Just getting Arbor Heights Elementary rebuilt isn’t enough, community members told Seattle Public Schools officials during the BEX IV levy community briefing/comment meeting Thursday night at Denny International Middle School – it needs to be rebuilt sooner than the possible 2018 date mentioned in draft proposals. “We can’t wait,” said one mom. (District officials acknowledged that capacity issues are taking precedence over school-condition issues in planning of this levy.)
If you’re looking for touchpoints in the video – the first 26 minutes were taken up by procedural points and backstory; then there were 8 minutes of presentation about the 3 currently proposed options (see them here), bringing the video to the 34-minute mark, at which point the district officials on hand began answering questions, first written, then, at 48 minutes into the meeting, open-mike.
Following up on the Tuesday night meeting at Arbor Heights (WSB coverage here) at which AH and Roxhill Elementary‘s principals expressed surprise that two of the three first-draft “options” call for closing Roxhill and “merging” it into AH, assistant superintendent Pegi McEvoy acknowledged that what started as an idea in casual conversation was “moving fast.”
Capital projects/planning director Lucy Morello said, “If the community really doesn’t want to co-locate Roxhill and Arbor Heights, we won’t do that,” but added that no scenario has enough money to rebuild Roxhill as well as AH. Morello said they could take a look at the idea of moving Roxhill to E.C. Hughes (which Roxhill principal Carmela Dellino mentioned during Tuesday night’s meeting at AH).
At about an hour and five minutes into the meeting, a mom identifying herself as an immigrant stood up and said she wanted to know who is going to advocate for the Roxhill community and its large population of immigrants and low-income, multiple-job-breadwinner families who cannot mobilize as easily as the Arbor Heights parents who filled the room on Thursday night.
There also were questions with no answers, such as, where would the K-5 STEM school opening this fall at Boren be located permanently? Maybe a reopened Fairmount Park or Hughes, but nothing’s been decided, district reps said.
WHAT’S NEXT: This was the second of three general briefings/public-comment meetings being held around the city this month – the final one is next Tuesday, 6:30 pm, at Mercer Middle School on Beacon Hill. Here’s the online feedback form to tell the district what you think about what they’re circulating for BEX IV so far. (McEvoy also mentioned an environmental-impact meeting regarding BEX IV for April 11th – we’ll be checking on that later today.) Whatever winds up in the final version of the levy – current options range in cost from $500+ million to $800+ million – it’s expected to go to voters in February 2013.
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING 9:58 AM: Here’s the district news release we just received about the environmental-impact meeting:
Seattle Public Schools will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, April 11, to discuss the Environmental Impact Statement process now being conducted for the Building Excellence Program, Phase IV.
Date: Wednesday, April 11
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Place: John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, 2445 3rd Ave. S., Seattle 98124.
The meeting will provide information on the BEX IV Environmental Impact Statement process, content and schedule. The Draft EIS will be published for public comment on Monday, April 9, and the comment period will extend through May 9. The Draft EIS will be published and available for review at the Seattle Public Schools District office in hard copy and CD. The District is providing a CD to each of the city’s branch libraries and the Central Library.
The evening’s agenda includes a description of the alternatives being considered for BEX IV, an overview of the EIS, and opportunity for members of the public to ask questions of the environmental team.
The Building Excellence capital program enables Seattle Public Schools to continue renovations and improvements to the buildings. While the public is still weighing in on the three levy options, the district needs to move forward with the environmental impact process. The School Board will vote in October on the final list of projects for the levy, which goes before voters in February 2013. To see the current options for BEX IV, visit http://bit.ly/SPSBex. The public can also take an online survey about the three options.
In addition to the April 11 public meeting, Seattle Schools will hold a public hearing on the Draft EIS on May 3 at 7 p.m., also at the John Stanford Center.