Inside West Seattle’s new K-5 STEM at Boren, opening in 3 weeks

August 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm | In Delridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 22 Comments

Story and photos by Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor


Three weeks from tomorrow, the sprawling Seattle Public Schools campus at 5950 Delridge Way SW will reopen as the new K-5 STEM at Boren elementary.

It’s been boarded up for two years, since the end of Chief Sealth International High School‘s two-year stay.

Now, elementary schoolers are moving in, and crews have been working to “make it a respectable place,” as project manager Jeanette Imanishi puts it.

She was our guide for a tour on Monday, along with district communications specialist Tom Redman. Outside, of course, there’s fresh paint. Even the north-side portables, which won’t be used but are staying on the site, are getting a new coat.

Inside, the floors are shining:

Read on to see the rest of our photo tour – from the classrooms to the playground, and beyond:

Since some retrofits have been done over the years of Boren serving as temporary housing for other schools, much of the work needed this time around is cosmetic, Imanishi explained – gardeners have worked on the trees and shrubs around the school, and in the courtyards:

Inside much of the school, the aforementioned flooring represents one of the biggest jobs: Old asbestos-containing floor tile has been removed, and the original concrete flooring has been revealed, and polished. Toward the north end, some of that work is still being wrapped up.

The floors that didn’t have asbestos tile were not pulled up – just cleaned, like in this classroom.

(There’s new carpeting in some rooms.) Then there’s new interior paint; the hallways, you’ll notice, are color-coded:

They will help students remember which areas are which. Green leads to the lunchroom, right now empty and cavernous:

The Boren kitchen was once the regional production kitchen for schools on this side of town, we’re told. Some of what it has is overkill for the K-5 STEM school, so about the only change expected in the kitchen is the arrival of a freezer. Speaking of overkill, the elementary school only needs about half the building’s 125,000 square feet, so corridors leading to the areas that won’t be used are being partitioned off (with emergency/fire exits, of course):

Now to the classrooms, labs, and library:

That’s the library, to which the orange/red hall leads:

Here’s a classroom, getting its finishing touches:

Every classroom will have a smartboard, we’re reminded. Here’s another classroom:

The preschoolers’ room still has its former cubbies:

Inside a past and future science-lab room:

Note the windows – a feature in so many of the Boren rooms, built around multiple courtyards:

In the computer-lab-to-be, outlets are ready and waiting:

And here’s a workroom the teachers will use:

Imanishi says the mini-cubes will be going away.

Equipment is on the way for two play areas – a small one outside for students at the preschool that’ll be on site; it’s planned in a courtyard:

And the other playground will be south of the main building, where the two existing portables, we’re told, will be moved somewhere else:

The new school also will use the gymnasium, which currently still holds some of the furniture and accessories waiting to be moved into classrooms.

So when does the staff move in? Principal Dr. Shannon McKinney was expected to start moving in any day now. Other staffers are eager to start fixing up their classrooms, but they aren’t likely to be in before next week, says Imanishi – one of the most prominent features out front remains a dumpster:

And mementos of past occupants can still be found here and there – note the name on this site map:

As this $600,000 project wraps up, we ask project manager Imanishi what else she is working on. Right now, she’s also leading the team working to reopen McDonald Elementary. On her horizon – the renovation of Fairmount Park Elementary, expected to reopen in West Seattle within the next few years, shuttered for five years, and getting a new roof right now, because, she says, the old one couldn’t wait any longer to be replaced.

But in the meantime, Boren is getting ready for September 5th. We asked SPS how many students are enrolled; no final count yet, the district says, but the building is being made ready to hold up to 250.

22 Comments

  1. Thanks, Tracy, for the photo tour. I went to junior high at Boren in the late 60s and it was fun to see the interior and remember the fun times I had at Boren Jr High. The classroom could have been my language arts class and the lunchroom brought back tons of memories.

    Comment by Leslie — 1:58 pm August 14, 2012 #

  2. looks like it’s going to be great! I wish I would have signed up my 2nd grader.

    Comment by WSParent — 2:14 pm August 14, 2012 #

  3. Love the new exterior paint job! It’s so nice to finally see my old school get some much needed TLC :)

    Comment by The Original MB — 2:28 pm August 14, 2012 #

  4. Thanks for the tour!

    Comment by Noelle — 2:46 pm August 14, 2012 #

  5. Thank you for this report, WSB! We’re so excited to see what how the teachers, staff, and students fill this place. Come on, Fall!

    Comment by MercyMoi — 2:55 pm August 14, 2012 #

  6. Looks roomy and bright. Glad they removed the asbestos.

    Comment by evergreen — 3:06 pm August 14, 2012 #

  7. As a neighborhood resident, I am very happy the school was painted. It looks a lot better with a fresh coat of paint. I am bummed they ripped out all of the gorgeous heather that was in the front flower beds though. Not sure why that was necessary as it was one bright spot every spring. Anyway, glad to see the building being fixed up and put to good use. Welcome to the neighborhood STEM!

    Comment by Delridge Mom — 3:09 pm August 14, 2012 #

  8. The 250 limit has already been met per info we have received from the district: transitional preschool + three K’s + one K/1 + one 1st + three 2/3 splits + one 4th + one 4/5 split. The splits were chosen to facilitate small-group interaction, differentiated learning (mixed ability), and project-based learning. Classrooms have 24-28 kids based on grade and composition per set SPS guidelines. Still plenty of kids on the waitlist, so hopefully more kids are enrolled next year once the first year kinks are worked out. Lots of updates on the yahoo discussion group.

    Comment by evergreen — 3:34 pm August 14, 2012 #

  9. Thank you West Seattle Blog for getting this tour and the pictures. My son (entering 2nd grade here) and I went in yesterday but didn’t even notice the color coded hallways. And I love the windows….the last 2 years he was basically in a daylight basement of a school with not much natural light. We are excited to see the labs and classrooms and meet the teachers!!!

    Comment by Debbie — 3:41 pm August 14, 2012 #

  10. This is amazing to see. This shows that you don’t always have to tear it down and start over. With alittle elbow grease and hard work and alot less money you can make a clean an safe place to learn and have fun. Great job.

    Comment by boy — 7:11 pm August 14, 2012 #

  11. Thanks Tracy, loved the tour! I went yesterday, and the SPS person there kindly let me explore. One thing I noticed was the climbing wall in the gym, my kindergartner will love that! I didn’t notice the color-coding either but thought it was great they had picked bright colors. My kid is so excited to start kindergarten there!

    Comment by Brontosaurus — 10:46 pm August 14, 2012 #

  12. The renovations look great! Wish all of our schools had all those windows and courtyard space, not to mention the bright paint colors and natural concrete flooring. So cheery and far more inspiring than the “prison look” most seem to have by default.
    .
    Stupid Q though; what is a “smart board” and how do we get them in our other schools? :)

    Comment by Cheryl — 10:04 am August 15, 2012 #

  13. Thanks for the tour Tracy! We’re so, so excited for our son to start this fall. Woot!!

    Comment by ProudSTEMKinderDad — 1:18 pm August 15, 2012 #

  14. Is this going to be the permanent location or temp??

    Comment by bsmomma — 2:59 pm August 15, 2012 #

  15. Boren is a temp site, 2 years max per SPS

    Comment by evergreen — 4:58 pm August 15, 2012 #

  16. So, when are the other schools getting their Smartboards?

    I sense a bit of inequity here. Typical Seattle school district!

    Comment by hmmmm? — 5:18 pm August 15, 2012 #

  17. You are right, hmmmm. There is inequity. There are other schools in Seattle with smartboards, but most do not have them. STEM is going to have a lot of technology (the “T” in STEM) and other cool features. Hopefully it will serve as a model for all schools in our district so that the bar is raised for each and every child living in Seattle.

    The problem is that the district is underfunded. Additionally, the administration has mismanaged funding received in the past, and people have lost confidence in SPS. What do you think would turn this around?

    Comment by evergreen — 12:10 am August 16, 2012 #

  18. Have seen before and after school care is suppose to be at neighboring schools/community center. Is there any way to get something set up for 2hrs in the am and 2 hrs after school to help kids with their home work??? Set up in the lunch room or gym????

    Comment by parent — 2:52 pm August 16, 2012 #

  19. Thank you for posting pictures! It looks great.

    Comment by wsmom — 9:52 pm August 18, 2012 #

  20. All of our schools should have a “T” for techonology and “other cool stuff.” SPS is a mess and so is the decision to a put a choice school in WS South and not take care of the existing neighborhood schools that have been neglected for so long. I have nothing against STEM school, just the poor rationale of SPS decision making.

    Comment by WSMomof2 — 10:09 am August 19, 2012 #

  21. I’m not surprised to see the complaints about inequities – typical Seattle behavior. People: the way any public system improves is by upgrading in stages. New schools, firehouses, police stations, etc. always have more modern equipment in newer branches. It’s not inequity, it’s normal progress. Instead of complaining about inequity every time an improvement is made that is not school-wide, be glad that this school is starting the trend. It’s not all about your own feelings of neglect. Sheesh.

    Comment by WestSeattleDad — 9:53 am August 20, 2012 #

  22. Wait there will be a preschool there?

    Comment by wsdad — 7:33 am August 25, 2012 #

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