West Seattle schools: Board OKs starting new elementary at Boren

West Seattle is getting a new elementary school, starting next year, after having closed two elementary campuses in the past four years. The Seattle School Board voted unanimously tonight to spend $6 million for a “short-term capacity-management” plan that includes reopening the former Boren Junior High School on Delridge – which has long served as an interim site for schools whose permanent campuses are temporarily out of commission – as a new elementary school. The district says it will focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering, mathematics – and will be an “option” school, the second one in West Seattle (joining Pathfinder K-8), meaning that it will admit students by application only, instead of serving a specific neighborhood zone. Boren is supposed to be the school’s temporary home, but its permanent home is not stipulated in the board motion, only that it will open this fall. Though this was part of the district’s “short-term capacity-management” proposal, intended overall to deal with overcrowding at many elementaries, district staff had previously acknowledged the new school would not likely draw off enough students from jampacked campuses to avert addition of more portables elsewhere – board member Harium Martin-Morris stressed before tonight’s vote that the district will wait for this spring’s enrollment data before deciding which schools, if any, need them.

In a series of community meetings, and other discussion venues (including here), West Seattle’s new board member Marty McLaren acknowledged she heard a strong sentiment for adding a new neighborhood school, but that was not possible for next year, and a week and a half ago, she changed her mind about trying to delay the “option” school plan. Board president Michael DeBell acknowledged during tonight’s meeting that West Seattle had been “tough” to deal with during the capacity-management discussions – without elaborating.

Next step: The district’s “open enrollment” period starts February 27th, and by then, we should know more about what the new school is supposed to be like. Meantime, the board is expected to start work soon on “intermediate” and “long-term” capacity management, which would include decisions about opening more schools, and possibly building at least one with money to be raised in the future BEX IV levy.

75 Replies to "West Seattle schools: Board OKs starting new elementary at Boren"

  • Seatttleseabug January 25, 2012 (10:05 pm)

    Hmmmm. The only bummer about this is that I know the little corner market did really well when the hight schools were there and they were hoping another one would go in soon. Those high schoolers eat a lot and really helped out that family business!

  • Fiver January 25, 2012 (10:19 pm)

    It should be clarified that the 6 million is not all going to Boren. That total includes potential costs for adding new portables throughout Seattle. The meeting agenda said “approve opening the Boren site to serve as an interim site for an Option program commencing in September 2012; reallocate $6.2 million from the 2011-12 Capital Budget Capacity Reserve, to pay the costs of implementing the above actions and the installation of portables at various locations throughout the District as may be needed to meet capacity management needs” The bulk of it may well be going to Boren. I’d be interested to learn how much and what it will be spent on.

  • ZZ January 25, 2012 (10:20 pm)

    Time to get rolling on the planning of the new Boren school. Delay will mean a rushed start in the fall without the proper preparation and staff training to address the needs of incoming STEM students. A committee of dedicated parents and teachers should meet within the next two weeks to get the process moving.
    A K-5 STEM curriculum will take several months to design and tool up.

  • JanS January 25, 2012 (10:27 pm)

    maybe the parents will stop in to the store..

  • Kim January 25, 2012 (10:28 pm)

    Excellent work to push this through. Thank you, Marty McLaren. I realize there is much work to do to get this off the ground.

  • Delridge mom January 25, 2012 (10:51 pm)

    As a Delridge parent, it’s exciting to see this happening at the Boren site. Frustrating though to not know when and where the program will move. Is there any possibility to keep it at Boren?

  • GreatSoFar January 25, 2012 (11:00 pm)

    Delridge mom, I wouldn’t hold my breath. You’ll be left at the altar again.

  • JP January 25, 2012 (11:45 pm)

    Why do they not build a grocery store here? Not like the school district can’t use the money from the land sale. Plus the location is perfect.

    Delridge and the surrounding neighborhoods desperately need this since the closest grocery store from here(this Boren elementary site)is miles away. Not to take away from the children but I am sure they have to eat too.

  • Beachpup January 26, 2012 (1:47 am)

    …Nah, those STEM students and staff won’t need food…. Theyre going to be engineering a special nutritional “soilant Green” substance in those new labs they will be building…. (wink)

  • Delridge Resident January 26, 2012 (8:10 am)

    Any idea how long the school will be open? One school year? Two? Indefinitely?

    Was the DESC facility discussed at all in this decision? Has it been decided for sure that it will not house sex offenders? I’m just wondering if the school will still be in operation by the time the facility is built and occupied, potentially with sex offenders.

  • Laurie January 26, 2012 (8:35 am)

    From the one meeting I attended, it sounded like Boren would be used only until Fairmount Park could be brought up to code (takes either one or two years – I forget).

    • WSB January 26, 2012 (8:46 am)

      That was an early discussion, but the specific mention of Fairmount Park was removed from later versions.

  • Tony January 26, 2012 (9:04 am)

    Fairmount Patk is too small, per SPS. Not enough bang for buck. Prob be a new school built on Genesse Hill site with next BEX levy $$.

  • jsv888 January 26, 2012 (9:10 am)

    Is this building even fit to house children? Will there be any renovations first?

  • helridge January 26, 2012 (9:19 am)

    An “option” school? Who would opt to send their kids to school in the ghetto? Next to DESC, a heavy drug traffic area, a heavy gang area, with the little overpriced corner market seemingly getting robbed every other day. Another brilliant plan from the Seattle School Board.

  • Seatttleseabug January 26, 2012 (9:32 am)

    There is nothing wrong with that building jsv888, chief Sealth was just there and it was nice, my son says he misses that location still! Plus they will put some money into it before opening. Helridge, you are just plain stupid and should probably work on getting some education yourself.

  • Brontosaurus January 26, 2012 (10:16 am)

    @beachpup That would help with the overcrowding too :-)

  • John January 26, 2012 (10:44 am)

    “Was the DESC facility discussed at all in this decision? Has it been decided for sure that it will not house sex offenders? I’m just wondering if the school will still be in operation by the time the facility is built and occupied, potentially with sex offenders.
    Comment by Delridge Resident”
    Surprised that this inaccuracy/innuendo/question remains.

    The WSB, NDNC and DESC have all reported for months that that DESC residents will be screened and sex offenders not allowed housing at DESC.

    Please, let’s all remember, this is housing for the homeless that are at the highest risk for being assaulted, raped, or losing their lives on the street.

  • tk January 26, 2012 (11:14 am)

    Actually, Fairmount Park & Hughes are back in the possible options (with an opening date after required codes updates for F.P. of Sept. 2013). The district last fall during the commuinty meetings (ie at Madison)said F.P. was too small/too expensive, but their capacity data was way wrong and Fairmount Park went back into the possible options. My understanding it would be used for the STEM program and other school(s) would be part of the BEX’S vote 2013 for opening 2016. Hughes is also back on the table the district says, after their 5 year lease is up.
    From the SPS Board’s Action report, just passed last night: “Since the Boren site
    is available as an interim site, it is recommended that Boren be opened for 2012-13 as an elementary option school while a future permanent site is prepared at Fairmount Park, Genesee Hill and/or Hughes.”

    • WSB January 26, 2012 (11:28 am)

      They’re all ON the list but one particular site was not stipulated, as you note. Those sites are all the district has to work with in terms of closed-but-not-demolished district-owned sites in West Seattle. Hughes (leased by Westside School) is not on the table till 2015, the district has said. Anyway, I’m contacting the district to ask when specifically they would expect to make a decision on the program’s permanent home, as that certainly will be something parents will want to know while making a decision whether to apply for it for next year – TR

  • delridge mom January 26, 2012 (11:16 am)

    WS residents please remember our school overcrowding is the results of “past ill decisions” and we just need to move forward. I am too concerned about the area for a new school but this area is also part of “West Seattle” too. so lets’ remember we have kids too and wants our kids to have a better education choice of school too and not our underperformed WS elementary school that ranked last in the state of Washington.

  • Eric B January 26, 2012 (12:22 pm)

    I am a skeptic. How many parents will chose this new school on the south/east side of WS instead of Schmitz Park or Lafayette? Almost none. Who will chose it? Those families in the assignment neighborhoods of our struggling schools – and as a result those schools will lose enrollment and engaged parents leading to that nasty downward spiral of cuts and poor performance. In the mean time the district has blown a lot of money and STILL has the overcrowding problem. What problem does this “solution” actually solve?

  • Krystal January 26, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    I understand that the homeless are a vulnerable population. I also think that the higher priority is with keeping our children safe (and no, I am not an overreacting parent, I don’t even have kids). I wouldn’t want my child going to school so close to the DESC.

  • Creekside January 26, 2012 (1:38 pm)

    @ John – Do you have that in writing, signed by all parties in a legally binding agreement? Otherwise it is just words that mean absolutely nothing.
    “Was the DESC facility discussed at all in this decision? Has it been decided for sure that it will not house sex offenders? I’m just wondering if the school will still be in operation by the time the facility is built and occupied, potentially with sex offenders.
    Comment by Delridge Resident”
    Surprised that this inaccuracy/innuendo/question remains.

    The WSB, NDNC and DESC have all reported for months that that DESC residents will be screened and sex offenders not allowed housing at DESC.

    Please, let’s all remember, this is housing for the homeless that are at the highest risk for being assaulted, raped, or losing their lives on the street.
    Comment by John — January 26, 12 10:44 am #

  • Creekside January 26, 2012 (1:42 pm)

    Temporary/unstable DESC homeless housing + Temporary/interim use of the Boren School + Temporary and transitory large mass of Section 8 and or SHA housing = Chronic Neighborhood Instability. Please make Boren a permanent STEM school and let us have something that remains solid.

  • Holli January 26, 2012 (1:55 pm)

    I think we all will be surprised by how many parents want a STEM school for their children. The challenge will be providing it in upper grades, and getting it rolling asap.

    Hanging onto the old bad reputation for Delridge only perpetuates the problem.

    The neighbors I’ve talked with are eager to see the building used. Many work hard to improve Delridge, and one hindrance is the prevalence of empty buildings. Just look at the Boren Building – notice the mural panels? A neighbor worked to put those up to keep it clean and clear of graffiti.

    We’d love a grocery store, but have been told by the city that we’re not populated enough.

    I’m super happy for the STEM program decision, and agree that more work is needed to solve multifaceted problems with SPS.

  • Mark January 26, 2012 (2:04 pm)

    If the STEM school offers the potential of smaller class sizes (at least initially), a specialized, academically rigorous curriculum, and no portables, why would it not be a viable option? Noting the geographic challenge for some parents, and the eventual relocation of the program, if the school has all these things to offer, I’d call it at least a viable option if not a very good one for parents.

  • A January 26, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    Ridiculous! Seattle Public Schools just keeps screwing things up. We don’t need another option school. We need neighborhood schools. I know only one person that would choose this new school. The neighborhood schools will still be overcrowded, filled with portables and look like trailer parks. My son’s school has one portable already and there isn’t space for another. Good-bye playground. How I wish we had the money to send him to private or sell our house and head the hell out of Seattle.

  • MyEye January 26, 2012 (2:29 pm)

    John, there’s been nothing in writing regarding the sex offender question. And in other comments Mr. Hobson says they don’t think they should have to screen people for criminal history.
    Given that DESC is keeping the community in the dark over this project they aren’t exactly building a bridge of trust on that issue. Or any other issue. There was an honest concern about the density of low income housing that kept getting shouting down as NIMBYism. Turns out that was a legitimate concern. The issue of sex-offenders or repeat criminals next to an elementary school is also a legitimate concern.

  • WS Mom January 26, 2012 (3:12 pm)

    As a Delridge neighbor and current Lafayette parent, I am very intrigued by the STEM school. The possibility of Singapore math instead of EDM, enhanced science and technology curriculum, and smaller size of the school, are all factors that would be very attractive to me as a parent. I think it is of paramount importance that the district hold informational sessions as soon as possible at the Boren site to get as many families as possible on board with this new school. People need to know what STEM is. They need to know the path forward (middle and high school STEM). They need to know where this school will end up. I, for one, also hope that is at the Boren site.

    I also think an option school is a good start to dealing with overcrowding because our current overcrowding problems are an amalgam of the various policy/boundary changes/school closures of the last 5 years. For example, if you look at Lafayette, currently only 55% of the kids at the school live within the existing school boundaries (I believe this number is more like 67% at most other schools in West Seattle). If you continue to change boundaries without letting some of that settle out, who knows where we will end up when the dust settles? An option school will give parents all over West Seattle another choice while a more careful plan is developed to hopefully alleviate some of the overcrowding that absolutely needs to be addressed. Whether that is through new boundaries or rebuilding/remodeling of existing schools, I don’t know. Hopefully, that will happen in 2013/2014. It is also important to remember that this is an interim/short-term capacity plan. The longer range plans are still in the works and will hopefully be figured out in the coming months.

  • GreatSoFar January 26, 2012 (6:13 pm)

    I agree, Eric B.

  • Jehu January 26, 2012 (6:37 pm)

    Eric B for President!

  • Andros January 26, 2012 (7:05 pm)

    Is this going to be a K-5 or K-8 school?

  • ZZ January 26, 2012 (7:06 pm)

    Eric B…where is your faith man. This is a whole new paradigm. A STEM school designed by parents and teachers, funded by the District, with Singapore Math (like Schmitz Park), and a science program customized to the State Standards (taught a year ahead of grade level) is a formula for success.

    It just takes a school with a staff that believe in the vision and parents to fuel that vision to make STEM work. Eric, you gotta trust this one. It is going to work because the school will be built form the bottom up, not the top down. That said, there are some very sharp people that the District can rely upon. The WS Executive Director has actually started a STEM school in the past. Believe this will be different and get involved in the process. This school will be a top school in five years (and great up until then). Stay positive…it is a new day man.

    Build it and they will come…read WP Kinsella’s story. http://www.amazon.com/Shoeless-Joe-W-P-Kinsella/dp/0395957737

  • andrea January 26, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    Now there is the positive attitude we all should have, thanks ZZ!!!!! :)

  • curious January 26, 2012 (7:50 pm)

    how and where does one obtain information on enrollment? what are the requirements – if anyone knows – spectrum equalivant? APP equalivant?

  • WS Mom January 26, 2012 (8:57 pm)

    Curious, I think this will be a school that anyone can apply to (no APP or Spectrum testing required.) I am not a district person, but this question was asked at a meeting I went to and this is what we were told. Obviously, lots of details to work out and hopefully the district will get information out to the community as soon as possible.

    ZZ – Thank you so much for your optimism. I also think this is a very exciting option for West Seattle.

  • goodgraces January 26, 2012 (8:58 pm)

    ZZ for president!!! Love your attitude!!!

  • ZZ January 26, 2012 (9:00 pm)

    Curious…I believe a new STEM school will be for all applicants. They do not need to be Spectrum or APP equivalent. In a few years they will exceed those standards anyways (if the community gets behind this school).

    STEM is a way to provide all children in the WS community an opportunity to engage in high level math and science, while experiencing real-world problem solving through engineering and technology solutions.

    For example, can a 4th or 5th grade student build a wind-turbine to generate enough power to light a 12VDC lamp for under ten dollars. The math, science and engineering alone in that project is enough to inspire kids to continue such studies in the future. That kind of work doesn’t take an APP student…it takes a roll of wire, some magnets, milk bottles and a blueprint. It takes teachers that can inspire ingenuity and perseverance.

    This Boren School could end up being the model for future SPS programs. I’m sure all children will be welcome at the new STEM school regardless of test scores.

  • maplesyrup January 26, 2012 (9:56 pm)

    I hope everyone who fought for this option is planning on sending their kids to Boren.

  • GreatSoFar January 26, 2012 (10:12 pm)

    “ZZ, I like what your smoking but do you have any evidence beyond your fervent hopes? Aurora Lora spent 4 years as a Teach for America trainee. WHEN did she get to initiate a STEM K-5, as you report?

    Our WS Director’s stories is out there on the “interwebs” thanks to Teach for America”. Here is what I find:

  • Wsmom January 26, 2012 (10:13 pm)

    as a Schmitz Park parent who loves her school I would very strongly consider the new STEM school I think the concept is exciting and is incorprating everything I love about SP the only problem I have is these kids get to middle school and are so let down because they are having to repeat science they have learned years before. I’m about as committed as you get to our school and would absolutely take a long look at it. It would depend on the teachers for me.

  • Wsmom January 26, 2012 (10:15 pm)

    Abd if ZZ is teaching, we are there for sure:)

  • Options January 26, 2012 (10:17 pm)

    I love the idea of a new option school–and one that specializes in math and science is particularly exciting! But the Boren location would unfortunately be a major deal breaker for us. Interested to see what happens.

  • ell January 26, 2012 (10:40 pm)

    I, too, like to be positive. STEM school is WS, yeaaaahhh! I just find it very difficult because of SPS’s long history of huge mistakes.

    As a parent, I would have NO interest considering this school specifically due to it’s unknown future. Starting my child in a school, I am looking long-term for their placement. Definately not “gee this works for our family this year. We will just be content to see where it leads next year”. Families I know value stability for their children. Besides, w/SPS’s track record, who wants to volunteer their child as a test animal for their latest poorly-educated guess (speaking specifically of the district office, not our hard working teachers.)

    Absolutely something must be done, and I recognize it is easy to criticize while not having my own suggestion. I just doesn’t seem like a solid plan.

    Plus, bringing the school up to code – so we will have a building that money is dumped into for short-term, right now, fixes BUT the long, costly, list of major maintenance on an old building will actually cause a need to shutter the school shortly thereafter? Families and children like to take pride in their school, and try to make it reflect their community – strong family engagement makes schools work and excel. How do you do that with location uncertainty?

    SPS hugely frustrates me. One more ‘plan for excellence’ with little long-term sense.

  • Curious January 26, 2012 (10:44 pm)

    Thanks. The “application” part wasnt clear. Do you apply to Pathfinder? What determines who goes to STEM? I would think a child with horrible math scores wouldnt be, so test scores must come into play. Right?

  • mama-me-a January 26, 2012 (10:48 pm)

    Wow!! This is SO right on time…finally a light at the end of the education tunnel. I LOVE WS!!!!

  • ZZ January 26, 2012 (11:20 pm)

    Ell…West Seattle ain’t downtown. This new school will be a ground up affair. That implies that smart, dedicated people will build a program that takes a long view of what parents want for their kids.
    Remember, “they” work for “you.” It is the lost definition of public service.
    This time I believe that the hard working public are going to get exactly what they want for their children. It was the public that elected new leadership, pushed for new WS schools, and forwarded the idea of STEM. That means parents have ownership in this project. That is the best possible catalyst for a new school.

    To GreatSoFar…I don’t smoke…but I will be seeing the smoke from the funeral pyres of ineffective math books in West Seattle in the coming years. Join us all on Alki for an EDM bonfire.

  • Harmonic January 26, 2012 (11:37 pm)

    Just a note here:

    1) This is a good step forward for overcrowding – I just happen to have an almost 5 year old who loves math. This may be a perfect opportunity for her to enroll in Boren and the math/science program. Although my neighborhoord school does not appear to overally crowded (Alki), perhaps a move to Boren will make space for someone not as intrigued with the STEM program.

    2) Certainly the Delrigde area is underserved by grocery stores. Boren, however, is not the spot for it in my opinion. In fact, if the evil parking lot of Safeway and Jefferson Square were not created, my kids would have a neighborhood school.

    3) New zoning laws encourage development. Not every new apartment dweller will be a double income, no kids with a dog tenant. Seattle needs to get on the ball and realize with increased density, a new school will need to be built. Especially serving the N. Pennisula. – New development in the junctions = increase in population and a very good chance of procreation (!).

  • Also a WS MOM January 27, 2012 (1:36 am)

    I thought the goal was to make all school more equal how is having another special program school helping us get to better balance. I challenge everyone to look/tour four or five of your local high schools (Tour Garfield, Roosevelt, Cleveland STEM school, WS High, Sealth and others) you will not see much similarities. The point is you have no options you will have a hard time getting into the school you want because you do not live in the boundary. The year we did the High school tours everyone wanted to go to Garfield it had the most offerings, the most AP courses, interesting electives and clubs and the biggest plus it is often mentioned as one of the top schools in the nation etc. But the only way to get into Garfield was to live within the boundary or be moved over as part of Middle School APP program. Why couldn’t our West Seattle High schools be equal to Garfield why are the schools so different especially when we don’t have a choice (or little chance to get into an out of boundary school). So what I am scared of will the STEM school be the top choice because most want their student to have the rigger and when we get left out will we be upset that our neighborhood school is not equal to the STEM school. I know my neighborhood high school was not the best option for us we ended up enrolling into a private school after we couldn’t get into Garfield. I challenge everyone to look past elementary years high school is much scarier to navigate look ahead it saddens me that not all schools are a 1st choice school making our neighborhood school the best place for our children.

  • Caprial January 27, 2012 (6:45 am)

    STEM is such a bad idea. It’s not going to take the pressure of overcrowding off of the schools. They don’t even have a program developed yet, which takes time, money, staff, building refurbishment (Boren is set up for middle/high schoolers). Who wants their child to be placed as a guinea pig, not knowing if the program will be successful for 1 year, or successful enough to continue it? Why sacrifice your student’s comfort zone of where they’re at currently?

    Cannot understand why they didn’t combine the APP/Spectrum programs that are already underway into the Boren building as one “option” (aka alternative) That would have cleared at the least 5 classrooms for overcrowding control at least at one school alone. And the program could have expanded as well, knowing that there are qualified kids who don’t get into the program due to their location, lottery, or whatever the reason du jour is for that year. Makes more sense.

  • Creekside January 27, 2012 (11:51 am)

    Question for the readership. When commenters say they would not send their children to a STEM program at Boren, is this due to the location of the school? Is it the scale and size of the school? Is it the neighborhood it is located in? Is it out of concern about the DESC project being built down the street? Something else? Just trying to get a hankering for what the roadblocks are. Thanks.

  • ghar72 January 27, 2012 (6:03 pm)

    Here’s a link to what it says about Cleveland’s STEM program. My oldest is four, so kindergarten is still another year away, but this sounds exciting! Project-based learning is key in my mind for success and buy-in on the student’s part. Really looking forward to finding out how this program will work at the elementary level. Sounds like there isn’t a STEM program at the middle school level, right?


  • Options January 27, 2012 (6:57 pm)

    For us it’s the neighborhood. I have a lot of faith in ‘alternative’ education and the passion of the educators here in Seattle. Although there are growing pains in starting a new school, and the impact on the kids’ education while figuring it all out in the first few years is surely something to consider, for us it comes down to that location. Too much crime, drugs, gang problems, lack of resources. The program could be the best in the state, but if I don’t feel my kids will be safe within the immediate surroundings I’m just not considering it as an option. I sincerely don’t mean to offend any of the community members that are doing great things. This is just how I weigh my own family’s choice.

  • Frustrated January 27, 2012 (9:32 pm)

    Without a new neighborhood school reopened in an WS area that currently does not have one nearby, no one will see real relief in capacity any time soon, especially in WS north. If STEM moves eventually from Boren to Fairmount Park, then TWO perfectly good possible neighborhood schools in WS north (Fairmount Park and Cooper) will be used up as option schools, making the capacity problems at Gatewood, Lafayette and Schmitz worse and worse over time. At some point, you’ve got to solve the underlying issue that created this capacity crisis–closing too many neighborhood schools in WS–and the sooner the better….because there will be no stability for anyone until the root problem is addressed properly.
    If you fought for this STEM option and you currently go to Gatewood, Schmitz or Lafayette, I surely hope and expect that you’ll be sending your own child next year!! STEM is not the best use of funds or buildings–and I believe WS deserved a long term capacity solution before ANY first step was taken given the misguided actions of the past.

  • curious January 28, 2012 (7:54 am)

    From what I am reading the school is only *supposed* to be at Boren for one year, then moving. If Boren opens now, perhaps this will free it up later for yet another school. It sounds like if STEM is going to happen it’s now or never.

  • WS Mom January 28, 2012 (8:14 am)

    As an 11 year resident of the area (and mother of two little ones), I would like to reassure Options, that I feel safe here in North Delridge. You should come down and take a walk on the Longfellow Creek Trail and check out the amazing beaver pond that is literally across the street from the Boren site (great opportunity for educational enrichment for students of the stem school right there). Then you should go have a delicious dinner at Pho Aroma or Olympic Pizza. You should cap that off with the fabulous pajama story time at Delridge library on Tuesday nights. You might be surprised that it is actually a great place to visit or “gasp” send your kids to school. In fact, I challenge all the location naysayers to try this little experiment. There is a reason we live here and it is not just the affordable housing. It is also a great place to raise a family.

  • SPS PARENT January 28, 2012 (9:09 am)

    I very happy with education my son is getting. He is in Spectrum and so far seems to be challenged to suit his needs. I am SO sick of parents from the Everett & Renton areas telling me “I would never want my kids in the SPS system!” I dont like to be rude but I feel like saying “Are your kids in spectrum? Does your HS have IB or STEM programs?” I seriously doubt the education there is far surperior. It’s my observation that REPUTATION plays more into decisions than REALITY. Like WS MOM just said about Delridge. Do I need to remind everyone of the shooting that sadly happened last week, right by Zeeks. I see many a family there. I guess by many a theory, we should label that area “bad” and pull our kids from “that” school up the road.

    • WSB January 28, 2012 (10:06 am)

      SPS Parent – you make a point that we do try to underscore if anyone tries to slam one particular part of the area or another … Violence is rare in West Seattle. When it does happen, it can happen anywhere. The most recent shootings we’ve had, in fact, deadly or otherwise, were, in reverse-chronological order:
      January 2012 – Morgan Junction
      October 2011 – Admiral
      September 2011 – Highland Park (non-fatal)
      July 2011 – Arbor Heights (non-fatal)
      And that’s it, going all the way back through January 2011. No shootings in which people were injured or killed happened in Delridge, period.
      We also cover all stabbings since they are pretty easy to hear about (‘assault with weapons’ call on the SFD log) and our archives show the ones in the past year happened in:
      July 2011 – one case in Highland Park, one in Admiral (non-fatal)
      February 2011 – Fauntleroy
      Yes, there are other types of violent crime – people get beaten up (often by someone they know). But just a datapoint here, since the topic keeps coming up … TR

  • ZZ January 28, 2012 (9:10 am)

    WS Mom is (of course) correct. There are numerous reasons why a STEM school is right for the area. Like Schmitz Park Elementary, there are many natural resources in the Boren area that make for excellent science investigations. Trails, ponds, and proximity to the Duwamish allows students to see and experience habitat as laboratory.
    It should also be noted that STEM means science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Over the hill from West Seattle are numerous industries and manufacturers very supportive of STEM education. I imagine your children will be welcome field-trip visitors to those businesses. Personally, I would like students to see the process of metal reclamation that goes on in the Nucor plant. That’s got to inspire awe in a young learner. A tour of the central boiler plants at Boeing Field, or the wing spar finishing facilities at any of their other plants would impress even the most distracted video-gaming addict. The orange cloud that wafts off dipped titanium (before the scrubbers grab it) looks downright ghoulish!
    Boren is a good location (to start); well located, and in a setting with lots of STEM related activities.

  • Beach pup January 28, 2012 (11:25 am)

    SPS has no intention of bringing Boren “up to code”…. They stated this in the capacity meetings held in WS. As long as it houses bodies without a two year lapse in occupancy (like Faimount and Genesee Hill…) they are grandfathered under old codes….. So it will be used as an interim site for a very long time….. At least five or six superintendents, I’m betting (said tongue in cheek…)

    I’m just surprised that families would be OK with placing their kids in a building that is not (and won’t be….) up to current codes…… Amazing.

  • curious January 28, 2012 (1:34 pm)

    Before the school expects parents to okay their children to go there, will there be an open house? information on what the classes will be like? where the teachers are coming from & their background? or are we supposed to just agree to send our kids to it blindy? I like the idea of STEM a lot – but the circumstances are a bit sketchy.

  • helridge January 28, 2012 (1:37 pm)

    And let’s not forget, this happened just a hop skip jump away from Boren –


  • Frustrated January 29, 2012 (3:27 pm)

    ZZ – I’m curious….Do you have school aged children? Are YOU sending them to STEM at Boren next year?
    Since it’s an “immediate” capacity solution, I sincerely hope you and all the other people who pushed hard for STEM will go there next year. I’m not against STEM as a program option, but do not see how this option school addresses capacity in WS north in particular. (It would be much better placed as a program option within a reopened neighborhood school.) Please share, and maybe I’ll realize that there are tons of families/children in WS north planning to go and then I’ll feel better!
    Right now, I continue to deduct that only new strong neighbhorhood schools asap in areas that do not have one nearby will get us out of this compounding mess of misguided decisions in WS.

  • SPS PARENT January 29, 2012 (10:35 pm)

    I look down the road for when my kids are in college. These topics offered at STEM schools are really lacking at a regular school. I plan to have my kids go there.

    To the parent who said even if it was the best school in the state they wouldnt send them there because of where Boren is. That is an ignorant comment.

  • Another WS Mom January 30, 2012 (11:58 am)

    Can anyone in the district tell us about the current condition of Boren? Remember that this was a middle school, and most recently housed high school kids. What can the district do in 6 months to make it feasible for opening as an elementary school?

  • ZZ January 30, 2012 (7:53 pm)

    Boren need some TLC. It is a shell building that will need boilers fired, paint, landscaping, floor waxing, minor structural repairs, but otherwise it is sound. Supplies need to be ordered as well.

    It needs a facilities project manager to make it livable and a few good parents to spot its deficiencies. The project is doable in six months. However, procrastination means death to this project. Parents must lean on the District to get the project moving now.

  • Options January 30, 2012 (9:44 pm)

    @SPS Parent, it’s not ignorant. It just my opinion regarding where where I to send my kids based on my comfort level with the neighborhood. I have 2 kids, have lived my entire life in this area, as did my parents, and my grandparents. The reputation of the area is hard to shake. There are clearly lots of people in the Delridge area doing great things for the neighborhood. That being evident, to me it is *still* very much a transitional neighborhood and the location of the Boren school just does not entice me. I’m not there yet in feeling like its ‘safe enough.’ @creekside asked what readers’ roadblocks are, that’s mine. A great science and math program is fantastic, and I say this as the mom of a child who conceptualizes much of the world through numbers, but I’m not considering program alone in my decisions for a school. “Ignorant” seems harsh.

  • WSMOM January 31, 2012 (7:57 pm)

    Does anyone know the educational difference between Spectrum classes vs a STEM school? Meaning, which math is more advanced or prefered?

  • Melissa Westbrook February 3, 2012 (3:54 pm)

    So many questions and good ones. As a long-time district watcher I thought I might try to answer some of them.

    One, the district really needs Boren and Lincoln to remain interim sites. There are schools to be rebuilt and the district generally moves a population off-site to rebuild.

    The district also needs to have a couple of emergency sites and those are rapidly being used up by reopening schools.

    Also, on this issue of “bringing Boren up to code.” There’s code and then there’s code. They would have to bring it up to a certain code for its age but not to the same code as if it were a new building. Either way, it has to be a safe building for children and staff.

    My opinion, don’t count on Boren long-term for your STEM school.

    Two, Spectrum, as part of the Advanced Learning programs, is being rethought by a taskforce. It may change in the future.

    As we only have one STEM school in SPS (Cleveland), it’s a little hard to figure out the rigor. I would think, given STEM’s more math/science base and the testing to get into Spectrum, they would be about even. The point is they are programs that offer rigor.

    Three, a STEM school could be great but consider that there is no middle school STEM school. You can hope there might be one in place by the time your child cycles through elementary but there’s no guarantee for that.

    I also wanted to pass along that BEX IV, the next capital renovation levy (or bond) planning is starting. There should be an SPS community meeting in April but I urge you to join together as a region (PTSAs) and think about what your capacity needs are.

    I did a review of the numbers at the recent BEX IV work session with the School Board and staff and found that many of the poorest condition buildings match up with where capacity is needed.

    For example, guess who comes out about worst on the list? Arbor Heights. (sorry AH). In your region it looks like these are the buildings in the worst condition:

    Denny area: Arbor Heights and Roxhill

    Madison area: Alki, Lafayette and Schmitz Park

    Here’s the URL for my full story.

  • kmn February 4, 2012 (9:22 am)

    Isn’t Queen Anne Elementary a STEM school?

  • kmn February 4, 2012 (9:23 am)

    Oh, and my understanding is that STEM is not an advanced program. Comparing Spectrum (or any other AL program) to STEM is not comparing apples to apples.

  • Melissa Westbrook February 4, 2012 (8:24 pm)

    No, Queen Anne Elementary does not identify itself as STEM nor is it set up to be a STEM school. I think they do have a larger emphasis on science than do most elementaries.

  • WSMOM February 6, 2012 (1:05 pm)

    @Melissa Westbrook: your comments “I also wanted to pass along that BEX IV, the next capital renovation levy (or bond) planning is starting…. For example, guess who comes out about worst on the list? Arbor Heights.”

    What does this indicate? AH will be relocated for renovations? Moved?

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