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Saturday, September 11, 2010

District Leaning Towards First AME Bid for MLK, Jr. Building

From the Central District News blog, this story about what will likely happen to the now closed MLK, Jr. Building in Madison Valley. This is an interesting story because of the compelling question of what we do with closed buildings if the district decides to sell. There has always been this conflict over getting the most money out of them versus helping communities to use these public resources.

Apparently, there was quite a large crowd at the Board's Audit and Finance Committee meeting this past week (darn and I love a good crowd). Staff had been expected to give their recommendation among the 4 choices. They had eliminated one - Central Area Development Association(CADA) - from the group because it would only use 33% of the property with buildings on it. From the story:
  • First AME (First African Methodist Episcopal Church) - $2.4 million to the district, $50,000 value to the community per year due to low rental rate for community space and a pledge to allow free use of the gym
  • CCC@MLK - $2.5 million to the district, $23,200 annual value to the community due to higher rental rates and what staff said was less total space given to social services and youth education
  • Bush School - $3.0 million to the district, $20,000 annual value to the community due to offering of community use of the playfield after school hours
Staff recommended and the Superintendent agrees that the proposal from First AME was the best based on "their higher perceived value to the community." Part of that was that the First AME had been in the Central District for 125 years (but not all as First AME).

I actually thought that Bush School had this one in the bag. I'm a little confused because I think Bush had planned to develop the land with playfields. I'm not sure if that is still going to happen.

What is interesting are some of the comments following this story. Apparently several people feel the building should not be going to a church but rather should have gone to a more wide-spread community group.

There were some interesting comments from the Board members at the meeting.

The four school board members in attendance carefully concurred with the recommendation. Kay Smith-Blum said she wished that the district had never surplused the building in the first place, but agreed that "First AME has the strongest benefit to the community". Peter Maier said he was also comfortable with the recommendation, saying it was "important that it includes a substantial community use benefit in terms of free use of gym and reduced rental rates."

This is not a done deal as the entire Board must vote on this issue next month so some heavy-duty lobbying is likely to go on. One group, the CCC, said that they would argue "that the district analysis was flawed." That would certainly not be the first time that has ever been said about staff analysis. However, as we know, the Board has never gone against anything that the Superintendent has recommended so I'd say it's done.

2 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools has a fiduciary duty to the people of Seattle to derive the best value for the District in this deal.

If the difference in annual value to the community between First AME and Bush School is $30,000 per year, and the Bush School offer is $600,000 more, then it would take 20 years for the First AME offer to equal the Bush School offer in value. That's not even counting the time value of money.

In twenty years the buildings will be gone.

The Bush School offer is the best offer.

Central District Parent said...

okay so we can use the building for expanded youth services, parent training, veterans services, and licensed daycare programs as well as making space available to other community groups and have free use of the gym....

or

we can tear the building down and let Bush build soccer fields that we'll be able to use after school hours and on the weekends.

The Bush school is only the best offer if:
1)your children go to Bush
2)you live really close to MLK school and think the people who will use First AME services are not part of your community
3)you truly believe the School district would make good with the money they receive from the sale to Bush.

It's a no brainer.

Congratulations First A.M.E.!