West Seattle STEM PTA proposes ‘two viable alternatives’: Fairmount Park, or K-8 at Boren

August 1, 2013 at 10:51 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 53 Comments

As West Seattle’s public STEM elementary school approaches the start of its second year, Seattle Public Schools is preparing to make decisions including a permanent home for that school. Two months ago, SPS went public with a preliminary proposal to house STEM in the current Schmitz Park Elementary, once it’s vacated in 2016, when the new Genesee Hill school is ready. This week, the STEM PTA announced two counterproposals, in advance of a round of meetings starting with one that the PTA’s executive board is convening next week: Move STEM to the Fairmount Park building when it reopens, expanded, in 2014, or keep it at Boren and expand it to K-8. The proposals are detailed in this letter, which PTA president Robin Graham shared with WSB on request after circulating it within the school community:

West Seattle STEM proposal


(If you can’t see the embedded document, get the PDF version here.) The K-8 idea has percolated for a while; yesterday, even before the STEM PTA went public with its letter, there were related discussions in this thread on the Seattle Schools Community Forum website. The district’s website has information here about what’s officially called the Enrollment Planning/Growth Boundaries process – including a community meeting planned at West Seattle High School on September 25th, before decisions are finalized later this fall.

UPDATE: As noted in comments, the meeting on Monday is now at Boren, NOT SW Library, so that more participation can be accommodated.

53 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting. Looking forward to hearing from the greater West Seattle community and our school community.

    Comment by wsmama3 — 11:34 am August 1, 2013 #

  2. Thanks for getting the word out! I’d like to add a point based on my understanding of the timing of School Board decision making: While the Board won’t officially vote on the final growth boundary maps until November, there is a Growth Boundaries working session on Sept 17th to finalize the plans to present to the Board for that future vote.
    .
    My sense (based on discussions at the first two “Let’s Talk” community meetings) is that the September 25th Community Engagement meeting is more to inform the community and answer questions than to collect additional data points to inform the recommendation.
    .
    If our community wants to impact the recommendations, it needs to happen now.

    Comment by Mom 2.0 — 11:59 am August 1, 2013 #

  3. Outstanding! It looks like the STEM PTA is putting much more empirical thought into this than the School Board!

    Comment by DW — 12:00 pm August 1, 2013 #

  4. This is great. Frankly, Schmitz should be bulldozed. The quality of the educational facilities there (dismissing the portables outright) is bad. Per SPS facility survey not as bad as Arbor Heights, but that’s a low bar.

    Comment by walnut — 12:24 pm August 1, 2013 #

  5. I’m not sure if the Boren building is big enough for a K-8, but if it is, that sounds like a good idea. Might convince us to stay in the neighborhood.

    Comment by TheOtherDude — 12:48 pm August 1, 2013 #

  6. TheOtherDude – Love the name. Boren is very large and could easily fit a K-8. Think 650+

    Comment by wsmama3 — 3:29 pm August 1, 2013 #

  7. Wow a building that only houses 217? My school had 750 in the early 1990s and had over crowding problems and boundary issues. I hope that new levy isn’t replacing these one room school houses with more one room school houses.

    Comment by trickycoolj — 4:21 pm August 1, 2013 #

  8. According to SPS documents, Boren has a capacity, without portables, of 835 and over 1100 with portables.

    Comment by StringCheese — 4:39 pm August 1, 2013 #

  9. Boren could definitely hold a K-8. It had 800 middle school students and 40 “teaching stations” when it opened in the 60s.

    Boren makes a LOT of sense for STEM, especially if the SPSD plan was to keep it there a least until 2017 – it will have grown so much by then and cramming it into the Schmitz Park building would be completely counterproductive to the goals of relieving overcrowding.

    Comment by Ms. A — 5:08 pm August 1, 2013 #

  10. I hope Fairmount becomes the permanent home for STEM !

    Comment by Seaview — 10:22 pm August 1, 2013 #

  11. Meeting on Monday has been changed from the SW Library to Boren!

    Also to clarify – 650+ was what we could take NOW without any more wings being opened. If and when the other wing comes on line String Cheese has the right numbers.

    Comment by wsmama3 — 10:23 pm August 1, 2013 #

  12. Leave them at Boren. Fairmont should be neighborhood school.

    Comment by B. — 8:17 am August 2, 2013 #

  13. I’m impressed how K5STEM proposals have evolved! The idea of a K8 STEM school at Boren really is appealing. It makes sense to utilize that large space and grow the option. And if they can expand into a K8, it seems very do-able to then make a clear pathway by developing and offering STEM at WSHS. Having IB at Chief and STEM at WS would be great for West Seattle. Sounds like a winning scenario that addresses alleviating capacity and allowing access to strong HS programs for both the north end and south end. Well done.

    Comment by Thoughtful — 9:17 am August 2, 2013 #

  14. As a North Delridge neighbor I am a big fan of the stem school staying at Boren. I also think WS could use another K8 option school and especially one with a stem focus. It seems wasteful to spend additional funds to ship the stem school over to Schmitz Park when it is already established at Boren and can continue to grow there. Our neighborhood has lived with the blighted/abandoned Boren property for years and it has been so refreshing to see a lively functioning school housed there. I do agree with the STEM PTA that populating Fairmount as a neighborhood school could be a challenge though. This will be a forcing function though with the coming boundary redraws. Even though I am not a STEM parent, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the STEM PTA on this issue. They made me think a lot about all the options. I hope this also makes the district put more thought into the best solution. Nice work.

    Comment by kayo — 10:02 am August 2, 2013 #

  15. A K8 school makes a lot of sense. The middle schools are also crowded, and aren’t most option schools K8? Pathfinder at least is, and it seems to be working well for them. The wait list for Pathfinder is so long, and it would be nice if at least one of the option schools had enough room for those who would like to attend.

    Comment by Mary — 10:29 am August 2, 2013 #

  16. I am so happy to see community support for K-8 @ Boren!

    We have raised the possibility from day one, but we had not pursued it since we were always instantly shut down with “no, we need the building ‘in case’”. But, we are also hearing from the district that this is a time of doing what’s necessary and not what is a luxury. So, in case of what? A capacity crisis? It’s necessary to add capacity and a luxury to spend money maintaining an empty building (we were put there partly because someone had to occupy it to avoid added cost of re-opening later). We have been told that many districts do not have the luxury of a vacant buildings just in case. If there’s a true emergency such that an entire school would need to be temporary located, there are other spaces, city, county, and state resources to appeal to. Come on, the state and city aren’t going to turn their backs on an emergency.

    Anyways, in recent meetings, district staff seem more open to the idea of letting us stay at Boren and we were told to put together a proposal. It’s an option that makes sense for the whole of WS for a lot of reasons and one that does not need to divide the community. So, I’m hoping you will all speak up – we can’t get traction on this idea unless they hear from the community (beyond just us at K-5 STEM) loud and clear to start thinking beyond the knee-jerk reaction that we need to keep Boren empty.

    Comment by Heidi A — 11:20 am August 2, 2013 #

  17. Why not go private? Then you can have your cake and eat it too.

    Comment by brandon — 12:09 pm August 2, 2013 #

  18. brandon, our “cake” is offering project-based STEM education to anyone who is interested, regardless of socio-economic status. Our desire for diversity and equity is what is behind our resistance to placement at Schmitz. So, I’m not quite sure what kind of point you are trying to make with your somewhat snarky comment…

    Comment by StringCheese — 12:47 pm August 2, 2013 #

  19. I love the K-8 STEM idea. The lack of options for middle school is going to catch up with us fast. Keeping STEM at Boren and expanding the programs seems to really use the current resources available. Plus some of us hesitate to go down the K-5 STEM route due to the lack of middle school STEM options.
    -
    I also agree that there needs to be a new elementary school. I just don’t think STEM should be wrapped up in the neighborhood school dispute when it is an option school. West Seattle needs another elementary school in addition to the seats provided by K-5 STEM

    Comment by AEL — 1:40 pm August 2, 2013 #

  20. Like Heidi A. said – we’ve been trying since literally DAY 1 to have conversations about Middle School, capacity, location, and long-term solutions with SPS.

    Also to echo Heidi A. – come and be part of the decisions. This is not just our school and community. This effects 1,000′s of kids and as a PTA we want to make this work for the entire community.

    As for “having my cake” by going private – that is an option for some families. For those who do not have that option public school is the cake. I’d like to think I’m mixing up a good batter and making it good cake FOR ALL KIDS in this community. Sorry – snarky must be met with bad analogy. Bottom line – “good” schools are not just for those who can pay for private educations.

    AEL – you are right. When you look at the numbers we need more seats in West Seattle. EC Hughes, Fairmount Park, Schmitz Park, a new (YEAH!) bigger school for Arbor Heights – lots of things are happening. We as a K-5 STEM community already are at capacity at EC Hughes and Schmitz Park which is why we have been trying to have a conversation about where to go and options for this community for 18 + months.

    I hope more community members join us in thinking big and we have some long-term solutions come through.

    Thanks for the conversation and thoughts.

    Comment by wsmama3 — 2:34 pm August 2, 2013 #

  21. Using Boren as a K8 is incredibly short sighted and the PTAs views while well intentioned are very myopic. The notion that Boren is not needed for other reasons is simply not correct.

    The current BEX is adding three new middle schools to follow up after years of elementary school growth. The top of the list when the next BEX rolls around is going to be another middle school for West Seattle to handle middle school enrollment when all these children get a little bit bigger.

    Don’t repurpose your next middle school as a K8.

    Comment by Katie — 4:55 pm August 2, 2013 #

  22. I echo Katie’s remarks…

    DON’T re-purpose a middle school building (Boren) as a K-8.

    If there is a looming middle school capacity crisis in West Seattle, of the magnitude that has been experienced in NE Seattle, a STEM K-8 at Boren, even if it “mushrooms” (has more classes per grade in grades 6-8 than in grades K-5), will not provide enough seats to effectively manage middle school capacity.

    If there is concern about a middle school pathway for STEM students, perhaps a better tactic would be to lobby for more STEM electives at the West Seattle comprehensive middle schools. Doing this would benefit all kids in West Seattle, not just those who attend the K-5 Stem program.

    Comment by Kim — 8:15 pm August 2, 2013 #

  23. Katie,
    We’ve thought about that. Heck – I’ve SAID that in meetings. We will need more middle school seats. Soon.

    Two other ideas – the old Denny site could be used for a new middle school (assuming you get the next BEX).

    STEM K-8 could get a new location and the Boren site could be used as a middle school alone (again assuming that you get the next BEX).

    Lot’s of options -and I hope SPS starts thinking long term. See above – we’ve been saying “hey! what about middle school in West Seattle?!” for as long as we’ve been at the table.

    I’ve used the word “myopic” for SPS – first time it’s ever been used on me! :)

    Comment by wsmama3 — 8:30 pm August 2, 2013 #

  24. @Katie, my understanding is the next BEX funding (BEX V) will come into play 6.5 years from now… when this year’s 5th graders are almost out of high school. I’ve learned a lot about the SPS planning and decision making process this past year and am wondering how you know a third WS middle school is at the top of the list for BEX V when the new BEX IV funding is still being sorted out? And the bigger question, can we wait that long?

    Comment by Mom 2.0 — 8:59 pm August 2, 2013 #

  25. Katie,

    There were about 475 more middle school seats in West Seattle last year than resident students. The district expects our middle school population increase will be between 375 and 775 seats.

    If they’re right, we’ll need at most 300 new middle school seats. Boren can hold 760 students (so maybe 450 elementary and 300 middle school.)

    This might not be a bad idea.

    Comment by Lynn — 9:12 pm August 2, 2013 #

  26. One other point regarding repurposing a middle school building as a K-8: Boren is already being repurposed as a K-5 and the current district recommendation is to do so for a minimum of three more years.

    Comment by Mom 2.0 — 9:13 pm August 2, 2013 #

  27. What sense would there be to have three middle schools within one mile of each other?

    The old Denny site was not sized for a MS. It can handle a 450 K-5. It should go to Roxhill, so that school can have a decent boundary. Of course this is down the road some. Now there’s a nice language immersion/international school pathway. Plus there’s the SW Community Center and SW athletic center right next door.

    Comment by Huh~ — 10:27 pm August 2, 2013 #

  28. The District does not need the Boren building as an interim site. The four secondary schools in West Seattle have all been recently renovated and should not need renovation again for at least thirty years. The District will have two vacant elementary school sites available (Schmitz Park and E C Hughes) for use as interim sites for elementary programs.

    The District does not need the Boren building as an additional middle school site. No enrollment projections for West Seattle indicate any such need.

    These are false fears.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 1:53 am August 3, 2013 #

  29. Make a list of the District-identified problems to be solved:

    1) A permanent location for K-5 STEM at Boren
    2) Additional elementary attendance school capacity for West Seattle
    3) An optional 1-8 APP pathway for West Seattle students
    4) Inequitable access to programs – there is no option school and no K-8 school in the Denny service area

    The solutions are clear:

    A) Re-open Fairmount Park as an attendance area elementary school. It sits right in the no man’s land between the elementary schools in the north and those in the south.
    B) Leave K-5 STEM at Boren, extend it into a K-8, and designate it as an optional APP site (like Ingraham)

    - The Boren site isn’t needed as an interim site
    - Neither Schmitz Park nor E C Hughes is an appropriate choice for K-5 STEM. Either one would require significant capital improvements costing tens of millions of dollars.
    - It makes no sense to spend $50 million to move students out of the portables at Schmitz Park just to move other students into portables at Schmitz Park
    - It makes no sense to move students from real classrooms at Boren to portables at Schmitz Park
    - No other school has room for the APP students or could more easily accommodate them

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 2:18 am August 3, 2013 #

  30. Charlie,
    I have a few questions about the option of locating APP at K-5 STEM at Boren.
    1. Are you thinking the APP students would be mainstreamed into the general Ed classrooms?
    2. Would the APP students be guaranteed a spot?
    3. Would this adjust the tiebreakers to get into the STEM option school?
    Thanks. I just want to understand what advocating for APP to be placed at K-5 STEM at Boren would mean.

    Comment by HPMom — 7:57 am August 3, 2013 #

  31. @HPMom,

    We already have a model for optional APP, the IBX program at Ingraham.

    1. It is possible that the APP students could be in separate classes – or not. That’s something that would have to be worked out. The PBL used at STEM facilitates differentiated instruction, so separate classes might not be necessary.

    2. No. No guarantee.

    3. Probably no adjustments in tie-breakers either. Of course, it could be done the same way as Spectrum enrollment is done now in which the seats are set-aside, only not officially and not in accordance with any documented procedure.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 9:11 am August 3, 2013 #

  32. Following the conversation this morning at the Southwest Library with Director McLaren two things are clear.
    .
    1) The best path is to establish neighborhood schools at Fairmount Park and Schmitz Park and to extend K-5 STEM at Boren to a K-8.
    .
    2) The District is not going to make that choice because their process – secret committee holds secret meetings and follows a secret process based on secret criteria – is driven by internal politics rather than logic or data.
    .
    This is the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. This is the source of the rapid turnover at the top. People don’t leave high positions at the district because Betty Patu asked them a couple questions. They leave to escape the toxic culture and politics of the headquarters.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 5:59 pm August 3, 2013 #

  33. If STEM is made into a K-8 at Boren, how will Arbor Heights be co-housed with them for two years, from 2014 to 2016 while they rebuild AH (the current plan?) It is going to be extremely crowded and confusing housing two separate elementaries at one school as it is…..I think the proposal should include a suggestion to remedy this issue. Maybe EC Hughes could house AH for two years while they rebuild.

    Comment by WSJade — 7:49 pm August 3, 2013 #

  34. WSJade – that is what we proposed. Again – several options open – but that was under consideration when we made this proposal.

    Comment by Mama3boys — 9:15 pm August 3, 2013 #

  35. STEM should be an optional K-8 at Boren. The PTA leadership has done a stellar job in designing an equitable and sensible proposal. I agree with Charlie Mas in all of his points, too.

    Comment by evergreen — 9:22 pm August 3, 2013 #

  36. As far as this cycle of boundary growth and BEX IV…
    Boren- STEM K8
    WSHS- STEM
    Chief Sealth- IB
    Fairmount Park- Neighborhood school and…Montessori?
    EC Hughes- Roxhill
    Roxhill- Arbor Heights interim
    Schmitz Park- Neighborhood School? WS APP? Other?

    If there would be WS APP, I can’t really wrap my head around APP middle school in West Seattle. Ideas? Eventual APP middle school at Boren, but co-housed with the STEM school?

    For APP pathways in HS… IBX at CSIHS and is there such a thing as STEM-X, or could/should there be for WSHS?

    I feel like in proposing STEM K8 Boren, it would be in the best interest to not include proposing Elementary APP there. I may be wrong, but seems like that’s opening a whole other can of worms that would not only complicate, but would majorly slow down any momentum this idea has. And there’s really no time for that. The District’s “Equitible Access to Advanced Learning” is going to be a mess, and if we’re looking for solutions beginning in 2014, I don’t think that we could rely on APP being part of it.

    Anything else while we’re at it this time around? West Seattle School District? Yes please.

    Comment by Thoughtful — 11:11 pm August 3, 2013 #

  37. Director McLaren met with community members today and provided the list of rationalizations for the staff’s recommendation, to move K-5 STEM to Schmitz Park.
    .
    Here they are:

    * Schmitz Park is located close to three attendance area schools, which suggests that it should be an option school.

    * Schmitz Park is a small building so the District wants the ability to cap the enrollment there, which indicates an option school.

    * An addition is possible at some later date for Schmitz Park

    * STEAM is coming to Arbor Heights, so this would create a STEM opportunity in the northern part of West Seattle while Arbor Heights is a STEM opportunity in the southern end of West Seattle

    * This was Carmela Dellino’s Vision. She has since left the District but they feel a sentimental loyalty to her idea.

    * Schmitz Park is a heritage site with lots of opportunity to study nature; just right for a STEM program

    * If Schmitz Park is an option school then it wouldn’t be subject to the rise and fall of enrollment.

    It goes without saying that all of these reasons are complete b.s. and that none of them reflect the eight guidelines for program placement in Board policy 2200.

    Here are the guidelines from the policy:

    1. Place programs or services in support of district-wide academic goals;
    2. Place programs or services equitably across the district;
    3. Place programs or services where students reside;
    4. Place programs or services in accordance with the rules of the current student assignment plan, and as appropriate, equitably across each
    middle school feeder region;
    5. Engage stakeholders in a timely and publicly visible manner by informing, involving, and/or consulting with them as appropriate, and
    consider their input in the decision-making process when feasible;
    6. Utilize physical space resources effectively to assure that instructional and program space needs are equitably met across the district;
    7. Ensure that fiscal resources are taken into consideration, including analyzing current and future fiscal impacts; and
    8. Analyze the impact of any decision before it is made, by using data, research and best practice

    The Board has directed the superintendent to deliver a program placement procedure. It was due in September 2012 after the staff had a full year to work on it. They missed that deadline. The Board set another deadline of April 2013. The staff missed that deadline as well. Now the Board has given up on it.

    Program placement decisions are being made in secret meetings by a secret committee through a secret procedure based on secret criteria. We don’t know who is making the decisions, how, when, or why. This is their commitment to transparency.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 1:39 am August 4, 2013 #

  38. I’m not as familiar with the STEM program infrastructure requirements, but it seems as if the latest technology/technical infrastructure would be best for a program such as this. With Fairmount currently under renovation, it seems like the easiest time to fit the school with these needs.

    Is this accurate, or even a consideration?

    Comment by WorldCitizan — 4:31 am August 4, 2013 #

  39. There is a huge demand for Singapore math and better science. Though Schmitz Park was a neighborhood rather than an option school, parents competed to get their kids into that school every year primarily because of the math curriculum. People moved into the Schmitz Park attendance zone because of this, and additionally there was always a huge waiting list to get in. The “program” has obviously outgrown the building, but now the district wants to place the same high demand math in a tiny little building so that they can restrict access to Singapore math and a better science curriculum? That makes no sense to me. Schmitz Park has a charming location, but STEM has utilized its creek across the street and Camp Long trails via walking field trips. STEM has already proved to be highly successful in just a year, parents are happy with it, so why place it in a closet where the district can cap enrollment? //

    And “loyalty” as a rationale is simply ridiculous. That’s emotion based and personal to a small group at SPS or the board, and has nothing to do with making a decision in the best interest of West Seattle families. If this is how the district makes decisions behind closed doors, no wonder it’s in such a continual mess.// As for a building with improved technological infrastructure — this is something all kids in the district deserve. STEM is not asking for, nor do they need, the best and most expensive resources above what other district kids use. They are not fighting for an inequitable solution. STEM utilizes technology, but more math/science has been successfully implemented via creative and out-of-the-box teaching. I wish my kid’s school had more money, but so does every other parent in this district in regards to their own kids. It’s not about having a fancy building, but rather access to more STEM teaching for the greatest number possible. Or STEAM — that sounds nice, too.

    Comment by evergreen — 8:32 am August 4, 2013 #

  40. kellie makes a good point on the Save Seattle Schools blog:

    “IMHO, I think high school is the big question. High schools take much longer to plan and are more complex to execute than an elementary school and we are soon going to be in desperate need of more high school seats.

    While there is a little space at WSHS and space at RB, all of the other schools are full and adding portables.

    So there is another potential need for Boren, as a home for Denny if Sealth winds up taking the rest of the campus to provide more high school seats in a few years.”

    http://www.saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2013/08/west-seattle-k-5-stem-debate-goes-on.html

    Comment by Huh~ — 10:29 am August 4, 2013 #

  41. There are immediate capacity problems and future capacity problems.
    .
    The immediate problem is the need for additional elementary capacity which is being addressed by re-opening Fairmount Park and Genesee Hill, by expanding Arbor Heights, and by providing for a lot of capacity at STEM by leaving it at Boren. We could also keep Schmitz Park open as a small program – either a neighborhood school or an option school.
    .
    There is a capacity need in the short-term future for an APP option for 1-8 in West Seattle which could be met most easily with a K-8 STEM at Boren, with a stand alone APP/Spectrum site at Schmitz Park, or with great disruption and the creation of new capacity problems at any existing neighborhood school. STEM at Boren is the only elementary or middle school with space for these students without serious disruption.
    .
    There is a need in the intermediate-term future for middle school capacity which could be addressed quickly and cheaply by extending STEM to a K-8 at Boren or with more effort and cost by adding capacity to Denny.
    .
    There is a need in the long-term future for high school capacity which could be addressed by moving Denny to Boren (which will create new problems with elementary and middle school capacity) and expanding Sealth to include the current Denny campus. Other solutions to the future high school capacity need include building additions at Sealth, creating a pathway for STEM students to Cleveland, or the creation of a boutique high school (such as The Center School, The NOVA Project, or Aviation High) either in West Seattle or close to it.
    .
    A new high school program could be located at Schmitz Park, if it isn’t used as an elementary school, at E C Hughes, if Roxhill doesn’t re-locate there, at Roxhill, if Roxhill does move to E C Hughes, at the former Denny site, or in some new space not currently in the District’s inventory.
    .
    Yes,there are upcoming capacity issues, but the extension of STEM to a K-8 at Boren doesn’t leave us without means for addressing them.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 12:47 pm August 4, 2013 #

  42. As a parent who lives close enough to walk to STEM at Boren, I didn’t choose that for my kid because it is so in flux. A dedicated K-8 at Boren would be a dream come true for so many families. Current STEM parents seem to love the building and the program. It seems to be a huge success and having to turn people away — why change it?

    Comment by Delridge mom — 5:34 pm August 4, 2013 #

  43. So, why does co-housing an APP program with the new neighborhood school at Fairmount Park not get any discussion? Nothing would be disrupted, the 60-200 APP students could be guaranteed spots (per District policy), and the remaining classrooms draw from the neighborhood.

    Comment by J — 8:10 pm August 4, 2013 #

  44. J,

    I think because the district says an elementary APP site should have at a minimum 250 to 300 students. I think this means they won’t assign students to a program that’s smaller than that. Charlie suggests that they might set up a program that’s an option for APP students to encourage them to stay in West Seattle.

    Lynn

    Comment by Lynn — 9:53 pm August 4, 2013 #

  45. Are all Option schools in seattle K-8? It seems most are, and if so, why would only Option schools have the opportunity to become a K-8? Middle school is such a difficult and challenging time; I would think keeping kids in their same school for grades 6-8 would be desirable….
    Just wondering about the rationale for K-5 vs. K-8, and why most middle schools are seperate ( and huge.) Thanks.

    Comment by WSJade — 10:14 pm August 4, 2013 #

  46. Can’t make it to the meeting tonight, but would love to see Advanced Learning options offered combined or next to STEM. I sent emails about this to Marty, but the Advanced Learning discussion isn’t up til later this year, she replied. So all options that would leave enough room to grew and to expand to K-8 or to add programs are desirable.

    Comment by Christine — 10:43 am August 5, 2013 #

  47. @ WSJade

    The default/assignment pathway for middle school in SPS is the comprehensive middle school model. The New Student Assignment Plan (NSAP) is based upon the elementary to middle school feeder pattern model.

    Comprehensive middle schools are generally larger in size than the middle school portion of a K-8 school, and with that comes larger budgets, and these schools can afford to offer a wider variety of middle school electives (art, music, technology, science, world languages, sports, etc…) than what is usually found in the smaller, more intimate, K-8 setting.

    Some large middle schools use the academy model, which breaks up the grade levels in a more manageable-sized groups, so that the school doesn’t feel so big, but can still offer a “comprehensive” education.

    Not all option schools are K-8s (i.e. Thornton Creek Elementary, is an option school, because it employs an “alternative” pedagogy).

    Not all K-8s are option schools. Blaine and Broadview-Thomson, for example, are K8s that are assignment schools for grades K-5, but option schools for grades 6-8. Kids at Blaine and Broadview-Thomson have the opportunity to leave the K-8 for a comprehensive middle school, if desired.

    Generally-speaking, by the time most kids get to 6th grade, a change in venue and a focus on the middle school student can be a good thing.

    -Kim

    Comment by Kim — 10:56 am August 5, 2013 #

  48. There is a lot of info on the net about the pros/cons of K8 vs MS. I would rather have my kids at a K8 for several reasons, no room here to delve into that topic.//Why not make Schmitz Park a special needs building, whether that is APP or autism or any other program where kids are not integrated with kids outside of their given program (ie. I’m not referring to special needs inclusion students). These programs already have defined curriculums, they just need space. By grouping all of the APP kids together, teachers could share best practices, support one another, and share ideas or staff. Same with other special needs groups housed together. It would also be nice if bathrooms were placed near classrooms so that kids with disabilities do not need to walk down a long hallway each time.

    Comment by evergreen — 10:57 am August 5, 2013 #

  49. @Katie and Kim -

    Boren will not be used at all during the current BEX unless it is used by STEM. There is currently no SPSD plan for using it as an interim site. The middle schools are being built in other neighborhoods, and they are using different interim sites.

    Check out the proposed building schedule and funding amounts – http://district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/facilities/bex/BEX%20IV%20Planning%20Scenarios%209-11-2012.pdf?sessionid=37f7b235064062cf027ca315b1cc5880.

    SPSD also has no plan for adding any middle school seats in WS, either in the current BEX or even in the next (unwritten, unplanned) BEX. We know we will need at least 300 middle school seats in coming years – why not use Boren for this purpose? It solves capacity issues, program needs and comes at a lesser cost that building a new site and leaving Boren empty most years.

    Comment by Ms. A — 10:25 pm August 7, 2013 #

  50. As a side note, SPSD simply was not prepared for an amazingly successful program in the 1st year – they funded STEM for 50 expected students, and there were nearly 250. The demand for strong math and science, and a project-based curriculum, is higher than they expected. A successful program like this should be expanded and supported so that more WS kids benefit.

    This does not prevent any other elementary (or Madison and Denny) from also having strong math and science programs – all schools should have this. But, limiting capacity at STEM does not serve the long-term goal of improving math and science at all schools in WS. STEM has a very cooperative and collaboratvie teacher and parent group. The PTA has continually expressed that it would be more than willing to coordinate with any WS school that wants to do project-based learning, or see how a STEM works. The PTA is amazing that way.

    Comment by Ms. A — 10:33 pm August 7, 2013 #

  51. Ms. A – Boren will be used by Arbor Heights Elementary starting one year from this fall. That plan was reiterated at the meeting about its proposed design tonight (I covered it and am writing the story now). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:36 pm August 7, 2013 #

  52. WSB – Clarification to your comment: It won’t just be Arbor Heights using Boren. The plan is to co-house Arbor Heights and STEM for a period of two years beginning with the 2014-15 school year (which brings up a whole slew of logistical concerns in itself). As far as we know, there are no plans to use Boren after the 2015-16 school year.

    Comment by Mom 2.0 — 10:33 am August 8, 2013 #

  53. Yes, I meant in addition to STEM. But (a) they’re working on the co-housing plan (see the Arbor Heights story we just published) and (b) as this story notes, STEM’s dream options could change things.

    Comment by WSB — 10:45 am August 8, 2013 #

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