Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seattle Schools' Facilities Planning

Charlie and I have always enjoyed a good laugh over the district's "Facilities Master Plan" because we both could never understand how a list of buildings with descriptions and policies around them is a "plan."  It will be interesting to see if the newest one is any better.

I attended both Work Sessions yesterday on facilities and it pretty much turned out how I thought.  Staff's presentation for the first work session was overly long - a lot of flowery talk about the mission and values of facilities which is fine but you don't need five minutes about it - and sure enough, they had to rush at the end of the first Session.  Directors seemed to have more questions to ask but they had to plow on.

I'll have a write-up of my notes soon.  There were several handouts including this one that I thought parents might want to see.  It's the newest Facilities Master Plan Replacement or Major Modernization Priority list.  It has many categories of facilities conditions for each school in the district.

Dirge, please, for buildings scoring for the worst condition:

1) Alki

Magnolia (but it has been closed and is already getting a renovation)
John Rogers
North Beach/Montlake (tied) -

I will note that Alki, Montlake and McGilvra are problematic for the district because they are on very small bits of land.  The district has poured a lot of money over the years to shore them up and it will be a tough decision to renovate when they cannot build much bigger.  By contrast, Northgate, also in the top ten, has a much large site to work with.

Middle School
1) Whitman

Mercer International
Aki Kurose

1) Salmon Bay

Boren STEM K-8
Blaine K-8

High School
1) Ingraham - this is a surprise to me, given that while Ingraham has never had a full renovation, they have been on every single BTA and BEX since those programs started.  Very discouraging to see given the millions poured into what is, apparently - not a great building to start with.

Columbia (Interagency)
Rainier Beach - this one also surprised me as I think it surprised the Directors.  It was stated that the building had "good bones."  

I will also note that most of the schools in the top twenty are in the north end.  One thing that was done - from the start of BEX - was to be scrupulously fair in where projects where done and, if you do a count, there have been more buildings done (at least since BEX III) in the south end than the north end. 


Anonymous said...

Northgate has a fairly large site, but the building itself was designed by Paul Thiry, the same architect who designed Cedar Park, and I suspect the building would receive landmark status, if it hasn't already. So, they probably wouldn't be able to do a building replacement there?

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right, probably a renovation. Buildings with landmark status are more problematics (and you would see that for Montlake and McGilvra, for sure.)

Anonymous said...

Not funny that my child's attendance schools are North Beach, Whitman and Ingraham. Will my child ever get to attend a decent building? Disgusting.

NB Parent

Catherine said...

I eagerly await a real facilities plan.... that spreadsheet.. is a piece of work.

Anonymous said...

Having a landmark status does not mean the building can't be torn down. The Wilson Pacific building was demolished after it was designated as a landmark.

SSCF Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

NB parent, let me just say, Ingraham has had a LOT of work and I think it's a pretty nice school, facilities-wise. It would be interesting to ask students and staff what they think of the building.

Anonymous said...

@SSCF Reader

Cedar Park's landmark status was the reason given for why it was not a suitable site for Hazel Wolf K-8 (during BEXIV planning), because they would have had to tear down the building and re-build something larger to house the K-8. The entire site at Cedar Park has landmark status, not just the building, so that might be why the building could not be replaced?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

NB Parent - it could be worse. Your child could be the one who was the first kindergarten class in McDonald's opening year and will be the first 9th grade class of Lincoln's opening year. It's no fun to be in the first few years of an opening school. Elementary was a drag and I can only imagine the challenges with a new high school. It takes several years for a new school to get into a groove.

I'm not trying to diminish your frustration by one-upping you, I'm mostly just pointing out that many of us go through a lot of school challenges by living in Seattle where there's such population growth and so little capacity, compounded by the continued mystery about the culture of the District.

Anonymous said...

ZZ, out of curiosity, what was a drag about being in a new school? I have no idea how high schools open here, but back in the Dark Ages when I was in high school, I was a 9th grader in the first year of a new school. The first year we had only 9th and 10th graders. Sure, we lacked things like an established sports and arts program, but it we didn't have to deal with established negative practices that existed in nearby schools (like hazing). The teachers and admin were enthusiastic about starting our own culture and traditions, and it felt like a smaller school, even as numbers grew. All the teachers wanted to take advantage of new facilities, so we got many of the best teachers. All this to say, starting a new high school might not turn out that badly.


Melissa Westbrook said...

And the thing about reopening Lincoln is that it WAS a school and has a lot of alums who I believe will support its reopening.