Disqus

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Use for Horace Mann (and it's not for Garfield)

From the Central District news, word on what is happening to Nova's old building, the Horace Mann building:

The 100-year-old Horace Mann building at 2410 East Cherry is preparing to begin a new life as home for an education pilot project for Seattle teens who have dropped out of school but want to get back on track. When starting new things, it's always nice to fix yourself up a little. This weekend, a small Pacific Northwest army of volunteers will report for duty on East Cherry to lend their elbow grease to a $100,000 Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant awarded for cleaning up the mothballed school.

From the news release from Work It Out Seattle:

"EXTREME MAKEOVER: SCHOOLHOUSE EDITION"

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 20 & Sunday, Nov. 21, 10am – 5pm each day

WHERE: Horace Mann School Building, 2410 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122

What do you get when you combine a 100-year old school building, community volunteers and handyman, Chris Stevens?

We call it, “Extreme Makeover: Schoolhouse Edition” and you can call it the most rewarding weekend in Seattle.

On Nov. 20 and 21, the volunteer forces of local nonprofit, BEAN Seattle, with the community forces of the Central District, and helping transform the historic Horace Mann school building into a refuge for the vulnerable youth of Seattle.

But before it can open its doors, this centurion schoolhouse needs a little TLC. Work It Out Seattle has already received a City of Seattle $100,000 Neighborhood Matching grant for the first year of the project, but its relying on community volunteers - like those of BEAN Seattle and its partner groups - to help fix up Horace Mann and successfully integrate the city’s at-risk youth back into society.

Under the guidance and direction of Stevens, a long-time BEAN Seattle member, the community volunteers will be stripping, sanding and refinishing the school’s vast hardwood floors. These floors show decades of wear and decay, but BEAN Seattle's team of volunteers is dedicated to making them shine once more - all 11,000 square feet of them!

About Work It Out Seattle (from the Central District News):

The People's Family Life Center is starting a new program called "Work It Out", which will provide educational resources and job training to young people who have dropped out of school. As we reported last week, People's Family Life Center is a branch of the People's Institutional Baptist Church, located in the 150 block of 24th Ave.

The program will serve ages 16-21, giving the students a chance to develop skills that can save them from poverty and homelessness. A promotional flyer, attached at left, says that the program will focus on three core principles:

  • Rigor: A challenging academic program preparing all youth for college, work and citizenship.
  • Relevance: Learning experiences that students find engaging and meaningful to their current and future lives.
  • Relationships: Small schools provide the opportunity for students and teachers to know each other well resulting in close and supportive bonds between and among students and faculty.

Duncan says that the program will run on a 3-year trial basis.

Well, there will be students in the school (just not Garfield students). I hope this is a successful program for these kids at risk.

7 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

NOVA students had to leave the building because it wasn't suitable for use as a school, and now the District has leased it to folks who will use it as a school.

robin said...

Yes, Charlie, and the same for TT Minor.

ttln said...

this makes me so sad. no one tell the staff at NOVA. they might quit over this one.

seattle citizen said...

John Marshall was closed in 2007. One wonders how its students are doing. I know one who shot someone. Another ran the streets with a shotgun.

The building now houses "lifetime learning," a small (non-profit?) organization that offers classes for oldsters, things like Shakespeare and writing and weaving. This school moved to Marshall from Queen Anne.

Horace Mann closed hardly a year ago, and will now by a church-run school of some kind, looking to assist students who have fallen out of the system...perhaps students who might otherwise be carrying nines and street-sweepers.

Martin Luther King Elementary closed, and we were able to publicly watch the proceedings to sell/lease the building (coincidentally, also to a Central District church organization). No such publicity seems to have accompanied the leasing of the John Marshall and Horace Mann buildings.

Why are three schools closed, only to be reopened as schools for secular and non-secular private organizations?

A displaced group of "high achieving" Nova students is replaced, at John Marshall, with a displaced group "high level" (Shakespeare, weaving) livetime learners (over 50, please), while students very much like the displaced "at risk" John Marshall students will have a similar program, though private and Christian (nominally: The People's Church seems to be the overarching agency of this new Mann school), started in the Horace Mann building and, nearby, AME church starts a youth program in the Martin Luther King school.

Why was the Martin Luther King lease so public and the others not?

Who in the community is interested in buildings after they are closed, who does the district work with in the community to lease buildings (actively pursue as tenants), and who not? Does everyone get a chance to bid on using a closed school? Might the public have a say in what goes into ALL buildings?

John Marshall still has plenty of room - I vote for more "high level" and more "at risk", and even some "at level" and "all-children-are-above-average" classes for students of all stripes be built into a program there.

If the public down in CA can take back Sacramento, maybe the public here can take back John Marshall.

Jan said...

Can someone remind me -- I know that various derogatory things were said about building conditions for Mann and TT Minor during the school closure debacle -- um, I mean debate -- but I always saw that stuff as "padding." I thought that the REAL reasons always had to do with saving money by closing buildings. Am I misremembering?

It still bugs me to no end that NOVA and the SBOC had to move, because in each case they moved into buildings that, as I recall, were in worse shape than the ones they left. But I always thought it was about the appearance of saving dollars, not the conditions of Mann and TT Minor.

Charlie Mas said...

The savings from closing buildings came first and foremost from salary reductions as the district shed the cost of the non-teaching staff in the school: principal, secretary, nurse, etc.

That savings was not realized with the NOVA or S.B.O.C. moves because each of those schools retains their own administration. They do share a librarian now, but NOVA didn't have one before. NOVA was the least expensive high school in the system for non-teaching costs. It should have been the LAST school cut.

The other purported "savings" from the closures was the evasion of the capital cost potential in the maintenance and repair backlog at the schools. This cost was not actually evaded, however. First, because it was only a theoretical cost - the District had no plans to do the work on the backlog. Second, because the District still has to incur some of those costs whether the building is open or closed, especially those for the maintenance and repair of the building "envelope". Third, because the District is paying those costs to make the buildings suitable for lease. Compounded onto those savings that did not appear, there are the costs associated with closing a building. These include the cost of mothballing the school, moving the assets (furniture, curriculum materials, library, musical instruments, sports gear, etc.), storing the assets, and keeping the school building secure (so no one steals the copper wire or copper pipes).

The District saved some money on the NOVA move by refusing to move or store some of the assets. The NOVA community had to move and store them. I had half of the school in my basement that summer.

Then, of course, there comes the costs of making the new location suitable for use. For what it is costing the District to make Meany suitable for use by NOVA and the S.B.O.C. they could have torn down the Mann building and re-built it from the ground up. They could have found another building, say Van Asselt or T.T. Minor and fixed it up for the S.B.O.C. Gee, then Summit K-12 could have moved into the Meany building - a building divided in ways that would be very suitable for use as a K-12.

Ah, well, water under the bridge. Almost none of the closures or moves made a lot of sense or were done for the stated reasons. Summit was closed to save on transportation costs. I have no idea why NOVA was moved - other than to hassle the alternative community. Maybe to justify keeping Summit out of Meany. The Cooper closure was to provide a building for Pathfinder. Pathfinder would have gotten a building through BEX III if The New School hadn't taken their place in line.

Jan said...

You may well be right, Charlie. Moving NOVA may have just been a "pretext" so they could say they "had" to close Meany. That, of course, was a pretext for telling Washington that they had to make room for the Meany kids -- which in turn was done to justify the move of APP north (never mind that, of all the things on the list -- that was the ONLY one that didn't need an "excuse" -- since they were for the first time siting a north APP program in the (gasp) north!

Reading your post makes me want to scream though. How great it would have been if we had had the Board members making those observations at the time. Oh well. As you say -- water under the bridge.