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Monday, October 01, 2012

BEX IV

I attended the BEX IV meeting at McClure last Thursday.  More on that in a moment.

Want to make your voice heard?  Write the BOARD.  Don't write the district, write the Board.  They will make the final choice.

Let me say that given the push from the Downtown Association, they have heard loud and clear from some of those folks.  (And, they have probably heard from the City Council and the Mayor as well.)  They need to hear from YOU.

Write them at schoolboard@seattleschools.org.

Now our friends at the Times printed an op-ed from a nice parent on Queen Anne/downtown.   I would gently say this woman gets a few things wrong but she is certainly entitled to her opinion.

I would say, though, that EVERY neighborhood should be entitled to ITS own op-ed to advocate for the schools in its region.  So here's the link to the Times' op-ed guidelines and I urge you to write one for your region/school.

There is no reason why the Times should show any favoritism to any one area and if this is the only op-ed they do print, well, that would be mighty suspicious.  Almost like they wanted to help just one area of the city when their readers need to be educated that nearly every single area of the district needs capital help.

Now to the BEX meeting.  I'd say there were about 50 people there.  Directors DeBell and Carr were there (although DeBell seems to have heard this before and chose to have a conversation with a parent while the meeting was going on).  I also note that the staff presentation ran long. 

The video was okay - I wasn't really offended but I have to wonder why the district needed to spend the money and the time to do this.  I did smile when the principal at South Shore talked about the "amazing, beautiful space" at that school.  My belief is that if 1240 comes through, South Shore will get taken over and she will stay in that "amazing" space that the charter has now taken from the district. 

I also smiled at the video explaining how Denny/Sealth have new athletic fields.  Yes, those would be the ones we paid for...twice.  It's a sad thing to be paying over and over for the same thing.

As for the questions, both written and oral, well, I was a bit surprised.  Maybe not that many people came from other parts of the city (although I saw that Wedgwood and Thorton Creek parents had a presence) but it was very focused on QA/downtown.  I rarely see that heavy a focus on one area when it's a issue that is district-wide.

Now some of you reported that at other BEX IV meetings there was some discontent shown at the mention of a downtown school.  Not here and there was quite a push for it.

I did get up and ask that those gathered to consider what will happen to BEX money if I-1240 passes.  I explained that charters, both conversion and new, will take both operations and capital money and that will further thin the pot to all schools.  I personally find it disagreeable for public funds to go to private buildings and their maintenance but that's just me.

Again, passage of I-1240 means that all the BEX IV plans really shift but how much is anyone's guess.  However, the amount might not change the major projects but it certainly could affect which schools get seismic upgrades (or the district will have to pull back on major projects to support seismic work).

Which would you pick - making sure schools that need seismic upgrades get them or additions/redos of a few buildings?

Those are the hard choices that will have to be made about BEX IV money (if it passes) and if I-1240 passes. 

19 comments:

Incoming Parent said...

Among other suggestions, Reuven Carlyle suggests putting a STEM school in Key Arena.

http://reuvencarlyle36.com/2012/09/13/doubling-down-on-the-future-of-seattle-center/

Anonymous said...

I simply do not understand the push for a downtown school with Lowell, TT Minor and Bailey Gatzert all available.

It's certainly a nice-to-have. It's not a must.

Does the APP community, Bagley, all of West Seattle and the NE realize that they are directly losing resources to this 'welathy and connected' push for a downtown school that has no credibility as a priority?

Thank you for the suggestion of writing a letter. I will. I suggest the rest of you do too.

SavvyVoter

Eric B said...

Seismic upgrades and some new schools aren't an either-or proposition. There are something like 35-40 schools on the list to get seismic upgrades under BEX IV. I'm pretty sure BTA III had money for seismic upgrades as well, so most schools hsould be covered by now. I don't know how many schools are left without major seismic upgrades, though.

If I were framing an either/or question, it would be whether it's worth $35M for a new replacement school vs additions at 3 schools. I'm sure we get different answers in different areas. Arbor Heights needs a replacement, but maybe North Beach doesn't.

mirmac1 said...

sounds like DeBell rallied his Moderate Voice Parents group from QA again.

Anonymous said...

I am confused about something. Didn't FACMAC weigh in on BEX priorities? I haven't heard a recommendation for a downtown school coming out of FACMAC. Or maybe it did and I missed it?

In any case, those parents spent a heck of a lot of time trying to make sense of district gobbledygook statistics. If they didn't recommend a downtown school and the board and staff override them in favor of a Chamber of Commerce public relations campaign.......well, that seems very very very disheartening. What is the point of an advisory committee? But then again, maybe FACMAC wants this, in which case I stand corrected.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

Ha! Moderate Voice Parents...that's a laugh. Because if You don't agree with Us (the Moderates), well, you must be Extreme! Or...a Radical! Or... a Hothead! Because we're Normal! Sensible! And if you don't agree with us, you're...Not!

Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

No mirmac, don't think it's DeBell's MV parents group speaking necessarily. QA parents are seeing crowded classrooms and many of the QA schools have small footprints with not much room for growth, portables or otherwise. Living on QA means living in density, far more dense than neighborhoods like Magnolia, Wedgewood, or Fauntroy. I do think many QA parents (some who don't live on QA) genuinely want relief and if the only option for a new school is funding for "SLU school" on QA, then so be it. Whatever it takes.

For parents, if you have a choice for enrolling in schools with lower academic performance such as Lowell, TT Minor or Bailey-Gazert, vs. higher performing QA schools, which would you choose? These lower performing schools also have higher FRL populatio so it's something we don't want to talk about because people may misinterpret that as elitist or far worse, racist. People preferred Ballard HS, and Garfield (for the APP population there) and not Franklin HS because of academics, distance, and fear of violence.

Right now we have Michael DeBell, the powerful Seattle school board President, who is a very vocal proponent for this SLU school. Unfortunately he does not speak so loudly (if at all) about the many OTHER schools in greater need all over this city competing for the same BEX dollar$. That is where his message gets us into trouble. It's classic infighting among neighborhoods. It's a pity because what we really need is a uniting force to tackle our BEX funding problem and the state of ALL our schools.

disappointed PS parent

Incoming Parent said...

Our school (QAE) was organizing a group to go speak about getting our school bumped back up in the timeline, since we expect to outgrow the existing building (which, by the way, has no gymnasium--we just have an enclosed breezeway and a portable) long before the addition is done in 2019. The last plan had it set for 2016, and that was doable at our current growth rate; 2019 will require a cap on enrollment or a lot of portables (and it's not like there's much space for any more of them on our site). Anyway, that could explain the Queen Anne focus at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping M DeBell gets demoted in November.

Non-QA

Unknown said...

You are "pretty" sure that all those schools got their seismic needs covered under BTA III? I'm not and it's not something I would want to play around with. The staff said at the meeting, BEX IV would have some seismic upgrades so clearly BTA isn't covering everything.

The point is if you pass 1230, this BEX will not be the one that gets passed in November by the School Board. The conversion charters that come into play within the couple of years after BEX IV will get their cut (probably about $5-7M).

FACMAC did not advocate for a downtown school but hey, they're just the Board's own group set up to make such recommendations.

"These lower performing schools also have higher FRL populatio so it's something we don't want to talk about because people may misinterpret that as elitist or far worse, racist."

And yet you said it. FYI, Franklin used to be the school of choice before Ballard was rebuilt because of Ballard's poor rep including violence.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

The north region meeting (at Whitman) was well-attended. Honestly, with everything else going on at the start of the school year, I'm sure one meeting is all most folks can attend.

I find it truly annoying that they seem to be coming up with contrived reasons to create a downtown school, when, at the same time, they appear to be burying their heads in the sand when it comes to dealing with middle school capacity in North Seattle. I know it can be tricky to accurately predict kindergarten enrollment, but middle school projections would seem to be fairly straightforward.

Nothing in the current proposal suggests that they are planning for long-term middle school capacity. They have not even shown that enrollment at Eckstein will be returned to a reasonable level. From what they have shown, it would seem that more portables are planned for Eckstein, not less.

At the north region meeting, we were told that they would do an analysis using the high-range projections for north region middle school capacity. We were also told that they were reconsidering adding two new middle schools to North Seattle, instead of just one (at Wilson Pacific). I certainly hope that they are actually doing these analyses, and not just making these statements in order to pacify the crowd.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

So, Melissa or any FACMACers, to clarify once and for all: Did or did not FACMAC recommend a downtown school in this BEX cycle? Actually, what did FACMAC recommend? I am more interested in what an in-depth and long-term District advisory group recommended than in what McGinn and The Chamber/Alliance for Education/Vulcan landholders think.

Our Board should be too.

-skeptical-

Anonymous said...

Yes Melissa, I said it because there's the gap people have been talking about (including this blog) and trying to fix. Lots of reasons why we have it and so difficult to fix. I keep thinking what if instead of building a new SLU school, take that $50 million or whatever the cost of a new school would be and spread it among the existing schools cradling "downtown" not just for facility improvement, but for what goes on inside the schools as well? Couldn't turning around these schools be as successful as Ballard's 1999 rebuilt along with its housing boom and demographic change? Why not have lots of quality schools like John Hay and QAE everywhere so parents want in, relieving the pressure off QA? That is what I want Michael DeBell to be working for and the rest of downtown association if they mean what they say about creating a vibrant, thriving, livable place and not just a short term ROI.

PS parent

Jet City mom said...

IAccording to the " message from Superintendent Banda" on 9/12, there are 67 schools slated to recieve seismic upgrades from BEXIV
KUOW did a report on URM ( unreinforced masonry) schools in 2010, however the link to the SPS report is dead.

If you can't take care of your property that you currently own, you don't get to go shopping for more- not at my house anyway.

Unknown said...

I will ask the FACMAC chairs but that is what I was told by a member.

Anonymous said...

As I posted in another topic, BEX IV used to list like 60 school would be getting seismic upgrades. The list is now much smaller. (I posted which schools in that other BEX topic).
I am not at all sure that suddenly those other schools are all covered.
beth

Jet City mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Re Facmac and the downtown school: what I heard was that facmac took the budget line item to $ 0 (zero) and deleted the idea at the end of last year, then it was put back on as $3 mill for "a study" over the summer by powers beyond facmac, and they haven't been able to get that $3 mill reallocated b/c it's out of their control. They only give recommendations, after all, nothing binding. The Board is the final say. Talk to the Board. And use that equity term they're really doubling down on - ie, putting the SLU kids at Lowell on Cap Hill is equity for the school that lost so much of its student population, and the $ 3 mill could go to improvements at Lowell as equity ... just saying!

from Another anonymous poster

Unknown said...

It seems like there is a lot of argument that there is such an obvious state of disrepair in certain older school buildings, and that this need to repair/remodel/upgrade obviates or trumps any talk of a new downtown school. Rather than keep writing about the state of crowding, dilapidation or unsuitability of buildings such as Arbor Heights or the North End schools, why doesn't someone just turn in a nice photo essay? It's hard to argue with photos of rusty water fountains, duct taped windows, crowded classrooms/hallways and antiquated electrical service. It's an obvious case where a picture would be worth a thousand words.