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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Board Work Session on BTA Levy

I mentioned a bit previously from the last Board Work Session on the BTA Levy. (It was that the figure for Sand Point was changed; it seems they forgot to include the portables space. The figure they gave was 225 for the building, with portables, it's 325.)

From the Work Session:
  • I need to get clarification on this but they referenced a "ghost law" (just in time for Halloween). It seems that there is some I-728 money that could accelerate levy collection. I am unclear on how I-728 money (which I believe is for operations) could be part of capital funds.
  • They went through, building by building, the rationale for reopening each and each time Tracy said we are going to need the capacity.
  • Board members seemed to have some unease with reopening McDonald which had the weakest case for the capacity issue and the biggest price tag. Michael said it might be an opportunity to consider opening McDonald as an option school to draw off attendance area kids from other schools that are full.
  • Sherry did mention that phrase "surge capacity" which I do need to ask her about. I think it either portables or keeping a building extra-full for a couple of years when the data suggests a blip in enrollment.
  • Tracy said that the term "option" school means, for right now, a non-attendance area school for the assignment plan. (However, at the morning Mercer meeting, she wouldn't call schools "alternative" and used "option" when referring to them.)
  • Mary asked about sustaining reopened buildings. And she's right? We're $500M backlogged and maintenance so sure, let's add 5 more poor condition buildings to the mix.
  • Tracy noted that transportation changes may be a wild card in people's choices.
  • Michael asked about a library at Sand Point and Tracy mentioned something about getting bookcases. Hmmm.
  • Sherry was very firm that the money for Viewlands needs to be lessened based on what we get back from the insurance due to the vandalism. Apparently the district has a $100,000 deductible to pay first and then the insurance company will pay for the repair. Kathy Johnson said the damage was about $250,000 so the district will get $150,000 paid for by the insurance company.
  • Michael asked about the useful life of the buildings AFTER the renovations. Kathy said they were all older buildings and the mechanical systems are 30-50 years old so they have a shorter life expectancy. Michael said they needed to clearly show voters what they are getting for their money. Okay, we're getting 5 older buildings in poor condition with some guts fixed, new furniture and some cosmetic stuff. That's what you get for $50M.
  • A big issue in the levy, which I would like comments and opinions about, is spending more money for several buildings that need roof/heating and doing it with energy efficiency in mind. More on this below.
  • They also released a revised listing for the district's official status for buildings. For example, all the closed buildings from last year are now termed "inventoried". John Marshall is now "rental" for 5-7 years. Fairmont Park is "rental" for 3-5 years. Michael expressed concern over leaving any building empty because of the dangers from doing so.
  • I am a little confused because they want to rename Old Hay to distinguish it from Hay. They want to use the Sharples name but I thought that was the name of Aki Kurose's building. (The district may rename a building to reflect a school name but the old name generally stays around. ) They are looking for a place to use the MLK, Jr. name.
  • I realized that the November 4th Board meeting is an important one as staff will introduce both the SAP boundaries AND the BTA levy.
  • As the Board was discussing a figure for the BTA, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson reminded them that they still need to fund the Skills Center.
  • Sherry said that she wanted charts to show voters what the levy means to them in taxes and/or other visuals. Harium has said this in the past and I have to wonder why they don't just get a "sure, we can do that" answer.
  • It seems the Board wants to pull back from the new "high" BTA figure of $280M to about $250-270M. Staff seems glum at this prospect.
So about the transportation pullback, how much will transportation influence your choice? At all, a little or are you more worried about how to make a choice depending on the possibility of getting in rather than if you get transportation?

Energy efficiency. The staff is really high on this. They have identified 6 schools (John Hay, West Woodland, Adams, Olympic View, Muir and Leschi) that:
  • need new roofs/heating
  • not eligible for BEX IV or V
  • and are suitable for green technology available to modernize and retrofit existing systems
When this was initially brought up at the last Work Session, the Board seemed interested but turned off by the higher price (double what it would cost for conventional) and the long time to see any savings. The heating would be geothermal and would involve breaking up the playgrounds/playfields next to the schools to install the pumps. We do have these already at a couple of schools. They were going to do this at Hamilton but neighbors fought back because their playfield would be out of commission for too long a period for their comfort.

The total would be spending almost $10M for regular replacement versus almost $18M for energy efficient. There seems to be more soft costs coming to do the energy efficient repairs but there would also be a cost savings in janitorial work (maintaining a boiler). The Board seemed to think doing 3 regular and 3 energy efficient seems the most doable. They are balking at doing all of them. My thought was to do all the roofs at the energy efficient cost and only 2 schools with the energy efficient heating. The Board seems to want to have the public face of doing better on this front but money is always the issue. You could pay for many other things if you don't do the energy efficient repairs and just do conventional.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

12 comments:

sixwrens said...

West Woodland has a relatively large grant to redo their field this summer (2010), plus PTA money for a new play structure and renovation of the blacktopped areas. If there is any plan for putting in geothermal at WW, it should occur in conjunction with the fields development project. Does anyone know who I could contact about this?

Melissa Westbrook said...

You should contact Kathy Johnson in Facilities. Great idea to find out what the school's thought is on the idea and, since it looks like West Woodland has something going already, to work together.

another mom said...
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another mom said...
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gavroche said...

According to the online history of Seattle schools and an archival article from the Seattle Times, you're right, Melissa, the name "Sharples" has nothing to do with the John Hay building(s).

Sharples was Aki Kurose's original name (http://www.seattleschools.org/area/historybook/kurose.pdf).

All the iterations of John Hay (1905, 1922, and 1989) have shared the name J. Hay (http://www.seattleschools.org/area/historybook/hay.pdf.).

When the newest Hay was built, the earlier building got renamed “Old Hay.”

Also see: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19990309&slug=2948409

Central Mom said...

After thinking about the SAP all weekend, I haven’t been feeling great about the dollars we are being asked to spend on opening new facilities under the SAP.

I have no problem w/ Sand Point. The others…without a strong program distribution plan attached to the SAP...I’m somewhat skeptical about. Don’t get me wrong…with a clear understanding of where we’re headed on equitable programming, I’m OK about voting for 5 new buildings. But the “do we really need McDonald, and do we need it now” discussion somewhat extends to voting my feelings about voting yes for Viewlands and possibly Old Hay. And the SouthShore issue, with its under-use of its building doesn’t hasten my support for Rainier View. Redraw the boundaries. Change the designation of SouthShore. Have we truly looked at every solution before asking for this huge amount of $$ being spent on facilities that will still be adequate at best?

This is less a comment on the work that Enrollment Services has done than on why we need to accept the BTA levy at the same time. I am wondering if the board-requested “what if the levy fails” will show just Sand Point opening in the short term, with the other buildings optional, later. More about this pondering in the next post, due to length…

Central Mom said...

Part Two: Went back and looked at projected enrollment in the SAP and noticed something I hadn’t before. The Eckstein service area’s 5-year-out enrollment projections largely show buildings filled to capacity.

But most of Hamilton’s projected enrollment-to-capacity numbers show excess space. Some significant. Most significant is JSIS with a 259 enrollment projection against 425 functional capacity. McDonald is supposed to open and hold at @ 370 students and equal capacity. Laurelhurst drops to 381 in a space for 450.

So, back to my previous post to show why I really want to see *programming better tied to the reasoning for opening schools*. Here I’m using McDonald to show the kind of thought process that I’d like the District to have. And then to share with the public. Quickly. Perhaps they’ve already done so, but I’m pretty well informed and the only reasoning I’ve heard is “we need space for kids”.

Here are 4 scenarios, all with pros and cons:

1) McDonald opens as an assignment school. JSIS redefined as an Option school w/ its geographic boundaries drawn at slightly under the current proposed SAP lines. Students drawn out of JSIS go to either McDonald or Laurelhurst. This could eventually give @ 175 kids from across the city access into the JSIS program. (But the biggest draw would still probably come from the Hamilton area, because of guaranteed transportation.)

Pro: A path to seeing more equitable (geographic) possibilities for kids to get into the only north end language immersion program. Possible boost to the projected 73 percent diversity if JSIS remains assignment school.

Con: Some Wallingford and U District families unhappy that they’ve been drawn out of guaranteed JSIS access.

2) McDonald doesn’t open. That’s money either not spent or earmarked for other building renovation/maintenance. Attendance reabsorbed by JSIS and other schools with redraw of current SAP boundary proposal.

Pro: $14 million!! used for other pressing projects.

Con: No additional access to language immersion program than currently exists, which is pretty much zero for out-of-Wallingford neighborhood kids. Hamilton service area schools close to capacity across the board.

3) McDonald opens. The JSIS name is transferred to that facility and it becomes the option school. All current JSIS students (366 last year, matching the functional capacity of McDonald quite well) are moved to the school with guaranteed enrollment. JSIS (Latona) goes back to being a neighborhood draw for parts of Wallingford, South Green Lake and possibly some of the U District…although some of those kids could be redirected to Laurelhurst, too.

Pro: McDonald, with a less-spiffy building and a more central location than JSIS makes some sense for an option program. The “wonky” McDonald assignment draw area currently proposed by the SAP goes away.

Con: JSIS current language immersion families moved from their present home.

4) (Current proposal) McDonald opens as assignment school. JSIS remains assignment school.

Pro: JSIS not impacted. Additional capacity added in Hamilton service area.

Con: New assignment school opens. It has questionable appeal due to odd (horizontal) draw area and just-the-basics programming.

Which is the right direction to go? That’s open to discussion. But I’d have a lot more enthusiasm in opening the school if I knew THIS sort of programming discussion was married to the SAP boundary finalization and BTA vote. That goes for Rainier View, Viewlands and Old Hay too.

SP said...

Sorry this is out of topic, but did anyone notice that there is a change for this Wed.'s School Board agenda?

Apparently, Harium M.M. has introduced an amendment to the grading policy to postpone the proposed "D" ave. to graduate policy.

From his amendment:
By this amendment, it is proposed that the elimination of the graduation of a minimum grade point average for high school graduation be subject to further Superintendent and Board consideration. This additional review is called for by the concerns expressed by Directors and community members that a minimum grade point average requirement be retained. To respond to these concerns the Superintendent will evaluate and recommend to the Board alternatives to the elimination of school district’s current grade point requirements and their method of its calculation. The Board will review this issue again when considering proposed changes to
Graduation Requirements in the future, including changes related to the number of credits required for graduation.

Bruce Taylor said...

Central Mom, I don't think Laurelhurst works for your plan. the functional capacity (http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/functional_analysis3.pdf ) of Laurelhurst is 389. Right now LH has three classes of each grade K-5, plus a fourth first-grade class. Two classes are already in portables on the playground. And if SPS eliminates half-day kindergarten, then another classroom will be needed to replace the existing half-day classes. LH needs to reduce size, both in terms of number of classrooms and in terms of students per classroom.

Central Mom said...

Bruce, I don't disagree that Laurelhurst is crowded. I have friends who have withdrawn kids there because they weren't getting the academic attention they personally needed.

However...the District says that within 5 years, the functional capacity of Laurelhurst will be 450. Nor is it planning for fewer students than you just noted.

Here's the citation out of the SAP: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/NSAP_ProposedBoundaries_Appendix_C.pdf

Again, I don't know how boundaries and the McDonald opening can be addressed without some roadmap on programming in the area.

Central Mom said...

Oops, that's
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/NSAP_
ProposedBoundaries_Appendix_C.pdf

Bruce Taylor said...

My mistake -- I confused "planning capacity" and "functional capacity." Laurelhurst does have a functional capacity of 450 (18 classes x 25 students per class) if you accept the permanent placement of a classroom in a portable (or two permanent portables if the district converts the half-day kindergarten classes to full-day).