Seattle Senate Delegation Gets SPS Capital Money Added to Budget

Seattle Senators add school construction funding for Seattle Public Schools to capital budget

The Senate capital budget would provide money for critical school construction projects in Seattle School District under an amendment proposed by the Seattle Senate delegation and adopted by the full Senate. The amendment was signed by Senators David Frockt, Jamie Pedersen, Sharon Nelson, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Pramila Jayapal, Bob Hasegawa and Maralyn Chase.

The amendment to SB 6080 would provide an additional $33 million over four years for school construction, renovations and improvements for local Seattle schools.

“Seattle has some of the most crowded classrooms in the state, and the legislature needed to step up and help,” said Frockt, who offered the amendment on behalf of the delegation. “To provide a great education for all students we need to make sure they have school buildings in decent shape, with enough classrooms, and with the infrastructure they need to succeed. If we can secure this funding in the final capital budget, it will contribute to accommodate the extraordinary population and enrollment growth we have seen and are expected to continue to see in our city.”

Beginning in the 2008-09 school year with a population of approximately 47,000 students, the Seattle School District has grown by at least 1,000 students each year. At this projected pace, the Seattle School District could have enrollment of approximately 60,000 students by the year 2020. The addition of 12,000 students over that time frame would itself be larger than 90 percent of the school districts in Washington.

The need for additional school construction is critical across the city - the total maintenance backlog for the district is over $2 billion.

“Our state’s paramount duty is to provide ample funding for public schools, including for construction of school buildings,” said Pedersen. “Seattle legislators have worked closely together this session to make sure that the state will help Seattle meet the challenge of our extraordinary enrollment growth.” 

Great.  Except that Facilities tells a different story when they are pushing BTA IV.  They say the backlog of maintenance is about $500M and between BTA and BEX IV, they will get that down to $350M.

And, that a lot of that high-level maintenance is because they are NOT doing general maintenance on our elderly buildings or new multi-million dollar buildings.  


Anonymous said…
Beware - the money is earmarked for a small ELEMENTARY building in the south of West Seattle --- NOT A BUILDING IN A REGION/grade segment that is needed!!!!!!

Hello?! High school north is calling. Desperately. Flip Herndon is doing us in. Dr. Nyland has no clue. Flip wanted the downtown school. Nyland said yes to that. This money is earmarked, but the opaque district won't say what for or WHY-- no data!! No list of priorities supported by analysis. They are clowns. But hey, thanks Senator Pederson for trying.

Facilities ?Planning?
Lynn said…
They're estimating $6.3 million to reopen EC Hughes. That's 400 seats in a region that is growing.

The remainder is for reopening Magnolia school and for maintenance in middle schools (Eckstein.)

There's some data on this capital funding request for you.
Anonymous said…
both awesome and not so much? $33M in capital is better than $0. But it won't go far.

-keeping on
Charlie Mas said…
I never know what to think about things like this. Yes, grateful for the money, but it's a band-aid on a gaping wound. And the wound was caused by the people who want us to be grateful for the band-aid.
So, yeah. Thanks for the $33 million over four years, but we really need adequate funding for maintenance and some capital funding for the new housing in the city from impact fees assessed by the City or provided by the state along with the growth management act that forces new development in urban areas.
F?P? And you know this how about the money for an elementary? Are you talking about Arbor Heights?
Unknown said…
6080 is a bill that provides additional funding for buildings or portables needed for the K-3 class size reduction we are supposed to be seeing by 2017. While it doesn't allocate nearly as much $ as needed, it is a great start.

The amendment for specific $ going to Seattle is in response to what SPS asked for. I believe it is for the Magnolia building, EC Hughes and maybe the Webster building (Nordic Heritage) This $ ask was originally slated to be in the capital budget bill, but did not show up in the Senate version. Our Seattle delegation Senators (plus Chase) deserve our thanks for putting this forward again.

And, as I've said to Flip, Dr. Nyland and anyone else who will listen to me, many parents and community members are feeling the capacity crunch, and yet there isn't clear information being put forth from SPS about:

1. How many buildings are needed and where and

2. What is the plan beyond BEX for meeting the need.

Currently we have 6000 students in portables in Seattle. Just to get them out of portables would require about 6 buildings.

And to meet the K-3 class size reduction by 2017 just for K-3 we need another 350 classrooms which = about 20 elementary buildings (17 classrooms in a "normal" elementary building).

Basically, we actually need another 26 buildings just to get kids out of portables and meet the K-3 class size reduction (not to mention the buildings needed for 1351), and that is on top of buildings being renovated/built in BEX.

AND, we are growing, so there is a need beyond the above too.

As I've testified in Olympia multiple times, using back of the envelope math, just to build for K-3 class size reduction building needs and get our kids that our in portables now will require about $1 billion. ($40 mil per building.)

This bill and the amendment are a great start, AND what about the rest of the need? They knew that BEX was not enough when it passed, and we have grown faster than expected in many areas of the City and K-3 class size reduction is supposed to be implemented in 2017 (2 years away) so HOW are we going to solve these challenges?

I would urge all who share the concern to write a note to their Senator with thanks for this amendment, and maybe a note to SPS leadership asking when the public will be apprised of the need beyond BEX, and the plan for solving the capacity crunch.

Eden, I also think our senators need to be apprised of the situation because clearly the district is not giving them the full picture.

I say that because that $2B maintenance figure used to promote this bill is certainly not one that Dr. Herndon is using publicly. I was at both a Work Session and BTA IV meeting where a much lower figure was used.

They can't have it both ways - over the top figure for maintenance and "we're substantially lowering that figure" with BEX and BTA.
Anonymous said…
SB 6080 amendment, way to bring home the pork.

No other fast growing school districts in WA need facilities?

That's the kind of legislation I would expect from greedy charter schools. I guess greed is good, every man for themselves.

Anonymous said…
$2B! you have got to be kidding me.

That's over $20 million per school.

Not possible.
Anonymous said…
We are far and away the fastest growing school district in the state. Seattle is the fastest growing city in the country. Yes, we need extra money for schools. Actually we need a development tax, but for today I will take a small recognition from the legislature of our special circumstance.

I was extremely frustrated by Dorn's plan allowing a 3 year extension, so I am glad for this bit of decent news.

Lynn said…

See the Capital Budget letter attached to the March 6th Friday Memo.
Unknown said…
Melisa, I've spoken directly with legislators, and testified on behalf of Seattle Council PTSA and Wa State PTA about the capital facilities needs for Seattle and across the State, and said basically what I said above in each of my testimonies. We actually signed in "con" on both capital budget proposals from the House and the Senate because neither even came close to even what Dorn had requested for K-12 school buildings. There needs to be adjustments made to the School Construction Assistant Formula on a variety of fronts and then there is the whole thing about when you reduce class size, you need more buildings for kids to learn in.

You can find Dorn/OSPI capital request here:

In that budget and plan OSPI indicates that across the state there are more than 5600 classrooms needed for K-3 and all day k. He put in $1.9 billion towards that for this biennium, which only provides assistance to districts, not the full cost. The true cost is for for the buildings needed for all day k and K-3 is closer to $11.2 billion (assuming about $2 mil per classroom) Both the house and Senate came no where near the $1.9 billion, though kudos to the folks in the Senate with 6080 to start the conversation and for putting forth the amendment.

Yes, Seattle is the fastest growing district in the State, so the need is substantial. And there are many other districts across the state with need too, but we are by far the largest and fastest growing.

NNNCr- If you wanted to look at the capital budgets in their entirety and see how much "pork" is there, have a look:

The senate bill is 5097 and the House is 1115. There are a good many $'s proposed for special projects outside of the School construction assistance program for K-12 buildings in other parts of the State too. Seattle is not alone in making a specific $ ask. If you wanted to dive into the details more you would also see how our higher education facilities are proposed far more than K-12, and that things like KEXP are getting a piece of the pie before they are fully funding capital request made by Dorn/OSPI.

K-12 is the State's paramount duty, and it requires school buildings too. And just like they still aren't putting in enough for operations to meet McCleary, they aren't for buildings either.

And, the sad truth is that Legislators don't hear enough from parents about the needs in schools because we are all so busy taking care of kids and work etc.

So if you have a few moments, write to your legislator about how your school is over crowded and you want to actually see the K-3 class size reduction in practice (not in theory) and that to do that we need more funding for buildings.

Lastly, the other funding source for school buildings that could be tapped but isn't being is Developer Impact fees. Those get assessed by the City for the impacts of new development. Many other WA jurisdictions assess them but Seattle does not (yet).


Eden, I'm not complaining about getting money but the district has to be truthful about the real condition of this district from the capital side.

Do I believe that it IS closer to $2B than $500M? I do.

And I'm absolutely sure that other districts are suffering (see Highline - under Susan Enfield - that tried twice to pass their capital levy and did not).

Lynn, I see nothing in that memo that seems to pertain to this.
That letter is a bit of mess. It jumps from project to project, specifying costs for E.C. Hughes but not Magnolia.
Unknown said…

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you were complaining about getting the money at all. I was just saying that Legislators have been hearing about the extent of our building capacity challenges from SCPTSA and WSPTA. Though when it comes down to it, they sort of have to take the Districts "ask". The District is only asking now for the additional $34 mil, and I don't know to what extent they are lobbying for more funding to fill the rest of the needs (K-3 classrooms etc).

And I'm personally in the dark as to what the plan is for using those buildings if they get the money. For example if Magnolia opens, what goes there? Another elementary school?

I totally agree with you--The picture of how many more buildings we need and where we need them is totally opaque, and even more opaque are the ideas/plans for how we are going to solve all of these capacity challenges district wide.

Add to that the maintenance back log and the huge hole we are in gets really scary to me.

Oh, and while BEX had a component of stakeholder engagement (i.e FACMAC and others meeting to discuss the projects and scopes), BTA has no such thing as far as I know.


Anonymous said…
I heard the hope is to move Catharine Blaine to the Magnolia site so their current site can become a middle school again. McClure is busting and the number of kids enrolled in 3rd grade (and below) in QA/Mag is remarkably higher than what McClure can hold. They've got two years until it's a serious crisis. if they do that, I would hope they would create an HCC cohort there to help relieve Hamilton. There is no portable space at McClure so unless they go split shift- it seems like the only other solution? It gives me hope that "somebody" is thinking ahead.

QA Mom
Anonymous said…
Eden, thanks for that info. I flipped through SB 5097. Obviously there is a lot about funding which I don't understand.

At least teacher funding is doled out on a per pupil basis. Not really sure why money to build schools would not be doled out on a per pupil basis as well.

IMO, all funds should be distributed per population. Collect the money from the people and have them compete to beg back for it through grants? Not exactly my idea of equity, but I realize there are special needs, but this system has jumped the shark.

Anonymous said…
@QA Mom

Catherine Blaine K-8 has over 670 kids enrolled. The Magnolia building is only 400 seats.

- North-end Mom
Watching said…
Both Kohl-Welles and Pederson voted to throw teachers under the bus. Capital funding does not absolve them from their vote to support legislation that is not statistically sound.

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