Where Should New Schools Be Built?

A group of parents are forming a grass-roots campaign to have the Fort Lawton re-development project in Magnolia become a new STEAM (science and environment, technology, engineering, arts, math) middle school or a magnet STEAM high school instead of building homes for the homeless. This new plan would serve the entire city with an attendance area drawing from students in the Magnolia/Queen Anne cluster. 

The property already has all the modern updated classroom-ready facilities, gym, cafeteria, conference rooms, vault, huge parking areas and multiple outbuildings for specialty education. Education staff conference lounge, counseling areas, library and other functions of a fully operational school are all in place. Five separate parking lots provide ample room for staff and student parking.
The buildings can be transferred to the school district at no cost. The city’s scoping period for this re-development project ends at 5:00 PM on June 26th so the timing is imminent.

Please submit public comment asking for a school to be added as an alternative development plan for Fort Lawton and that it be added to the Environmental Impact Statement.

Please sign and share the change.org petition, write to your city council member, Seattle Public School officials and Board Members and indicate that a school option should be added to the Environmental Impact Statement-- see emails below! 

Action Items:
• Please sign this petition
• Please email the office of housing, city council members, and school board members

To learn more about the scope of the redevelopment plan and ideas, please follow these links:
There seems to be some confusion over whether the site could be used for housing the homeless but I think the overall point is why use BEX V dollars for a new downtown high school if there are more important uses for those funds.

I'm not seeing a real vision from Capital Facilities about school locations and it's worrisome. 


Anonymous said…
How exactly does a STEAM high school work? The STEAM acronym suggests they focus on science and environment, technology, engineering, arts, and math. What's missing are things like English, social studies, foreign languages, and health. Where those are NOT missing, however, is in the state graduation requirements. What would make a STEAM high school any different than any of our current comprehensive high schools that also offer science (incl. enviro sci, ecology), computer science, engineering, arts, and math?

Forest School said…
How about a forest school? Could draw city kids from downtown and kids from Magnolia and QA and from the new homeless/transitional housing.
Anonymous said…
Its hard to imagine a site at the former Ft. Lawton being an all city draw given its location and the difficulty getting there. Its works well for Magnolia and to some degree for QA/Ballard.

- alias
Eric B said…
I think the case for a middle school is really challenging given that it would compete directly with McClure. At the high school level, it isn't in as direct a competition, likely drawing from Ballard, new Lincoln, and perhaps Garfield. If there are already buildings that could house ~1200 students, this would be a really compelling value for high school as opposed to building new on the Memorial Stadium site.
Anonymous said…
My first reaction to this when i saw it on KING 5 was a feeling that Magnolia residents were crying NIMBY. But frankly, I can't really imagine a worse place for a low-income neighborhood: Far from transportation, health services, food (except for Metropolitan Market), etc. It's a beautiful setting, but it is pretty remote. I used to live nearby, and we moved because we didn't like being so far from things.

On the other hand, a new high school with the infrastructure in place? It would be a long bus ride for many, but I think that the city and SPS should consider it.

And Eric B, QA/Magnolia also have Catherine Blaine K-8, so there are already two public middle schools serving the population.

Anonymous said…
@ Krab,
As I understand it, Catherine Blaine K-8 is actually an attendance area school for K-5, and option school for 6-8th. It is the only one in the district with that pattern -- all other K-8s are option schools. Someone correct me, if I am wrong, but that was how it was explained to me last fall.

Queen Anne Mom, also a gardener
Anonymous said…
@Queen Anne Mom, aag. Quite possibly, I don't know. I just was trying to make his point more fully that QA/Mag already has middle school coverage and that a high school might be of more use. I might have come across more snarky than agreeing, and if so, my apologies.

I'll note there was an editorial in the Times saying there shouldn't be a new downtown high school and now there's an op-ed (from a downtown family where the guy is the CEO/president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association but they leave that out)saying they DO need a downtown high school.

I am a bit baffled by all this talk about downtown when:

1) don't you need a K-8 before a high school?
2) there's Center School which isn't full (but then again, not a comprehensive high school)
3) where's the money coming from? Surely not BEX V because the need is so great for existing schools like Rainier Beach? The district can't be thinking they can throw a few million at RBHS and call it a day as they have in the past while building a shiny new $100M building downtown? Would they? Could they?

Eric B said…
Whether there is need for a 12th high school is one of the topics for the HS boundary task force, on tap for later in summer or into the fall. I don't honestly know whether there is long-term need for another comprehensive HS or not. More data will be forthcoming.

Money would come from BEX V, but I have trouble seeing RBHS not being first in line among high schools.

Krab, thanks for the reminder about Blaine.
Anonymous said…
Seattle is growing denser by the minute! I really hope the city (and school district) can focus on proper infrastructure for our kids!

I personally would not want my kids going to school at the Seattle Center. Seems like a disaster on a number of levels... hello, Mercer Mess!

Fort Lawton has buildings (gym, cafeteria, classrooms)in place. Granted, updates would be needed. But why would they level all that and restart somewhere else? The parking lots are there too. Plus, shouldn't Seattle have a school that focuses on environmental learning?

Mag kids used to go to Queen Anne for HS. I don't see the issue with QA kids going to Magnolia. It would remove some of the traffic from 15th and the Ballard Bridge bottleneck. Also, it would allow more Ballard kids to actually go to highschool at BHS.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous at 10:24 - whether going to Seattle Center for school is a disaster depends on where you live. We are at the north end of the Garfield assignment area, so to get to Garfield by bus or to get to the Seattle center by bus takes the same amount of time - either is 2 buses, 45-50 minutes. Either way you are on the 70 getting stuck in the Mercer Mess in the afternoons (mornings are generally ok). The Seattle center is actually about 2 miles closer to us though, so much more do-able by bike or bussing/walking. Driving time is also similar, even with Mercer traffic. It becomes more a question of which school/program is a better fit for the student; logistically there isn't enough difference for that to be the deciding factor. I'm sure the same applies to students in the southern portion of the Ballard assignment area.

Mom of 4
Anonymous said…
@Queen Anne Mom, also a gardener

You are correct that Catherine Blaine is an assignment school for grades K-5, and an option school for grades 6-8.

However, it is not the only K-8 school in SPS with this type of assignment. Broadview-Thomson K-8 is also an assignment for grades K-5 and option for grades 6-8, as was Madrona, until recently when they were "truncated" at grade 5 beginning next year.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Many Magnolia residents are opposed to putting low-income rentals at the Army Reserve site.

I'm curious how they got this blog to post their whole manifesto.

money talks?
Money Talks? I posted this because it is discussion about a use for an area that includes schools. What the motivation is for that call is open for discussion. Whether it's a good idea or best use of that land is open for discussion.

To ignore that discussion is opposite to what this blog stands for and we would be remiss in not alerting readers.

If you have an different idea, send it to me and I'll put it up. FYI, you'd have to sign your name to do that.
kellie said…
A Fort Lawton High School is a far better plan than the Memorial Stadium High School notion. I would create a far better geographic distribution of schools and would support the urban identification of both Queen Anne and Magnolia.

I know that staff has been developing a plan for a Memorial Stadium High School for a few years and simply put, I think the Memorial Statium plan is deeply flawed.

The plan would involve tearing down Memorial Stadium and constructing a high school with a stadium on the roof. This plan is incredibly expensive and would take Memorial Stadium out of use for a few years in the process.

While staff think the permitting process for Memorial Stadium would be easier than Fort Lawton, I don't agree. I would anticipate a tremendous amount of push back to changes at Memorial Stadium. Frankly, I think building a high school on the Interlay property makes the most sense but ... that is not in the mix at the moment.

Anonymous said…
It just doesn't seem fair and balanced to print verbatim the press releases of the anti-housing folks.

Maybe you're not familiar with the NIMBY movement here in Magnolia.

Lot's of lawyers, for one.

Lot's of stay-at-home parents who have the time to organize.


Also, did you know this battle was fought and won 9 years ago, but the war continues and the city is trying again?


What the folks really want is for the property to be sold to private developers and turned into single family homes on reasonably big lots, like most of Magnolia is currently.

The school is just a stall. I'm sure if SPS wanted it for inter-agency schools for kids who need extra services, we'd hear a very different song.

These folks want to run out the clock and have the feds sell off the land to the highest bidder and have it zoned single-family.

That's my 2 cents.

Anonymous said…

Memorial Stadium is a seismic death-trap and should be rebuilt ASAP. I think Seattle Center is a bad place for any school. I'd look at SODO for a new high school to serve downtown students. Maybe tear down the JSCEE and buy up a few surround properties. The city core is moving south from downtown, Lake Union is out of room and it's the only direction left.

Lynn said…
A 1,000 seat attendance area high school in Magnolia could make sense. It could serve the 465 students in Magnolia and the 417 on Queen Anne. This would also right-size the population at Ballard.

There are already empty high school seats south of downtown (Rainier Beach) so building in SODO doesn't make sense.

I wonder if moving the Cleveland program to the Rainier Beach building and splitting the Southeast region high school attendance areas between Cleveland and Franklin would lead to better utilization of the seats we already have.

Once all of our schools are in good shape, we could think about rebuilding Memorial Stadium. I bet we could find private money for that project too. People do love their stadiums.
MadMag, then write something up and I'll post it. Getting mad at me seems kinda counterproductive to your issue.

Again, for yet another time, Memorial Stadium cannot be gone until there is a replacement stadium (whether there or elsewhere). It is a necessity for the district so it's not going anywhere. It would be great to have a mayor who wanted to get on-board with the district on the issue, whether it's to have a comprehensive plan for all of Seattle Center or a land swap with the district.

Lynn, some irony there. All those years ago with QA and Magnolia parents taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court and they win! Except all it did was drop one thing in the enrollment plan and didn't give them the comprehensive high school they wanted from the beginning (thank Don Nielson for that one).

Cleveland got a very expensive renovation (what, like 15 years ago) and I doubt the district would close it and move STEM to Rainier Beach. Certainly something would need to change but I think a new building at Rainier Beach would increase enrollment.

Lynn said…
I wasn't thinking of closing Cleveland - I was suggesting Cleveland and Rainier Beach switching buildings. That would make the Cleveland building an attendance area school and if it remained underenrolled (as Rainier Beach is now), we could redraw boundaries to push kids from the central region/downtown into the building.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I think those parents from Magnolia and QA who sued aren't reflective of the current crops today. The affordable housing and NIMBY thing some people try to tie together show people don't understand that it's city's own growth policies which helped destroy much of the older, low rent buildings in this city. Housing which people who weren't making a lot or had housing vouchers can afford. The demographics shifted in what were the cheap rent part of Magnolia and QA when these buildings were replaced by the expensive, new builds. Metro did add more buses in the AM and PM during rush hour, so that would help high schoolers get around during those times.

Downtown Seattle Association included kids from QA, Magnolia to come up with their 1,900 number. It's goofy. But I get it. DAS is trying to fill in all the expensive units being built downtown. Hopefully some of it by techies and their families, aka Expedia and Amazonians. I know some of these Expedia families and they are very reluctant to move from the eastside from their SF homes and good schools. From my meetings, the Amazonians who live in Magnolia and QA don't want a high rise school over one with play field and more open space. Not everybody is enamored by sharing walls with neighbors and lack of downtown playgrounds, crowded and dense living. It's one thing if it's NY and unavoidable, but another if costs are similar, many prefer more space to run around in. It's one reason why SF homes on the eastside are more expensive. (We looked.)

I remember when many of us on this blog fantasized about the district offering to buy part of what is now the Expedia buiding off of 15th Ave. Personally, when I think of all the catch up the district still needs to do with capital projects, finding savings is paramount since our legislators aren't exactly speedy or generous here.


Anonymous said…
"A 1,000 seat attendance area high school in Magnolia could make sense. It could serve the 465 students in Magnolia and the 417 on Queen Anne. This would also right-size the population at Ballard.

There are already empty high school seats south of downtown (Rainier Beach) so building in SODO doesn't make sense."

Agree with Lynn. I know things may change, but I looked at the high school capacity boundary map proposal options. While other schools get some relief with Lincoln opening, Ballard is left just as overcrowded (1900+) in almost every scenario. This is nuts! With the density happening in Ballard and more families we know moving in they need a better plan.

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