Kudos to Director Burke for attempting to take on the issue of the reopening of Lincoln High School in 2019. The estimate of how many parents packed the library was about 300 people. Staff included Flip Herndon, Michael Tolley as well as Hale principal Jill Hudson (who is on the 24-credit committee as well as being the planning principal for Lincoln.) She was the only staff member to speak.
Burke outlined the goals of the meeting:
- share work to date and locations for more info
- capture ideas, concerns, questions from the community
- begin the process to build a robust Lincoln High School community
He said this was not the end, but the beginning of this process.
He introduced one of the architects from Bassetti which is handling the remodel, Michael Davis. (One issue that I did not hear Mr. Davis state nor was I able to ask about is whether $80M is buying a remodel or renovation. The difference being - to me - remodel is just updating but a renovation would mean gutting the entire interior of some spaces and leaving the brick facade. The drawing appears to look like that but I don't know. I also don't know if Lincoln has some historic status and I don't know how much seismic work has been done. Brick buildings are particularly prone to earthquake issues.)
Mr. Davis said the building was been redone to a capacity of 1600. That may be an aspirational goal because he then went on to talk about how many rooms are elementary-sized and need to be enlarged for high school kids. So that does not mean more rooms, it means enlarged rooms. Kellie LaRue suspects that they will be lucky to be able to have 1200 students in the building.
Additionally, this is a building on just 6.7 acres which is not even standard-sized per district ed specs. There is no room for any kind of athletic field and that means that the district will now have a middle school AND high school nearly next door to each other and neither has a field.
Davis went thru the history of the building, staring in 1907 when it was opened as the second high school in the district. It had additional buildings added and then closed in 1981 but then was used as an interim site for high schools whose buildings were being rebuilt - Ballard, Garfield and Roosevelt.
The current building has multiple entry sites and, for safety/security, there should be just a couple of main ones. There will be 2D/3D art labs and "academic neighborhoods" in the building. They will keep the gym, adding a weight room. They will also keep the auditorium, music and health spaces. He pointed out that they will take out the current "lame" ceilings and go with the old ones which are more in character with the building.
It seems clear that getting the building ready for a new student population is well within reach of the timetable. What is much less clear is what this school experience will be for those students.
Then Director Burke attempted to get us in to table groups to discuss various topics around reopening Lincoln but, as one person called out, "You lost that ability about 50 people ago" alluding to the standing room only crowd. As well, people wanted to ask questions/make comments and hear answers as a group.
There were really a couple of overriding themes to the discussion.
1) Parents want to know - soon, like in six months to a year - what the boundaries are. As one parent said, "We want to invested in this school but we need to know if we are going to this school."
2) Parents want to know if this will be a roll-up - meaning, starting with 9th and 10th graders and then adding a grade per year for the next two years - OR a geo-split, meaning starting the school as 9-12 and students start at one high school and will then move to Lincoln. Burke said the roll-up is more expensive for the district to do (to which one parent called out, "We don't care.")
This weighs very heavily on parents' because of their child's involvement in programs and/or sports as well as friendships.
3) What, if anything, will be the focus of the school? What I found interesting is that parents did not seem to care. What seems to matter is that the school have solid, solid academics for all students. Good offerings in AP courses but also in electives.
Burke said he would be advocating for the boundary changes to come no later than November of 2017.
What is the timeline for boundaries?
Burke - He said it would be by 2018 but many thought that way too late.
What about IB?
It was pointed out that it takes a number of years to get to accreditation for IB.
Also, a few people expressed interest in STEM/STEAM but again, that is a big organizational lift.
Comment - JAMS opened and year one its operating budget got cut and it continued from there. There should be a four-year commitment to a decent budget for this new school that is sacrosanct.
Comment from a community member - Concern over sewer issues and earthquake retrofittting as well as parking.
Comment: A woman said that the area is considered an urban village and there are upzones for townhomes without parking. She said they should be considering who will be living in the area over the next several years, not just the population now.
Comment - If Lincoln is to be an international school, will local kids still get in.
Comment - Wondering out loud if McDonald and JSIS were included in the enrollment estimates.
Comment - A parent with a child at Garfield who has been to five schools and is now on an AP track. She is worried there will not be enough science classes at Lincoln.
Comment - The girls' locker room at Lincoln is much smaller than the boys' locker room.
Comment - STEAM would be better than IB. IB at Ingraham is an example of the haves and have nots.
Comment by Principal Hudson - She said that there is already one high school graduating students with 24 credits (I assume she means her own school, Hale) and it can be done. She said, "I would not worry about the 24-credit options." She said it was an opportunity for "great things."
I would note that the district is struggling to find teachers for foreign languages. Between finding the teachers and finding the space for these classes, I would worry less if she only worried more.
As well, Kellie LaRue made a very important point. The standard planning time for a high school is two years. High school is not homeroom-based (like elementary) nor is it grade-level based (as is middle school.) It is master schedule-based and that will be key to getting the 24-credits that every single high school student will need to graduate.
Comment - One parent said that the "Green Lake Triangle" students can moved around frequently with boundary changes.
? Are Queen Anne/Magnolia students coming here?
It's likely that some of them will.
Comment from me at the meeting - Good news, medium news and bad news. The good news is that the district is NOT opening a "new" high school; they are reopening a high school that existed for decades and, to this day, has a dedicated alum group that will support these students.
The medium news is that the Mayor and the Superintendent are meeting on planning for a high school at Memorial Stadium. Now that is years off and under BEX V but, in about a decade or less, there will be another high school so students who are from Magnolia and Queen Anne will then go to that high school.
The bad news - which Director Burke did mention at the top of the meeting - is this worry over the budget for next year. Some of us believe the district is using the McCleary issue as the subject line for "never waste a good crisis" to put forth what they want to see happen with various programs. It's certainly not all crying wolf, though, and that means an impact for all schools. So will that be fewer planning dollars for Lincoln? Hard to say but it needs to be out on the radar.
? There is no sports field here, "What are you thinking for athletics?"
Burke said that was an issue. He said that Lower Woodland, while not adjacent, is a possibility. This caused a murmur thru the crowd because many parents know that Lower Woodland is in constant use and if the City grants usage to Lincoln, that's less time for other groups.
Someone did ask if there could be more sports fields added to Lower Woodland but no one seemed to know the answer to that.
?- Why not use Interbay for a new high school site?
Burke said that it probably was not a viable option.
I'll interject here that I believe it was a real mistake to not put a new high school in at Wilson Pacific. The space would have been enough for an athletic field. It is slightly more distance from Roosevelt to Lincoln (about 2.5 miles) than Roosevelt to Wilson-Pacific (2.2 miles). Both are centrally located and both near major transportation arteries.
? - One parent asked what would be "an enticement" to get people to come to Lincoln?
Burke said it may be trying to find "the least worst."
? Who is responsible for the timeline for this process?
Burke seemed stumped on this point and said he would have to look at the policy. I would find it difficult to believe that the Board could not have some sway on this issue.
Comment - This parent said she would be worried for juniors and seniors and said in New Jersey when this happened, kids could be bused to a nearby high school for some classes or athletics.
Again, that's certainly a possibility but the district would probably not like spending the money.