Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hamilton and Its Capacity

Over at the Community Forum for HCC (APP) in Seattle Schools, there are some concerned parents asking questions about capacity in the building.

I'll preface that Hamilton is a bit of an anomaly for middle schools.  It has a fairly small footprint and even a renovation didn't add that much more capacity.  It always seemed to be apparent that there would not be much breathing room in the building.

From the HCC blog:

As indicated there the principal Tipton Blish was still looking for ways to deal with next year. Events have moved forward and the following update was in the most recent HIMS newsletter.

Update on Hamilton Capacity Planning for 2016-2017

As previously discussed in our newsletter, Hamilton will be pushing to upwards of 1,200 kids this fall. Although it’s not much consolation in the near-term, the numbers will decrease the following year with the opening of Robert Eagle Staff Middle School.

To handle the overload, Seattle Public Schools is looking at two options:

- Putting portables on the outside playtop.

- Adding a Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) to one of the North Seattle middle schools, like Whitman, as a precursor to the opening of Eagle Staff. Seattle Public Schools has stated that this option is unlikely given the expense of setting up an HCC cohort

Update for Hamilton Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) Students

For the 2017-18 school year, Seattle Public Schools has indicated that HCC students who live in the Robert Eagle Staff and Whitman service areas will move to Robert Eagle Staff when it opens in the fall of 2017. Grandfathering for students may be possible subject to space availability at the middle schools they are attending, however, there will probably be no room at Hamilton.

City Permitting Status:

This does seem to confirm the final occupancy inspection never was finished.  Following up with the city I've been told.
  • The record shows a gymnasium with an allowable occupant load of 1149, a commons/dining hall of 957 and a fitness center or 56. These are the only areas which carry a limit.
I still have a followup question to see if there are any other fire safety related limits.  Interestingly I seem to have triggered an inquiry in the planning department. The inspector said he would be contacting the district and would email back any more info.
Well, look at that.  Another citizen-reporter asks an interesting question - where's the final occupancy inspection - and turns up something.

Also,  somehow I missed the appointment of Tipton Blish to HIMS - that is quite a wonderful name.  Sounds like a great name for a character in a movie or tv show.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of principal appointments, how many openings are there across district? How does that compare to past years?

- wondering

Wallingford mom said...

And HIMS has announced that it is now locking all its doors except for the front main door for safety reasons. Is this safe in the event of a fire?

Eric B said...

Wallingford mom, my student confirms that the doors are locked from the outside but the push bars on the inside work. In other words, students can get out but visitors can't get in the side doors.

Anonymous said...

Concerning if the visitors are firefighters or police.

Locked out

Anonymous said...

There must be a system in place for firefighters to get into locked buildings. I know at some apartments there is a key box outside building that the fire dept can open. Not sure about new or public buildings.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton is crazy-packed. The last year my kid was there the students were sharing lockers and classes were being held in the spaces outside of the classrooms.

As, Tip Blish is a wonderful administrator. I am so pleased to know that he is the principal. We ran into him during the strike in the fall and he was quite gracious and kind when my kid listed their dissatisfactions with the school system to him. (also, my kid has worked with Mr. Blish, so he knows them).

North End parent

Anonymous said...

So if the city doesn't allow portables on the blacktop, then my kid and the other NW HCC kids will be sent to three different schools in three years? Hamilton, Whitman, and Eaglestaff? How is this in the best interest of any kid during middle school years? Hamilton is packed this year, but by off-loading the NW kids next year they are being given a pretty crummy deal for middle school. I'd hope that there is a way to make things work for one more year at Hamilton so the NW HCC kids are shuffled around all three years. I hope that Tip, the admin, the PTA, or our School Board members will advocate for something to be done so our NW kids can avoid the chaos of going to three schools in three years. No matter how people feel about HCC, I think most people would agree that this would suck for any kid.

And these are the same kids who will potentially be pulled out of their high school in order to populate Lincoln High School when it opens. Awesome.

NW mom

Anonymous said...

At Franklin we're losing 3.8 staff because they're forcing our 9th grade incoming class to be lower. We're around 70% FRL & 5% white, so ...


mom of 3 said...

Who cares,

That's not the most constructive way to get help for Franklin. A better way would be to say, "wow, that is a terrible situation at HIMS, but we are experiencing far worse at Franklin. It would be great to have people help us advocate for X". So, even with your childish post, the situation sounds bad. If you let us know what will help, I'd be happy to send SPS and the board a note on Franklin's behalf.

Back to the topic, I don't see how SPS hasn't really under-projected HIMS enrollment next year. That's just me doing some simple addition and adding a few due to kids in the neighborhood desperately trying to escape Whitman. No one said it's a bad school academically, socially or otherwise, but the building is in such dire condition that no one wants to go. Folks with older siblings there are trying hardest to avoid it. I think SPS will be surprised by the high HIMS enrollment and what can they do? If the kids won't fit, they won't fit.

I'd like to know when the decision will be made and how on earth they could possibly get an APP program "equitably" running at Whitman within a couple months. JAMS and Eagle Staff had/have planning periods of closer to 18 months.

Anonymous said...

Mom of 3 ... wow! thanks for the political-you-know-best!

I have a day job, it isn't political messaging. I've got about 1/2 a cylinder functioning randomly right now.

It is fascinating what you've read into what I wrote. Clearly, writing more would have been a waste


Lynn said...

Are they reducing the available seats at Franklin to push students into Rainier Beach? If nothing else, those teachers should be guaranteed the opportunity to transfer to RBHS.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, Clearly we can't get a legit comment out of the above poster. Maybe a more grown-up person will weigh-in. Until that happens, I think this thread was about HIMS capacity.

kellie said...

Just a quick reminder that Hamilton was designed and built for 800 students. Every single aspect of the process for creating Hamilton had the full intention of 800 students being the maximum.

At 900, the building is very full.

At 1,000, the building is packed.

At 1100, the building is unsafe and I use that word generously. At 1100, extra staff over and above the WSS is required just to keep thing operating and control traffic flow.

At 1200, that's just not sane. It is truly not sane to try to pack another 100 students into an already overpacked building, particularly when there are three other nearby middle schools that can take portables much more easily.

Anonymous said...

Kellie, every facilities document I've seen recently indicates Hamilton's capacity is 973. There's another one from 2012 that puts the number even higher. Why is there a discrepancy between the capacity number and the plan/design? I don't mean to challenge, I just refer to these numbers often and want to make sure I understand the documents correctly.



good fit

Anonymous said...

My child went to Lincoln/Cascadia for several years. Lincoln was used as an interim middle high school (Ballard, Garfield, Roosevelt, Hamilton) when those buildings were being rebuilt. Cascadia is not being used to capacity by the Cascadia APP school and Licton Spring k-8. It's been posted that the Lincoln building has been determined to have no room for HIMS overflow. That's baloney!!! I could walk you over there today and show you all of the rooms that are empty and have already been remodeled for when it was an interim middle and high school. I know Cascadia will grow next year and will need a few more rooms, but there will still be many open rooms. Here's where:

1. The 3rd floor (floor above the main office) Cascadia opened up two 5th grade classes on the south wing this year. That hall has 2-3 more empty rooms on that hall. Those two 5th grade classes be moved to another part of the building. That wing has easy access from the south side of Lincoln with it's own entrance that HIMS kids could come and go from. That wing also has it's own bathrooms.
2. The bottom floor near the Custodian's two offices (Why two? Could one be used as a class room?) has several rooms that aren't in use. They are by a rear door and could provide a separate entrance for HIMS students to come and go.
3. The bottom floor north end of the building to the north of where Kids Co is. This area is off-limits to Cascadia kids but I've been in there. It is a whole wing that is remodeled, the rooms are numbered, and there are updated bathrooms. This area was also used when it was an interim school.

I would like to argue that there IS space at Lincoln. I know there are issues that it's across the street, but we could work that out. Maybe the HIMS schedule could have some kids have all of their morning classes at Lincoln so they'd just be moving around that small area, and then they'd go back to HIMS for lunch and afternoon classes. Then another group of kids would come over for the afternoon classes. All that would be needed is supervision of the students' coming and going from the Lincoln property and crossing the street. Those are cheap mitigating funds that the district could pony up for and would be much cheaper than moving kids over to Whitman.

Let's get creative and try to find a way to create some continuity for our kids. We're talking one year, it can be done.

NW mom

Anonymous said...


Generally speaking the district tries to save money and work. Likewise the principal Tipton Blish was pushing very hard to find space there already (so we know they were motivated). If enough space existed in Lincoln the administration would most likely use it rather than buying portables and negotiating with the city or setting up an already admitted expensive option at Whitman.

I think you're underestimating the growth within Lincoln next year from both schools that are already there. (I've heard Cascadia will rise to 31 classrooms and only one empty one will be left in the whole building - I don't know the exact Licton Springs info).

But by all means try contacting Facilities and/or Principal Blish. I'm sure they can tell you why its logistically impossible and you can see if you've found a space they didn't consider that is feasible to use by next year.