Friday, April 10, 2015

Coming Soon? Hamilton International MS Annex at Lincoln?

A reader asked for a separate thread on the district possibly creating an annex at Lincoln for Hamilton overflow.  From my original post:
  • From a parent who attended the SCPTSA meeting on Monday, Flip Herndon told several parents that they are considering an annex for Hamilton. 
There is space at JAMS and Eckstein but rather than admit the enrollment made a mistake by sending 5 feeder schools to Hamilton, the smallest, least flexible middle school, they are going to plow ahead with an un-workable and expensive facilities solution to an enrollment planning goof.
My only comment is that these issues are and have been known to the district.  Why it feels like capacity management appears to have no real vision or explainable thought pattern is troubling.
Comments from capacity expert, Kellie LaRue:

Once again, Lincoln is expected to act as if it is the Hogwart's room of requirement. That somehow Lincoln can magically expand, contract and morph to solve all the capacity problems in the north end.
Lincoln is pretty darn full. Full of what is a question that seems to be unclear but full as every nook and cranny in the building has been being used to solve a wide variety of small'ish capacity problems.

It is notable that during the BEX IV planning process that Lincoln was scheduled to be used as the interim location for both the Decatur property (Thornton Creek) school project AND the Olympic Hills rebuild.

Thornton Creek is now a build-in-place, despite the need to add even more portables for new homerooms next year. Olympic Hill triggered the opening of Cedar Park to be used as in interim location.

So if there is not enough room at Lincoln so that i can be used as an interim location, how can there be enough room for an annex???

An annex would need to be fairly sizable in order to be academically feasible, comply with union regulations for teachers and provide a middle school experience.
 Another of Kellie's comments:
Hamilton was designed for 800 students. At 800 students, the library and computer rooms work well. The gym works well. The cafetorium works, not well, but OK.

The tricky thing about flex space is that you need some empty space to make it work well. In other words, you need space for the dominos to fall. When there is no extra space the sequencing that is built into the design of flex space works less-well.

Hamilton can handle 900 farily well. When HIMS first hit 900 students, there needed to be some building modification to the design to make it work.

At 1,000 students, there are some significant challenges. In other words, it can be made-to-work. Made to work requires more effort because you are no longer working WITH the design. At 1,000 students, you hit the tipping point.

Over 1,000 students, then all of a sudden, the building requires significant resources to simply be traffic cop, rather than be there for education. When HIMS enrollment went over 1,000 students, mitigation staffing was needed just to hold things together.

So you have a building designed for cohorts of about 250 - 300, or approximately 12 elementary school homerooms per cohort.

This school is then promised to FIVE elementary schools. BF Day, West Woodland, Greenlake, JSIS and McDonald. It is then promised to HC from McClure, Whitman and Wilson Pacific attendance areas. The math just does not work. 


Anonymous said...

And HIMS is now being led by a person new to a principal role who probably won't want to ruffle feathers at the District level by advocating for what the school needs. We've seen it in other schools with people new to the principal role and building their career, they aren't willing to risk their relationships at District level by pushing back. Parents, get ready to stand up!
Speak Out

Anonymous said...

Is anyone clear on what is supposed to be happening in the north school-wise? I know Lincoln is supposed to be re-opened as a high school in a couple of years, but where are the kids in there now going while it's being re-built? How can they rebuild it AND still move additional kids into Lincoln? I try and pay attention, but I just can't understand what the plan is supposed to be. My kids were at HIMS, and I don't see how this annex would work. There was discussion of this a couple of years ago, and it was dismissed as unworkable. What has changed?

We finally moved our kids to private school because of things like this. I just don't have the stomach to watch the district implode because no one is thinking more than 30 seconds into the future. How do people make such horrendous plans and where are the people telling them their ideas are terrible. The district is making terrible situations even worse with poor thinking. We are at a seriously critical point in the district where all the decisions need to be perfect just to keep the capacity even remotely doable. I don't get the sense the district is clear on the importance or the urgency.

The district has zero money to waste, yet they waste so much with incompetence.

-cried uncle

Benjamin Leis said...

The current construction schedule mostly makes sense. Wilson Pacific is slated to reopen in fall 2017. That will clear out everyone from the Lincoln building. The high school is then slated to be renovated in 2018 and reopen in 2019. There are already a few question marks about this planning though since its not clear everyone's going to fit on the Wilson Pacific site.

I'm a little less clear like others have pointed out what space they are thinking of using as an annex and when in the Lincoln building. Between now and 2017 it seems mostly booked.

Anonymous said...

So -- "cried uncle" saunters into the room with a hammer and, in the space of 2 short paragraphs, manages to hit AT LEAST 4 nails directly on the head!

1. "There was discussion of this a couple of years ago, and it was dismissed as unworkable. What has changed?"
What has "changed" is that "then," it wasn't their idea. Their idea was to force a whole bunch of kids north to JAMS by claiming that Lincoln was totally inappropriate. "Now" it IS their idea. So it is a great idea now, but was stupid back then!

2. How do people make such horrendous plans. . .?
Well, that would seem to be the $64,000 question. Really. When busy, non-expert parents can easily see how horrendous their plans are, how on earth can they not see it? I have been at a loss for words for years. And no, mayoral control would not help. The City has shown itself, through its levy, to be at least as capable, if not more so, of coming up with horrendous plans while ignoring real problems in front of their noses.

3. [A]nd where are the people telling them their ideas are terrible.
Well, hmmm. Parents -- really smart capable ones like Kellie and others -- have been telling them (and providing real facts and analysis to back their views) for years. And dozens or hundreds of "just common sense parents," who lack the brilliant analyses but can still see that the light is a train and not a tunnel entrance, have been chiming in as the Greek Chorus -- but we are "only the hoi polloi," The "great unwashed mass of parents and voters who know nothing," Not only should we not be listened to, evidently, but even if we are randomly right, they have to discount whatever position we take, it would seem, lest we get any uppity ideas about having our voices count.
The staff COULD/should listen to the Supe -- but every Supe (including, evidently, Nyland, if he thinks he has even 5 minutes to dandle charters and early ed on his knee while ignoring capacity management, SPED, the failure to get books to kids by the start of school, etc. etc.) seems to fall silent and let the staff run amok, kissing up DFER and the Alliance, while ignoring the Board, parents, federal and state law, and the laws of common sense.
And the staff could/should listen to the Board -- but the Board panders to them by not calling them out when they are ridiculous, and by not holding Dr. Nyland accountable for whether the staff does a decent job or not. So -- the staff continues to come up with terrible ideas, and the Supe continues to countenance it.

3. We are at a seriously critical point in the district where all the decisions need to be perfect just to keep the capacity even remotely doable. I don't get the sense the district is clear on the importance or the urgency.

Bingo! I don't get the sense that they have any clue either.

4. The district has zero money to waste, yet they waste so much with incompetence.

Bingo again!

Board members? Dr. Nyland? Anyone? Hello?


Melissa Westbrook said...

"I try and pay attention, but I just can't understand what the plan is supposed to be."

Nailed it. I pay attention and certainly Kellie does and we can't follow the bouncing ball either.

"I don't get the sense the district is clear on the importance or the urgency."

Two things to that point.

Oh, I think Dr. Herndon gets it but I'm not sure if he and the rest of Facilities alone can do the work. Clearly, program placement is a huge factor.

Two,I'm not sure that the rest of the senior staff really care. They have their initiatives and fiefdoms.

Anonymous said...

Income tax. Anyone who is against raising revenue to fully fund the schools can keep their critiques to themselves. You cannot get blood from a stone and all that.

Anonymous said...

Quickly to one of Jan's points - when I said "[A]nd where are the people telling them their ideas are terrible" I in no way meant to imply that parents and activists (thanks Kelly and Melissa) were not saying anything. I only meant that one would think there would be someone employed at the district who would see these are terrible ideas. I think Jan understood this, but I wanted to be clear that I know how hard many parents work to try and improve the situation. I was once one of them.

My kid was part of both splits at Lowell (first time when it split between TM and Lowell and then the move over to Lincoln), so I have done my share of trying to talk to district staffers. That is a frustration unto itself. These "discussions" are only meant for the district to convert the parents to their terrible ideas.

Oh, I miss Stephen Colbert. I loved the line he said about GWB's administration: it's they are "rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." I know this is a bit of hyperbole, but it does bring to mind our current situation with school capacity.

-cried uncle

Anonymous said...

Last spring Facmac DID tell them their idea was horrible and needed to be reworked based on the better data picture that emerged.

Facmac's revised rec last spring was basically build ONLY a big (really big) high school at Wilson Pacific, convert Lincoln to a big MS - it would hold more kids than Hamilton does and the only "flex" in the system now is at middle school level b/c the other north MS can take portables, so as long as you serve the kids in that area, there is space in other points in the system for middle school, albeit portables.

But the high schools in the north don't have any flex -- no space for portables or expansion, except miniscule additions that are very expensive per seat, such as a second floor on part of Hale, that type of thing ($$$ per seat gained). So a high school should be on the WP site, leaving an enlarged MS at Lincoln instead.

Then a big elem could go in Hamilton.

That was the most seats per dollar fastest. A big middle school in Lincoln and the big elem. in Hamilton could happen basically immediately. It makes more sense than dividing current middle school over two campuses.

The plan to use the large, flat WP site for a rather smallish MS and big but not big enough elem. was developed well before the levy vote, therefore based on much older data. The numbers grew even faster than anyone expected. (Except maybe Kellie!). The seats added in that plan aren't just not enough, they're also not flexible enough. District can't expand Lincoln HS on that lot, just like you can't expand Ballard or Roosevelt HS or Hamilton MS -- so there's no way to add even more HS seats if they're needed. out there public somewhere.

So yes, people have told the district that the plan needed to be significantly revised based on better data, BEFORE planning went too far. Last year.

Facmac was never asked to another meeting. It's a ship that just doesn't turn.

And you know what - lots of people would like to go private. But guess what? They're not building new private schools either!!!! Lots of kids, same number of seats at private middle and high schools. More and more people who used to go to private schools can't get in there either.

Signed: tired

District never had another Facmac meeting. None all year.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the borderline incoherent post above.

When I said "it's a ship that just doesn't turn," I meant the district, not Facmac. The beauty of facmac was in fact that it was pretty nimble and could change based on changing data - and that multiple members were data wonks and developed competing systems of data, from different sources and using different formulas, not wedded to one and only one way of predicting numbers. But all the numbers on the committee pointed to a huge huge huge enrollment crisis growing faster than anyone at district was willing to admit.

That reliance on numbers/data, and actual understanding of the numbers, was why facmac, unlike a lot of staff, was willing to say "initial recommendations are no longer sufficient/revisions to the plan must be done to reflect numbers on the ground."

you know.



-- tired.

Anonymous said...

cried uncle --

Thanks for your clarification. I did NOT mean to sweep parents into my criticism of the central school administration. Parents, those paying attention and willing to voice concerns, have been among the consistent voices calling for the sort of fact based governance described (in its absence) by "tired." If my cranky post intimated otherwise -- my apologize to District parents! You rock! And you deserve better decision-making from the District!


Anonymous said...

Does Kellie or any of the Facmac people live in Wallingford-Woodland-Fremont-Greenlake-UW neighborhoods? As I remember there was a vocal push for this plan from the Lincoln-APP group to make HIMS a giant APP-North Elementary (instead of APP at WP), and refit Lincoln into a giant APP-North MS, and have a MS and High School built at WP for the non-APP kids, while APP kids head to Garfield and Ingraham for HS after HamiltonAPPES and LincolnAPPMS.
While this would be a SWEEEET plan for our family and our APP kids - they can walk to school! Have high-school-level auditorium, bandrooms, labs, little theater, practice rooms, 4!!! Gyms - in middle school (too bad no planetarium like their cousin's school in Long Island, but we're not greedy, we'll make do with the one at UW, for now) - I really don't see the Wallingford-Woodland-Fremont-etc. families being thrilled with a plan where their kids take the bus 40-60 blocks up to 90th and Aurora for school while APP kids are bused into Wallingford from all N Seattle to take over their "former" Neighborhood Middle School and their "supposed-to-be" new Neighborhood High School. I also don't see the Ballard families who have been expecting their kids to be able to go back to Ballard High - after Lincoln become the High School for the QA kids - supporting this plan either, nor the families who moved into Wallingford and overpaid $$$ on their homes for the immersion schools, nor the ELL, Spectrum, General Ed and Special Ed families expecting HIMS, nor the Lincoln Lynx Alumni Association (who has been giving up to $30,000 in scholarships each year for decades; and who throws an all-class luncheon every year at their country clubs, whom told me at the Wurst Fest that DEFINITELY the District WILL reopen the school as LINCOLN LYNX HS), nor the LL Class of '81 who said they worked long and hard back then to have Lincoln declared a Historic Structure so the District couldn't sell it like they did to Queen Anne High (they didn't trust the promises of the Sup at the time, said he never answered a straight question, TEENAGE.CYNICISM.RULES, y'all).
Maybe Facmac can convince them that it's okay for Wallingford-GL-WW-FM+++ neighborhoods to give up their local Middle School AND High School and send all their kids to WP for... um...

Yeahhh, not seeing it, but I could be wrong, it happens. Mazel tov, I mean it. My kids would love to have a Little Theater for their plays, and unlike y'all whom are only thinking of what's BEST for the District, we want the Little Theater, oh, and the gyms, we love sports (and the practice rooms, we love music too).


Anonymous said...

Um, CCA, you do realize that reopening Lincoln as a high school will mean that it is the only high school in Seattle with no fields of its own. That means no football, no track, no soccer, no baseball - except if they go to Wilson Pacific's fields for practice everyday. And, by the way, the district is putting hardly any parking at the WP site for 1700 elementary and middle school students and their teachers and parents. The neighborhood around WP is crowded with apartments so there is little street parking. I don't know where all those high school students would park to go to their practices everyday. I would truly feel sorry for any students placed at Lincoln HS.

And no, I don't think anyone was suggesting that Lincoln be a middle school for just APP.

I think Kellie is looking out for the best options for all the kids in the district. I think her suggestions would be a much better solution than the district's.

Putting a 2000 seat high school at the WP site, with its own fields, would make much more sense and create more seats overall, which the north end is desperate for. I know I'm worried about my son's high school career (class of 2019) and whether there will be enough places to put kids after 2016.


Lynn said...

Now that we hear the district is considering building a high school on the Memorial Stadium property, FACMAC's idea makes even more sense. That would provide an attendance area high school for Magnolia, Queen Anne and downtown families.

High school students would be much happier to have a state of the art new building with fields than to be able to walk to Lincoln.

HCC students from northwest Seattle would attend Lincoln Middle School along with the neighborhood and language immersion students currently assigned to HIMS.

The only elementary students who would be affected are the HCC students at Lincoln.

Parents who overpaid for their homes in Wallingford to get their children into language immersion schools? They'd still have access to a neighborhood middle school @ Lincoln. (And they don't get any extra consideration because they were able to buy their way into a school lots of other people wanted.)

Lincoln High School alumni? Why would their desires be considered in these decisions?

I would add that Licton Springs/Pinehurst will still need a site. We could build a small K-8 on the Wilson site or move them to the old Thornton Creek building (there's no plan for that) or possibly to the Webster site.

Anonymous said...


I don't remember the FACMAC recs calling for a middle school and high school at Wilson-Pacific. I believe they recommended a high school at Wilson-Pacific, a large middle school at Lincoln, and a large elementary school at Hamilton.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

If they put a high school at Memorial Stadium, would they tear the stadium down? I thought it was protected. Would they build the high school on the parking lot in front of the stadium? A lot of high schools use the stadium, would they still be able to? Just trying to figure it all out.


NW mom said...

HP - Joe Wolf posted a link to a high school in New Jersey (I think) that was built on a stadium site - it was quite an innovative use of space - the stadium was still in full use. I can't seem to to locate what thread that was in, sorry.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Now that we hear the district is considering building a high school on the Memorial Stadium property,"

This is not true. Not ever as I recall. The district and the City had low-level talks about the district giving up some of the acreage around Memorial for a parking structure on Mercer so the district could build there.

As far as I know now, that idea is dead.

The district will NOT tear that stadium down. They need it for sports and graduations. Not going to happen.

Lynn said...


Joe Wolf made the following comment on your blog post Seattle Public Education Updates from April 2nd:

Joe Wolf4/2/15, 12:31 PM
Regarding the Amgen campus:

- Total building square footage is over 700,000. Our comprehensive high schools are around 200,000. What that means:

- SPS would have had to both (a) determine if there was a good way to use about 30% of the campus as a high school.

- Persuade Amgen to "subdivide" the campus, and sell as two properties.

- Persuade Amgen to sell SPS its share at cost that pencils out re. a public high school, not Class A r&d office space. For reference the campus cost Amgen about $800M total to develop.

- Persuade Amgen to agree to a "layaway plan" that matches SPS' ability/timeline to come up with ~$100M.

- Access. IMHO it's problematic for any large institution/employer.

SPS staff is doing preliminary investigation/scoping work around a new comprehensive high school on the Memorial Stadium site that preserves the current stadium function as well. See the new campus for Union City (NJ) High School for an example of this co-use on a tight site.


gregf said...

Many folks in the Wallingford community worked very hard since 1996 trying to get the District to move Hamilton to Lincoln for many reasons. I am happy that the District is considering Lincoln as a MS, regardless of who thinks of the idea. It is the correct choice for the longterm stability and viability of the programs.

The size of the Lincoln site is ideal for a Middle School or K-8 because the north lot could possibly be converted to an athletic field so that Hamilton would finally have a sports field. A middle school or K-8 has much lower parking requirements that can likely be accommodated with the existing street parking.

The original Hamilton site could become an alternative Elementary or K-8 (the Hamilton site is the smallest MS in Seattle, but does appear to comply with District standards for an elementary.

A permanent high school at Lincoln does not make sense because there is no room for an athletic field (the site only meets MS standards). What might be reasonable for an interim use, is simply not acceptable for the longterm in a high school program.

The proper, longterm solution to the high school shortage is to create, buy, beg, steal a high school for Queen Anne/Magnolia to correct the choice by Facilities to sell off the Queen Anne High School building in the 1980's.

Parents! Speak up! Place a K-8 or MS program at Lincoln and create an alternative elementary or K-8 in the Hamilton building. Lobby to create a new high school for Queen Anne/Magnolia, ideal location would be in Interbay someplace.

Anonymous said...

I agree a Lincoln-Hamilton middle/elementary "flip" makes sense from a facility usage and siting standpoint, but what would this mean for HS capacity? The district seems to be relying on Lincoln to provide much-needed seats, and it's projected to be full as soon as it opens. Assuming that some of the existing north end high schools will also need to add a bunch of portables to address capacity shortages until that time, it doesn't seem like we can really wait too long on a new HS. Are some of these other options, like Memorial Stadium, likely to be feasible within a short timeframe? It doesn't seem like a HS at Wilson-Pacific is an option at this point, and we need something soon!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reply, you know I missed that last part but it's still weird because Flip Herndon said nothing about when asked directly about Memorial Stadium.

I think W-P should have been a high school especially since Lincoln appears to be getting minimal upgrades AND has no athletic field at all.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Union City High does look good and I think you could do that at Memorial Stadium (although you'd have to be able to access the stadium itself easily since it is the home field for several high schools).

Union City High

Anonymous said...

Isn't expedia moving to the Amgen site?

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

Mom of 2,
Lincoln was a high school from 1907 to 1981, they had all of the athletic teams that other schools have then and now (except for ones like frisbee, lacrosse, crew) and competed throughout the state as AA and AAA school: football, cross country, volleyball, softball, golf, bowling, basketball, swimming, diving, wrestling, baseball, track and field, tennis, soccer. The Lynx girls basketball team went to state twice and wrestling team several times at end of 70's. Golf was #1 in Metro. They had the state's #1 long distance runner, #1 sprinter and #1 wrestlers in several weights , and one of the top relay teams, shot putters & tennis players in the state. I heard they were also quite successful in earlier years, especially in the 50's and 60's when Lincoln had 2,500+ students. They practiced at Woodland Park which is 5 blocks away.
Their newspaper the Totem won many national awards, all the issues are in school archives. Maybe you should read a few if you're interested in how their sport teams did.
Since SPS lost the Supreme Court case and chose to switch to a Neighborhood Assignment Plan, they can't assign students from Hamilton's and Lincoln's assignment area to another area's school, and have students from outside of their assignment area bused to Hamilton and Lincoln, unless they abandon the Neighborhood Assignment Plan for every school. As I said before, such a plan would be good for our family, but not equitable under the district's current assignment plan. Right now this area's high school is Roosevelt, which will have no room for the coming huge increase starting with the class of 2023 (in 4th grade now). Lincoln High is being open for those kids.


Anonymous said...

If the District can fit a large enough high school onto the Memorial Stadium lot for Queen Anne & Magnolia, then there would be enough seats at Lincoln for the North end, no need for mega schools. I've heard that discipline and safety can be major challenges at huge schools, and since SPS and Seattle's parents, students and neighborhoods haven't experience with mega schools in the last 50-60 years, there would be lots of mistakes and problems and resistance. Can't imagine any neighborhood would want to host 2000+ teenagers (and their cars) nine months (more if summer school) a year! People would worry about drugs and vandalism and fights. Imagine the screaming at board meetings and the lawsuits to stop construction!
I really hope SPS can make this plan work. Another high school in downtown/central area would be the best solution.

Lynn said...

The superintendent can place any program in any building and boundaries for any number of schools can be redrawn as often as necessary.
Whenever a non-attendance area program is placed in a building, children who live nearby are forced to attend schools farther away. If this were not legal, you'd see families who live near Pathfinder, TOPS, JSIS, etc successfully suing the district. There will be children living in the Licton Springs area who will not be able to attend the new Wilson Pacific elementary school.
Unless the fields at Woodland Park are sitting empty in the afternoons and evenings, they're not available for Lincoln High School teams.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tagging onto Lynn's comment, a lot has changed since Lincoln closed and I don't know that the City would agree to give up a field at Woodland Park to Lincoln.

As well, ed specs have changed and I'm not sure how the district would cover PE.

I sure it could be done but I'm not sure it will be done.

Anonymous said...

Melissa -

The isn't if the parks department will "give" a field to the school district at Lower Woodland for Lincoln to use.

The better question is if parks department can come to an agreement for Lincoln to "use" certain facilities at Lower Woodland for specific activities at specified times.

Many years ago, because Ballard High School's field is less than useless, the track team would occasionally reserve the West Seattle Stadium track for practice through the normal process for such things.

There shouldn't be any reason the district can't come to an agreement with the parks department for an ongoing arrangement for the fields at Lower Woodland. Besides, teams practice generally from 3-5PM, which is just before "prime time."


David said...

High schools already use Lower Woodland for softball and baseball.

Anonymous said...

By all means, I look forward to seeing lunch tables in the hallways and kids sitting and eating on the stairs with the 5 minutes for lunch they're already provided with at Lincoln. Add in the extra transit time due to lots more kids, and we should be able to trim that down to 2 minutes for lunch.

Helen said...

Here in Wallingford, the community is very excited for Lincoln to reopen as a neighborhood high school.

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