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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ingraham Facility

Yesterday I asked why, with about 100 empty seats in the incoming 9th grade class, the District is spending a lot of money (and pissing a lot of people off) to build an addition at Ingraham High School.

Chatting with folks before the Board meeting I got an answer to that question from an informed member of the community - a better answer than I have EVER gotten from the District.

He clarified a number of points for me - or at least tried to. First, he said, it isn't really an addition. The new construction replaces either portables or structures which have outlived their endurance. Second, he said, the school was built in an outmoded way and needs a significant rebuild. The other spaces in the school - which are also beyond their life expectancy - need to be expanded.

But why in the disputed location, I asked. Why not on the same site as the temporary or exhausted structures? He explained - with visible indulgence and patience for my dullness and contentiousness - that the selected location was always where the school was intended to expand, that the trees planted there were intended to be temporary until the planned expansion, and that the structure of the building and the systems are clearly pointed to expansion in that location.

If Ingraham is such a pit (his word), why not just do a total renovation on the whole thing instead of this piecemeal effort that leaves it part undone and paints us into unpopular corners. Because that's the way the District does things, he explained.

I don't agree. My observation has been that the District clearly has two ways they do things. One way is with whole-building renovations, such as we saw at Franklin, Ballard, Garfield, Roosevelt, Cleveland, and West Seattle. The other way is this dissatisfying and repetitive start-stop chock-a-block style as we have seen at Rainier Beach, Sealth, Hale, and Ingraham. The difference is clear to me. Historic buildings made of stone get the first class treatment complete with insane cost overruns and no expense spared. Buildings that were constructed after the war get the cheap treatment (which turns out to be nearly as expensive and even more wasteful as we replace our recent work).

So what does Ingraham really need? If the current structure is no longer suitable - in its entirity - then let's have the total renovation that it really needs. And when we plan the total renovation we can sweep aside the legacy plans for building where there are now trees - if we choose.

Who can speak with authority about the facility at Ingraham and bring some clarity and meaningful information to the discussion? I've been to the school and it seemed fine to me. Then again, my kids went to Lowell and NOVA (in the Mann building).

If Ingraham is under-enrolled then why does it even HAVE portables?

13 comments:

Jet City mom said...

Charlie, the portables are where the SPED students are housed, cause ya know- why should they feel like part of the school?

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Ingraham may have 100 open seats,but guess what? There are only 4 high schools north of the ship canal. Two of them, Ballard and Roosevelt have waitlists, and the third, Hale, only has a handful of available seats.

Don't we need some wiggle room? One hundred vacant HS seats available for the entire geographic area north of the ship canal does not sound unreasonable to me.

seattle said...

Regarding the Hale rebuild-

It may be piece meal but the rebuild is stunning. The architects have turned a bland, autrociously ugly 50s buildin into a light filled modern work of art. It's really beautiful. You can see some pictures here .

here

wsnorth said...

RE: [low budget renovations]..we have seen at Rainier Beach, Sealth, Hale, and Ingraham.

Wow, I never noticed this before -aren't those the High Schools in the "least wealthy/highest FRL" areas in their respective quadrants of the city? Coincidence?

seattle said...

I'm not sure of the cost of Ingraham or Sealth's renovations, but Hale's comes at a price tag of 70 million. It's hardly low budget.

FYI: Hale has an FRL rate of 18% which is well below the district average of about 40%. It's a far cry from being a low income school.

Jet City mom said...

Since Hale is on a wetland, that also brings up additional considerations.

Additionally- if we are going to maintain the buildings, removing asbestos flooring shouldn't be required. it is only harmful when it gets into the air.

Wouldn't maintaining the buildings whether they be baby boom concrete construction like the Evergreen state college or elaborate brick edifices with grotesques be less expensive/problematic in the long run than letting them get run down/stripped and having to rebuild?

Additionally as we are finding in the case of South Shore, is what we are replacing it with actually preferable?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, you should have asked me. I think a lot of what you heard was nonsense. Those trees have been there decades. You don't plant trees to be temporary.

The building is not that old according to the district so I don't know what this guy is talking about.

Portables. That's where everyone took their math classes (and probably Special Ed as well but I heard math the most). They had them because at some point, they had the population to need them. But they were not uncomfortable and I support their departure.

RBHS and Ingraham and Sealth have really taken it on the chin (not Hale and I'll explain in a minute). They have gotten the piecemeal treatment. RBHS got a wonderful performing arts hall with no program to back it up. If they had, they probably would not have the enrollment problems they have now. Of course the district isn't going to rebuild for them. (They also got a few upgrades along the way.)

Ingraham has been on every BTA and BEX and yet all their work is piecemeal and "refreshed". Why they were never rebuilt is a good question especially since I was told they had to keep Lincoln as an interim for all the north end rebuilds. It's a mystery why they did so much work on the building and didn't just remodel the whole thing.

Sealth. Sealth had some upgrades along the way and should have been in line to get a rebuild but along came the Denny/Sealth co-join and Denny, with the lesser building, got the rebuild. (I think this is also a bitter pill given WSHS' rebuild.) Sealth got extra money (that the district really didn't have to use for this problem) to placate them.

What's funny is that I don't think staff and students felt the love and I think many wonder how well this grand experiment will work especially since once you've joined the buildings you can't unjoin them.

Hale WILL have had a $100M price tag because there was the whole new athletic complex, and then the performing arts hall AND now the rebuild. Add those up and you get nearly $100M. Now Hale is smaller than either Garfield or Roosevelt and could only be built to a 25 year standard (as opposed to the regular 50 year standard) because Hale sits on a bog. That's a lot of cash for a 25 year building.

I think it all started with Ballard. There was many people who did not want Ballard torn down and yet it was. Then the district was determined to show they could do a historic rebuild even though they are much more difficult and costly. Ballard won that point but not for themselves but for the schools who came after.

I think it pleasing to try to save some elements of an historic building but frankly, not at the cost of getting work done on other buildings. It's just not worth it given the endless cycle of maintenance needed at these buildings and the long list of buildings that need to be remodelled.

I don't know who this guy was Charlie but he was clearly trained by the district.

Sahila said...

Off topic... (pity there isnt a place to put these kinds of miscellaneous bits and pieces, a place that keeps its place near the top of whatever is being discussed, rather than being buried as the blog moves on)...

I have made my position clear re what I think of the Alliance for Education, Stand for Children and LEV etc...

I have begun asking questions and putting forward other perspectives and research on their respective blogs and facebook pages...

I also found a White House Race to the Top facebook page...

If you dont like what's going on with these 'astro-turf' groups - as previously discussed here on the blog, feel free to chime in...

Relevant pages are:
http://www.educationvoters.org/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seattle-WA/Alliance-for-Education-Seattle/67247812168

http://www.facebook.com/standforchildren?v=wall

http://www.facebook.com/educationvoters?v=wall

http://www.facebook.com/racetothetop?v=wall

Unknown said...

Melissa -- I wonder how you figured out the motivations that led to tree planting at Ingraham 50 years ago? I know lots of people who planted things for little or no reason, even five years ago. Maybe you wouldn't plant trees to be temporary. Heck I wouldn't either. But I don't speak for those who did things 50 years ago.

Putting that aside, I'm not sure the best way to win an argument is to call your opponent's idea "nonsense." Based on Charlie's post, the person who spoke to him was "an informed member of the community," not a District employee. Clearly, you disagree with the person. But his thoughts aren't nonsense. Maybe he was actually there 50 years ago. I don't know. I suspect you don't know either.

As far as how old Ingraham is, the building opened in the late 1950s, I think 1958 but it may be 1959. The condition of a building has something to do with its age, something to do with the quality of its original construction, something to do with the wear and tear over the years, and something to do with upkeep. Your reaction "the building is not that old according to the district so I don't know what this guy is talking about" seems like a pretty big leap to me.

Charlie learned something last night. Sorry it doesn't fit your view of the world.

Unknown said...

Replying substantively, Charlie, since you asked, you noted that the school seemed fine. That makes sense. Ingraham has already had a fair amount of renovation. The lovely new library, for example was added a few years back, and then last summer a lot of interior work was done in the existing main structure including new flooring and painting, and lots of new furniture. There may have been more work, I don't know. So the option of starting fresh would waste the improvements completed to date.

In terms of those ever-controversial trees, the current design for the additional is premised on cutting about 25% of the stand. This was a compromise, the original plan called for cutting about 35%, and involved a smaller footprint for the project.

Like you, most of my time has been in a school with a pretty sketchy physical plant (Salmon Bay School) so I really do appreciate the improvements at Ingraham. Finishing it off with the addition will be terrific.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, but c'mon, maybe it was temporary "back then" but 50 years later, the trees still stand. That's what I meant.

The age of the building is important but Facilities are the ones who use age for or against their argument. I know that age of a building can mean little depending on when it was built.

The problem now is that, to the best of my knowledge, the legal issues with the trees have not been settled. The original bid(s) are outdated and the contractors will not hold to them with so much time going by (this from the BEX folks, not me). So the question becomes whether they will go out for new bids or roll this over into BEX IV (again, this from the BEX folks).

All that said, it does feel like Ingraham and Sealth really have gotten less than the other high schools. RBHS as well but their enrollment would dictate that they wouldn't be getting a remodel.

Unknown said...

Part of the reason they don't like to get rid of portables is that the licensing requirements are different for old and new portables. As I understand it, you can keep a regular classroom in one of those late 40's to mid-50's 20' x 20' portables forever. If you put in a new portable, though, it will need to be a double wide twice the size.

It can be a good idea to put behavior intervention classrooms in portables, IF there's no other semi-isolated classroom where noise wouldn't disturb other classrooms.