Capacity Management Briefing

The District staff gave the School Board a briefing on the current status of Capacity Management yesterday afternoon.

I'll give you the short version: The plane has flown into the mountain.

The District will be seriously deficient in capacity for 2012-2013 all over the place:
Elementary schools in every part of the city except the Hamilton and McClure service areas will be at or over capacity.
Elementary schools in the Denny service area will be critically over capacity.
Four middle schools will be critically over capacity: Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Mercer and Whitman.

The numbers for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 just get worse.

Here's the worst news of all: the District does a perfectly terrible job of counting students and counting seats. The numbers shown to the Board are "adjusted" numbers. They are adjusted to discount students in option schools, students in APP, and students in K-8s. So, although the District reduced the student count for these populations, they didn't discount the school capacities for these populations.

Take a look at the numbers for Hamilton. It shows that the school has a functional capacity of 938 and it shows "adjusted" student population in the service area of 661, so they conclude that the school will only be at 70% of capacity. Gee. I guess they forgot about the 220 or so APP students at Hamilton. Put them into the school and the building is at 94% of capacity. Or, viewed another way, reduce the capacity of the school by 220 students and the school's capacity for area students is 92% full.

Is this the way that they calculated the right size for the Garfield attendance area? Did they forget to reduce the capacity available in the school by the number of APP students?

Seriously, this mistake is so basic, so stupid, that is defies credibility.

In all of the capacity management calculations, going all the way back to the beginning of this whole messed up exercise, the District has never thought about non-geographic communities. Given the number of students in option schools and special programs, it astonishes me that the folks planning capacity have forgotten them.

So guess what the District staff is going to do? First, they are going to go around and calculate the functional capacity at each school - WHAT?!? Ummm, dude, haven't we done that about three times already? Are you telling me that none of those counts were any good? Then, their big plan is to place portables all over the District wherever more capacity is needed.

This briefing exposed the desperately poor state of the District's capacity planning and revealed the unspeakably poor job the District has done so far reckoning how many schools we need or where we need them.

I'll say again: they think that Aki Kurose has too many students but Hamilton could take half again as many.

By the way, check out the slide for the timeline for construction. Do you see the community engagement on there? No, you don't. They left it out. Just didn't think of it.

Look at these numbers and you'll get a sense of how monumentally the District has failed throughout the entire capacity management effort. Why did the District close schools? Not for any real capacity reasons, just entirely for political reasons.


Anonymous said…
If they spend weeks rewalking the buildings for functional capacity, I will kill them. No time. No staff to do it. They JUST DID THIS with reams of paperwork for Goodloe-Johnson.

Pull the reports. Ask principals for updates of building cramming er usage since then.

Have a report ready by the next board meeting. Period. Then get moving on finding solutions. Like opening more buildings.

This is EXACTLY why the community screams about the district needing to LISTEN. This is not new news to any involved school community.

Glad for the future they have now formed a community demographics advisory committee, but it's not going to help on the planning work that should have been done the last two years.

Disappointed said…
On closing schools, it is worth going back and look at Maria Goodloe-Johnson's justification for closing schools just two years ago, in 2009, and all the shortsighted and wrongheaded talk of unacceptable levels of excess capacity. Here is one of those documents:

Closing TT Minor, in particular, was an obvious mistake, as many of us in the community said at the time.
"First, they are going to go around and calculate the functional capacity at each school - WHAT?!?"

Nonsense and BS. Did the Board say anything? This is a total waste of time.

Someone challenged my belief that this district can't handle 3% growth. I stand by that belief.
Anonymous said…
"Adding, relocating and/or removing programs" is considered an option for next school year.

When will families find out whether or not their child may be moved to another location? What would happen to siblings that enrolled at a school with one in a program and one not?

The "new" functional capacities will most likely take into account all of the portables that weren't in place previously. The Board should also request building limits in terms of Health and Safety (fire code, etc.).

-Riding the roller coaster of SPS
Po3 said…
Closing Meany and reducing middle school capacity by 500 (or so) seats was also a very bad idea.
Anonymous said…
Eckstein at 187% capacity in 2012-13!!! Portables won't solve that problem. Time to open up a new middle school in the North and re-draw the feeder patterns.

- RB1986
Patrick said…
Portables should be seen as a short-term solution. If you have portables all over the place for years and years it's time to build a permanent addition or else open a new school.

They think they have time to revisit every school and calculate usage yet again, but not time for community engagement?

PS, what is with that chart? Did they fuzz it on purpose?

WV's take on the situation: offull.
Anonymous said…
To almost quote Reagan: "Here [they] go again."

It's Eli Broad's "run it like a business" corporate governance theology, who's crusaders aim to run school buildings the same way airlines sell seats.

Don't we remember the SI (MGJ) who'd apparently never heard of a "light switch" or a "heat register" or a "steam valve" or a "door lock" as she prattled on stating "Even though the classrooms are not being used, we still have to heat them, light them, and maintain them...Um, er, really Maria? So, you like don't know how to lock your doors and turn off lights?

Obviously that was a parroted talking point from Eli Broad's SI Academy's "What to say when you're closing schools" script. But can you tell an Ed Reformer anything? Can they refrain from their their random, illogical "Ed-Reform-speak talking points long enough to count heads and realize they outnumber seats? Don't count on it.

Again, I am not anti-business, anti-corporation, or anti-capitalism. I'm anti-stupidity and anti-sledge-hammering square pegs into round holes realist!!

Because student populations are DYNAMIC and not STATIC, we must, like a savings account, have RESERVE space in each building.

But MGJ, DeBell and the rest droned on and on about "right-sizing" our schools, while shaking their heads and snickering in disgust at all of the stupid parents warning them that the population of children in the city was exploding.

Sundquist confidently and proudly told West Seattle parents who worried about overcrowded schools that they were just plain wrong. He told parents that the district had looked into those concerns and found that the students "just weren't there." No, I am not kidding! And of course West Seattle now has the most chronically over-crowded schools of any in the district. This alone should oust him from office.

Disappointed: Everything you say is true, and I was often present at meetings with Board members who were told that over and over and over again. But it didn't matter, because LEV and Gates wanted those damn schools closed, and that's who the Board works for! Get it through your head!

Charlie Mas said…
So... what are the solutions?

The obvious solution, of course, is to re-open a whole mess of buildings everywhere they are needed.

Re-open Wilson-Pacific as a middle school. That would provide the needed middle school capacity in the north-end.

Re-open John Marshall as the location for north-end elementary APP and a general education program. That would relieve overcrowding in the Eckstein service area and the Washington service area.

Use this re-draw of the attendance area boundaries as an opportunity to make the language immersion and Montessori programs into option programs. If not all of them then at least JSIS.

Right-size the Spectrum programs. There should be a Spectrum seat in their service area for every eligible student and a seat at every Spectrum school for every Spectrum-eligible student in that school's attendance area. There should be a Spectrum seat available at Wedgwood, for example, for every Spectrum-eligible student in the Wedgwood attendance area who wants one.

Re-open Fairmount Park to relieve overcrowding the in the Madison service area. I know that the District's numbers show overcrowding in the Denny service area and not in the Madison service area, but this is just another example of how messed up their numbers are.

Re-open Van Asselt as a K-5 and convert Van Asselt at AAA into a traditional pedagogy K-8. That would relieve the reported elementary overcrowding in the Mercer and Aki Kurose service area and the reported middle school overcrowding in the Aki Kurose service area.

I could suggest some other changes, but the numbers provided in this presentation are so obviously flawed that it is pointless to use them as the basis for any decisions.

We really need better numbers than the District staff have provided here.
Anonymous said…
Did they say anything about what they are going to do about overcrowding at Lowell next year? Predictions I've heard from people at the school are 700 students in a space built for 490. Would they actually move kids to a different location before school starts in September?
Anonymous said…
I'm going to say something heretical here: Instead of moving North End APP from Lowell, isn't it time to open a new APP elementary program North of the Ship Canal, allowing voluntary transfers for anyone who wants to go, with a new direct pathway for incoming students?

APP elementary is growing at an alarming rate, and Thurgood Marshall will soon be overcrowded too if Lowell is not available to Capital Hill & Queen Anne area kids.

I think the APP-AC needs to start planning for this. The optional now/mandatory later transition plan was well received for the new APP HS plans for Ingraham, and I think its obvious that if we wait for the district to act, the result could be disastrous.

Anonymous said…
My son will be new to APP in 2011-2012, and we are in NE Seattle. I would voluntarily choose send him to a new location in N. Seattle instead of Lowell in September. He's already moving buildings, so it really doesn't matter to me if he moves to Lowell or some new APP location. I bet there are other families like ours, and that would relieve the overcrowding. True, there's energy in starting up another new program, the extra curricular activities wouldn't be in place, etc, but those seem worth it for a North location and to relieve overcrowding.
Anonymous said…
Re-posted from the SeaTimes comments section, courtesy of gp98155 in Lake Tapps, WA.

(Perhaps the best LMAO comment I've read this year).

3. Generally speaking, in my view I could carve better “executives” out of bananas than many of the educrats taking up space downtown. And bananas cost 59 cents a pound, while educrats cost $100k+ per empty suit. True, bananas rarely make good decisions, but evidently neither do educrats. Most importantly bananas never make bad decisions, which would solve the biggest problem with educrats.

Thank you gp98155 in Lake Tapps, WA, whomever you are, nailing it and making me laugh at the same time. WSEADAWG
suep. said…
Sounds like another crisis for SPS, doesn't it?

And yet another case of parents' tired refrain of, 'Hate to say we told you so, SPS, but..."

Remember Meg's great Powerpoints on the problems of Goodloe-Johnson's 2008-09 "Capacity Management Plan"?

Remember our ESPVision petition that opposed it, and which garnered over 1700 signatures districtwide?

We, the parents, teachers, students and concerned members of the Seattle Public Schools community, oppose the capacity management proposal put forth by School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, which would close as many as seven school buildings and discontinue (or dramatically alter) as many as 14 programs, directly impacting over 4,000 children citywide and negatively affecting many more through class-size increases and other unintended consequences.

You would think the district would want to get basic things like demographic predictions and capacity right, if it expects voters to have faith in its management and sign over more levy money to it.

Charlie, Hamilton is full. Some incoming 6th graders won't be able to take some language classes this fall because of this. The growing music program has to use space at Lincoln. I think the north end location of middle school APP, combined with the language immersion and Spectrum programs have put Hamilton on the map for families that might not have noticed it before.

Seems there's need for another middle school in the north end. Does Jane Addams have any more room for more MS kids?

T.T. Minor should never have been closed. Nova should have been allowed to stay in the Mann building, and SBOC should have been given its long-promised own permanent building. Meany was needed as a middle school. And, of course, the Cooper closure created a cascading royal mess in W. Seattle.

Lowell meanwhile is predicted to have as many as 700 kids in the fall. That's way over any definition of capacity and more than it had before the split (one of the ever-changing rationales the district gave for the APP split was to ease Lowell's overcrowding -- so much for that).

It seems there is not enough room at Lowell for three thriving programs. Maybe it is time for a true north-end location for elementary APP, and make Lowell SPED, Gen ed/Spectrum. This could ease the crowding from neighboring Stevens and Montlake. I say this reluctantly because in a perfect world, the three programs at Lowell could thrive together if they had more space, and my family would miss the longstanding APP/SPED connection if APP were to leave Lowell.

At what point do the district's overcapacity problems become a fire and safety hazard? Lowell has yet to get those sprinklers promised in the Feb 2010 levy. It houses some of the district's most medically fragile kids. The thought of evacuating 700 kids under these circumstances leaves me as a parent very worried.

Madrona was never really part of the district's capacity management discussion in 08-09, yet it has k-8 capacity. Can something be developed there to make it an attractive option to the Central District families?

Viewlands is slated to go back online in the fall under Lisa Escobar, right? Anyone know what it will offer and who it might appeal to? And isn't Rainier View meant to go back online too?

Maybe we can all brainstorm some solutions and present them to the board.

--Sue p.
dan dempsey said…
Plan for the Future ... School Board candidates 2011
Reelect NO ONE.

Look how messed up Elementary School enrollment was from square one in West Seattle.... Take a bow Steve. Close Fairmont Park and then Steve closes Cooper. Is it too much to ask that Directors have half a clue about what is happening in their district?

If Steve had the slightest clue about what was happening in West Seattle, he would not be filing for reelection. .... Let us see some West Seattle folks filing as SB candidates in early June.
suep. said…
p.s. -- T.T. Minor is currently being leased out to Hamlin Robinson School. So it is functioning, and could be put back online pretty easily. But SPS has a 7-year lease with HR.
Anonymous said…
This older document, May 2009, shows Wilson with a capacity of 836. It's currently home to the Homeschool Resource Center (enrollment of around 150).
Anonymous said…
When our kids were little we'd get mailings from Child Profile (a state of WA thing, I think) every 6 months relating to the health and development of a child at that age. Key milestones and safety for kids of that specific age.

Child Profile knows the address and birthdate of a huge proportion, I'd guess, of the kids in this state. I think they get them from pediatricians.

If SPS could access this data, they'd know how many kids live in each attendance area and their ages, starting at about 6 months old.

Instead they rely on projections from 10-year old demographic studies. They assumed that a huge bump in elementary students in our cluster was a "bubble", when the Child Profile data would have shown them that it was the leading edge of a tsunami. As a result, we ended up in a panic situation of knowing there would not be enough elementary seats in 9 months. 9 months of lead time, instead of years to plan for it.

In this one respect, school districts should be run like businesses, because any serious business would have figured this out and had their hands on that good data. It's cost so much to be so sloppy. And has anyone been fired over this joke of a job in forecasting and planning? In a good business, that person would have been out long ago.


Don't get it
Patrick said…
Does Jane Addams have any more room for more MS kids?

Some, yes, but not the 1300 kids that that briefing projects Eckstein will be over.

I haven't seen next year's projected enrollments. This year JA had about 440, which is a bit over 100 more than last year. I don't know where the capacity figures have gone on the District's web site, but I remember JA capacity being about 800 the last time I looked.

If the projections are accurate, the District will need much more capacity in the NE even after JA fills.
Charlie Mas said…
The Mann Building is leased as well. So are Van Asselt and John Marshall.

The list of available buildings is actually pretty short:

Wilson-Pacific, Lincoln, Fairmount Park, E.C. Hughes, Magnolia, Boren, and Columbia. Three of those are in West Seattle.

The District is going to have to boot out a tenant to use John Marshall and to use the Mann Building as a Garfield annex.

As for the S.B.O.C. and The NOVA Project sharing Meany, that can't last. The District wants the S.B.O.C. to grow. It will either push out NOVA or it will need a new building of its own. There is space available within Rainier Beach, but that's not a good location for an all-city draw program. NOVA is easier to re-locate, but where? The Mann Building would be the best choice but it could be too embarassing for the District to move NOVA back.
Anonymous said…
Speaking of capacity in West Seattle, two Cooper parents have filed with the PDC to run against Steve Sundquist in District 6, Joy L. Anderson and Charita L. Dumas.

They were two leaders of a group of parents who brought a lawsuit against the district over its clever legal gambit of declaring that it was in fact not closing Cooper, only closing some sort of "program" there which of course was a very minor thing and beneath notice, thus avoiding any pesky requirements to allow the public a chance to affect the decision in any way.

The district duly convinced Superior Court Judge P. Kallas of their superior legal skills and won resoundingly. So now, coming to a voting booth near you. Cooper II, the Sequel.
Anonymous said…
Whoops. Forgot my -Steveroo tag line.


Speaking of capacity in West Seattle, two Cooper parents have filed with the PDC to run against Steve Sundquist in District 6, Joy L. Anderson and Charita L. Dumas.

They were two leaders of a group of parents who brought a lawsuit against the district over its clever legal gambit of declaring that it was in fact not closing Cooper, only closing some sort of "program" there which of course was a very minor thing and beneath notice, thus avoiding any pesky requirements to allow the public a chance to affect the decision in any way.

The district duly convinced Superior Court Judge P. Kallas of their superior legal skills and won resoundingly. So now, coming to a voting booth near you. Cooper II, the Sequel.

Dorothy Neville said…
Seriously, they said they would go to each school to evaluate space for portables. Charlie is not exaggerating when he said that the main point of yesterday's briefing was to inform the board that they were planning to gather the data on capacity of buildings and grounds.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan dempsey said…
Capacity Management mirrors academic management ... Is there a Stupidity policy that is being followed?
suep. said…
That's great news that Sundquist will have challengers. Anderson's family was directly and negatively impacted by the Cooper closure decision. Sundquist will definitely be facing the music on this one. Finally.
suep. said…
I've also heard that the district is planning to move Nova and SBOC out of the Meany bldg for about 2 years in order to retrofit it etc.

(Yep, more disruption for both schools.)

When that will happen, I'm not sure. Where the district will put the two schools in the meantime, who knows. This might lead to more chaos -- or be an opportunity for the district to right some wrongs against both these schools. How bout the district put Nova back at Mann (cancel lease?), and SBOC somewhere good and permanent, and when in reopens Meany, make it a middle school once again?

kellie said…
Charlie, I respectfully disagree with your assessment about not needing to review the functional capacity numbers. These are the numbers from which all decisions are made and the current numbers are suspect.

The functional capacity numbers created by Brad Bernatek and then approved by MGJ were simply ridiculous. I found it absolutely absurd that one set of functional capacity numbers were used to justify closing buildings in 04, 05, 07 and 09 and then this new magic functional capacity numbers simply replaced the numbers that had previously been used from the 2010 Facilities report.

Meg Diaz reported and testified that in response to community claims of over-crowding, suddenly new numbers proved that the north end was not over crowded and the that south end had very tidy extra space to be closed. What suddenly changed? Nothing except the magic functional capacity numbers.

Capacity management is quite simply having enough seats for students. The district's one size fits all policy about capacity numbers has been truly destructive. All conversations have been about aggregate number of seats and aggregate number of students.

However, it is about having the right number of seats at each grade level and in each part of town.
If the district is ever going to get anything right about capacity, they have to have two things established - the number of seats in each grade and the number of students in each grade.

Right now, they do not accurately report either of these numbers in a meaningful manner.

I am constantly shocked that enrollment numbers are not broken down by cohort year. This myth that the district was shrinking and then suddenly grew is absurd. Cohort size has been growing for between 6-9 years depending on the cluster. Three years ago is when the aggregate growth in elementary school, tipped the entire growth for the district. This should have scared the crap of people downtown and it didn't.

Real baseline capacity numbers broken down by building capacity, additional current portable capacity and the potential portable capacity is critical and is what Brad should have done, if he wasn't so busy justifying closing schools.
suep. said…
Kellie brings up a good point. Goodloe-Johnson and her Magic Numbers guy Bernatek probably did create whatever "data" they needed to justify her plans. We had very public evidence of that with Bernatek's "17 percent" college-ready fiasco.

Maybe what the district is proposing to do now is to do it right this time.

This could be a good thing if it means the district finally wants real and accurate numbers. But it's also another damning element of MGJ (and her Broad-trained residents') legacy.

MGJ made "data-driven" decisions all right -- but the "data" was totally bogus.

(So glad our board kept rewarding MGJ's work with bonuses and extensions...!?)

Anonymous said…
Nova is not moving. Yes, there are design meetings happening but it has been made clear that moving Nova again would devastate the program and staff.
Anonymous said…
Part 1

I'd like to know much did it cost for these folks at central admin to get this so completely wrong?

If districts are to run like corporations as per the basic premise for ed reform these days, the bozo's responsible for such a ridiculous initial report should be fired. Either way, they need to be put on notice and their performance monitored just like any teacher or staff member in a school would be handled.

To imagine that Enfield wanted to fire a principal on such faulty criteria, and yet will live with such a poor excuse for in-house staff, wasting money, time and the well-being of our children. It's inexcusable.

And about Nova, SBOC and Nova were pawns in a game that DeBell and GJ were playing. So many of us sent the board members e-mails and spoke countless times in front of board member, who began to resemble bobble-head dolls to me, about the projection by the mayor's office in terms of growth in the Central District and Capitol Hill, telling them just to look at the housing going up in the area for families in anticipation of the boom. It was just common sense if nothing else that Meaney should have remained a junior high school for the area but that wasn't the plan.

DeBell had constituents on the north end who were complaining about over-capacity in their schools. The building that SBOC was in, it was suggested, would be perfect for an elementary school. They moved SBOC into the Meaney building, I am assuming, as a stop-gap measure until they fulfilled their promise for a new building for SBOC. And Nova, perfect numbers in terms of population, or so they thought. Both were uprooted and moved into a building that was not suitable for both programs to be housed in. And how do I know this was all about DeBell? Because at a community meeting on the north end with DeBell and Carlyle, when the ink wasn’t even dry on the paper regarding school closures, DeBell announced to his people that the SBOC building would be used for students living in the north end. Sweet deal for him but not for countless other students and families. He was soon after re-elected, running unopposed. The reasoning for why both programs should be relocated were flimsy. The Mann building was reported to be “unsafe” because the floor squeaked according to a facilities report but the Meaney building, according to their own structural engineer’s report, was in major need of seismic upgrades, not so with the Mann building. DeBell said to The Friends of SBOC that the desks were too small for the SBOC students, I kid you not, I was in that meeting when he said that. That was his reasoning for relocating SBOC students out of a well-loved building and shelter from what had been a hostile world to these students.
Anonymous said…
Part 2

Once again, the ineptitude of central admin comes to light in their square foot calculations for how to fit Nova in half of the Meaney building. I worked out the square footage of what was being used in the Mann building and compared it to square forage in the Meaney building, it was off by about 5,00 square feet and I couldn’t figure out how that could be, then I realized that the mental giants downtown had not subtracted the child care center that was the exact square footage that I had calculated that the Nova program was missing. The child care center is part of the Miller Park Community Center and is owned by them so they would not be leaving. When I asked facilites about it, they said that they had walked the building and worked out the square footage themselves, maybe fifty years ago but not since that child care program had been in the space.

On top of that, the former supe wanted Nova to increase in population and Nova took on an addition 55 students that fall, most in the special ed program There was not enough room for us to begin with but between the sloppy work downtown and the focus on DeBell’s pursuit to please his constituents, many lost out.

Why did they close Meaney to begin with? Many guess that the plan was to convert it into a charter school down the road knowing that there would be a need for more class space later on. I wouldn’t have put it past our former supe to have done just that.

Those closures were partly political and partly based on the sheer ineptitude of staff but based mostly on the former supe's agenda. Now with her gone, we can pick up the pieces and move on.
Kellie, I respectfully disagree.

Facilities has had several walk-thrus of buildings over the last couple of years. They KNOW what they have. This is just ridiculous to do this again.
mirmac1 said…
Ho Ho Ho, went back to read not-so-ancient history, namely leasing out buildings on Board agenda for 5/5/10:

"Prior to issuing the RFP in December, the staff considered the permissible lease durations for each of the schools. This involved looking at current capacity and enrollments, projections and the uncertainty involved in the projections due to the New Student Assignment Plan. The best projection was that T. T. Minor would not be needed for at least 7 years and Mann for 3 years.
When the proposals came in on March 4, the staff again took a look at each school, and confirmed the projected time periods for needing each school.

Questions have been raised specifically focusing on T. T. Minor. According to current 10-year projections, the number of elementary school residents in the Stevens attendance area (where T. T. Minor is located) is not expected to grow between now and 2018. Based on 2015 projections used in developing the New Student Assignment Plan, there will be 330 excess elementary seats in this service area at that point (plus however many students from the service area attend TOPS)." (cont.)
mirmac1 said…
"We are projecting an increase of about 400 elementary students in the entire
Washington Middle School service area over the next ten years; the increases are projected in all attendance areas except Gatzert and Stevens. Depending on where the growth occurs and where we have capacity, we may or may not need to modify any boundaries and/or open any buildings in the service area. These projections do not yet reflect any potential increase with the Yesler Terrace Project; but we very well could see growth in the Gatzert area once that new housing is added. Kathy Johnson has confirmed with SHA that the Yesler Terrace Project is a 20 year plan, with demolition on phase 1 being 2011 (potentially reducing K-12 enrollment in the Washington service area), with units available for residents beginning in 2015.

As noted above, the tenant at T.T. Minor has requested a District commitment that it can rent the building at least through June 2015. Enrollment trends can certainly change. If that occurs, the District would proceed under Capacity Management Policy H13.00, adopted November 2009, and look at a number of options, such as adjusting school boundaries, adjusting geographic zones for option schools, adding or moving portables or renovating buildings. Reopening a school is not a likely option prior to 2015, as reopening costs several million dollars, and funding to do so will not be available prior to BEX IV, with levy funds not being collected until the start of 2014.

If the T. T. Minor building is needed prior to 7 years, the District has the right to terminate the lease and reclaim the building. The lease contains a provision allowing the District to terminate by any March 15, starting March 2014, which vacates the building by June 15 a year later. This gives the District the ability to plan and carry out any capital improvements needed to make a school ready for occupancy that fall, while allowing the tenant (which operates a school) the ability to find a new location and stay in the rented building until the end of their school year. "
kellie said…
Mel, I agree with you. They have had many walk throughs. However, the unbelievably sad thing, is that they haven't seen or learned anything from these walk throughs. They were walk throughs done with an agenda and they saw what they wanted to see.

The last time through, I had suggested that they needed to get both the principal and the PTA to sign off on the numbers before they were ok'ed. It is just too easy to pressure the principals to agree with some of the crazy numbers.

I thought that they needed to at least have an asterisk next to any number the the PTA formally disagreed with AND that they should have to compare all of the new numbers to the numbers that were used in the closure rounds.

This game of using one set of numbers to open schools and one set of numbers to close them is dangerous AND the numbers they are currently using are unsubstantiated.

Continuing to use bad numbers because we had no time to get good numbers (we have to close schools NOW) got us in this mess.
kellie said…
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kellie said…
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klh said…
I didn't see any data on High Schools - only Elementary and Middle. Does anyone know why they left the high schools out? Seems that the problem will be hitting them as well. Maybe not a soon, but if the middle schools are about to explode, I'd think the high schools couldn't be far behind.
Dorothy Neville said…
Kellie, the frustrating thing is that it doesn't look like they are going to do the new walkthroughs any better. You are absolutely correct that the past data is spurious. Will they form the task force before this data collection? They absolutely need your and other citizens' expertise here.

What is galling to me is the page with the "Tools to Accommodate Space Needs" that says that for both short and intermediate term needs they can use "more efficient space utilization" and "surge capacity."

But isn't it the case that surge capacity is maxed out at a lot of schools? And how many more schools can accommodate more portables?

The presentation was a mess because of exactly what Kellie says, not breaking data down by grades and also because, as Charlie said, they simply eliminated projected APP and option kids and seats from the equations. And they are ignored high schools. Really, the level of detail and the TBD lise for this presentation might have been appropriate three or five years ago, but not now. Not at all.
StunnedtoNearSilence said…
When we moved to Seattle I looked at the population grown projections commissioned by the SPS and was stunned that they failed to account for the giant baby boom in Ballard and N. Seattle. As I was walking our neighborhood was teeming with small children and babies. I kept thinking they'd have to get some perspective just through simple common sense. Then they closed school. Then they reopened school. Now I'm here reading this and shaking my head.

So many of us have strong ideas and seemingly good judgement. Anyone from this blog ever run for school board? We should work to support a full turn over and out the idiots who got us into this place. If the school board fails to hold the district accountable to serving the students of Seattle, we will simply settle into the endless cycle of idiocy we've been watching as long as I've been in town.
GWparent said…
West Seattle elementary schools in the Madison service area have a huge capacity problem. While the wacky numbers might not show this, I'm not sure how the district can ignore that or claim ignorance since they just installed several new portables in our area. At my son's school they now take up a big portion of our playground, two flights of stairs down from the building with no plumbing - excellent planning for sure (insert sarcasm).
Charlie Mas said…
Let me reiterate the gist of the briefing for the Board:

The plane has flown into the mountain!

These two jolly guys from Facilities cheerfully reported that the District is TOTALLY SCREWED. They let the Board in on the open secret that the District was significantly short on school capacity all over the city.

The Board was dumbstruck.

Incredible as it might seem, the Board apparently believed the obviously false counts by the previous superintendent and her minions. They appeared to be genuinely shocked to learn that the District is wildly overcrowded.

You have to be wondering
How is that possible?

First, the Board Directors weren't going to hear any real numbers from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. That just wasn't how she operated.

Second, the Board Directors weren't going to hear the truth about capacity from anybody in the buildings. Remember, no one but "C" level executives were allowed to talk to the Board.

Third, they weren't going to hear about it from anyone in the JSCEE. The central staff told the Board nothing except what the superintendent told them to say.

Fourth, they did hear about it - and hear about it accurately and frequently - from the public BUT they were under strict orders to disbelieve everything they heard from members of the public.

So, now, when the truth was finally leaked to them in this briefing, you could see the shock and dismay on their faces. You could see the sudden realization of how horribly they had failed written all over their faces.

The District is completely unprepared for the number of students who are going to appear in the next couple of years and the district is not going to be able to find classrooms for all of them.

Any honest count of the students and the seats would have led the District to bring more schools online sooner. But the politics of the time required the District to close schools. So they made the politically driven decision instead of the data driven decision. And now they are screwed.
kellie said…
During the last round of closures I cornered Brad at a board presentation and he showed me how he was calculating the numbers on his spreadsheet.

I pointed out a dozen very obvious gaps in logic to no avail. He insisted that the new "formula" was perfect but most importantly that this was the spreadsheet he was given and he was filling it in. When I pointed out that a HUGE issue was that it was impossible to use a standard template for elementary capacity when you have multiple building designs. He insisted that was just not relevant.

I also pointed out that his formula did not account for building utilization, special programming for spec ed or ELL, OR contractual PCP time.

That didn't matter, he kept repeating that the formula was even handed and would solve everything. All it did was justify the already existing over crowding and make it look like the over crowded schools were just a bunch of whiners.

I testified to the board multiple times that the functional capacity numbers were just plain wrong and that using these numbers would lead to more damaging decision making.

Better utilization is Gone. Surge capacity is Gone. Closing schools was HUGE mistake and it is time that someone admitted this.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's a radical idea:

The three most crowded high schools are Ballard, Roosevelt, and Garfield. That overcrowding could be relieved easily by re-opening Lincoln High School.

If that happened, then the District would have extra room in every high school. They already have it at Hale, Ingraham, West Seattle, Sealth and Rainier Beach.

After re-opening Lincoln, the District could move the 8th grade into the high schools and made them 8-12 instead of 9-12. It would certainly facilitate access to high school math, science, and world language classes for middle school students.

It's a radical idea, but it would open up about a third of the space at the middle schools.

Hale and Ingraham have about 1,000 students each, so they would need room for another 250. I think they have it. Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield would each need room for another 400 students, but they could make that space by sending 400 of each school's students to Lincoln.

Lincoln easily has room for 400 from each of those three schools plus space for another 400 8th grade students.

Franklin doesn't have space, but Rainier Beach has enough space for both of them, so that would just require a little northward shift in the boundary line for the attendance areas.

The tricky ones would be West Seattle and Sealth, but maybe they don't have to do it because their middle schools, Madison and Denny, aren't overcrowded. Also, with Denny re-located onto the Sealth campus, it's as if it is already planned to become a 6-12 school.

Is this just crazy?
I'm not altogether shocked given their population projections for schools from a previous capacity management work session. So why is the Board so shocked?
RosieReader said…
StunnedtoNearSilence -- It's actually a bit harder to track demographics than to walk around a neighborhood and notice babies. Most of us tend to notice families that look like ours a lot more than we notice the other families. These days, I'm noticing high school students and aside from the cute factor, the little ones barely come onto my radar. There's a great post from Sightline's blog which shows that, while yes, there's been some increase, it's not completely dramatic.

As with most things, the District could be doing a whole lot better on this front, but let's not pretend it's easy. At best, it's educated guesses.
Dorothy Neville said…
Kellie, it is probably good you were not present yesterday because your head would probably have exploded.
dan dempsey said…
Dear Stunned,

It is a trust issue.... the Board just keeps trusting their hired professionals .... and distrusting the public.

You wrote:
"If the school board fails to hold the district accountable to serving the students of Seattle,"

This is NOT an "if"
.... the Board fails to serve the students about 90% of the time with its decisions.

The Directors should stop with all the BS as just say:
"We choose to trust our hired professionals"

Of course there is no reason for such trust as any trust is clearly not merited ..... but the Board trusts every time.


Serving students(???) Is rarely considered....

Spring Grade 4 MSP Math results in 2010...

For All 4th grade students
rate for students not meeting standard = 38%
(far below standard) Level 1 rate = 22%
(below standard) Level 2 rate = 16%

For Low Income 4th grade students
rate for students not meeting standard = 60%
(far below standard) Level 1 rate = 39%
(below standard) Level 2 rate = 21%

For Black 4th grade students
rate for students not meeting standard = 72%
(far below standard) Level 1 rate = 51%
(below standard) Level 2 rate = 20%

and the Board voted 7-0 on D 43.00.
D 43.00 lacks anything of substance and is a vote for more of the same.

These folks are the classic Do NOTHING Board.
Anonymous said…
So it's not immediately available, but the district could reoccupy the school if it wanted to, and Westside agreed to those terms. It would be embarrassing, but hey. The Westsider Schoolers would scramble and find somewhere.

Meanwhile, Westside has fixed it up as much as they can, and is busy expanding to K-8. Westside parents are happy with the building. Public school parents would be too, compared to the overcrowding going on now.

Anonymous said…
Jeez, I can't seem to cut and paste today.



E. C. Hughes was leased in mid-June last year to the Westside School. The lease is for 10 years, initially at $45,000 per year. It's cancellable by either party on 15 months notice, no strings attached.

So it's not immediately available, but the district could reoccupy the school if it wanted to, and Westside agreed to those terms. It would be embarrassing, but hey. The Westsider Schoolers would scramble and find somewhere.

Meanwhile, Westside has fixed it up as much as they can, and is busy expanding to K-8. Westside parents are happy with the building. Public school parents would be too, compared to the overcrowding going on now.

Anonymous said…
Speaking of crowded schools, McClure middle school has empty rooms and portables, and class sizes of 30+ and estimated to go up to 40+ next year.

Where is their money going? Into a top heavy administration and not into hiring enough teachers.

Greg said…
Love Charlie's idea of reopening Lincoln High School and making it a 8-12. Might even consider making Lincoln grades 6-12? That would open up more space at Hamilton potentially, which it could use.

Generally, it seems like the district is going to have to re-open nearly every school they can over the next 1-3 years, bringing anything that is available immediately into service starting 2012-2013 and cancelling leases on to add more new schools beyond. Not clear how else they can deal with the overcrowding and influx of new students.
suep. said…
Thanks for the update on Nova, Dora. Glad to hear the kids won't have to be disrupted again.

As for Queen Anne/Magnolia, the area does definitely have a capacity overflow problem, so opening a new elementary in that cluster was in itself not a bad decision. Like too many things with SPS, it was the way the district (including DeBell) went about it that was questionable.

The Old Hay bldg isn't in great shape, and arguably moving SBOC to a more central location made sense (I believe it's an all-city draw). But SBOC was promised its own (new?) bldg, and that didn't happen. Instead, SBOC and Nova were uprooted and made to share a building that needs a lot of work.

Btw, the Old Hay bldg and property looks like it still needs work too. I'm not sure all the promises to QA Elementary were kept either.

Patrick said…
Charlie, re-opening Lincoln would help. Is any school using it for temporary space during renovations now? Is there another school site that could be used for temporary space during future renovations?

I'm not very happy about putting 8th grade students in with high school students. (Haven't you been objecting to the capacity tail wagging the program placement dog for years?) The district should be looking for sites for another middle school in the north end.
All great ideas but keep in mind, most of these buildings are in lousy shape (ever been to Wilson-Pacific?) and Lincoln, according to the district, is almost to the end of its "fixed" life (meaning, it got fixed up for - I think - Ballard, years back). It's not like they are in move-in condition.

It's quite a dilemma and won't people be duking it out for those BEX dollars.
TechyMom said…
would it help to make sand point and macdonald k-8? is that feasible?
Anonymous said…
I'm not familiar with Mcdonald, but Sandpoint could not be a K-8. Once they are at full size, they only have room (of course the definition of "room" is ever changing) for two classes per grade K-5. I guess they could go down to one class per grade, but I'm not sure families would buy into that, especially at the 6-8 level.
someone said…
Does this really surprise anyone? I used to think the small state agency I worked for was the most dysfunctional place on the earth - not. even. close.

This gives new meaning to that famous quote - "lies, damn lies and statistics" or Twain's other lesser known fav "facts are stubborn but statistics are more pliable" Or perhaps Rex Stout says it best: "There are two kinds of statistics: the kind you look up and the kind you make up”"
J. Anderson said…

I REALLY hope your post is dripping with sarcasm, and that you are just trying to make some kind of point. Cooper II the Sequel is in the hands of the Department of Education's Civil Rights Office in the form of a compliance review. I don't intend to rip the scab off that one at this point. Please don't speculate about a potential candidate's motives until you at him or her and ASK.

West Seattle is on the edge of Armageddon, and most of us just can't take it anymore. It seems like going to Board meetings, being ignored by your own school board rep, giving them correct data, being ignored on the data, and being RIGHT when they were wrong, and let's not forget, trying to recall them- none of these things seems to make a bit of difference to the Board. I figured I could spend the next four years being bitter and complaining about it, or I could try to be on the side of change...I choose change. I am sad and disgusted to see what has become of West Seattle. There are some great parents here, smart, caring, and want to do something in a region where they are rendered powerless. Time to empower the parents of West Seattle, since we are the ones in the trenches, shoveling the manure that has been thrown on us by the District , and especially, by Sundquist. We are at critical mass, people. Gotta do something...
Josh Hayes said…
And in the midst of the terrific overcrowding in the NE cluster, Pinehurst (nee AS1) remains terribly underenrolled.

And I just don't get why. Sure, the building's a dump, but you get uncrowded classrooms, terrific teachers, and a much more mainstream approach than it used to be (for good or ill). Still, people are staying away in droves - really? You'd rather send your kid to Northgate? Or Olympic Hills? Or stuff them into Eckstein? It just makes no sense, but I have no idea how to sell it to families. And the district sure isn't helping.

But it's also a small building; even if it was "full" it'd only be taking about 150 kids in the K-8 range, and that's not much help.
Anonymous said…

You 100% have my vote. Let me know when you've got your yard signs printed.

Anonymous said…
After some nail-biting in West Seattle, it would be appear we have a wealth of qualified candidates opposing "the Tool". I am withholding my endorsement until I see the entire field. There certainly are enough things wrong in my neighborhood to warrant this kind of opposition.

Mr. Ed
StunnedtoNearSilence said…
Well certainly demographics are more difficult to map that simple walks through a neighborhood, though in most cases the casual evidence doesn't so clearly contradict collected data. I was just looking for that report on the SPS site, can't find it. Any chance you can point me to it?
And thanks for the condescension. I know the any is not easy, but it is the fact they so frequently make gaffes utilizing sketchy data or operate in what seems like a lack of context that causes my frustration.
Anonymous said…
Our school has reassured us that they will find room for kids next year, but I'm concerned.

Based on rough calculations and reading of fire code, our lunchroom can [safely] hold around 500 during assemblies. This is based on an estimated 60 ft by 60 ft area and a load of one occupant per 7 SF during assembly. I don't know the actual dimensions, so it's possible the max. occupancy is higher.

The enrollment this year is already near 600 and will be closer to 700 next year.

There was a small fire in the building this year caused by a heater malfunctioning (it was contained and thankfully before kids arrived), and it makes a parent worry...

Where are fire inspections/occupancy loads supposed to be posted and who has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the crowded schools are still within code?

Anonymous said…
Does this mean the district might be waiving the rule about needing a certain amount of ground area to put in portables? That would ease overcrowding at schools that "can't" have portables currently, but it wouldn't leave much playground space.

Wondering Parent
Anonymous said…
Also how can the fire chief sign off on overcrowded buildings? At some point, shouldn't public safety issues cap capacity?

Anonymous said…
I don't think the fire chief is "signing off" on overcrowded buildings, the district is. It's up to the school district to comply with code requirements.

So, if the max. capacity is posted, and exceeded, there are no ramifications unless they get called on it.
SC Parent said…
What's a parent got to do to get a Seattle Times series on the terrible judgment exhibited by closing several schools only to be faced with a terrible capacity problem two years later?
Anyone who supported that decision should be roasted come election time.
Anonymous said…
From a Sept. 2008 Capacity Planning community meeting:

Why not just add portables to the schools that have waiting lists and need space?

There are several things that must be considered when placing portables on school sites. The City of Seattle has requirements for how much of a site can be covered with buildings. We also need to ensure that the main school building infrastructure (restrooms, cafeteria space and playgrounds) can comfortably handle additional students.

A reader
Anonymous said…
So if a school has more students than building code allows, does that mean a specific complaint has to be made to the city zoning enforcement office, and risk having the school shut down until it meets safety and capacity regulations? I cannot imagine that if a school has too many students to safely fit in the cafeteria, then it is also meets current building capacity standards. Is SPS really going that far at places like Lowell - just shove them in the building and hope the inspectors don't notice code violations? If so, wow, just wow.

- Perplexed
Anonymous said…
There is also the plumbing code - for elementary schools, it's one "water closet" per 25 girls and one per 30 boys.

Anonymous said…
Maybe if the Board had actual numbers showing potential violations, they would take notice. Short of pulling out a measuring tape and counting bathroom stalls, where would one get the info?
Anonymous said…
Some DPD Code Compliance numbers are listed here:

DPD Complaint Hotline, (206) 615-0808
SP said…
Melissa said-
"I'm not altogether shocked given their population projections for schools from a previous capacity management work session."

Did anyone ever get an electronic copy of those projections from the last Capacity meeting? I recall Melissa saying that there were some interesting numbers but that she just had the hard copy from the meeting.

dj said…
Please do not forget that capacity issues have been exacerbated by guaranteed neighborhood school assignments, which reduce flexibility and draw parents from the neighborhood who would not enroll without the guarantee.
Anonymous said…
Did anyone ever get an electronic copy of those projections from the last Capacity meeting? I recall Melissa saying that there were some interesting numbers but that she just had the hard copy from the meeting.

Is this you're looking for?
dw said…
Greg said: Love Charlie's idea of reopening Lincoln High School and making it a 8-12. Might even consider making Lincoln grades 6-12? That would open up more space at Hamilton potentially, which it could use.

The interesting thing about a 6-12 at Lincoln is that it could help with some of the curricular and educational issues with Hamilton APP. For example, the kids who are accelerated in math beyond the standard APP path wouldn't need to be blocked from appropriate classes. One would hope they could get better science. There wouldn't be such a squeeze in foreign languages (it sounds like many kids at Hamilton are not going to be able to take a foreign language class next year!)

But all that said, I think the notion of a 6-12 is pretty radical. I don't think I'd want my 6th grader in with 18 year olds. I might be convinced if there was a realistic and manageable way to keep the populations separated, or at least 95% separated, but I'm very skeptical about that.

Much better would be an APP 1-8 at John Marshall, which has been discussed (here on SSS) in the past. It would alleviate the absolutely insane overcrowding that Lowell will face this coming year (which will only be worse the following year with NSAP!). It would put north end APP where it belongs, in the north. It would help with upcoming crowding problems at Hamilton. The building is physically central to the north and adjacent to I-5, making transportation relatively easy. And it would be very close to Roosevelt, which might allow for some kids in 8th to take HS classes, as they used to do at WMS/GHS in the past.

Do I think this will even be considered? No. People will say the building needs too much work (but occupied now), they'll whine about self-contained MS, etc. But APP at Lowell is unsustainable with the NSAP, so there will unquestionably be significant changes coming. People had better start worrying about the possibility of another APP split (3 elem sites), which would be a disaster. I'll coin a new term right now: SpectrAPP. Marshall 1-8 is a potential solution that Charlie has mentioned a number of times in the past, and I think it should get some consideration now that we can see the previous round of capacity management was a spectacular failure.
Just want some stability said…
Plans were put out for bid this week to reconfigure rooms (add/remove walls and doors) at Lowell for next year.

This "solution" may work for next year (probably no all-school assemblies, and of very questionable safety), but given the growing enrollment, the configuration is unsustainable. I also expect significant changes for the 2012-2013 year.
Greg said…
I heard today that Enfield and the Board have no plans to open new schools at all to deal with the capacity issues. Their plan is to keep all closed schools closed and only add portables.

Charlie said they planned on portables all over the place, but I didn't realize from what he said that they didn't plan to open any new schools at all.

Apparently, the reason is that there is such a bad cash flow problem that the district cannot afford to reopen schools, even if that makes the most sense in the medium-term. Instead, all they can afford to do is add lots of portables, even though that costs more in the long-term, because they don't have the money right now.

Does this jibe with what others have heard? Anyone know more?
Regarding fire code and all school assemblies.

Lafayette (in West Seattle North) doesn't hold all school assemblies any more because the students can't all fit into the cafeteria/assembly room. They made that change last year (09-10) and are getting 4 additional portables next year. I'm sure there are other schools in the same situation. A few blocks away at Schmitz Park, it seems half the school is now portables.
Between Lafayette, Schmitz and Gatewood, they added 12 new portables in the Madison service area for next year.
dp said…
For those elementary schools that are overcrowded:

What are lunches like?

Has your school had to cut back on PCP time (i.e., gym only part of the year)?

Are health and safety codes being violated (i.e., not enough restrooms/handwashing sinks)?

Does your school have max. capacities posted in assembly areas per fire code (and does your school comply)?

Just how bad is it??

This is what the Board needs to hear.
dw said…
For those elementary schools that are overcrowded:

What are lunches like?

10 minutes for lunch. Actually, it's a 15 minute block, but they ask the kids to pack up and throw away garbage after 10 minutes.

Am I the only one that thinks this is insane?! If a kid needs to use the bathroom or anything out of the ordinary, they'll have 5 minutes to eat. It's unhealthy, and to what end??

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