(County Assessor’s Office photo of Schmitz Park Elementary, undated)
On November 7th, the School Board is expected to approve the final wording for the BEX IV Levy to go to voters next February – and its current draft calls for building a new Schmitz Park Elementary on the old Genesee Hill School site, to open in 2015. District staffers have not presented a plan for what would subsequently happen to the current crowded Schmitz Park school, but last week, West Seattle’s board rep Marty McLaren said the namesake family had told her they were against closure of the school, which is on land donated by the family. Today, we received a copy of the letter that Schmitz family members have just sent to the board; you can see it here, and we have transcribed it below:
October 19, 2012
Seattle School Board
Subject: Schmitz Park Elementary School Proposed Closure
*The Schmitz Family of West Seattle strongly opposes the proposed closure of Schmitz Park School, for reasons detailed below.
*The Schmitz Family of West Seattle strongly supports the “One Voice” recommendations developed by the coalition of West Seattle PTA leaders.
For the sum of one dollar ($1.00) and over 50 years ago, Dietrich Schmitz, Emma Schmitz Hartmann, Dr. Henry Schmitz and Ferdinand Schmitz II deeded to the Seattle School District seven-plus acres of land adjacent to Schmitz Park for a new Schmitz Park Elementary School. The intent of this generous “gift” was for there to be a public elementary school on that land in perpetuity – and the Schmitz family requests that this “gift” be honored and respected by you as today’s elected School Board members.
The letter continues after the jump:
Schmitz Park School sits adjacent to the only piece of old growth forest remaining in the city of Seattle – Schmitz Park/Preserve, about 100 acres. Students at Schmitz Park School participate regularly in observing, monitoring, and maintaining Schmitz Park’s unique native forest habitat in their “100-acre laboratory.” A member of the Schmitz family speaks at the opening day of school for the flag-raising ceremony and opening-day events since the school opened more than 50 years ago, a wonderful and unique tradition.
Schmitz Park School is an outstanding and award(-winning) elementary school program, with excellent leadership and teachers on staff. Its parent involvement level is broad based and very high. Its PTA officers and members are very engaged in the life of the school. Enrollment has skyrocketed in the last four years, and we understand the District’s need to deal with overcapacity issues. However, high enrollment is a reflection of the school’s success.
The Schmitz Family and the One Voice coalition strongly agree that other solutions exist for solving overcapacity/enrollment issues rather than the closing of Schmitz Park School. We urge the Seattle School District to choose another option.
Gloria Schmitz Brinton-Davis
Ferdinand Schmitz III
Nancy S. Wilson
Julie Schmitz Broker
Mary Howland Schmitz
Vicki Schmitz Block
(and many other Schmitz family members)
The district’s history one-sheet for SP Elementary notes that an earlier-generation family member, Dietrich Schmitz, was on the School Board for more than 30 years. (The one-sheet also says that when the school opened 59 years ago, ironic in light of the current state of affairs, it was an annex of Genesee Hill, meant to relieve crowding.) We’re checking to find out more about the “One Voice” recommendations mentioned in the letter; some West Seattle school advocates have suggested that the current Schmitz Park stay open as a neighborhood school. It’s also been suggested as a possible permanent home for K-5 STEM (which opened this year in temporary quarters at Boren). The next meeting on BEX is a public-comment period this Wednesday (October 24), 4 pm at district HQ.