West Seattle schools: BEX IV levy plan finalized; on to February vote

November 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 29 Comments

7:26 PM: After months of meetings and revisions, the Seattle School Board has just unanimously approved the project list for the $695 million BEX IV levy they will send to voters in February, including expanding and renovating Fairmount Park Elementary to reopen in 2014, building a new Schmitz Park Elementary on the Genesee Hill site to open in 2015, and building a new Arbor Heights Elementary to open in 2018.

There were no amendments proposed before the vote but the list that passed (see it here) included the extra language we have reported here in the past few days – clarifying that the current Schmitz Park Elementary will be kept open as a school (either neighborhood or option, said assistant superintendent Pegi McEvoy tonight) and that the district will rebuild AH sooner if it can figure out a way. The levy will go to voters February 12th, as will the district operations levy also finalized tonight; between the two, they’re asking voters for $1.2 billion, acknowledged board president Michael DeBell, saying, “This is a bold package. We’re asking for a lot of money.” Tonight’s public speakers, pre-vote, included Vicki Schmitz Block and son Dietrich Schmitz, thanking the board for responding to the family’s request that the current school, on a site their family donated to the district decades ago, remain in operation as a school.

ADDED 8:10 PM: The district’s official news release, ahead:

The Seattle School Board on Wednesday approved by a 6-0 vote the $694.9 million Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy ballot measure, which is a replacement for the expiring capital levy. This measure, along with the Operations Levy ballot measure, will go before Seattle voters on the Feb. 12, 2013 ballot. Director Sherry Carr was absent.

Enrollment at Seattle Public Schools is on the rise, with an additional 7,000 students predicted during the next decade. The BEX IV Capital Levy measure, if approved by Seattle voters, would take a major step to address overcrowded schools and classrooms. In addition, the BEX IV levy addresses earthquake safety issues, building conditions, infrastructure and technology improvements. The levy will also reduce the current maintenance backlog and address future major maintenance needs throughout the school district.

The School Board also unanimously approved placing a $551.9 million Operations Levy on the ballot to replace the expiring Operations Levy, which was approved by voters in 2010. This levy provides 27 percent of the District’s general fund operating budget and helps fund classroom instruction, textbooks and supplies; transportation and security; Special Education and English Language Learners programs; and student activities such as athletics, music and art.

“The renewal of the BEX IV and Operations levy provides much-needed funding to meet the needs of our growing enrollment,” said Superintendent José Banda. “We had to make some difficult decisions on the BEX IV project list; however this levy package reflects what is best for our students.”

BEX IV projects were chosen based on four criteria: 1) safety and security, 2) capacity needs, 3) building condition, and 4) maximizing flexibility for programs and services.

Specific projects and schedules include:

· Arbor Heights Elementary: Replace existing building with new/expanded facility by 2018 or earlier if feasible.

· Bagley Elementary: Modernize and build a classroom-core facility addition by 2020.

· Fairmount Park Elementary: Modernize building with necessary upgrades, add classrooms and a lunchroom by 2014.

· Jane Addams K-8: Move K-8 school to a new location to open by 2017; open building as a middle school by 2017.

· Lincoln High School building: Modernize and open as a new high school by 2019.

· Loyal Heights Elementary: Modernize and build addition by 2018.

· NOVA High School @Mann: Modernize and build addition for NOVA by 2014.

· Meany Middle School: Reconfigure for a comprehensive central region middle school by 2017.

· Northeast Seattle elementary school: To meet growing capacity, add K-5 school on Thornton Creek site by 2016 or equivalent additional seating capacity at another location.

· Olympic Hills: Replace existing building with a new/expanded facility by 2017.

· Queen Anne Elementary: Build classroom and gym addition to the building by 2019.

· Schmitz Park Elementary: Replace existing Genesee Hill building with a new/expanded facility on the Genesee Hill site; relocate Schmitz Park staff and students to the new facility by 2015 and repurpose the Schmitz Park building for elementary seats

· Wilson Pacific: Replace building with a new elementary and a new middle school for additional capacity by 2017.

· Wing Luke Elementary: Replace existing building with a new/expanded facility by 2020.

· World School program: Relocated to remodeled TT Minor.

Additional projects in the BEX IV plan include:

· Maintaining and enhancing technology: Install wireless networks in every school and make needed hardware upgrades in the classroom; upgrade parent and student portals, improve academic/business systems; enhance student file storage; automate processes; improve legal compliance; renovate aged network; enhance disaster recovery.

· Earthquake safety improvements: Seismic upgrades to 37 schools, improving safety for students and staff in case of an earthquake – Adams Elementary, Jane Addams K-8, Aki Kurose Middle School, Alki Elementary, Beacon Hill International Elementary, Catharine Blaine K-8, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Dearborn Park Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, Franklin High School, Gatewood Elementary, Graham Hill Elementary, Ingraham High School, Kimball Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Leschi Elementary, Lowell Elementary, Maple Elementary, McClure Middle School, McGilvra Elementary, Mercer Middle School, Mountlake Elementary, Muir Elementary, North Beach Elementary, Northgate Elementary, Orca Elementary (Whitworth building), Rainier Beach High School, Rogers Elementary, Roxhill Elementary, Sacajawea Elementary, Sand Point Elementary, Thornton Creek School (Decatur building), View Ridge Elementary, Washington Middle School, Wedgwood Elementary and Whitman Middle School.

· School safety and security: Install integrated security camera systems at 10 middle school buildings – Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Jane Addams, Madison, McClure, Meany, Mercer, Washington, Whitman and Wilson Pacific; and at nine high schools – Ballard, Cleveland, Franklin, Garfield, NOVA (Mann building), Rainier Beach, South Lake, West Seattle and World School.

· Lunchroom and common areas: Add new lunchrooms at Green Lake Elementary and McGilvra Elementary.

· Science labs: Build new science labs at Aki Kurose, Mercer, McClure and Eckstein middle schools.

· Roof work: Replace or repair roofing at Gatewood Elementary, Laurelhurst Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, Franklin High School and Whitman Middle School.

· Field and track improvements: Install new or replacement athletic fields and tracks at five schools; Eckstein Middle School, Ballard High School (track only), Cleveland High School, View Ridge Elementary (field only), and Thornton Creek School (field only).

· Interim downtown school: Funding for planning and support of an interim site, with funding for a permanent site dependent upon external partner funding.

Planning for the BEX IV Capital Levy began in January 2012 and has included participation by the School Board, the Facilities and Capacity Advisory Committee (FACMAC), the Classroom and Business Technology Advisory Committee (CABTAC), the BEX Oversight Committee, and feedback from individual citizens. Two sets of three regional community engagement meetings (a total of six meetings) were held in April and September 2012.

“This is a bold package,” said Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell. “I have complete confidence that this is very, very well thought out and offers real solutions to the challenges we have.”

Planning for the BEX IV Capital Levy began in January 2012 and has included participation by the School Board, the Facilities and Capacity Advisory Committee (FACMAC), the Classroom and Business Technology Advisory Committee (CABTAC), the BEX Oversight Committee, and feedback from individual citizens. Two sets of three regional community engagement meetings (a total of six meetings) were held in April and September 2012.

For additional information on BEX IV, please visit http://bit.ly/SPSBEX.

29 Comments

  1. I am glad that Schmitz Park school will remain as a school and the Genesse Hill site will be an additional school. That’s what “repurpose for elementary seats” mean, right? Remodel?

    Comment by WS concerned parent — 8:56 pm November 7, 2012 #

  2. Bleh

    Comment by evergreen — 9:40 pm November 7, 2012 #

  3. Keep SP a neighborhood school!!

    Boy, when this levy fails, look out below.

    Comment by I Wonder — 10:57 pm November 7, 2012 #

  4. The way its worded, it sounds like an option school for SP, not a neighborhood school. Otherwise, why not just come out and say that? No, I think SSD wants the incubator in one place and move SP permanently to GH. Boooo.

    Comment by I Wonder — 11:23 pm November 7, 2012 #

  5. Voting no unless Schmitz Park is left and/or built where it currently is – next to Schmitz Park. Not “Schmitz Park at Genesee.” It’s not right.

    Comment by Nick — 2:18 am November 8, 2012 #

  6. Is 1240 still not decided yet? How will that change things?

    Comment by Bonnie — 7:07 am November 8, 2012 #

  7. Also voting no. I don’t like the secrecy -what is happening at Fairmount? Neighborhood school or option? Just say it. And not happy with what’s happening at SP.

    Comment by A — 7:13 am November 8, 2012 #

  8. Is everyone aware there are TWO levies to vote on in Feb to get this lump sum of money? Not one vote. Good luck everyone, I doubt we’ll see the all the money approved, based on comments I read here and elsewhere.

    Comment by AH Mom — 8:44 am November 8, 2012 #

  9. Man, I hate to think about what will happen if this doesn’t pass. The only people who are “gonna get the message” will be the kids who will be sitting on top of each other in crowded, delapidated and crumbling buildings. Everytime you drive by a new development in West Seattle and notice a larger number of units replacing single family homes, ask yourself where that population will send its kids to school – because you can be sure that real estate developers don’t care about whether the district is sent a message or not. They’ll keep adding density to our area, which can be a great thing, but those kids need classrooms. If you think it’s bad now, just think how bad it will be in a few years without new or upgraded facilities. I’m irritated with poor decisions SPS has made in the past too but I hope my child doesn’t have to have a classroom in a moldy broomcloset because we think we’re “sending a message” by voting this down.

    Comment by N.A. Neighbor — 9:49 am November 8, 2012 #

  10. There are a couple of old sayings that come to mind when I think about these levies.. Throwing good money after bad– fool me once shame on you — fool me twice( 3 times -4 times – etc.) shame on me. We keep giving money to SPS only to year after year see scandal & mismanagement.when there is true accountability & trustworthiness is when I will vote in favor of another levy . It is time for change- I’m hoping that 1240 passes- maybe competition will wake up/ shake up SPS.
    Right now- other than private schools SPS is the only game in town & they can do whatever they want!

    Comment by Anne — 9:54 am November 8, 2012 #

  11. We’re at Schmitz and I beg you, please don’t vote ‘no’ on the levy. There need to be waayyy more elementary seats added in West Seattle and the new school at GH will go a long way to ease the overcrowding at all the north end schools. I couldn’t care less what is called by what name … we need more seats. As far as secrecy goes, I believe they will not say what’s happening with FP until they know whether or not the levy has passed. If the levy does not pass, they have no choice but to make it a neighborhood school and redraw the boundaries to pull off a bunch of SP families and also WS Elem. families, possibly Gatewood, too. If the levy does pass, they might be able to make it STEM’s location.

    Comment by JenS — 10:06 am November 8, 2012 #

  12. Sorry, but these taxes and increasing cost of living are adding up to be serious money. This might be money well spent – maybe – but you can’t “get blood from a turnip” as my dad used to say.

    Comment by G — 11:35 am November 8, 2012 #

  13. I am begging – voting no won’t send a message to anyone at SPS. It will send a message STRAIGHT to every kid in West Seattle.
    Please vote yes to the BEX’s.

    Comment by WSMama3 — 11:40 am November 8, 2012 #

  14. WSMama3-what WILL send a message to SPS??? What kind of message are we sending to our kids by contuinuing to fund a subpar & mismangaged School District? When do we say enough!!?? When should we expect SPS to change? They have a monopoly-they do what they went, when they want, how they want.If left alone-they will never change-perhaps by forcing them to compete that will be the change they need-we need & our kids deserve!

    Comment by Anne — 12:25 pm November 8, 2012 #

  15. We need a State Income Tax! That way the house-rich older people don’t get stuck with the high property taxes.

    Comment by BMC — 12:51 pm November 8, 2012 #

  16. I agree with N.A. Neighbor.
    .
    IMO, the last 5 or 6 years has been “build baby build” without thought given to the impacts. Our current school “situation” is just one example. Not smart growth. I feel like I can complain here because I’ve tried to do my part by going to DPD meetings and talking with officals but my concerns have been brushed aside. Hate to say I told ya so but ..
    .
    So, as with most things, someone has to clean up the mess created by others so I beg you to vote for BEX. I will be voting yes.

    Comment by John Q Public — 2:10 pm November 8, 2012 #

  17. Here is an example of a district where the previous levy did not pass and the havoc it is causing due to inadequate funding:

    http://www.opb.org/news/series/learningwithless/learning-with-less-beaverton-teachers-weather-domino-effect-/

    This is the kind of nightmare I am most concerned about if BEX fails. Is this really what we want for our schools? Just because we are angry at the district? Our kids will pay the price for our anger and that is not the answer here.

    Comment by kayo — 2:14 pm November 8, 2012 #

  18. Part of me sooooo wants to vote no on the BEX but I won’t. The children of West Seattle deserve decent classrooms.

    Comment by Bonnie — 2:21 pm November 8, 2012 #

  19. I don’t know the answer to that Anne. SPS is a broken system.
    Not funding them does not change that fact. What it does is do is kids in unsafe schools, overcrowded schools, and creates a system where the rich pull out to private schools (better schools overall) and people who can’t afford private are stuck with a sub-par educational system. You end up screwing the members in our community most screwed.

    SPS is broken. I agree – fight it, change it, but don’t do it at the expense of kids who don’t have other options.

    Comment by WSMama3 — 2:30 pm November 8, 2012 #

  20. By voting this down, though, Anne, you’re not forcing SPS to compete. You’re forcing it to fail. You’re giving it another shove into the failure zone. Past mistakes can never be fixed and things can’t move forward without the funds to do so, even with the best administration and school board imaginable. Am I angry about the mistakes made in the past? You bet I am. Am I concerned about the way some decisions are made? Absolutely. But, my kids are SPS kids and if this fails, the conditions in which they are educated will be DISMAL. What other choice do we have? Sorry, but I can’t fund the only other option out there (private schools) and neither can most parents. The collateral damage of this method of sending a message is too great. Don’t vote it down, please!

    Comment by N.A. Neighbor — 2:36 pm November 8, 2012 #

  21. Sorry – disagree they would have to step up & compete. The “what other choice do we have ?” perspective is in my view one of the reasons SPS continue their poor management! The public continues to demand change but to what avail? There IS another choice if 1240 passes. Don’t give SPS more of our money to waste. Our children deserve better..Vote NO!

    Comment by Anne — 3:28 pm November 8, 2012 #

  22. I’ll be voting YES but will be paying close attention as things progress. Excited about the idea of walking my little one to Genessee Elementary (or whatever it will be called).

    Comment by Lou — 3:39 pm November 8, 2012 #

  23. I’m with Anne! The school system has become imperialistic. They do not listen to what is being recommended or mentioned by parents and neighbors; i.e. maybe we can find money for AH, we hope to have elementary classes at Schmitz. Empty promises not even up to being called promises! And this is before the levy vote! Imagine what will happen once they have the money?! By saying NO they will be forced to rework the levy. It’s ridiculous to say the children will be harmed. The proposal will simply have to be reworked.

    Comment by Trying! — 3:58 pm November 8, 2012 #

  24. I am also a Schmitz Park parent, and I dearly want Schmitz to remain where its– as a neighborhood school. I also think AH needs to be rebuilt, like, yesterday.

    I would never, ever in a million years consider voting down a capital and or operations levy for a public school system, especially the one my child attends. These are not “gee it would sure be nice if…” or “icing on the cake” wish lists.

    “BEX IV projects were chosen based on four criteria: 1) safety and security, 2) capacity needs, 3) building condition, and 4) maximizing flexibility for programs and services.”

    Schools are desperately, ILLEGALLY underfunded. Unfortunately, levies are necessary in order to maintain the BASICS.

    Also, please educate yourselves on the charter schools issue. Not only do they take money away from already underfunded schools, they do not do a better job of educating kids. Seattle has great existing alternative schools, and now Creative Approach Schools. Why bring in non-profits that are tax shelters for billionaires? If you think SPS is “imperialistic,” try dealing with folks who have no legal accountability to you or your children.

    And yeah, we need a state income tax.

    Comment by BelvidereMom — 7:38 pm November 8, 2012 #

  25. If you want to send a message to SPS school board, email them. That is the most effective way to get your opinion heard/read and it takes no more time that writing your opinion here on the blog.
    Voting no will really effect student numbers and how much longer it will take for buildings to be rebuilt. I understand the frustration that a lot of people feel over bad SPS management. The district is just too doggone big. But until citizens can figure out a way to break the district up into smaller regional districts that can be effectively managed, we have to think of our students and their best interest now.

    Comment by WS concerned parent — 11:27 pm November 8, 2012 #

  26. Accountability– now there is a word the SPS should learn. For YEARS we have passed levies- given SOS our trust to improve education & learning environment for our kids . They have failed — in my view anyway. Emailing- sure go ahead- attend meetings & hearings- we’ve done that too . But how long do we continue to walk this path? Yes please educate yourself on Charter Schools — they can / will be a viable addition/alternative to our current school system.

    Comment by Anne — 7:13 am November 9, 2012 #

  27. Anne, Charter Schools is a whole different issue. These levies are different. My children are benefitting from the passage of the last round of levies as we speak in the form of desperately needed new windows and desperately needed new technology for their building. That is not waste – that is basic necessity. Furthermore, you may have noticed that this next round includes earthquake safety enhancements for 37, THIRTY SEVEN, schools. If the big one hits during a school day, stop and think about how many children that impacts. Is that still wasteful? Anyway, you will vote your conscious and I will vote mine – despite my frustrations, I can’t put all those kids at risk because I want to send the district a message. To send the district a message, I will roll up my sleeves and try to be part of the solution instead of grumbling on the sidelines.

    Comment by N.A. Neighbor — 8:19 am November 9, 2012 #

  28. N.A.Neighbor-this will be my last word on the subject. Yor are right we will each vote our consciences -you say “despite your frustration” I say to bring about change & stop sending the message to SPS that we accept their mismanagement.
    To my mind-this IS being part of the solution-not continuing with a Lemming-like mindset-continuing to follow-follow-follow right over the edge.I agree Charter Schools is a different issue-but if 1240 passes it will bring about change & options-which will be good for everyone-but especially good for our children.

    Comment by Anne — 9:34 am November 9, 2012 #

  29. I am SO opposed to closing SP school and moving to a new building at the Genessee site! We chose the school because it was a small neighborhood school with a beautiful park surrounding it and felt like a great, friendly environment.
    What I’m sad about is all the portables being moved onto the playground, the lack of adequate bathrooms to accomodate and lack of ‘small town’ feel it once had. Even the staff is not as cohesive as it once was. LEAVE SP ALONE! and put money into the SP site!

    Comment by Genessee neighbor — 6:45 pm November 10, 2012 #

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