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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BEX IV Re-order

I think some of the District's urgency around capacity is real and some is manufactured. They have a real need for additional elementary school capacity in West Seattle and the northeast. They have a real need for middle school capacity in the north. The high school and central region middle school capacity needs aren't all that urgent.

Outside of capacity needs, they do need to take care of the World School without further delay and the renovation to Arbor Heights cannot wait.

Keeping the cash flow in mind, I would make a little re-order of the projects. The chart with the projects and their price tags is a bit misleading since the money isn't actually spent only in the year that the project completes. Still, any changes in timing have to be made with an eye to the cash flow.

The big changes I would make would be to shift Arbor Heights from 2019 to 2015, to swap the order of Schmitz Park and Thornton Creek, and to delay the move from John Marshall to Pacific Middle School for a year.

The smaller recommendations would be to make Fairmount Park an attendance area school and let STEM choose another home, to put half of north-end elementary APP at the new Thornton Creek school, and to put Van Asselt into a renovated Old Van Asselt and Wing Luke into the AAA instead of replacing the Wing Luke building.

Refer to the chart as you follow along.


2012-13 - The District plans to do some work at Boren with non-BEX money and continue to house APP at Lincoln. I presume they have already started the work at Fairmount Park. The bulk of the funding for the work at Fairmount Park  (85% of it) comes from non-BEX money that we already have. They should be spending it now if they aren't already. They should also start the work at John Marshall now. It's financed with non-BEX money and the need for north-end middle school capacity is urgent. Let's try to get Pacific at Marshall opened a year earlier.

2013-14 - The plan calls for non-BEX spending at Columbia, Van Asselt, and John Marshall. If we have this money then why are we waiting to spend it? If this work hasn't started then get it started now. Van Asselt is for Interagency and Columbia is for Meany. I don't see the urgency for the work at Columbia, but it's coming from non-BEX money, so why not start it sooner if we can. This is the first year for the new Fairmount Park school meeting at Boren. Good. That expedites the relief. Fairmount Park will be small, mostly K-1, so there should also be room at Boren for Arbor Heights. Let's get them in there next year while their school is renovated. Boren can hold a nearly new STEM, brand new Fairmount Park, and a dislocated Arbor Heights. That building is big enough for it.

More than anything else, they need to get started on the work at John Marshall to make that ready as a middle school. That is one of the most urgent needs in the District and they need to start it NOW.

2014-15 - This is the first year that BEX IV money gets spent and it goes for Mann, the least urgent project in the whole plan. That's just dumb. Of course, there's no reason to defer it and the District probably wants the space for World School expansion or for construction crews renovating Meany as a middle school. BEX money is also spent this year to finish Fairmount Park. It would be a poor allocation of resources for K5 STEM to move into Fairmount Park. We need that building as an attendance area school. There's no real urgency to move STEM out of Boren and, once it is moved out, it can go to Schmitz Park, to Hughes, or, with some finagling, to Roxhill. If it goes to Fairmount Park, however, the net additional capacity will be almost nil. Yes, we gain the seats at Fairmount Park, but we lose the seats at Boren. We need a big net gain, not a small one. STEM should stay at Boren and Fairmount Park should be used to relieve overcrowding at other schools. With Fairmount Park moving out of Boren there will be more room for STEM and Arbor Heights.

The District thinks that this will be the first year for a number of other schools, including Meany Middle School at Columbia, Interagency at Van Asselt, and Pacific Middle School at John Marshall. This is the best thing in the whole BEX IV Plan. Creating a middle school at John Marshall as early as possible (couldn't they do it in the previous year?)

It's good for Interagency to get a space, but Meany at Columbia is a crazy idea. Columbia is a tiny building and there is no real urgency to create this school. Think about it - why do we need additional middle school capacity in a part of town where we closed elementary schools four years ago and where we still have surplus elementary school capacity now? Defer the start of Meany Middle School at Columbia. We don't need it and it won't fit there anyway.

2015-16 - First, swap the timing on Thornton Creek and Schmitz Park. If Fairmount Park is used as an attendance area school, then the capacity crisis in West Seattle becomes just that much less urgent. One more year is all we need. The Thornton Creek project, however, needs to be pushed earlier. They are comparable in costs and neither one needs an interim site, so swap them. Also, this is where Arbor Heights should go. The BEX cash flow will support Arbor Heights and Thornton Creek in the same year. It will just mean a delay in other BEX IV projects. They can wait. They are not as urgent as Arbor Heights. Olympic Hills joins APP at Lincoln this year. Or at least half of APP.

The District is going to have to address a critical question in this year: will half of north-end APP go to the new school at Thornton Creek? Reasons for: The cohort will be big enough to be viable and the District should place programs close to where students live. A large number of elementary APP students live in the northeast part of the city. Plus, the transportation to Thornton Creek APP could be shared with the option school at Thornton Creek. Reasons against: It will suck up half of the capacity that we're trying to create in this part of the city. But the APP students deserve a school close to home just as much as any other student. Since a lot of would-be Thornton Creek students will end up at the attendance area school on the property, the option school can draw more students out of the other, overcrowded schools in the area. The genius of the new atttendance area school at Thornton Creek is how it will relieve overcrowding all around the area, not just locally. Also, an expanded Olympic Hills will be coming in just two more years.

2016-17 - Now comes Schmitz Park and their move to Genessee Hill. This is also the year when a lot of the non-construction BEX IV projects get done. This is the year that the World School moves out Meany and goes to T T Minor. I don't know why the District hasn't acknowledged this yet, but that's where the World School is going. It's tempting to have NOVA move out at the same time, but I think the District wants NOVA out of there sooner. In part to allow the World School room for growth, and in part to get started on the Meany renovation. Maybe they can work on the NOVA side of the building while World School uses the rest of the building.

2017-18 - In this year Olympic Hills can move back into their new school and APP is scheduled to move out of Lincoln as well. It's pretty safe to say that at least half of it will go to Wilson, which will open this year as well. North Beach moves into Lincoln to takeover the elementary classrooms there. The District thinks it will also open Meany and Pacific Middle Schools in this year. I would suggest, for cash flow reasons, that they push Pacific out another year. I know how contrary this seems after my urgency around creating this school. The use of John Marshall gave them immediate relief from the overcrowding in north-end middle schools. Once they have that, the need to move the program to its permanent location is less urgent. Meany, because it is something of a small ticket item at just $14.5m and because there's no real urgent need for it, can happen earlier or later (or not at all). This year is fine if this is a year when it fits into the cash flow.

2018-19 - This is the year when the North Beach addition is completed and those students return there from Lincoln. It is also the year when Pacific can open after four years at John Marshall. That will leave Marshall available for occupation by the first year of Lincoln High School Students. Of course, any students graduating from the 8th grade at Pacific and moving on to the 9th grade at Lincoln will simply stay in the Marshall building. The District calls that a smooth transition to high school and regards it as a strong positive.

Maybe by this time the District will have found a permanent home for K5 STEM. Remember them? I left them at Boren, but I reckoned that they would eventually land at Hughes. Unless, of course, there is a good reason to merge them into Roxhill. I suppose they could also land in an expanded Schmitz Park, renovated since the departure of that program for the Genessee Hill building. There are pros and cons for all of these locations, but I think the STEM community should have more say in it than anyone. Certainly more than me.

The district plans to move Wing Luke into the Van Asselt building this year while renovating Wing Luke.

This project piques my interest. How bad is the Wing Luke facility? Is it really in greater need than Bagley? To what extent is Wing Luke getting this total rebuild for political reasons, just so there is some project in the southeast? I don't know. I'm asking. Maybe it is absolutely necessary. Maybe not. Here's what I think. Instead of fixing up Wing Luke, let's fix up the Old Van Asselt building. Then, let's move Van Asselt back into it. When we do, we can move Wing Luke into the AAA building and leave the Wing Luke building as the interim site. Not only would it be cheaper, when we're done we won't have two attendance area schools (Wing Luke and Van Asselt) just three blocks apart.

I think that instead of rebuilding Wing Luke at a cost of $45m we might be able to better spend that money elsewhere. That money could fix up the Old Van Asselt building, make some needed renovations at Bagley, and buy bathrooms and cafeterias at a few schools. It could provide the funds to make Hughes or Schmitz Park ready for STEM. It could pay for interest so we can borrow money against future levy revenue to expedite some projects.

One more question: when Wing Luke moves in, where does Interagency go?

2019-20 - This is the first of two mop-up years. It's mostly used for additions like Queen Anne and Mercer. I'm not sure how the District thinks they will be able to move Lincoln High School into the Lincoln building in this year, just one year after North Beach Elementary moves out. I would think that there would be a lot of work involved in converting a small elementary space into a large high school space, but maybe they will have done most of the work in previous years, putting science labs and language labs and a band room and other high school specific architecture in the East Wing while the elementary students are in the West one. Or something like that.

2020-21 - The only project completed in this year is Wing Luke. Wouldn't it be better to fix up Old Van Asselt, move Van Asselt back into it, and move Wing Luke in the AAA building? I think so.

What do you think?

26 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I agree with the reprioritization of WS projects. I would throw out one other possibility. If, in fact, there is room in the proposed BEX IV budget (sans SLU and WL), then I would like to put out there a proposal that has MANY nice tidbits:

Build a new dual elementary Roxhill/STEM at the old Denny site. This places it in the middle of the Roxhill assignment area and places it nearby the Denny/CS complex and SW Community Center. You have siblings close by to pick up kids after school, or nearby afterschool care/enrichment. This places Roxhill away from busy Roxbury street (where as a kindergartner I almost got hit by a car), preserves EC Hughes for either Westside or as an interim site, and preserves a great school in a walkable neighborhood.

An elementary school was laid out for this site during the Denny/CS design process. See here

NT said...

I am in WS and like this, too. This would necessitate a boundary redrawing for the new neighborhood school at Fairmount for the 2013-14 school year?

Charlie Mas said...

@NT.

Yes. Making Fairmount Park an attendance area schools would necessitate a re-draw of the boundaries. That's the only way for the District to manage what students are re-directed into the new school to assure that they come out of the most crowded schools.

Kathleen said...

Other than the people that put together the timeline, I don't think that there is anyone who would disagree with moving Arbor Heights up the timeline. However, I have to disagree with both Charlie and mirmac1 in regard to STEM and Fairmount Park.

The location of Fairmount Park would not easily, or logically, assist in capacity issues in WS. The areas around Fairmount are served by Gatewood and WS Elem. It is not anywhere near the Schmitz Park attendance area and re-arranging boundaries to force this issue would put many families in the position of potentially having kids at three different schools. If you really want to affect capacity on the north end of WS, you should keep the old Schmitz building open as a neighborhood school. With the new Genessee Hill site, it would be possible to keep it at proper capacity. The Schmitz building is fine, just small.

Another one of the stated goals of the STEM program was to ease overcrowding at Denny/Sealth by creating the STEM pathway through Madison/WSHS. Sealth gets IB, languages, and STEM? Yeah, that'll go over well. Placing STEM in Fairmount would allow it to feed into Madison smoothly.

If Roxhill is interested in being co-housed with another school, the new AH makes much more sense. However, this is NOT what the Roxhill community has stated that it wants. You would also be looking at a move in date of what, 2023 for a new Denny building? If it gets approved on BEX V?

SPS has an amazing opportunity to make some real progressive strides with the STEM program. Let it be the lab school that it was promised to be. Let it suss out best practices for an elementary approach to STEM. Let it figure out how STEM elements can be introduced in elementary grades to promote lifelong interest. It was designed as a "school", it was promised a "school". This strange new fascination with wanting to call it a "program" certainly didn't come from the stakeholders.

It makes sense to move STEM to Fairmount. It makes sense to keep old Schmitz open in the north. It makes sense to move Arbor Heights to the front of the line for a new building. It can all be done, with an amazing amount of consensus within West Seattle. Done.

Spruiter said...

The John Marshall renovation has already begun. My daughter's choir is in that building, and they have been moved to a different rehearsal room because an elevator is being installed. I think they have also begun work on the roof. The choir has also been given notice - they need to find new rehearsal space by March.

I'm not sure how much more needs to happen before the building can be used as a school again, but I think it would be hard to have the first cohort of Wilson Pacific middle schoolers never get to use their new building. Of course, we don't have the luxury at this point, to be able to always do what's 'nice', but it sounds like an uphill battle for a new school community.

If they started the new school with existing programs like APP and/or language immersion, it might make a little more sense since you would be putting a cohesive group into the interim space, rather than starting a new school community from scratch.

Anonymous said...

(Just posted in other BEX thread:)

Lowell is empty and waiting for more kids. Redraw the downtown enrollment boundaries and send kids east not west. No need whatsoever for downtown elementary.

If there were to be money put downtown, it should be at the south end near the Yesler Terrace rebuild, not in SLU for the SLU development crowd.

And yes, the SLU developers/chamber/Alliance for Ed are hard to take on this subject. They need to go walk in the SW or NE and then tell us why they MUST be on this levy. That downtown is a priority is only one word - laughable.

Again, I intend to vote no and urge others to do likewise if SLU is on the list. It is unconscionable. It shows a stunning lack of fiscal responsibility.

DistrictWatcher

Heidi said...

I agree with Kathleen as a West Seattle parent in the Fairmount neighborhood and a parent at K-5 STEM. Fairmount is not where a neighborhood school is need and there is no other location for K-5 STEM to "choose". Here are my thoughts, round tabled with many throughout West Seattle:

• K-5 STEM @ Fairmount as an option school is the only decision that will not result in significant changes in boundary lines. Just two years ago, families were severely impacted by a change in boundary lines. Many families now struggle with having siblings in different schools. Another change in boundaries in such a short time would further upset and burden families caught in the change. I would particularly point out that Delridge area families have been displaced twice. First, they were assigned to Gatewood upon the closure of Cooper as a neighborhood school. The following year, they were assigned to Lafayette. To further displace those children and subject Delridge area families to the possibility of children at potentially 3 elementary schools seems unconscionable.

• K-5 STEM @ Fairmount as an option school is the only decision that provides equitable access. Fairmount is centrally located in West Seattle, making it easier for families from all over West Seattle to choose K-5 STEM. The current Schmitz Park building is too far north for south and east West Seattle families. E.C. Hughes and Roxhill/Arbor Heights are too far south for north end families. A central location also saves transportation costs and time - kids at K-5 STEM are currently spending up to an hour on the bus; this could be shortened with a central location.

• Fairmount is the only building with capacity to accommodate a school that will continue to grow in popularity.

Both the current Schmitz Park building and E.C. Hughes have portables on their property. Schmitz Park’s main building capacity is limited to 2 classrooms per grade and E.C. Hughes is similarly limited. K-5 STEM currently has 3.5 kindergartens. As the school demonstrates success, more families from all over West Seattle will be interested. K-5 STEM must have the capacity to accommodate more families than could be accommodated at either Schmitz Park, E.C. Hughes, or by co-locating us in a building with another school.

• Fairmount is the only option that efficiently uses tax payer dollars to build-out space specifically needed by a STEM school. Construction is underway now at Fairmount. If a prompt decision were made to make that the permanent home of K-5 STEM, it would be efficient and cost effective to add to the current construction. For example, a STEM school needs science labs, neither Schmitz Park nor E.C. Hughes have the space for labs. Even if they did, adding them to those sites would be more expensive and there are no funds allocated to that probability.

• Fairmount is not needed as a neighborhood school because the area is well served by Gatewood and K-5 STEM has alleviated capacity issues at Gatewood. Many Gatewood families choose K-5 STEM this year (including mine, Gatewood is a great school but we were attracted to project based learning, more math and more science). Gatewood’s capacity is not an issue anymore. Therefore, it would not make sense to open Fairmount as a neighborhood school when the neighborhood is close to and being well served by Gatewood.

A real option that could addresses capacity issues in the neighborhoods that have them - Lafayette, Alki and Schmitz Park (aka North West Seattle) is to keep Schmitz Park open as a neighborhood school (limited to its actual building capacity) and open Genessee.

The close proximity of the the Alki/Schmitz Park/Lafayette/Genessee buildings would mean fewer adjustments to boundaries and perhaps current Schmitz Park families could be given the choice.

Locating K-5 STEM in the south is not consistent with the long term vision, which is a pathway to Madison in the north end.

Heidi said...

I also want to emphasize that we stand with Arbor Heights (we meaning K-5 STEM and all of the other WS PTA leaders I've talked to. The timeline should absolutely be moved up. There was someone at the meeting this week from Thornton Creek saying that another school is not need there, yet that school is schedule to be done long before AH. Seems like they could re-order those two projects as well.

Arbor Heights need for a new school is yet another reason to place K-5 STEM at Fairmount. Fairmount allows K-5 STEM to leave Boren quicker. not to say I don't like Boren - I would love it if we could stay at Boren, but that's not going to heppen.

Charlie Mas said...

I really like the idea of retaining Schmitz Park as an attendance area school after the current program is relocated to Genessee Hill.

The District would have to right-size the attendance area to the building. The creation of some additional permanent space there wouldn't be bad either.

If that's the plan, then the work at Genessee Hill should be moved up and the work at Fairmount Park moved back since the urgency to move STEM is not as great as the urgency to add space or fix Arbor Heights.

STEM should certainly remain an option school

Gatewood and West Seattle Elementary are also overcrowded. They could benefit from another nearby attendance area school.

I certainly support self-determination for the STEM community. They should get some choice about where they want to go.

Heidi said...

Where do you get the information that Gatewood and WS Elementary are overcrowded? That was true for Gatewood for the last two years we were there. My son's K and 1st grade classes fluctuated between 26-28 kids; this year my friends are ecstatic to have classes with approximately 22 kids.

As to the urgency to move STEM from Boren, it depends on the plan for Arbor Heights. If they need to move to Boren sooner than the current timeline, STEM needs somewhere to go. Like I said, most of us would be happy to stay at Boren, they've done a really nice job with the space (other than the playground we're still waiting for).

just curious said...

There has been some discussion about John Marshall and the health effects of its proximity to the freeway:

BEX IV and APP

Does this need to be taken into account by the district when getting a certificate of occupancy? Is there a limit to how long one population can remain at JM if health effects data would consider it a poor site?

Copied from the thread:

SPS received feedback on JM's suitability last year from UW's PEHSU (who provides advice to the SPS school board & related groups on such matters), which works closely with the EPA on local-specific issues. You can request a copy from SPS - KSB was given one as the board rep for APP bec Lowell is in her district...Also, Calif has some excellent near-lay materials explaining why schools are no longer allowed to be sited near freeways.

Unknown said...

Just curious, health concerns because it's by a freeway? I can only say that JSIS is right by the freeway (closer even) as is TOPS. And John Marshall has been a school - with little kids - for decades.

Charlie, I have to walk through all your scenarios but my quick read is that they make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

We really need to question if it is sound to put 1000 kids at the Thornton Creek site. The area is already impassable with just TC. I can't believe the new building won't be against code.
Signed concerned TC neighbor and parent

mirmac1 said...

Okay, nobody likes my "save Roxhill, preserve the community" idea but wasn't that site plan COOL!?

jc said...

Since I-5 went through John Marshall's site, it has not been used by Seattle Public Schools as an elementary school.

John Marshall history

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

How about re-opening Boren as a neighborhood school for Roxhill AND a STEM option school. It seems counterproductive to keep such a huge space as an interim school when the Delridge area has no neighborhood school, Roxhill is on busy street, and it already has lab space for STEM, and enough space for co-housed elementary students. If Roxhill was then located at Boren couldn't it keep Title 1 status if it was co-located as a neighborhood school with the STEM option school? Fairmont Park could open as a neighborhood school, Westside could stay at Hughes, Roxhill could get off the busy street, Delridge would have a neighborhood school, WS would still have a second option school. Roxhill in Boren could feed to Denny, STEM in Boren could feed to Madison. Arbor Heights is the only school that would need an interim location and could move to Roxhill which is minutes away. Arbor Heights boundary is already directly across the street from Roxhill. Then the Roxhill building could serve as a future interim space (which WS has no future identified need for after Arbor Heights is settled). Seems like a decent solution addressing the most needs.

End the Shuffle

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

I also suspect your information about West Seattle Elementary and Gatewood Elementary (the schools closest to Fairmount Park) is out of date. I see you cited a Feb. 2011 document in the comments of the Tuesday BEX IV Thread here. Those numbers with Gatewood and WSE above 100% capacity utilization were from Oct. 2010 before the impact of K5STEM. According to a document provided by SPS at an early June K5STEM meeting, the largest number of students enrolled at K5STEM at that time came from the Gatewood attendance area and the second highest number came from West Seattle Elementary attendance area. Is there any more recent % capacity utilization data available?

SPS got a permit to add a portable at Gatewood for the 2012-3 school year, but the delivery was canceled because the need was gone according to a June 25, 2012 West Seattle Blog article. Does anyone have recent data or first-hand knowledge about WSE? In the Spring of 2012 two of the three BEX Levy proposals included an addition for West Seattle Elementary, but this is no longer in the Levy. I haven't heard any complaints or comments about whether there is still a need for it. They did get another portable this year (according to the WSBlog), but I have read that some of their classrooms are only used by after-school programs so their portable and building use is complicated.

When the proposal of K5STEM option school was publicized in the SPS Nov. 2011 capacity meeting at Denny, families were told then that K5STEM's permanent home would be Fairmount Park. That initial plan printed on the handouts and covered by local media surely influenced many decisions to enroll by families living closest to Fairmount Park (in the Gatewood, WSE areas and North Delridge) even though it became “probably Fairmount Park” later on. FYI, the original proposal only had K5STEM at Boren for one year with a move to Fairmount Park in 2013. Before the enrollment deadlines, SPS extended the interim location at Boren to two years and made the permanent location officially undecided but guaranteed to stay in West Seattle. We all know plans change at SPS and promises are broken, but I want to include that history in the discussion here because I don't think it is an coincidence that many K5STEM families live near Fairmount Park (as well as Boren of course). The fact the K5STEM is drawing students from attendance areas all over West Seattle (including over-crowded Schmitz Park and Lafayette) and beyond is also a strong reason to place it at Fairmount Park. Fairmount Park is central to the West Seattle peninsula almost exactly between the Madison and Denny Middle School areas and on an arterial with easy access from the WS bridge. This provides the best location for equitable access (a stated goal for program placement) and efficient busing times and costs. Plus it doesn't rob a functioning neighborhood school of their building or force a crowded shared campus situation that unfairly limits access to programs (like Spectrum and Layfayette). FWIW, I do think Boren could be happily shared by 2 elementary schools as a temporary home. As was intended in the K5STEM creation, a Fairmount Park location helps the capacity issues at Denny/Sealth by creating a desirable Madison/WS pathway for more students from the Southern SW cluster. An K5STEM program at Fairmount Park (especially with space for 500) could ease over-capacity at schools in the North and South WS clusters through voluntary enrollment and minimize family splitting and disruptive redrawing of boundaries. This is why the West Seattle community supported this option over all others at the capacity planning meetings in 2011 and why it is still the best location for K5STEM.

FWIW, everyone here wants both Arbor Heights and Schmitz Park to get a new buildings as the conditions suffered by both schools are not acceptable and represent two of the greatest, most urgent needs in the city.


-I was there.

Anonymous said...

End the Shuffle, Arbor Heights parents at the recent meetings in WS said they were ready and willing to come to Boren ASAP for 1 or 2 years while a new AH campus was built and K5STEM parents were expecting that situation already and welcoming it if AH gets moved up and can share Boren in 2013. Does that reflect the feelings of all of AH families who seemed united recently in opposing a collocation with Roxhill and were asking to remain in their old building while a new building was constructed adjacent to it? This fall Boren is also housing the preschool and transitional K program that was previously at Roxhill, so that has given them more space. Although, the Roxhill building has needs they have gotten some recent repairs and beautification and are not as educationally inadequate as AH according to the SPS rankings. Director McLaren has said she's heard from Roxhill parents who do not want the school to be moved from its current location where it is walking distance and they can be involved (some don't drive), but it was said they would be more open to relocating to the nearby Hughes than Boren or collating with Arbor Heights. I don't know if that is the majority opinion at Roxhill.... please expound if you there and/or knowledgeable about the needs and desires of that community? It is a big concern that schools like West Seattle Elementary and Roxhill may have important needs and no one advocating for them at these community meetings or online as loudly as communities (business interests?) that may really have lesser issues.

-I was there.

Charlie Mas said...

@I was there,

Thanks for the update!

I've certainly come around to the idea of Fairmount Park as the long-term site for STEM, but in that case, it is less urgent since the program can continue to occupy Boren for a few more years.

That would allow the District to accelerate the Arbor Heights and Genessee Hill renovations and defer Fairmount Park.

Emily said...

There was an incorrect statement made: The fact the K5STEM is drawing students from attendance areas all over West Seattle (including over-crowded Schmitz Park and Lafayette). Schmitz Park had only 4 students move to the STEM program. The dropped our total students to 545. The addition of a 5th kindergarten class in 2012 will continue to impact our enrollement until a move can be made. Schmitz Park needs relief in the 100's of students, not just 4. Projections show that if the enrollment trend at Schmitz Park stabilizes, and does not grow, we will move into the new GH building and FILL IT with little or no room for taking on a larger attendance area. The good news to that might mean there would be no need to re-draw anything.

Anonymous said...

The idea of re-opening Boren to house both a neighborhood school for Roxhill and an option school for STEM is simply brainstorming other ideas for this puzzle.

Roxhill parents have expressed concern for wanting a new location for kids going to school on Roxbury since it is a busy street, that they do not want Roxhill dissolved as a school community by just being entirely absorbed into a new Arbor Heights "Mega school,"  and SPS and families do not want to lose Roxhill's Title 1 funding which I imagine would happen if Roxhill is not allowed to keep its own identity and school. 

Many Arbor Heights families would probably go anywhere as long as the school is rebuilt soon. If there is concern that Roxhill will close and be dissolved after a large capacity school is built at Arbor Heights and the district won't give Hughes to Roxhill, then maybe establishing it at Boren would save it from being and wiped out and closed when boundary redraws happen again. I was assuming that boundary re-draws would inevitably happen after a larger capacity school is built at Arbor Heights, and those families within close proximity to the Roxhill building would be re-zoned into the Arbor Heights boundaries. Nobody like boundary changes, but at least this would allow for families who walk to Roxhill to still retain walking ability to Arbor Heights since these 2 school communities are close. *If* Roxhill does in fact want a new location, Boren could be a viable solution under this scenario since SPS has suddenly become silent on making Hughes available, and I can't image a new Elementary at Denny/Sealth is going to happen anytime soon. Also it could make sense since some of Roxhill's programs have already moved to Boren. If Roxhill gets a new location (at either Boren, Hughes, or a new Denny Elementary site) then using Roxhill as an interim school for Arbor Heights would seem to make sense considering the proximity and current boundaries.

Some STEM families on the yahoo group have expressed that they would love STEM to stay at Boren permanently because of the location, the access to Longfellow creek and Camp Long, and existing lab space. Delridge area families have said they want a permanent area school. A co -housed neighborhood school and STEM school at Boren could save Roxhill and may even be able to provide some overcrowding relief for Sanislo. I have heard some comments from West Seattle that some people would want to see Fairmont Park as a neighborhood school. I'm sure Fairmont Park would also be a great school for STEM and sounds like many STEM parents would want that too.

End the shuffle

Anonymous said...

Emily, I am not saying the K5STEM is the answer to Schmitz Park's overcrowding or should delay that project, far from it. I'm sorry if that mention seemed misleading. However, the actual numbers are slightly bigger than you've heard and could be larger still if SPS keeps its promises to K5STEM and gives them an appropriate permanent home. I heard a SP teacher say this summer that only 2 or 3 students would be leaving SP for STEM, so I was surprised when SPS released a list of students enrolled in K5STEM in June by home attendance area showing 10 students from the Schmitz Park attendance area and 20 students from the Lafayette attendance area. I didn't quote those numbers before because I know the SPS waiting lists have moved since then so it could be more or less by now. Some students were enrolled in STEM in June and wait listed for Pathfinder or other nonreference area or nonSPS schools. However, none of those 10 students are at Schmitz Park who might otherwise have been there and that is not insignificant. They wouldn't be able to enroll in Schmitz Park this year even if they left STEM. Some of those students may have never attended Schmitz Park (they could be entering kindergarteners or older students coming from non SPS schools or out of reference area schools like Pathfinder) so SP didn't see them as a direct loss in their numbers. I know one higher grade student who was not in an SPS school last year but lives in the SP area and was planning to enroll there this year but chose STEM instead. I know it seems like a drop in the bucket, but if these students are supported by SPS at STEM as promised then more of their siblings and neighbors may join them in the near future. Even if it's only another 10 next year, those 20 could mean one less portable on the SP campus in 2013-4 and maybe a few families can avoid being split up.

I listed SP and Layfayette because they are in such dire need of capacity relief and every single chance to keep siblings from going to separate schools seems a victory. Plus they are schools people said no one would leave for STEM (I should add Pathfinder to that list but I have only discussion group word of mouth that some families left Pathfinder for STEM). In my post above I wanted to emphasize that STEM is a choice that parents all over West Seattle are making even in this risky first year and giving it a known permanent destination and locating it centrally would make it even more likely that this continues. I wish SPS would release more current data and show what grades the students who left crowded schools came from, but looking at the numbers we do have for STEM I would guess most of them are kindergarteners which is exactly where the reduction was most needed as I understand it.


Charlie, It seems to me that there are less pressing needs in other areas (downtown for instance) that should be put off before Fairmount Park. I fear that breaking so many promises to K5STEM so quickly would kill a promising new program that many see as a stepping stone that will soon bring better math programs (among other things) to all our schools. K5STEM wants to be a lab school that can bring innovation and change to all Seattle's schools.

-I was there.

Anonymous said...

End the Shuffle, Thanks for the additional details and explanation. In my view, Delridge seems to pose as much as a busy street hazard as Roxbury, but hopefully the school zone for Boren will get better markings and enforcement going forward and crosswalks installed soon. Fairmount Park is also walking distance (2-3 blocks) to Camp Long from the opposite direction and if a decision was announced now maybe the addition/remodel at Fairmount Park could include lab spaces. Yes, it would be great for Delridge to regain a neighborhood school but putting keeping two option schools there seems to be the opposite of that goal and inequitable program placement. Like a previous poster, I fear the push to make Fairmount Park a neighborhood school is an effort to displace the former Cooper kids who are now at Lafayette again and put them in another building not really within their neighborhood. I am much less worried about the longevity and health of Roxhill after they successfully spoke out against the out-of-nowhere SPS plan to be combined with Arbor Heights and especially now that their dynamic former principal Carmela Dellino who understands and champions the great things about their school is now the SPS's executive director for this region (Thank you Superintendent Banda!). I think Hughes or the old Denny site would be a better long-term or short-term location for Roxhill than Boren. The district always plans to keep Boren as an interim site as it is the only WS school big enough to temporarily house one of the middle or high schools in this region in case of some kind of building related emergency for them.

-I was there.

Heidi - I was there, too said...

I don't think where STEM drew from this year is an indicator of what neighborhoods it will draw from next year.

Open enrollment ended before ANY decisions were made; we didn't know who the principal would be, there was no guarantee that we would get Singapore math, and we did not know who our teachers would be. The only promises were that we would be a STEM OPTION school at Boren and then moved to Fairmount. I talked to plenty of parents at SP would were very interested, but it was a harder gamble because they already knew they had Singapore math and awesome teachers.

Lafayette parents had a similar quandry.

Guess what? We subsequently got Singapore math, an engineering curriculum, a literacy program that is updated to align with common core, music, SP's art program and Mr. Parsley, the super star teacher from Schmitz Park who is repeatedly featured in the news for his science and math innovations. Some SP families switched over the summer just because of Mr. Parsley. The other teachers are less known, but equally awesome in innovations and commitment to kids and STEM. I think we will see more from the north end of West Seattle in future years when parents no longer have to gamble giving up a school for an unkown. STEM will become a high performing school with features that no other school has - once we get over some start-up beauracratic hurdles.

- As to pushing back Fairmount, the work that is currently being done is funded by already allocated dollars, not BEX IV. The addition would be, but I think they have to re-open to avoid some of the constraints that prompted SPS to quickly occupy Boren.

- As to STEM staying at Boren, it's a lovely fantasy. They've done a nice job with the space and I would like to stay there. But I'm not wasting my time advocating for that because SPS has made it clear they will keep it as an interim site.

Anonymous said...

All this discussion about West Seattle makes me so glad we got into an established option school this year so we don't have to deal with the crazy boundary reshuffling that seems certain to occur (and would have affected our younger child). As a Delridge resident, I felt unwanted at Lafayette (email campaigns to move kids from a specific neighborhood out don't lie - this was my welcome to the school as a new SPS parent and it was incredibly discouraging). Delridge i.e. Cooper kids have been getting shuffled around for too long. It is ridiculous. I am fed up and this was one of the biggest reasons we went option school.

That Issue aside, I have to say i am impressed by the level of discourse here. I am hearing some ideas i hadn't thought of before. I have no idea if these were the kinds of ideas being discussed by FACMAC, but i would love to see this kind of thoughtful discourse taking place to actually make the final decision. Certainly Arbor Heights deserves to move up the list. the needs of both Schmitz Park and Arbor Heights are critical. i also think the STEM school will undoubtedly attract many more families if it moves to Fairmount Park. as part of that move a small geozone ala Pathfinder giving priority enrollment to those in the neighborhood can help alleviate some overcrowding elsewhere.. i think this is occurring in north Delridge with Pathfinder where there is a small geozone. The STEM school has so much promise and expanding it should be an important part of alleviating the overcrowding here. I really think parents will flock to it now that more is known about the amazing curriculum being offered there.

The thought of any money going to SLU amidst the absolute crisis here in West Seattle feels like a slap to the face and makes me spitting mad. Absolutely unacceptable use of tax payer dollars.

Delridge Mama