliminary reading of the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee report that was issued yesterday.
I want to note that this was called to my attention by "does this guy ever sleep" Rep. Gerry Pollet.
There are 20 times that the word "school" is mentioned in the report. Here's the first one on page 20 which starts with a sentence about the City working with state/regional entities including Seattle School District. But two paragraphs later, it says:
When land is not suitable for housing development, the unrestricted proceeds from sale should be dedicated to affordable housing development. The City should also create a mandate for the co- development of affordable housing in conjunction with new public buildings and investments such as community centers, libraries, charter schools, etcWho decided that phrase had to be "charter schools" and not "public schools?"
Who decided the "mandate" for "new public investments" should be charter schools?
I don't know but it's a slap in the face to SPS. That phrase "charter schools" needs to go.
And, coming on the heels of Mayor Murray's statement about the district "playing ball" with the City over preschools, it very much sounds like SPS is not a partner but a mere chess piece to be moved around on the board.
What is strange -either as if no one on the Committee knows or cares - is that there is no mention that Seattle Schools is ALREADY experiencing a capacity crisis. Charters are unlikely to truly alleviate that any time soon. Is Seattle Schools going to start competing with charters for space in buildings with space available? And, whose side will the City be on?
Then there is this on page 289:
SF.3 Allow Flexible Reuse of Large, Unique Development Sites When former school sites, church properties, military installations, publicly owned lands, corporate campuses among others are ready for redevelopment, these sites are often not zoned to allow multifamily housing.Again, this may just be ignorance on the part of the Committee in not realizing that no, there are zero former school sites to give up. There are no more Queen Anne Highs to take over. The district may end up taking back the site on Lake City or even Oak Tree.
It wasn't necessarily the Committee's job to reflect on what all this new density will mean to the District but it would have been nice that they showed they understood the current state of the capacity in Seattle Schools. Also to consider is what the boundaries will look like as this density comes in.
My area, Roosevelt/Ravenna, is right on the light-rail line and an urban village. They want to upzone our single family area as well as build apartments all along Roosevelt. This is fine BUT that means that the boundaries to say, Roosevelt, will become much tighter. Lincoln may not be able to handle it all. What then?
Just to note, many of its recommendations will have real and meaningful affects on Seattle Schools but on a personal note, it will affect my neighborhood of Roosevelt/Ravenna. To be clear, my husband and I moved here, knowing density was coming. He used to say we lived in the suburbs (but he grew up in Naples and Brooklyn so he knew something about density).
I have no problem with more backyard cottages or townhomes or duplexes. But if all we do is throw up row after row of condos/apartments/rowhouses, my belief is that we will fundamentally change some of our neighborhoods and I believe that the backbone of this city is our neighborhoods.