Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seattle Landmarks Board Votes to Hit Pause on Wilson-Pacific

From Indian Country Today media network:

Plans to demolish a public school with strong ties to Seattle’s Native community have been sent back to the drawing board.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted 7-1 on July 16 to designate Wilson-Pacific School a city landmark. That prevents Seattle Public Schools officials from proceeding with plans to demolish the school so a new school can be built in its place.

Ironically, the school was nominated for landmark status by the very agency that wanted to demolish it. Under the state Environmental Policy Act, the school district was required to make an assessment of the school’s cultural and historical importance and present it to the landmarks board.

Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board coordinator, said the school met three of six criteria for landmark designation: it is “associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City” (Eaglestaff); it is “associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community;” and it embodies “the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period.”
What comes next?
Next, landmarks board staff and the school district will negotiate a controls and incentives agreement for landmarks board consideration. “Controls define those features of the landmark to be preserved and outline the Certificate of Approval process for changes to those features,” the board website states. “Incentives may include, but are not limited to, zoning variances, building code exceptions, and financial incentives.”

UNEA members, its youth council members, and possibly some landmarks board members will attend Indigenous Cultures Day on August 16 at Seattle Center—within view of a memorial pole raised in honor of Nitinaht First Nations carver John T. Williams, who was killed by a Seattle police officer in 2010. The day’s events will include a viewing of the Robert Eaglestaff documentary.
Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/11/seattle-landmarks-board-votes-save-indian-heritage-school-156324


Catherine said...

So now that it's ll back on the table... the auditorium discussion can begin again?

Charlie Mas said...

EVERYTHING is back on the table again.

One of the dysfunctions of Seattle Public Schools how every decision and commitment is personal, not institutional.

If a district official makes you a promise, it is a personal promise, not a promise from the District. So if that district official leaves before fulfilling the promise, the promise is void. Their successor is under no obligation to fulfill the commitment.

In the same way, decisions made by a District official can be reversed by their successor. In fact, with each staffing change, every single thing under their authority gets re-set to undecided. When the superintendent leaves then everything in the district gets reset to undecided.

Anonymous said...

Maybe now SPS will have time to review the FACMAC's recommendation of building a High School at WP.


TechyMom said...

Someone on one of the other threads had an idea that was really creative out-of-the-box thinking. I wonder what you folks think of this, especially if anyone from the impacted Native community is reading.

The idea was to build a large, comprehensive high school on the WP site, name it after Robert Eaglestaff, and include a Native studies program as a focus within the school.

Then, Lincoln could be a big middle school and Hamilton a big elementary school.

What are the potential problems with this idea?

Patrick said...

Techymom, it sounds like a good idea. The big potential problem would be timing. I thought the district needed a middle school more urgently than a high school, but renovating Lincoln would come later than building WP. What do the most recent enrollment projections show, can the middle schools make do with what they've got (and JAMS) until Lincoln Middle would be ready?

I really like the idea and hope it'll work.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the district needs another new middle school as urgently as it needs a new high school. They need all of it, but they are getting one new middle school this fall, which will alleviate pressure for a couple years.

The timeline proposed with Lincoln not opening until the end of BEX leaves us with split shift high schools, and an entire high school short of seats (1500) in 2017, which is actually worse than it sounds because they excess students are primarily in one quadrant of the city (I'll let you guess which one). Leaving the middle school until the end does not produce that sort of result. Though I am not sure that is what happens under this plan- if WP as high school is opened in 2016 (not possible now? Possible?) then Lincoln and Hamilton could also be repurposed that year, which is sooner than WP was originally going to be opened.


Ragweed said...

I wish someone with some knowledge of the landmarking process could comment. How much control does the landmark board have? Could they nix any chance of demolishing the existing structure? or insist on maintaining the 1-story character of the building? This could have a much bigger impact on anything the district intends to do on the site.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why anyone would think WP is historic. I attended WP and believe me there's nothing remarkable about that school.

Parents should be very concerned with all the illegal activity that goes on only one block from the WP site.

IH doesn't need to be at WP.

Is saveseattleschool an extension of this site?


Josh Hayes said...

I cannot imagine that landmark status can be about anything other than the (gorgeous, IMO) murals at the site. I had understood that the new building(s) would preserve one of those murals, but maybe they can figure out how to keep them all, and thus satisfy the needs of the landmark folk?

As for what goes ON the site, the fact is, we need everything in this district, but I wonder about putting a comprehensive HS, what, a mile away from Roosevelt? And the draw would certainly include neighborhoods pretty much right up TO RHS, and after our experience with the NSAP in middle schools, I can only imagine the howl that would go up when someone's little snowflake no longer gets to go to RHS.

I have no horse in this race; I DO live three blocks from the site, and in many ways I think a single large HS works better than the odd cobbled-together two-building design currently in place, but I think there are arguments for both sides (and no doubt we'll hear 'em!).

seattle citizen said...

Josh, the Landmark designation cited lists three criteria met for designation.

I'd add a fourth:
Whereas the Duwamish are still waiting for the reservation promised them in 1853;
Whereas Native Americans have been successfully supporting Seattle children on the site for a number of years;
Be it recognized that the Wilson Pacific site is, de facto, a small "reservation" by virtue of occupancy and by virtue of eminent domain: Native peoples can be seen as having reclaimed it as payment in lieu of promised reserved lands and then occupied it successfully.
Ergo, it is a Landmark of Native importance and historical worth and should be maintained by Native peoples in collaboration with the recent immigrant peoples who are, 161 years later, still in debt of one reservation to the local First Nations.
It's a landmark to the Indians of enormous worth.

kellie said...

Depending on how this issue plays out, this could be the tipping point in the whole capacity issue. Hopefully, this will cause a re-examination for the entire capacity challenge with the information that we have today.

The capacity challenge stems from the simple fact that public schools are required to served all students who arrive each year and therefore any long terms plan must always be put aside in order to provide space for the students who are enrolled this year. As such, IMHO, the simplest way to parse this issue is by looking at the gap between capacity coming on line and enrollment growth.

if you take a look at this planning document from early in the BEX planning process,it is clear that SPS really felt that they were aggressively planning for capacity with BEX.

However, enrollment growth is much greater than was in that plan from just September 2012. In that chart of September 2012, they were planning for 2020 enrollment of about 56,000 students. Now we are looking at 60,000 students for 2020. In my opinion, that number is still too low.

That greater than expected growth means that for all intents and purposes, capacity needs to be triaged and the focus has to be on the grade bands that have little or no elasticity. JAMS was opened for this Fall 2014, simply because there was no ability for the surrounding schools to take more portables. Please remember in September 2012, there was no plan for JAMS at all.

High School is the next big issue. We are effectively out of high school capacity in the north end. The extra capacity at Rainier Beach creates the illusion that high school capacity problems are not that bad but if you subtract Rainier Beach from the equation, we are out of high school capacity right now. The plan for a new high school in 2019, simply won't work.

seattle citizen said...

Kelly, you are absolutely correct on all points. But a part of capacity is serving the needs of all students. We have APP, Special Ed, International, Bilingual Orientation, STEM...the list goes on.
We also have Native American students. In planning, I hope the district plans to continue serving them...at their historical lication that, by all accounts, has significant importance to the First Peoples hereabouts.

Anonymous said...

Josh I don't think we are really talking about any closer to Roosevelt than Lincoln would be. Both across 5, which is the big barrier. -looked it up, Lincoln is .1 mile further away tan WP. Same.

And sooner would be a big deal- the high school shortage coming in just 3 years, makes the middle school shortage we are fixing look very small indeed.

Between this and Cedar Park I think the Landmark board is engaging in a pattern of overreach. I agree, nothing special about the building, and the murals were going to be saved. We need the land to educate children. That is what we own it for. I really hope this does not cause much delay, and does not allow the NIMBY neighborhood group to get their way about an extremely inefficient 1 story building.


Anonymous said...

THREE elementary schools in Wallingford? Also Hamilton has NO non-building space at all, where would the kids go for recess? And with a mega elementary school twice the size of the current elementary schools, where are the school buses and the parents supposed to park at drop off and pickups? Where is the money needed to turn Hamilton into an elementary school to come from? The science classes, the band and orchestra classes, all the counselors & administrators offices would need to be redone. SPS just spent $$$ to put those science labs & offices in, are they to be torn out in less than 10 years?

How would parents feel about sending their 5, 6 year olds to a 1,000-seat elementary school?

Right now the neighbors around Hamilton are coping okay with the extra traffic twice per day, since many of the kids walk to school so the traffic is managable. Elementary kids being bused in for APP would mean lots more buses and cars. Parents of the younger kids will want to park and walk their kids in, I can't see those narrow streets and that neighborhood being able to accomodate all the extra buses and cars.


kellie said...

@ Seattle Citizen,

I agree completely with your statement and the intent. Capacity management means providing capacity for all legal obligations.

One of the reasons why the capacity management issue has gotten this point is because of the way that sped was used to load balance capacity issues. In other words, when many elementary schools were full, there were three capacity choices.

1) Re-draw boundaries so that general education students were moved to the next school (politically expensive, when boundaries were promised to be stable for 5 years)
2) add a portable (expensive as that cost could be $100-200K)
3) move a sped classroom to a building with available space

Option 3 was selected many times. I was very happy that this trend was finally reversed last year and the portables that should have been placed years ago where finally placed at many elementary schools.

However, all that said, I try to highlight that the legal obligation to provide a seat will ultimately trump many plans and promises and good intentions. We have capacity challenges in every category and the bottom line is that enrollment growth is larger than the BEX plan to add capacity and the largest gap is at high school.

This has to be solved one way or another. It can be solved in the short run by adding lots of portables at the one school that can take them Ingraham. It can also be solved by going to shifted schedules. I know that would be untenable for many families and it could become self-correcting as folks leave the district.

kellie said...

@ CCA,

APP at Lincoln and Hamilton as a middle school vs APP at Hamilton and a middle school at Lincoln has no substantial difference for Wallingford. The schools are blocks apart. Swapping programs would not impact traffic or density.

As for any construction difference, there really isn't any. The Hamilton building is very beautiful but there is very little secondary specialization. The cafetorium is just like the cafetoriums in many elementary schools. The administrative office are just offices. The counseling offices are also just really standard and can be used without any construction dollars. They would be much better than many of the resource rooms I have seen.

Moreover, Lincoln actually is a secondary school and has a better design for middle school students overall.

kellie said...

@ Josh,

I think sleeper is correct. Both Lincoln and WP create terrible boundary issues for high school.

Sadly, the high school "issue" is the lack of a high school for QA/Mag. Since QA/Mag has NO high school, all the high school boundaries are terribly gerrymandered to accommodate sending QA/Mag north of the ship canal.

Anonymous said...

Is it time to look again at the SPS property in Magnolia - making it a high school. Yes it will take a lot of work and money but it's empty and they could start work now.




seattle citizen said...

@Kellie - Yes, legal obligations will drive many decisions. The only real legal obligation to Native students is to correct the miscounting and, apparently, mis-use of funds relating to Native students identified a couple of years ago.
There WERE promises made by ex-supt Banda, but they were only promises.
There WERE legal provisions made for a Native allotment of land in the Point White treaty but that, I'm sure, has no bearing on SPS decisions.
But beyond legal obligations, ABOVE legal obligations, are the ethical obligations to provide for a class of Peoples that have consistently been illegally swept aside, voiceless and overpowered.
IMHO, it is only right and just that demands be made that obligations towards Native students be met cocurrently with any resolution of the WP property. That was/is their home, and in the voices from district and even in the community it appears that they have once again been pushed out of the discussion.
As Sealth was said to have noted at the Point White signing, the dead of our Native first peoples still walk among us. To ignore their descendants, still, after 161 years, brings to the forefront a question: What do we teach children in a school built on the bones of a school Native children once held dear?

Josh Hayes said...

seattle citizen, I do not mean to imply that the district should not serve its Native population: my own kids have just finished going through AS1 and I am very excited about the prospect of fusing AS1 and the Indian Heritage school. I am chagrined to admit that I did not recognize the significance of the W-P site itself, despite the fact that I live only one long block from the Licton Springs themselves. I apologize if I offended.

is katydid's suggestion of placing a high school on a Magnolia footprint plausible at all? Or are the SPS properties there simply too small? Could the district get access to some of the Fort Lawton property for a school?

Anonymous said...

The first crack at WP is and always has been the Native population. That SPS administrators and parents are just now waking up to the fact that all their capacity plans have to first accommodate the population that has been neglected - yes neglected - more than any other in the SPS system doesn't mean that the Native claim to that land is less pertinent.

Yes, it means working around that claim will be more painful. That the only reason the claim is holding on by the skin of its historical teeth are a collection of gorgeous murals, the futsy Landmarks Commission and the outreach of the kicked-in-their-own-teeth AS1 Pinehurst to save itself and embrace the neglected Native population is beyond hilarious. In the most bitter sense.

Carry on SPS administrators and parents. Find additional ways to accommodate the growing North End population. But let it be known that it won't happen on the backs of the Native population. And its partner Pinehurst. Like Licton Springs Hope Springs eternal.

Justice 4Once

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand this.

Native students, like every student in the district, deserve better a falling down crummy out-dated California pod-style school building. It's not a great building. It's not even, really, a functional building, given our climate the building's location next to a crime and traffic corridor - terrible factors for the "pod style" California school fad.

I don't really understand why those particular buildings (murals aside - I get the murals - but the vast majority of the buildings on WP DO NOT have murals on them) would be desirable - the style may be an example of a specific type of architecture, but it's not a type that is appropriate for educating children in our weather or in that urban and challenged location. So this designation is odd - to me it's almost enshrining that Native students get a crummy building. I would understand wanting the new building named after Eaglestaff, but why want to preserve the old one (other than the murals, which I thought had a compromise?)?.

Is this essentially a plan to save the murals that was put in motion before the compromise, and then not stopped?

Signed, confused

jl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jl said...

Techy Mom, I like it. Perhaps Hamilton can be an international K-8, Lincoln a large middle school, and Stanford and McDonald can be neighborhood schools. Build a state of the art Highschool at Wilson Pacific (honoring and investing in native culture).Running start kids will be right by the NSCC as well.

Makes so much sense (intuitively as I have no capacity numbers or projections on hand) that it stands little chance.

The proximity of Lincoln and Hamilton could provide advanced international elementary students some options as well. At least create some synergy and options.

seattle citizen said...

@Josh - no offense taken. I wasn't trying to ding you: I know you to be a just and honorable person. I was adding to the list of criteria on landmarking for WP. Certainly my added criteria is purely rhetorical and would carry little weight in legal circles, I just HAVE to keep the primary point in discussion about WP up front: Our responsibility to the Native community.
Bless Pinehurst for opening their arms; now is the time to add a Native HS component to WP.

Anonymous said...

So we need a Native HS at WP, the WP site will house the new HS sports fields, and our biggest capacity crunch now is HS. The solution seems obvious.

As to the complaint over "three elementary schools in Wallingford," note that none of them would be neighborhood schools with guaranteed local access. McD and JSIS are now option schools (with insufficient capacity to support the number of kids in their geozones) and APP is test-in.


Anonymous said...

Details on Landmarks and Designation here:



The buildings can still be demolished, but only with an additional "Certificate of Approval." The site and the murals have significance, but the buildings are not worth saving.


HS @ WP said...

@ CCA, almost 1000 elementary kids will be at Lincoln in less than a month. I am guessing givn the capacity crisis, parents will be happy to be at a 1000 kid elementary if it means they are in a class room with less than 32 kids, not in a portable, have a school to call their own, boundaries aren't regularly redrawn, etc. etc.

You should check back in January to see how it's going.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about the impending high school capacity crisis, plus changes to APP, really make me wonder what is coming with high school assignment areas. My understanding is that the incoming 6th grade APP cohort is about 475 kids, which means that if they all went to Garfield in fall of 2017, it would effectively turn Garfield into an APP only school. Now, I realize APP high school students also go to Ingraham, but I'm not sure what the split is. I guess I had been assuming the district would create a 3rd APP high school program rather than drastically limit the number on non-APP students at Garfield, but hearing about the capacity issues in the north end makes me wonder if they won't deliberately use APP at Garfield to pull a few hundred kids out of the north-end schools, and reassign a lot of kids who would have gone to Garfield to Franklin. I dare say we'll find out in August of 2017. I have always assumed that my kids would go to Garfield one day based on where we live, but now I'm starting to wonder.

Mom of 4

kellie said...

When I first starting working on capacity issues, all of the issues were fixable with a little bit of vision and planning.

The entire crisis stems from a simple train wreck of school closures and the NSAP. The intention of the NSAP was to reverse the trend of declining enrollment. A side effect of a choice enrollment plan is that choice plans always generate declining enrollment, because you have to be established during the open enrollment window in order to have a "good" place in the open enrollment lottery. Therefore, post open enrollment, all available spaces are "left-over" and less desirable.

It was well know that this dynamic was causing capacity challenges where some schools were chronically under-enrolled and other schools had long wait lists. The entire point of the NSAP was that a guaranteed assignment plan would negate the need to close any schools and increase enrollment. Now five years into this plan, it is clear that it worked.

Also, most of the schools that are over-capacity, simply have the intended enrollment of choice plan, plus the historical wait list. The wait list was the indicator of the real world demand for the school. Now in an assignment plan where all students must be admitted from the attendance area, the current enrollment is a pretty accurate reflection of the demand for the school.

The real issue with Wilson Pacific is that it is ONE property and there are MANY needs. By choosing to solve ONE problem, you are by default choosing to NOT solve the other problems.

The only thing that solves a capacity problem is more capacity.

kellie said...

@ Mom of 4,

Yes, quite ironically, the north end APP students going to Garfield is what is keeping north end high school capacity working.

As QA/Mag does not have a high school, they have to go somewhere. To be geographically contiguous, they would have to go to either Ballard or Garfield. Garfield is the only central school so there is really no way to extend the boundary that far, so that leaves Ballard. That means that much of the natural Ballard catch area is then pushed into Ingraham and Roosevelt and everything is pretty tight to start.

The irony is that the number of QA/Mag students who go north is about equal to the number of north end students who go south. North end students that go to Garfield for APP or Center School or Nova is the only relief valve.

Therefore the north end high school issue is really two fold.

1) There is rapidly increasing enrollment and the schools are full.
2) The entire high school system is over-loaded by the lack of a QA/Mag school and needing to "push" those students somewhere.

The Rainier Beach / Franklin / Garfield boundaries are just as contorted as the north end ones in order to fill this geographic hole.

Anonymous said...

Our new interim superintendent has a connection with Native Americans, so with Charlie's commentary about starting over, maybe it will be a positive thing for the Native American students of Seattle. I hope a new building can be built including a performance space and also preserve the murals. It would be really neat if the new building would be built to help advance the Native American students by having technology or tutoring or other resources. The leaders in the Native American community would need to figure out what would be the best additions to a new building. Of course we don't know the results of the Landmark committee's request, but the basis is understandable.

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the Native community and use to have close ties to W-P when it was Indian Heritage. The school is close to bus stops making it very accessible to the Native community which is why it's become the focal point for the community whether the school is there or not. The murals add to the historical and frankly emotional ties the community has to the school. There are still community gatherings at W-P because of it's historical significance. Daybreak Star is just too far away for a lot of Native folks to access on a regular basis, so they go to W-P.

I think a Native student program back at W-P would be wonderful but a great deal of planning and effort needs to go into it. The kids who went to Indian Heritage were (mostly) not doing well in their neighborhood school. Like a lot of displaced communities, the Indian kids in Seattle have high needs and therefore need intensive services.

I don't live up North so I don't fully understand the non-Native issues around W-P outside what I've read in this blog. But no matter what you build there, the Native people are going to keep going there for community gatherings. And SPS needs to find a way to serve the high needs of Indian kids in Seattle, either at W-P or somewhere else.

My kids are doing fine in their schools so I wouldn't move them to W-P, but I would like to access culturally based community gatherings at W-P.

-SPS mom.

Lynn said...


A high school at Wilson, middle school at Lincoln, international K-8 at Hamilton and neighborhood elementary programs at JSIS and McDonald would leave no room for the 700 APP elementary students currently at Lincoln.

Is there room for both a small native heritage K-8 and a comprehensive high school (in separate buildings) on the Wilson site?

Anonymous said...

Wallingford doesn't need an international K-8. There are already two international elementary schools in the area. If Hamilton becomes an elem, why not just make it the APP elem?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like it would be good to plan an auditorium into the new school in order to maintain a space for community gatherings at W-P.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, whatever happens at the WP, an auditorium for Native gatherings is absolutely crucial.

Anonymous said...

When a separate school is set up for one race or ethnic group - I go back to a touchstone of civil rights:

Separate is not equal.

A "small K8" for Native Students will never be given the resources of a comprehensive middle school, nor will the small size allow it to raise the PTA funds to replace district funds. It will, from day one, be separate and not equal.

I don't understand WHY there is a push from ANYONE for the Native Heritage school to be anything other than a well-supported and thought out program in a comprehensive or bigger school? As part of either an attendance area or option school?

People, a separate school will not be equal. It will not be. That is fact, and history, and experience.

And as a parent, would you send your child to a small, underfunded "separate" school -- a segregated school -- a school fundamentally based on race or ethnic group -- or would you send your kid to the neighborhood school they are entitled to go to?

Let's talk positively about how to create a Native Heritage program within a school, preferably one where many Native students already attend, instead of building it and hoping they come, but NOT a separate school.

ANd on the Lincoln Hamilton stuff:

I think the idea people are talking about is that the 700 APP elem kids in north and a small option school (perhaps AS #1?) could be in Hamilton, totaling about 900 - 950 elem kids - very little or no mods required b/c there would be very few K age kids (none in APP). Lincoln would accommodate a larger middle school population than Hamilton can, and Hamilton would hold a larger elem. number than the elem proposed for WP site.

The only group that needs large fields is HS - and they are going to have their large fields at WP - so they should just go to school there too. The plan to put a big HS at WP, a large MS in Lincoln and all of north APP elem plus option elem in Hamilton yields more total elem seats, more and sooner HS seats and will continue to hold off a full blown MS crisis comparable to HS and Elem (b/c JAMS will be open, Lincoln can hold more MS than Hamilton, and JAMS can take portables if necessary).

Signed: separateNOTequal

seattle citizen said...

@seperateNOTequal -
Indian Heritage was not just for Native students. Non-native students went there voluntarily. Yes, I would send my kids to a school with a Native-driven pedagogy. I'd jump at the chance.

No one said such a school would only be for Native children.

Pinehurst is joining with the Native community to create a school that serves "comprehensive" students as well as Native students as well as non-native students who value such interesting approaches to education.

Should we do away with the International schools? They serve "comprehensive" (gen-ed) students in a bi-cultural setting.

PTSA funds? That's a whole 'nuther can of nuts: MANY schools in the district have PTSAs that cannot, through no fault of their own, raise more than ten grand, if that. That buys copy paper for two years.

Lastly, their is still the question of debt: We "comprehensive" people are talking about land that was, in essence, stolen from the local Peoples. Everyone knows the absurdity of the drive-by treaties Stevens conducted (he was our first governor, the regional head of the Indian Dept, and the surveyor for a transcontinental railway...under the auspices of the War Dept....all at the same time. That tells you a bit about HIS motivations: Bring "civilization" over the passes by hook or by crook.

And even the treaty made was, of course, broken: When the local Indian agent in Seattle sent a letter back east in 1867, asking about the promised reservation for the Duwamish, EVERY citizen of Seattle, it is said, hastily signed a counter-letter telling the "Bostons" back east not to give the Duwamish (who were, in the earlier years, their friends) the reservation. So none was allotted.

We are sitting on stolen land.

We have no business telling the Native peoples how to build a school: Give them the land (back), give them the funding, and let them build a school any damn way they want.

Anonymous said...


The difference is APP at Lincoln is supposed to be temporary, and the proposal for APP at Hamilton is permanent. Also Lincoln has lots of off-street space on the north side and lots of parking spaces surrounding the school, whereas Hamilton has no off street space and much less parking space. Yes, Lincoln is a secondary school, it was a highschool and SPS plans to reopen it as a highschool. Right now all the school buses for APP park in the north parking lot, which is off-street, for drop off and pick up; and Lincoln has parking on all the other 3 sides for parents' cars. Two of the sides are 3 blocks long. So the impact of buses and cars on the neighborhood is lessened. Hamilton has only a one block on the south side of the school for drop off, and during drop off & pick up right now, sometimes cars are backed up all the way E to Wallingford and around northward two, three blocks sometimes. The W and E sides of the school are barely big enough for buses, fortunately their arrival times are a bit staggered.

Since Hamilton is a neighborhood school, most of the kids who came from JSIS and MacDonald walk to school. As an APP elementary site, the number of kids who are from the neighborhood & can walk will be fewer, which means many more cars and buses. An APP Elementary school and a Neighborhood Middle school are not interchangable. The population and the kids' needs and their impact on the surrounding spaces are different.

APP Lincoln parents have been unhappy for years re Lincoln's small muddy playground, at Hamilton there is NO play space at all. The building is the total of the school. Wallingford Park is there but it is a neighborhood/city park, not SPS property. Where will the 1000 kids go for recess?

I mentioned the classrooms and offices because the offices are too small for classrooms so some remodeling would be needed. Bathrooms would need to be changed for smaller kids. Kindergarten bathrooms would need to be added to the K classrooms; desks, chairs will need to replaced with smaller ones, cubby spaces added, (younger kids would not be able to use the upper lockers). These changes will cost some money. And the science labs would have to be turned into regular classrooms, which means the $$ spent on making them science labs are wasted.

We live north of 45th so not in the immediate neighborhood of the two schools, but I really can't see Hamilton's neighbors being okay with having the number of buses and cars increased. As it is now, during pick up and drop off those people can't even get out of their garages or go against the direction of the parents' cars and school buses, so twice per day for at least 1/2 hour the 3 streets W, E & S of the building turn into de-facto one way streets with bumper to bumper traffic because of the school. With mega APP elementary there the number of buses and cars would probably double. There's not going to be enough space for all the buses to park to load & unload. And many more elementary parents will want to walk their kids to class than middle school parents, traffic back up will be much worse for that area. I certainly would not want to live there.

I think the option mentioned by Mr Joe Wolf of opening Magnolia Elementary and having a highschool in the QA, Magnolia area in addition to Lincoln High is better than trying to make a school with absolutely no field/play/parking space into a huge elementary school. Also 120+120 from JSISMacDonald +200 from mega APP, that's 440 kids per class × 4 =1,760 kids for Lincoln middle just from those three schools, add in BFDay and West Woodland and you have a 2,000 kids middle school. Is Lincoln even big enough? And do we want a middle school that huge? Think of the logistics, the discipline, the lunch schedule!


Anonymous said...

Oops, 440 × 3 = 1,320 + BFDay & West Woodland, so around 1,500+, still big but better than 2,000. 500 kids at lunch if they have 3 lunches. Is this managable? How big is Eckstein?


Anonymous said...

Ugh, wrong again. 440×3 + 220×3 =1,980. Around 2,000 kids, 500 kids at each lunch if 4 lunches. 660 kids at each lunch if 3 lunches. Is it even possible to have a lunchroom that big & get 500 or 660 kids through lunch in 1/2 hour? What about library? Band? Orchestra? PE? Art?


Anonymous said...

It can't be the case that elementary students all get walked into class and all are bussed from out of area, thankfully. Hamilton is half app now, not neighborhood, so the bus traffic won't be new, and could potentially be overall reduced depending on how much of app middle moves out of Hamilton by then. If it's an app elementary school, no kindergarten students will be there, so no kindergarten improvements necessary. None of my 3 children ever went to kindergarten in a classroom with a bathroom- I think that's a more luxury upgrade, lucky you if you had it. Several of Lincoln's labs are now classrooms- not an expensive switch, at all.

The Lincoln playground was built in a walkway. It is tiny, and somewhat shameful given that there is room for more, money for these sorts of upgrades for other buildings, and now several programs in one place. But the complaints are not the same as if it was one program in the building, especially one contiguous with a park. There is that kind of awning space at Hamilton. It's not a muddy playground since there is no dirt. The front lawn is also used as a playspace, same as Hamilton could have with very, very cheap regrading. And Lincoln would require very little to make it into a middle school. It would be better suited than it is for an elementary right now, so really this is a better use of facilities. We should get kellie back here, but actually it does turn out that swapping elementary for middle school space is very easy. You can see that with how little the district wanted to give jams after JA k-8 left to actually change the space. They are, in fact interchangeable. Especially since they are two blocks apart. It's high school space that is difficult to create, Nd difficult to use as elementary space. It might actually be better for traffic to get some of the elementary traffic a little off 45th during pick up and drop off. Hamilton would probably be easier for buses for the surrounding area, and a middle school at Lincoln would have a lessened impact.

All of these improvements are insignificant compared to the cost of going to split shifts for high school, which is what happens on or before 2017 without a change in the current trajectory for high school seats.

I also think QA/magnolia needs a high school, but apparently the mag building is extremely expensive to press into service, despite not having a tenant to start a publicity war with sps when they go to lawfully end their lease like everywhere else they have tried lately. How many seats would it provide? We need something like 2500 more before 2018, right? 1500 short in 2016, when the wave starts? Even with Lincoln online in 2019 we are well and truly out of seats,overfull the day it opens. I don't love big schools, actually, and think we should also turn the downtown building into an alternative high school, and wish they would leave Decatur a small elementary for those of us who like that. But I get it that we need quantity at this point. And I can see that they do have benefits, especially at the middle school level. You can create incredibly deep music and arts programs with a large student body, and offer an amazing variety of classes, in a way you just can't with small ones.


Anonymous said...

So your thing is since there are not new middle school seats created in this plan, one school(Lincoln) has to be a mega school? I would assume surrounding schools would take some burden- jsis and McDonald would not have guaranteed seats, since they are option schools, just like Thornton creek kids now are not guaranteed Eckstein seats. It's by where you live. Many current McDonald students live in the Eckstein assignment area. I think Eckstein was 1300 this year. Much smaller building than Lincoln, though, more like the size of Hamilton, only with parking lot space for portables.

I agree this keeps middle schools more crowded, but the high school situation is both worse and higher stakes than the middle school problem. I want to say use the mag building as a middle school, but I think they need a high school, and unfortunately I think we could still use every last one of those seats. But I think there is no political will around the mag building- this is only a possibility because the wilpac nimby neighbors have gotten people to give it all a second look.

There is no solution that does not have some headache that comes with it- unfortunate mega school (probably better in Wallingford than right next to relatively unsafe aurora) or just plain not enough seats.


Lynn said...


Schools can and do use city parks for recess. (See Fairmount Park.)

Given the capacity crisis we're anticipating, I don't think decisions should be made based on how increased traffic will affect the neighbors. If you live in a house near a large school building, traffic should not be a huge surprise.

Do you dislike these options so much that you'd prefer your children to attend a high school with double shifts? I think that's a valid choice too - it just depends what we prioritize.

Anonymous said...

Re the numbers in a post not too far up:

The poster forgot to subtract out from each grade level in the proposed MS at Lincoln numbers the APP elem kids who will follow the geographic pathway into APP at Lincoln. Not every APP elem kid from the current north program will go to Hamilton - the MS cohort gets divided.

And to the other poster who was saying JSIS and MacDonald go to their geo zone MS - nope, they don't. Those kids are currently given an internatl language immersion pathway, both schools together to create enough cohort for their own programs. They are guaranteed regardless of address, I believe, a seat into the MS that hosts their pathway. At least I think that's current.

So the two schools' graduates together could be yanked out and put pretty much anywhere - just like APP has been over and over - as long as their student cohort is kept together. They're a pathway independent of address, once you're in it, I think.

Signed: worth thinking

Anonymous said...

And the whole "use the Mag building" debate - are you talking about the classic building on the bluff on Magnolia with the great views of downtown? The one that the district gave the land to the City for a Park several years ago? The one that is clearly a historic building and also clearly doesn't have the space to be a high school or comprehensive middle school, probably only good for (gASP) preschool or like K-2?

Is that the building?

Or are you talking about something super complicated like turning Cath Blaine into a middle school or high school, b/c unlike the old Magnolia school on the bluff, it actually has land ... but then you have to find a space for all the little kids?

Or - what I would LOVE - to see a groundswell for getting really useful land at Discovery Park/Fort Lawton and building a high school THERE - way better than the Federal Building downtown - that's land that could be a great high school.

Please, what Magnolia school are you talking about? If it's the one of the bluff in the south corner of Magnolia - go drive by or even map look it up.

No high school going there.

Interbay, maybe. And maybe that would work, but I don't think Joe Wolf ever said "Magnolia" for high school in that earlier thread - I think he wrote on a different topic and someone right after him discussed Magnolia high school.

Signed: map reader

Anonymous said...

Worth thinking, I just looked all over the sps website and could not find anything to confirm or disprove that going forward. I did find a statement that current Hamilton international students were not considered "choice" students (so pro pathway), but absolutely nothing going forward, and this is the first option school year. But that is a thought, if the international students are as movable as app, when things get moved around, and CCA et al want the Wallingford middle school to be smaller. I wonder how big intl cohorts need to be to be successful? App at middle needs to be about 300.

Map reader I was not necessarily thinking comprehensive. I think we have too few option high school programs in our city. They can be cheap to open and could provide capacity relief quickly, especially if they are attractive. Not everybody needs a full slate of varsity sports or every language spoken on the planet, and they might be willing to give up some of those options for a really focused arts or life sciences program. It just has to be an actually attractive program.


Anonymous said...

A high school for Q.A. and Magnolia families at Discovery Park sounds really lovely.

Why not?

S parent

Patrick said...

High school at Discovery Park would mean significant bus rides for almost all the kids who attend. (Of course, they have long bus rides now.) And loss of park space and possible traffic congestion in the park during dropoffs and pickups and all-school events in the evening.

Nevertheless, it's worth considering. Interbay would be nice, but I'm not sure where you're going to find a parcel of real estate large enough for a high school without condemning it from a seller who's not going to fight it through the courts.

Never sell urban real estate.

seattle citizen said...

Today's news tells us that Seattle is trying to sell four acres of Yesler Terrace for business development. Too far south for a HS to meet north needs, but I guess it's okay to sell urban real estate, kick out the low-income residents, and favor business. Why not sell it for schools, then?
As a side note: Yes, Discovery Park is a bit out of the way, but there is more than enough room there to accomodate a school...or two.

Anonymous said...

Interbay is not nearly as nice as Discovery Park. The empty school at the top of Magnolia could be sold to help pay for the construction of something much better.

You could have an environmental science focus there. Call it Discovery High School.

S parent

Joe Wolf said...

Posting this for the third or fourth time in the past few months. Perhaps it will stick this time (?).

The two ideas below have not been formally vetted with Ops Committee or the Board. They have been discussed with leadership and FACMAC. They are not mutually exclusive.

* Create 1,000 new high school seats in QA/Magnolia by:

- Modernizing and expanding the closed Magnoklia campus, and moving Blaine K-8 there.

- Convert current Blaine campus into a 1,000-seat neighborhood high school.

* Create 1,200 high school seats by expanding Ingraham and Rainier Beach ... the only two extant high schools where any significant expansion is possible. Create seats and appropriate core space to make each school 1,700 seats (about the same size Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard are now).

Ragweed said...


How soon would these plans be able to be initiated. Would it have to wait for the next BEX? Would there be time to catch the HS wave?

Also - do you know the current plan to respond to the landmark decision?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joe.

The is the best solution for high school and the region. Not optimum, not perfect. But, solid and reasonable and doable. Get emergency capital dollars from Olympia to rehab/open Magnolia & convert Catherine Blaine building.

Puts a high school back in QA/Mag -- which is the bottleneck.

Unfortunately, this being Seattle, and given the leadership we now have (don't have) at the District; this will be mauled before it sees the light of day.

Flip is too busy with preschool (why can't he just say 'No'?) and the downtown school (again, why can't he just say 'No'?) to be bothered with actual and real and pressing K-12 capital problems and solutions.

When he goes away (hopefully sooner rather than later), how do we support you to be the new head?

Sorry you don't have better, smarter bosses.

As for the cockamamie Landmark decision, it's ridiculous that a rat-infested pile of junk is important because there once served a strong principal there for a couple of years. Hey, Mercer Middle school had an awesome principal for a few years a few year years ago, let's landmark that. And by corollary, sould we "de-landmark" buildings if they have cluncker principals for many years?

Architecture should be landmarked essentially on its own merits, not because Elvis once slept there. Really. Indeed, wouldn't one hope that all k-12 principals are as effective as the best in the business? Shouldn't that be the standard? Not some mythical high, like if that occurred, then the building in which it occurred should be sanctified like some rainbow-glowing unicorn with its own landmark? "Unicorn principled this school for 5 years, 15 years ago, so, that is an inditia for landmarking the architecture"?!

The murals are being preserved by the District, with a lot of time and care and consultation and an MOU. That's understandable and should be enough. But frankly, I would not be doing that either given the millions it will cost.

Seems like a lot of issues are getting conflated at Wilson Pacific, and the Landmark folks decided enough was enough, with respect to those outside issues (200 years of continual Native American destruction by 'whites') and threw a bone to the oppressed. But really, how is this going to solve anything? Is this moldy building really what should pass for a landmark? And then why not turn over Licton Springs park, with the actual sacred springs, over to the Native Americans as a down payment on the reservation that is owed them?

And finally, even if/with full landmark status, SPS can STILL tear the whole thing down, and proceed to build per their plans (pending departures approval) (withOUT an auditorium). It will just take them longer and cost more and make them jump through many, many hoops. And it still would be a bad plan even if they did this. And the enfranchisement of the Native Americans will still be ...likely lacking. Sorely. And high school will still be a problem, unless the district finally listens to Joe.


Joe Believer

kellie said...

Looping back to a few question on the various suggestions.

I have done a wide assortment of capacity management projects over many years and all of the projects have very similar characteristics. People want to do the "right" thing. By and large that is very true. AND people are very reluctant to look at what "can" be done with limited resources when there are not enough resources to do everything.

The real challenge is that there are more capacity issues than there are capacity answers and options. As such, it is really challenging to have a conversation about what "can" be done with the resources we have vs what "should" be done if we have unlimited resources or what "should" be done to fulfill this priority or this promise.

Everyone has done a great job of pointing out what the various solutions do and do not solve and that is the crux of the matter. Every solutions that commits resources to solving one capacity problem, by definition is NOT committing those resources to the other capacity problem. While that statement is over-simplification, it is really true.

I think this is a fair listing of the capacity issues.
- Elementary School
- Middle School
- High School
- Special Education
- Language Immersion and Option schools (schools full with lots of demand)

What's fascinating from a pure management point of view is that Wilson Pacific plan has elements for that entire list. FOUR SCHOOLS are planned to share that property - an elementary, a middle school and an option school plus dedicated fields for high school.

While that may pencil out on paper, in real life that is a very brittle plan and unlikely to deliver the expected results. Do we have any examples of this level of intense sharing anywhere else in the system? Denny/Sealth is about as close as it gets for a comp.

Therefore, the many calls to simplify things and bring a single focus to the campus are grounded in common sense. However, by doing one thing really well, you will not be doing everything.

kellie said...

Lots of good people have looked at this issue over many years now. If there was a magic bullet of some sort that solved everything, I would be writing about it and trying to enroll support for that plan. However, there just isn't a plan that solves ALL of the capacity issues.

I have said it a million times and it is still true. The only way to solve capacity problems is with NEW CAPACITY.

You manage capacity issues by increasing the efficiencies of your capacity. This is done by focusing a campus and by optimizing properties and by strategically placing programs to draw students from more dense areas to less dense areas. That increases your efficiency and gives you wiggle room but we are long past that.

The bottom line is that we need to add over 1,000 NEW seats each year. Depending on how that breaks down that is 30-50 NEW homerooms each year.

That is an extraordinary number and it is a major project if those 30 homerooms are just portables places at an existing school. When those homerooms need to be delivered in the from of a whole new school, the complexity increases. It took over a year and thousands of hours to roll out 30 homerooms in the form of the comprehensive middle school, JAMS. My estimate is that it would take a two year planning cycle at a minimum to roll out the nearly 50 homerooms that a comprehensive high school would represent.

Sooner or later, it just will not be possible to add homerooms at this rate without new properties or going to shifted schedules.

kellie said...

Thank you Joe for posting that list once again. I know that I am very grateful that your expertise is added to this challenge.

As you know, IMHO, without a high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia located in either QA or Magnolia, the pressure on the rest of the high school system is just too great. Geography matters. During one of the rounds of school closures, back when we had 10 comprehensive high schools, there was a map that showed enrolled students and their closest school. If there was a remotely even distribution, then each school would have about 10% of the enrollment that lived closest to that school. Garfield was the closest school for about 18% of the students, it was a crazy number and really highlights just how much boundary shifting needed to happen to send folks to a further school geographically.

Anonymous said...

Joe Wolf,

What sort of timeline do you envision for those additional HS options you mentioned? It sounds like they are just vague ideas at this point, and as you pointed out previously there's a lot of planning that has to take place to get a HS from idea to reality. Based on something you said earlier, it sounds like you were thinking of these as next steps AFTER the reopening of Lincoln as a HS, is that correct? And if so, are there any plans on how to address the HS shortage in the meantime, since Lincoln is still several years away? Does the district have updated projections on the HS capacity crisis?


Anonymous said...


SPS? Plan?



Sps "plan":

= wing + prayer


(umh, that's 'new' 'constructionist' math. Hope your mathy enough to do understand.)


Joe Wolf said...

Here is what we know at present. More analysis is dependent on receipt of the updated school-specific 5-year enrollment projections from Enrollment Planning in the next month or so.

* High School Capacity: Knowns and Potentials

- 1,600 seats come online with the re-opening of Lincoln. Timeline: 2019-20 school year.

There is $20M in BEX IV funding allocated to this project; originally it was $40M. So it is important to use the $20M to do what is absolutely needed to fully use the campus, and plan the rest of the scope to be done in a series of summer projects as funding becomes available.

The next levy is BTA IV, going to the voters in 02/16. The one after that is BEX V, in 02/19. My team and I will draft a project list for BTA IV this fall and winter, and then it will go to the community for and Board for vetting. The BTA levies traditionally have focused on maintenance and "systems" (HVAC, roofs, fields, interior spaces) renovation, but if there is a critical need for capacity identified we will flag that need and broadcast it to the community and Board.

As Kellie has stated, rolling out secondary capacity is a complex activity. But, at least at the high school level there are non-capital solutions possible. They involve scheduling and calendaring, and as such are the purview of Teaching and Learning. I have shared with Shauna the information I found on year-round calendars. I know she is researching both an extended-period (8+ period) school day, and letting seniors graduate mid-year if they've accumulated all the credits they need.

The type and scope of intermediate solutions is absolutely a critical issue, with (obviously) a lot more work needed to be done.

* Landmarks: Wilson-Pacific

- Flip is your resource for updates on that issue.

To "tired": I use my real name on here. What's yours, if I may ask?

Anonymous said...

People have mentioned split-shifts at high school. I would be curious how that actually works/ what it would mean. I suspect anything drastically different than a traditional day would not suit a lot of people, but for others something like an 8hour day and a six month school year, or a 4 hour, year-round day might be an attractive options, as long it was possible to choose it rather than be assigned into it.

Mom of 4

Lynn said...

Mom of 4,

Split shifts in high school generally mean some students attend from 6 until noon and some from noon until 6. I doubt it would be voluntary. I think it's unlikely that we'd move to year-round schooling for high schools only.

Lynn said...

Another non-capital solution for high school might be encouraging more running start enrollment. If high schools arranged their master schedules so that a combination of high school and running start courses was easy to manage, I think it would be popular. Adding an optional summer session might lead to earlier graduations also.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joe.

Out of curiosity, does anyone know how things like sports, clubs, student council, etc. work with split shifts?

And if Teaching and Learning wants kids out sooner, doesn't it seem like they should be facilitating MORE acceleration rather than less? The sooner kids are ready for p/to college classes the better.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the recent renovations at Shorewood and Shorecrest high schools (Shoreline district) increased capacity at those schools? If so, I wonder by how much and if there would be space for out-of-district students?

It would probably be more attractive to our family to change districts rather than go to split shifts for high school.

- North-end Mom

TechyMom said...

Another option is more periods, without necessarily assigning kids to one shift or the other. I went to a school that had 00-9th periods, 7:00 to 3:40. You registered for classes (by standing in lines and collecting punch cards. God I'm old) at the time you wanted, and if that time was gone, you took another. There was a system for allocating cards by first letter of last name and grade so it wasn't a complete free for all.

Everyone was required to fill periods 2-7 and there were 2 lunch periods. People took some classes earlier or later as it fit their schedule. This spread the kids over more time, and also allowed for credit recovery or acceleration. They had opt-in summer school too.

There were over 3000 kids at the school, on a campus about the size of Garfield's. Class size was around 35, which was pretty normal for public high school at the time. Open campus and California weather may have made this easier than it would be here, not sure.

The semester I had a 1-9 with holes in it was kind of annoying, but not nearly as bad as a 6am start time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe, as always, thanks for coming to the discussion!

you said: "The next levy is BTA IV, going to the voters in 02/16. The one after that is BEX V, in 02/19. My team and I will draft a project list for BTA IV this fall and winter, and then it will go to the community for and Board for vetting."

Having just sat at the SCPTSA sponsored principal breakfast yesterday at Garfield (which is a beautiful building, BTW) where all the talk was community engagement, I just had a thought.

I wonder if I/we at SCPTSA might be able to support your team's planning efforts by engaging PTA's to provide some information about what they think they need in terms of facilities at their schools. Questions like: Are there building improvements needed at your school? Is the building "cannablaized" and "portabalized."

SCPTSA is really interested in supporting increased and improved community engagement strategies, and I just wondered if it might help all around to loop schools and parents and teachers into the planning process a bit earlier on, instead of developing a list and then engaging the community. I think that maybe getting some community input on developing the list might really help the list be more complete, and more likely to get support.

Yes, not all schools have PTA's, but I would be very happy to also connect with the site council's/PTO's, to make sure that all school communities had a chance to express what THEY think they need.

I'm just brainstorming here, but maybe an important part of the picture to help you and your team draft the project list might be some input up front from the school communities? Maybe we could work together to distribute a survey?

Just some brainstorming...


Carol Simmons said...

Thank you Joe Wolf for posting and sharing information.

Thank you also Seattle Citizen for your posts about our Native community and Indian education. I totally agree with you whoever you are.

Anonymous said...


BTW, the Fort Lawton site at Discovery park is quite large (larger than even Wilson pacific WITH the fields, I believe)

A few years ago they were planning a whole neighborhood development but that got shot down because they didn't do the EIS first and the housing markets tanked. I haven't heard recently what is happening with it but it is currently still just vacant, I think. And while it is on the NW part of Magnolia, and getting in and out of Magnolia is limiting, the site itself should be big enough. Also it is an AWESOME location for environmental education. There is a huge and amazing heron rookery not too far way.

I'm pretty compelled by Kellie's statements that a High school needs to be built in proximity to Queen Anne/Magnolia, since that is the high school that is missing. Both of these neighborhoods are growing like crazy with families and NEW DEVELOPMENT, and no longer are they all going to private. Families are moving in, in droves, and most are going to public schools.

Where else is there a large enough property to build a high school? I'm not sure that Blaine is large enough or that the magnolia building would hold enough k-8 kids.

I guess that Memorial Stadium is still an option, right? It's Lower Queen Anne, so might be a better location? Other than that, where else is there a big enough piece of property to build a high school?


seattle citizen said...

Thanks, Carol. You know me well, from many board meetings in recent years. Thank you for speaking so often, and participating in many other ways....

Regarding HS split shifts using extended days - I very much like the day of offering, say, nine periods and have students attend either 1-6 or 4-9. Those that want to get up earlier (or have to, for after school work, sports, or activities) can do so; those that want to sleep in (and, not incidentally, follow research suggesting this is a good idea) can do that.

Win-win...except early birds are...early, and late sleepers can't do sports etc.

Of course this is some complicated scheduling and staffing.
Of course it means fiftly percent more FTE at the school, because we can't ask teachers to work 6:00-5:00 for the same pay we give them now....

But it saves on building new facilitues - the capacity is sitting there, unused, for 17.5 hours per day now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't have time here to say all I would like. It's a good discussion but one that has been going in circles for years now.

1) Respectfully to Joe, if BTA is now going to capacity management, I'll vote no. Why? Because that maintenance backlog is not getting smaller, we are not taking care of the old OR new buildings in nearly the manner the district should and BTA is not for renovation projects. I say that as no authority but this co-mingling and switching of pots of capital money truly needs to stop.

These capital programs now support academics and many other things that senior staff want and meanwhile, schools have to wait for the most basic of maintenance.

I smiled when Eden innocently said, why not have PTAs find out what is happening physically at their schools? It wouldn't help because Herndon would not listen. It would be just another piece of paper that parents work hard on and the district ignores.

2) As Kellie as said, this not having a high school in QA/Magnolia has been a huge issue for a long time. The irony of the QA/Magnolia parents "winning" their Supreme Court battle over using race in assignment and then STILL not getting a high school is not lost on me.

3) Sure, you can expand RBHS but that doesn't mean it will fill up. And Ingraham is nearly full.

4) That anyone in the district has time to be working on preschool space (except maybe Early Learning) and/or a downtown school should really outrage parents. Time IS money and the district, for whatever reason, is having some unseen hand guide some capital time (and probably money).

Anonymous said...

The QA and Magnolia parents did get a high school — they got Ballard H.S. Now that capacity is shrinking for all north end families, everyone is getting squeezed.

I would think big and consider a new space at Discovery Park. The old, empty building on top of Magnolia is probably unworkable and Blaine may not be configured correctly for a high school.

Build a new high school at Discovery Park and give Ballard H.S. back to its community.

S parent

Anonymous said...

So it sounds to me, based on Joe's comments, that the district is unlikely to have any new HS capacity online before Lincoln in 2019/20, and that they are considering split schedules or alternative calendars as a way to deal with the impending HS capacity crisis before then... Am I reading things right?

If so, I would hope that they start engaging the community on these potentially huge changes in scheduling ASAP--like as soon as they have the updated projections in a month.


Anonymous said...


Split shifts or year round schooling would NOT be required if all the high schools put portables on their football fields.

Basically the only space at Ballard, Roosevelt, on-site at Hale (not across street at JAMS), and Garfield for portables is their football field. And that could hold A LOT of portables, including "wet" bathroom portables.

So... isn't THAT choice, year round school or lose the football fields until new high schools are built ... something the COMMUNITY should decide, not SPS?

I for one do NOT want preserving football fields to drive the entire scheduling and high school train.

There is space for high school portables to bridge the capacity crisis. It's just that SPS would have to decide to use it.

High school football is neither required not sacred. Educating children IS.

Bus kids all the way to the 1000 empty seats at Rainier Beach, so those lucky enough to get into their neighborhood school can still play ball? But those who are bused for miles won't be able to do anything after school b/c they'll have to come back?

Oh wait ... unless we change the assignment plan, SPS can't force anyone to leave their neighborhood school. So they're going to knock on the doors of Ballard and Roosevelt and Garfield and want a seat.

Signed: No Splits

Anonymous said...

A split schedule that forces kids into one slot or another won't work. This would need to be done with consideration to needs of the students/families. Also, a split starting at 6:00 am everyday of the week is really untenable for many teens. You can bet that the first two periods in a split that starts that early will have horrible attendance and tardy issues, and kids that really don't or cannot engage because they know that their bodies should still be sleeping. Imagine kids who have a hard time with math being assigned one of the early morning periods in a split schedule. That would be really very thoughtless and likely offer diminishing academic returns. And finally, I worry about SPS' ability to implement something like this in a workable fashion. And would all the high schools all go to a split schedule at the same time, even the one(s) that are not overstuffed? If SPS wants to encourage families to use the remaining seats at high schools that are not overcrowded, they need to consider offering those kids willing to go the distance transportation, not multiple Metro stops.


Anonymous said...

Part of the way SPS gets poor decisions concreted down is framing the questions without all the actual options. {For example, the board was only given the choice of put AS#1 K8 inside Wilson Pac MS or close it, not any choices to put it in any other building ... thus a less-than-optimal decision on location was chosen in an either/or question rather than a full exploration of all the possibilities for AS#1 K8).

By framing the debate as HOW to implement split shifts, or discussing split shifts vs. year round schooling vs. how to get kids to go all the way across town, they have moved the discussion AWAY from the REAL threshold question:

Should SPS create more classrooms at high schools by placing portables on fields or not?

Use available land at every school for classroom spaces, or prioritize a few sports over local high school seats?

Whether or not to use the football fields for classrooms is the ACTUAL threshold question.

If fields are used for classrooms, the district could probably get by until new buildings open, and the buildings could be designed with more care rather than in a panic (note Joe Wolf's statement that the 40 mill reno was now only going to have 20 mill and a patchwork of toher fixes as possible... makes portables at the nice Ballard and Roosevelt and Garfield facilities sound pretty good, frankly.)

If the community gets all knotted up in the weeds of split shift vs. year round vs busing, it's a given that the district WON'T look at using the fields. They will skip right over the REAL first question - is there a way to avoid all this and if so, what are the pros and cons?

So the answer to the REAL threshold question (football fields for portables?) should be debated and decided first, because it might make the whole implementation debate moot (wouldn't that be nice.).

Personally, I don't really see any compelling defense of keeping the fields vs. changing everyone's schedule, disrupting every child in the system, and creating a mess for kids - 6 am starts? Not in school with your peers? Going to school from noon to 6 - that makes family life and after school work impossible?

I hope I live in a city where school trumps football.

Signed: No Splits

Lynn said...

I can't figure out how a schedule that requires all students to be on campus at the same time (say periods 2 to 6 or 4 to 6) would work. Isn't the problem that we won't have enough classrooms to hold every student at once? I think those schedules are used to allow the school to provide a greater variety of classes.

I would definately prefer putting portables on the football fields to split schedules or year-round schools.

The big issue in my mind is what Shauna Heath is doing. She is working on her own (without board input?) on changing the school schedule or calendar for some (or all) of our high school students. That must be a logistical nightmare. I don't know how she can manage it all. Contrast that with the school bell times issue - which can't be decided without throwing tantrums at board retreats, hiring project management staff, buying some ridiculously expensive "community engagement" program and planning endless staff and community meetings.

When will the schedule or calendar change take place? Do we even have enough seats in the north end next year?

We'll have a little extra capacity when NOVA moves back Into the Mann building with the new wing. I hope those seats are used for high school rather than middle school students. Garfield could move some teachers over there.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of folks would sit up & scream if high school sports were canceled because there were portables on the fields, but I also think it would be better than split shifts, in terms how many people it impacts and to what extent. Realistically, split shifts would cause significant issues with sports anyway - when do you practice - 7 PM or so, so both shifts can attend? However, it isn't as simple as cnaceling football - really it means cancelling football, soccer, baseball/softball, and possbly track - any sport that uses a field, and any outdoor gym classes. The question would be if one also cancels the non-field sports like basketball, cross-copuntry, etc in the interest of fairness, or if one lets them continue. At least, since we are in an urban area, there are a lot of non-school related organizations that one can pursue sports with.

But I really agree with HIMSmom - if this is something that is seriously being considered, there needs to be community engagement as early as possible, not just to work out the best options, but to give people some time to get used to the idea. People protest a lot more if they are blind-sided by changes than if they when they've had some time to adjust & plan.

Mom of 4

kellie said...

Districts that operate an extended day model, like 8 period days, tend to do so by having all the time slots uniform and then requiring or encouraging students to be "off-campus" during that time slot. That is how they manage the gap in the number of bodies on campus and the number of classrooms on campus.

A split schedule is a effectively a 12-period day. Most districts do not go from 6 period days to 12 period days all in one go. As we all know, change is incremental. First PCP space is converted and then portables are added and then .... etc. Schedule changes tend to be down the line.

My point on high school is always that is is more complex and therefore needs more conversation and more planning. We have proven that you can decide in September that you need to add a brand new elementary school and have that school up and running by the following year. It may not be pretty but it can be done.

I don't know what the planning timeline for these decisions needs to be but even a relatively straightforward change to an 8 period day has a tremendous amount of complexity, much more than just the master schedule. A change like that would impact all types of legal requirements from labor contracts, to special education and bussing requirements and dozens of things that I don't know about.

kellie said...

I don't have the technical background on this topic, however, I suspect that removing fields is not a viable option and not because of football. I think there are complex access rules around Title 9 that give both genders access to sports facilities that could quite effectively preclude the placement of portables on athletic field as a violation of Title 9. I am certain that someone out that would know whether or not such a strategy is viable but I am skeptical.

Again, high school is both high stakes and complex. Whenever you change one part, there are ripple effects in other places.

Anonymous said...

One more comment on split shifts - if there was a 6 am - Noon shift, the school district would potentially need to provide transportation to a lot of kids that would otherwise take metro. Depending where you live, the bus service is pretty spotty that early in the morning. Where we live, the express bus makes it first stop around 5:30, and the local bus doesn't come until 6:45. To get to Garfield by bus (alter in the day)takes about 50 minutes, because you have to transfer buses downtown, so a 5:30 bus wouldn't do it. The Metro trip planner gives a very convoluted route with 3 transfers, starting at 4:13 AM to actually get here before 6 AM.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

We are a large urban area, with the resources of it - they just aren't all right next to a school that needs space. So I don't think every sport would have to be cancelled if the fields hosted portables.

Obviously all things like basketball and X country would continue.

And if the district can't hammer out an agreement to get some priority in soccer fields w/Parks and Rec/City, -- then WTF are we carrying any water for them on preschool or having any of our facilities open as after school play areas, etc?

Football is only played by a relatively small number of male students - although of course lots of students enjoying cheering for the games - people applaud the colleges who decide the financial drain of expensive football programs isn't worth it.

I can't see a moral or financial reason to prioritize football fields over classrooms.

Any solution that is NOT portables on fields is probably WAY more complicated and expensive, and has to be implemented all in at once - a huge wrenching change - whereas portables on fields is able to be scaled up as need requires. Some schools might only need to use part of the field, preserving the track jumping pits, etc - for instance. (And I think it's very likely track would not be affected - they don't use the football portion of the field anyway - and statements to the contrary seem like fear-mongering.)

Signed: No Shifts

Anonymous said...

Kellie -

Not saying your comment about TItle 9 was fear-mongering! It's a really interesting point.

But I'm not sure how stopping a sport that is male only (football) would presumably violate Title 9 - it doesn't seem like any colleges have suffered from that problem when they've discontinued competing in football.

Track and soccer involve both genders. And I don't think track is necessarily impacted anyway, so it's not a violation.

Tennis courts just aren't big enough for many portables.

Signed: No Splits

TechyMom said...

So, what if the more crowded high schools added a period or two at the end of the day, so students would have more flexibility? They'd need to hire more teachers, but they'd need to do that with portables or a new school too. Students who want to do after-school sports could sign up for 1st and 2nd period, those who don't for the new ones. There would be some scheduling work to make sure that every required-for-graduation class was available at multiple times, but it seems likely that there would be multiple sections of those classes anyway.

Some kids would end up with both early and late classes, and a long lunch or a free period. The free period could be used for independent study or homework or socializing (or napping!). That could happen in the library, the courtyard, the cafeteria, or off campus, but would not require a teacher.

We should also be looking at summer school, running start, tech prep, online classes, and early graduation as ways to better use the existing facilities. All of these would be optional, but I bet a lot of kids would opt for them.

Anonymous said...

I assume some high school teams have to travel to practice fields anyway (like Lincoln would do to W-P), so what about adding portables on some fields and having high schools share them at the others? They could stagger practice days/times, have joint training sessions for specialist positions (e.g., QBs, kickers, goalkeepers), and maybe benefit from some good scrimmages. By strategically placing which fields to use for portables, maybe they could ensure reasonable access to a not-too-far field?


Anonymous said...

Kellie, with an extended 8-period day type model, are some kids told they need to be off campus midday? Seems like a good opportunity to get into trouble, in addition to having long days. I doubt they would let those kids stay on campus to study or nap or hang out, as someone suggested. What do kids do in that situation?


Anonymous said...

Title 9 only ensures that boys and girls have equal access to school activities, which includes sports. There is no requirement in Title 9 that anyone have access to sports.

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

Lawyer Mom

Lynn said...

In my experience, students are not allowed to be on campus if they have a free period. It is too difficult to monitor activity on campus if students are wandering around during the school day.

I agree that sending kids off campus mid-day is asking for trouble. Attendance rates would drop as kids decide just not to return. Most parents aren't available to keep an eye on things at home either.

kellie said...

High school students leave campus for lunch period currently so that would not be a new variable. High schools are open campus while middle schools are closed campus.

My (very limited) understanding of the sports fields is that they are used for lots more than football, including girls soccer. I mentioned the Title 9 thing because I remember it coming up as an issue during BEX planning a few times and was one of the reasons field space had to be preserved at Wilson Pacifc and Thornton Creek and keeping memorial stadium access.

That is not an area of expertise on my part, so I don't have the details but I just remember being grateful that was part of the conversation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

S Parent, Ballard was not QA/Magnolia's and that's precisely the problem. That lack of a real high school (and you can lay it at the feet of Don Nielsen who pushed for Center School instead of a comprehensive) for that area is a real and continuing problem.

No Splits, I see a couple of flaws in your thinking. (But to be clear, I don't want to see splits or portables on fields.)

1) those fields are NOT just for football. (And Roosevelt's is just a playfield.) Also those fields are used for Ultimate Frisbee and other sports like soccer, not just football.

2) the district has a agreement with Parks and would be in a lot of trouble if they summarily said, no more use of district fields to Parks or any other group

3) I believe putting portables - even short-term - could damage those fields and there's more costs.

I don't think football trumps academics; I just think that the district would be crazy to put portables on those fields.

Lori said...

I had an ah-ha moment reading thru this thread. I wonder if some of the hesitancy to explore flipping bell times has to do with the reality in the north end. That is, they certainly couldn't flip times in just the west or south parts of the city while forcing kids in the north end to start their high school day at 630AM or 7AM due to lack of capacity. So perhaps there isn't much interest in researching the idea when logistically they just can't make it happen until, what, 2020 or beyond?

(I'm not an attorney, but I do wonder - could northend parents sue if highschool starts at 7AM here but at 9AM or 930AM in the rest of the city? What if a student was injured driving while sleepy due to the early start? Would they have cause or standing?)

As an aside, I have family members in the Renton school district. High school there starts at 720AM, and there is an optional zero period class that starts at 630AM. So it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility that Seattle would look to similarly early start times if needed if they benchmarked against other WA districts.

Anonymous said...

Don Nielsen did bring us the Center School, which my oldest son attended and enjoyed very much. Building a bigger high school was not seen as possible then and many parents supported the concept of a smaller, more personalized high school. It wasn’t our fault that Q.A. high was closed decades ago.

There are several comments about rebuilding that sad school on top of Magnolia into an elementary and trying to redo Blaine into a high school. These options are possible but may not be ideal.

If the School District sold the unused, empty for years property on top of Magnolia it would make a nice downpayment on a new high school. They certainly were able to turn their property on lower Q.A. into a nice new office space elsewhere.

S parent

Po3 said...

Remember, the Center school was created during a time when small boutique schools where very popular, in the larger schools the academies were born. It was thought that smaller learning environments were good for students. A decade later you can point to academic success at Center as well as the Ballard academies. So the idea had (and still does) have merit.

Yes, we have a capacity problem - but I don't fault the creation of the Center school.

I wonder if Center had been replicated in different parts of the city if we would still have a high school capacity issue?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Center School is a real school. And now they have Jon Greenberg back. He beat the District. Happy day!!

S parent

Anonymous said...

@ Lori

I had the same "aha!" moment (about the earlier bell times issue -vs- split shifts) earlier today.

I bet you are right. This would explain the push back from staff on the earlier bell times.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Remember, the Center school was created during a time when small boutique schools where very popular, in the larger schools the academies were born."

First,I didn't say Center Schools wasn't a real school. It is.

BUT, yes, it was born during this time of boutique and smaller schools. My recollection is that parents wanted a comprehensive but this is what they got via Nielson. The district, once again, did not listen to parents.

Anonymous said...

I just read an article that said that the Pemco building, the entire block, in SLU is going up for sale. Could fit a high school there...

-Just Mulling

Anonymous said...

When the Center School was built, the district did not think there was enough capacity to justify another comprehensive high school. Parents in Q.A. and Magnolia wanted Ballard H.S. as an option, since north end parents at that time often had a choice of more than one high school. Many families in the Ingraham area, for example, could choose Ballard H.S., but Q.A./Magnolia families could not. The district could force people into schools that had space.

Now there is increased demand for public schools and the space issue is more dire. A central high school is needed and it would be great to build something new, instead of cobbling together something from inadequate buildings.

If there is space at Discovery Park for a school with a field, that would be interesting.

S parent