Monday, April 04, 2016

Update on Loyal Heights Construction Dispute

From KIRO-7:
So she and a group of other neighbors filed a preliminary appeal last week to stop the project, at least temporarily.

They plan to finalize it Monday.


Anonymous said...

Ugh, that exact same thing happened with Thornton Creek. I have absolutely no sympathy for it. Well, no, that's not true. It is hard living in a rapidly growing city. Things change, and not all for the better. But this is school district land, which the school district needs to use to educate the children of the city. Our children WILL NOT sit in 31 kid classes in first grade so that you have more parking in front of your house. Absolutely not. And, having helped get playground equipment for a school recently, I've gotta say- this is part of why they make the process so difficult. It can't be permanent. You can't just erect a statue to neighborly cooperation on school district land. They need to be able to use it for school buildings.


Anonymous said...

Looked at the video. Loyal Heights neighborhood doesn't look very dense to me. Lot of single family homes. Do the neighbors mean they don't want school parking on 'their' streets? Get a grip people. Get out of Loyal Heights and look at what density means in the rest of the city.

But the playground is ridiculous. Easy compromise to bulldoze it but return it in a different configuation with an investment in child-first equipment and play options at a $$ worth greater than what the neighbors put into it. That's compromise, Seattle schools.

Sounds like neither side of this issue is good at compromise.


Anonymous said...

Most parents and neighbors are most concerned about the loss of playground space. Never before in the entire district has a school this big been built on a lot this small. It is a 2.8 acre lot and the school will be 48% lot coverage - where zoning allows only 35% lot coverage. For reference, Pinehurst, another huge school, has 3.2 acres, only 40% lot coverage and a rooftop courtyard. It is a big and expensive experiment as to how 660 students will be able to have recess on a tiny playground. Maybe it will work fine - but if it turns out that kids can't play tag without running into each other and injuring themselves, well, it's not like the school will be able to make the playground bigger to fix the problem AFTER the new school has been built.

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...
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Eric B said...

Anonymous @ 10:30, put down a name/pseudonym or your comment will be deleted.

But let's stick a pin in one notion right now. This IS NOT a 900-student school. This is a ~650 student school. Yes, if you put in the current ~30 students per classroom in every single room, you'd get 900 students. The whole point of this is that you're not. You're making space for K-2 students to have reasonable class sizes. 900 students is a scare tactic.

And now, back to discussions based in reality.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention- the north end is so crowded that if you honestly believe a 650 building can't be filled, within current lines (I doubt that, certainly over the medium term), I am SURE there is a neighborhing school that desperately needs relief and would welcome a line redraw. We can use every single seat we can get at all levels. I do think that the high school need is more dire, and so it is disappointing that the district is now building all these elementary seats instead, about 7 years too late. But we do need them.


Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:30 AM, being built for 900+ students? How do you figure? I count 24 K-5 homerooms. Then there are some additional rooms, for specific purposes: 2 SPED classrooms, 2 art/science classrooms, one flex space, and 2 child care classrooms. But those don't really add students, or not many anyway. You could probably squeeze 900 in if you converted all those support spaces to classrooms and continue with 30+ kids/class, but do you really want to design buildings so that that isn't possible? Maybe we should make all the rooms really tiny and eliminate all PCP space--does that better support a "proper education"?

Reality Bites

Unknown said...

"anyone that thinks so is a shill for the district or uninformed"
As I said before...This current design is simply too big for the footprint. Plus, the Nordic Heritage is vacating that former school. Another reason this plan is just plain stupid and a huge waste of our tax dollars. It has nothing to do with educating our kids. Let's put a pin in that.

mjancola said...

I believe the 900-ish number actually came from the architectural plan. Yes, this would utilize some of the bonus rooms, but why are they building bonus rooms for things like art, which are not currently funded. I also wonder why the lines were redrawn so that LHE (the smallest lot) is getting MORE kids. Just doesn't make sense. But the worst part is, the community has been giving constructive, negative feedback for quite some time, with absolutely no response or attempt at compromise.

Anonymous said...

"but why are they building bonus rooms for things like art, which are not currently funded"

Larger schools get more PCP space than smaller schools; and with more students, there will be funding for additional PCP. It is a good thing that adequate PCP space was worked into the building design (not a bad thing).

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't think the 900ish number came from the architectural plan. It's being designed for 660. You could fit more in, but not if you're using the building appropriately. It's good to have breathing room.

Is LH really such a small lot? It looks huge. And isn't a lot of what will be covered by the remodel already covered by portables?

I'm not seeing how LH is getting such a raw deal. There are other north end schools with less play space, and that will be in more crowded buildings. Is this the ideal plan. Bets are, no. (This is SPS, after all.) Is it reasonable? Probably.


Anonymous said...

We have done the research, and yes it does turn out to be a raw deal.

Comparing BEX IV schools

School Lot Size Lot Coverage
Arbor Hts 5 acres <=35%
Genesse Hills 6.5 acres <=35%
Pinehurst 3.2 acres 40%
Wilson Pacific 16 acres <=35%
Loyal Hts 2.8 acres 48%

Looking at the playground space per kid (and using 660 students, not including space currently occupied by portables and not including the space that will be fenced off for the 20-30 preschool kids)

School Space/kid (square feet/child)
Greenwood 115
Whittier 88
Bryant 95
Daniel Bagley 160
Salmon Bay 303
North Beach 420
The new LHE ~70

As the LHE sq ft/child is decreased, the sq ft/child of neighboring schools will increase because we are taking on their kids and they will be able to get rid of portables.

-From NumbersTalk

Anonymous said...

The main problem is the 660 student, 4 classroom, one size fits all model is not appropriate for this site. That is what leads to the loss of the play ground. How did Daniel Bagley, another BEX IV project on a larger site, get an exception for the 3 classroom model? The district's own enrollment projections show a DECREASE in the population at LH. Webster School, less than 1 mile away to the south of LH, is due for remodel and will reopen to serve 450 students, which will certainly help capacity issues in the area.
Neighbors have been asking all along for the school to be remodeled with 3 classrooms per grade and minimal flex spaces. The decision to go that route for Daniel Bagley shows that it could have been done for LH all along.


Anonymous said...

Bagley is getting an addition (BEXIV) and improvements to the main building(BTAIV). They are not getting a full building replacement. I can't remember why they are not getting a replacement...is the site landmarked?

-North-end Mom

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

The district has to get seats where they can!

Daniel Bagley was landmarked, so that was probably a factor there. The Wilson-Pacific site has some space that isn't buildable, and the playfield will also likely be used by the new Lincoln HS, which won't have its own onsite (or even nearby). Then there's the fact that the Cascadia is already too small, and will probably need portables on day one. Or another split.

The square feet of space place per child (!) might be low compared to those schools you mentioned, but I suspect there are other schools that would be happy to have that much play space.

Which of those other NW region BEX IV schools do you think should grow a bunch so that you don't have to?


Anonymous said...

Loyal Heights is also landmarked. No one is saying not to grow Loyal Heights, just grow it in a reasonable way. North Beach was originally going to get the remodel, then somewhere along the way it switched to Loyal Heights. No answers from the district on how that decision was made. Why not spread the growth to lesson the impacts on the neighborhoods?

Did you know that the Department of Neighborhoods Departures Committee voted against recommending all 4 of the departures necessary to build the 660 student school at Loyal Heights? Their majority report was completely ignored by the city's Department of Construction and Inspections who went ahead and approved them all anyway!


Anonymous said...

I propose expanding the landmarked LHE to 3 classrooms per grade and opening up Webster (within 0.5 miles of LHE) at 450 students, as has already been approved in the last BTA levy. That expands capacity in Ballard by ~600 students. As north of 65th is still only slotted for single family homes, that should be more than enough for current and near-future population growth.

If 15+ years from now, there is still growth, I bet North Beach would be thrilled to get a remodel.


Anonymous said...

LHE currently has 3 classrooms per grade.

SSCF reader

Anonymous said...

So how does delaying (potentially) this project at LH impact other schools? Daniel Bagley is after LH for their remodel/expansion of their (yes - definitely) landmarked building (in which they, too, will impact a playground that was redone with city of seattle grant and parent fundraising). This delay wouldn't impact Lincoln HS, right?


Anonymous said...

@SSCF reader

LHE currently has a capacity of ~350 students. An expansion would increase capacity to 538 students. The 3 class per grade remodel would expand capacity to 3 classrooms per grade, 2 Sped rooms, an art room, an appropriately sized gym and cafeteria, and 3 flex rooms to use if the district ever decides that 28 kids in a kindergarten class is too large. Or to hold "population bubbles" as Flip terms them. This is exactly what will happen to Daniel Bagley in a few years.

And as Adams, North Beach and Whittier each have about 100 students occupying portables, Webster, with a capacity of 450, should be able to contain their overflow easily.


Anonymous said...

The 900 student number came out of the mouths of the SPS representatives, Eric Becker, Flip Herndon, and Richard Best.
Here is the breakdown...
24 Classrooms = 640 Students (per Architectural Plans - 4 classrooms / grade)

2 SPED Classrooms = 20 Students (per Architectural Plans)

3 Flex Rooms = 80 Students ("We have seen in the other schools how quickly these spaces are used to absorb population bubbles" - Flip Herndon at 2/24/15 public meeting)

2 Daycare Rooms = 53 Pre-school Students ("Daycare is not the primary role of SPS. But these rooms can easily be converted to kindergarten rooms." - Flip Herndon at 2/24/15 public meeting along with Eric Becker and Richard Best)

2 Computer Rooms = 53 Students (If the computer rooms become obsolete, we can convert that space into classrooms." - Richard Best at 3/12/15 community meeting along with Eric Becker)

2 Art Rooms = 53 Students (Like computer rooms, art rooms can be used as classrooms when needed." Richard Best at 3/12/15 community meeting along with Eric Becker)
TOTAL 899 STUDENTS based on school district numbers; 26 students per class for grades K-3, 28 students per class for grades 4-5; 10 students per SPED classroom

For those of you that want more facts, here are the SPS enrollment projections 2015-2020.


2015/16: 478 students
2016/17: 471 students
2017/18: 467 students
2018/19: 431 students
2019/20: 426 students.....that's a decrease of -52 students enrolled at WE by 2020

Loyal Heights: 2.75 acres lot
2015/16: 435 students
2016/17: 432 students
2017/18: 429 students
2018/19: 414 students
2019/20: 406 students.....that's a decrease of -29 students enrolled at LHE by 2020

Daniel Bagley: 3.84 acres lot
2015/16: 435 students
2016/17: 452 students
2017/18: 450 students
2018/19: 448 students
2019/20: 439 students.....increase of +4 students enrolled at DB by 2020

North Beach:
2015/16: 303 students
2016/17: 310 students
2017/18: 325 students
2018/19: 316 students
2019/20: 313 students.....that's a increase of +10 students enrolled at NB by 2020

2015/16: 530 students
2016/17: 586 students
2017/18: 597 students
2018/19: 615 students
2019/20: 628 students.....that's a increase of +98 students enrolled at NB by 2020

2015/16: 374students
2016/17: 404 students
2017/18: 454 students
2018/19: 466 students
2019/20: 490 students.....that's a increase of +141 students enrolled at WE by 2020

As these clearly show, Loyal Heights is NOT busting at the seams as I hear too often. The school must be upgraded and add on too. This single-family zoned neighborhood does not need an elementary school that accommodates 660+ students. LH school is projected to lose a teacher next year due to a decrease in students. If you don't believe me, please call LH Principal Floyd to verify. LHE certainly does not need preschool. Heck, our neighborhood doesn't need another preschool. There are like 25 within 2 miles of LHE.

I'd like to remind everyone what the Seattle voters approved by 72% in 2013. The BEX IV Capital Levy stated "Loyal Heights Elementary: Modernize and add classroom/core facilities. A permanent addition will be constructed to provide 200-350 seats." LHE current capacity is 359 students.**

** Source: Eric Becker Seattle Public Schools; Capital Sr PM

Seattle voted to construct a new LHE school for 559-709 students.

True Numbers said...

The numbers mentioned above by "From Numbers Talk" stating the "play space per student" are bogus. For example, North Beach has 6(?) portables occupying a large percentage of the playground. And, the field (which has to be more than half the above-mentioned lot size) has been fenced off for several months and the kids are not allowed on it. Salmon Bay actually doesn't have a huge play area for the number of kids at the school. Again, more bogus numbers in the post above since the kids can't go on the track/field that you must be including in your figures. I could continue, but people who make numbers say what they want them to can't be convinced with facts.

I'm not saying that Loyal Heights shouldn't have reasonable play space nor am I saying this is a good plan for LHE, but please stop falsifying numbers to help your cause.

Anonymous said...

@True Numbers

I am sorry the kids at NB can't play on the grass. This sounds like a school level decision (LHE kids are allowed to play on the grass) - but the point is there is room to expand there if the need arises. As LHE is surrounded by streets, there will be no room to expand and no way to improve that ratio.

And I have seen 6-8 graders as well as gym classes on the turf field at Salmon Bay. And again, there is room to expand there when need arises.


Anonymous said...

The field at NB is a natural spring area, frequently Soggy and I'm guessing would be poor area to build on. Ask any of the neighbors above the field.

NB parent

Anonymous said...

Loyal Heights has been lucky to have one of the best playground spaces in Seattle. Much better than most schools in the district. It is hard to feel sympathetic with those who are against the remodel when many have kids at schools that have pretty dismal playgrounds. Ever checked out Cascadia @ Lincoln's playground? There is no playground. The front of the building was turned into a playground by adding woodchips and fencing it off. A climber was added a few years back and last summer a few monkey bars were added. It is pretty dismal but the kids make do and somehow manage to have fun. Loyal Heights, you will be fine.
-Life will go on

Anonymous said...

Yay yay yay, the playground will be the smallest in the city. Let's put a pin in it and get back to the real issue. The size of the building is the too big for our small piece of land. We need SPS (BLRB Architects) to modify the "one-size-fits-all program" so we can build a school appropriate for our lot size. The playground size is a secondary result of the oversized building.


Anonymous said...

@ anonymous at 1:21 pm

(you should sign your posts...otherwise they will be deleted)

The Loyal Heights boundaries are scheduled to change in 2018, when it will pick up chunks of the Whittier and Adams attendance areas. The 5-year projections only go through 2019-20, and they assume grandfathering for schools affected by boundary changes (except for John Rogers and Olympic Hills, for which the planning assumption is to geo-split kids from those schools into Cedar Park).

I'm not sure why they projected a dip in enrollment at Loyal Hts for 2019-20, but wouldn't you expect there to be growth at Loyal Heights over time, due to the increased size of the attendance area?

-North-end Mom

Ms206 said...

I work in Philadelphia. Some of the schools have playgrounds on the roofs of the school buildings. These areas have some Kind of fencing that Encloses the area.

Anonymous said...

It's not all about the playground! It's about the district's insistence on the one size fits all model and unwillingness to adapt to construct an appropriately sized and scaled building for the lot size. And it isn't just about Loyal Heights. Eventually, your neighborhood will probably be facing the same issue. I'm sure the district loves to see schools pitted against one another and bickering back and forth over who's got the smallest playground.
The neighborhood doesn't want sympathy. We want to know how to make change happen. We have tried following the processes set out by the district, the department of neighborhoods, and the DCI. We participated in the departures process that was supposed to be a way to give feedback that would be listened to. There was a majority decision to reject granting all 4 of the requested departures and instead build an appropriate sized building that would meet the needs of the school district without completely screwing over the neighborhood. We have lobbied district staff, school board members, and given testimony at a plethora of public meetings. Let's be clear - we are fully in support of a remodel and expansion of Loyal Heights, including adding capacity. We understand the need for that and would like nothing better than to see a plan that would work for all.
Yes, the playground has been a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and many would like to see it stay. But I for one could live with the loss of playground space if we got a reasonably sized school that sat well on the small lot. Its all about the building size! That's what leads to the loss of play space!


Anonymous said...

Archer 14: Sadly you have come to the conclusion that so many other earnest parents have arrived at after attempting to engage the district and getting "talk to the hand". You have to take legal action. Doesn't mean you'll get your way, but it does mean they'll have to have a serious discussion and negotiation.

Think of what this district could do if parents and citizens could work collaboratively with it instead of having to hire lawyers.



Eric B said...

Unfortunately, you can't just take the school in isolation (why not just do North Beach?). If you rebuild NB, the assignment area boundary will be at either 80th or 83rd. Then you'll have people screaming about how they live across the street from LH and can't go there.

Also, it's not just population in the current LH zone, which appear to be what's given above. When the new addition opens, LH will take over a significant chunk of the Whittier assignment area not to mention a small piece of Adams. So you can't really look at just the LH assignment area figures. It will draw from other zones and relieve pressure at several other schools.

And finally, what you're asking for (classrooms for 450 students, new cafeteria, new gym) is going to occupy nearly as much space as the proposed remodel. The really big items that take out the north part of the playground are the cafeteria and the gym.

Former Beaver said...

The infra-structure surrounding Loyal Heights elementary was never intended to serve a large elementary school.

Anonymous said...

The enrollment projections are the district's own! Surely someone was paying enough attention to have factored in the changes to the assignment area Mr Becker. After all, the projections go out to 2019/2020 - a year after Loyal Heights is scheduled to reopen.

Nearly as much space is still less than what is currently proposed - and don't forget about the space occupied by the interior courtyard and the child care/preschool that will add an additional 40+ little bodies to the site. There is plenty that could be done if the district were willing to negotiate.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


The projections were done with the assumption that kids at Whittier and Adams who live within the new Loyal Heights boundaries would be grandfathered at Whittier and Adams, so any increase in enrollment at Loyal Heights due to the new boundaries would be gradual, beginning with kindergartners in 2018-19, then kindergarten and first graders in 2019-20. I don't understand why the district projects a dip in enrollment after the boundaries change (maybe the birth to K ratios are wonky for those years?), but I would suspect there would eventually be growth as larger classes roll up.

-North-end Mom

Unknown said...

Eric B-If you are Eric Becker from SPS, then please state this, as you stated to others, use your full real name or don't post. Either way, please spend the time to watch all 6 of the public meetings that were videotaped at www.ourseattle.org to view what was stated by SPS and the public. This process proves that the city dictated 'democratic' process is an absolute farce, ask for the public's input then Completely ignore us, the Ones You work for. Seattle is ran like an Oligarchy, with the public having absolutely NO say on how our tax dollars are spent, and largely Wasted by the powers that be!

Eric B said...

Jim, I'm not Eric Becker. If I worked for SPS I would identify that.

Anonymous said...

"FROM SSCF- Pre-school prioritized ahead of before- and after-school care

After the jump is a letter from Associate Superintendent Flip Herndon to the Pathfinder community regarding the forced relocation of the before- and after-school care currently using school space.

The letter makes the District's priorities clear: the first priority is K-5 classroom space, then pre-school space, and then childcare space. While the letter suggests that "we may be able to find multiuse space (e.g. gyms and cafeterias) within our buildings that is licensable and will work for our childcare providers", it is not particularly optimistic about it.

As the District designs schools, I would be curious about the extent to which they include space for preschool or childcare in their facilities plans."

mirmac1 said...
If pressure at LH is to be applied, it shall be for the disabled preschoolers that shall be served by SPS or risk further federal sanction.

Anonymous said...
@Seattle Parent
The decision to expand the LH building was made well in advance of any public discussion of the Seattle Preschool Program.
-North-end Mom

Anthony said...
I've not followed this issue, but if the city wants to push-out child care for their prek program....it is time for parents to take the fight to City Hall.

SPS Mom said...
I have the same memory that you have. That when prioritization was voted upon, there was a clarifying question and I too believe that Flip said city preschools weren't included in the preschool category. I believe it was at a board meeting because I wasn't attending/watching committee meetings. I think it was when the board vote was done, so which meeting to watch should be able to be determined by looking at the board agendas.

Melissa Westbrook said...
My recollection is that after BEX II, they wanted to bulid to have versatile buildings and that includes pre-K/childcare. Somewhere along the line - with the Strategic Plan - that morphed to an order of K-5 academic needs, pre-k and childcare. I don't think I even recall being phazed by this but when I think back, it feels like that's when the City was pre-planning the pre-k levy.
The Mayor seems to have a plan for all SPS. Wish he'd let us in on it.

Anonymous said...
It makes sense when building a new building put in one or two classrooms that are suitable for preschool (this mostly means having an adjoining bathroom). This allows the district to place a preschool class there if needed (I am thinking of the special ed preschool classes required under IDEA). It does not preclude those rooms being used for other purposes though - no harm done at all if older children end up in a classroom with a bathroom (kind of nice for kindergarteners, actually, especially early in the school year when they are still learning their way around). I haven't seen to plans for LH, but it sounds like there is something more going on than just ensuring the building has a space that could be used for a preschool classroom.
Mom of 4


Anonymous said...

It does harm children to not have enough playground space. And wasn't increased recess one of the demands of the teachers Union during the strike? This school might end up needing three recesses to serve all the kids on the small playground space.

North end mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for thee suggestions. I do wish the district would be open to getting rid of the 2 stand alone preschool classrooms and enclosed playground on the LHE site. It would free up ~10,000 square feet of playground space. But we have attempted that. We have approached the district and the school board with this request. It has always been immediately shut down if not ignored altogether.

Short of a law suit (which some are trying) - do you have any suggestions?

Oh, and have we mentioned the two rain gardens that will be on the playground site as well to compensate for the fact that the rest of the playground will be covered in asphalt?


Lynn said...

North end mom,

My child's school can safely have only two grade levels at recess at a time. It's not a problem.

As I'm reading this discussion, I wonder what schools in real cities do for recess. Elementary schools in New York and Chicago for instance can not possibly have what Loyal Heights neighbors would consider adequate amounts of outdoor space.

Anonymous said...

You are right. NYC made this same mistake and now regrets it. Surely we can learn from their mistake rather than repeat it.


It amazes me that a group of parents that are genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional health of students - ours and generations to come - have done their research, and are now trying to present reasonable solutions and compromises (yes - if given the opportunity we would love to try to compromise!) are being treated like this. I am sure SPS is loving the infighting as it means we are less likely to be able to present a united front against them.

And thank you to those who are trying to be helpful and supportive. We all hate the portables on our playgrounds. We just think there is more than one solution to them.