(Vicki Schmitz Block speaks to board on behalf of Schmitz Family – see 4:24 pm below)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:04 PM: We’re at Seattle Public Schools headquarters in SODO as the School Board starts an hourlong public-comment session on the two levies it plans to send to voters next February – including the BEX (“building excellence”) levy to raise money for construction/renovation/improvement projects. Right now, it includes plans to renovate/expand and reopen Fairmount Park Elementary in 2014; to build a new Schmitz Park Elementary on the old Genesee Hill campus, opening in 2015; and to build a new Arbor Heights Elementary to open in 2018. Most West Seattle discussion has centered on trying to get the timeline for AH moved up, as the school is in bad shape; in the past week, West Seattle’s pioneer Schmitz family, which donated the current SP Elementary site to the district, has voiced opposition to the possibility that building might be closed when the new GH school opens, though they do support a new school at GH.
We’re recording the session in its entirety but also will note West Seattle-related speakers as they come up. Twelve people are signed up – the session was scheduled for a minimum of 20. The final public-comment period will be at the November 7th board meeting, but that will be the same night as the board’s scheduled final vote. Board members are listening today but the district says they will not be commenting. More to come.
4:14 PM UPDATE: Five speakers so far, and none about West Seattle. Everyone who’s speaking signed up right before the meeting – unlike regular board meetings, there was no two-days-in-advance signup procedure.
4:21 PM: Longtime district watchdog Chris Jackins is the first to mention West Seattle BEX IV projects, saying he believes AH should be renovated immediately rather than replaced, and that he is against closing SP:
He is followed by someone talking about the proposed downtown school. Spokesperson for the Schmitz family, Vicki Schmitz Block, is scheduled to speak next.
4:24 PM: She thanks board members for replying to the letter sent several days ago and says it was a surprise to the family to hear there was a possibility SP might be closed, just as she guesses the board may be surprised to hear that some members of the Schmitz family are “still alive and living in West Seattle.” She says the family wants to keep it open in some form. She also notes that her father-in-law Dietrich Schmitz served on the board for 32 years, “a record that I don’t think has been broken.”
4:37 PM: The entire list of 14 speakers has been run through; no one else from West Seattle. They’re throwing the floor open, since the meeting technically has 23 more minutes.
4:50 PM: Six more impromptu speakers came forward, all talking about issues elsewhere in the district – including Rainier Beach High School students who said their school needs TLC even though it’s not addressed in this levy at all. At quarter till 5, the meeting recessed just in case anyone else came forward to speak – technically the floor’s open till 5. (Final note – nobody else turned up, and they moved on to an unrelated work session.)
WHAT’S NEXT: The board is scheduled to vote on BEX IV’s project list at its next regular meeting, November 7th. We may or may not see another revision between now and then. E-mail comments are still being taken at firstname.lastname@example.org. West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren – among those present for the comments today – has her next community-conversation meeting before then: 9:45 am October 31st at Concord International School in South Park.