Westside School days away from dedicating new campus; EC Hughes likely to reopen as public elementary

Westside School is finishing the transformation of the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church campus into its new permanent home. Westside (a longtime WSB sponsor) has announced August 29th – one week from tomorrow – as the date for its grand opening:

Westside School will host the grand opening of its new campus on Saturday, August 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in West Seattle’s Arbor Heights neighborhood. The Westside School community will gather to celebrate the move into its permanent home with a ribbon cutting, tours, food trucks and more.

Construction at the new location began in early 2013. The building is a complete renovation of the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church and features 53,000 square feet dedicated to teaching and learning: 27 classrooms; light-filled, child centered work spaces; a beautiful library; separate, team-oriented middle school classrooms; a 450 seat auditorium; green space, and warm and inviting gathering spaces where students, teachers, parents and visitors can connect, share, and meet.

Westside School was founded in 1981 by a group of educators and parents who wanted a positive and self-esteem building school experience for their children. Today, Westside School is the only accredited NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools) pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school located in West Seattle, with 340 students enrolled in for the 2015 – 2016 school year. Over the past few years, the school has grown into one of the largest pre-kindergarten through eighth grade independent schools in the region. Westside School’s mission is to prepare students for the world by challenging them to achieve academic success and by connecting their human spirit to imagination and learning.

Westside’s administration has moved to the new campus, while its camp and Sing Out Seattle will continue their programs at the school’s old campus, the former EC Hughes Elementary, until summer’s end. The plan for what happens to that campus in Sunrise Heights, leased and fixed up by Westside five years ago and recently designated a city landmark, has changed:

While Seattle Public Schools had been saying Hughes would be used as an emergency/interim site after Westside’s move, the district is now moving toward renovating and reopening it to add more elementary capacity in West Seattle. It’s at on the list of proposed projects for one of the levies the district plans to take to Seattle voters next February. The district has not finalized the levy plan yet, but the Hughes plan is already on a “request for qualifications” the district circulated this summer (cached here – the district website is down as we finish this story):

Project #5: E.C. Hughes Elementary: Located at 7740 34th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98126 on a site area of approximately 160,736 sq. ft. The school was constructed in 1926 with a three story classroom addition completed in 1949. This project will modernize the existing 47,307 sq. ft. school to provide permanent space for up to 490 students, grades K-5. Construction is anticipated to begin by February 2018 and be substantially complete by July 2019. The construction budget is anticipated to be approximately $15 million to $17 million including hazardous material abatement and offsite improvements. Funding for the project is provided by the State through a Distressed School Grant and BTA IV capital levy dollars. If BTA IV is passed, the project total cost will be approximately $24 million to $26 million dollars.

Before the BTA levy is finalized, the district plans a series of community meetings next month, including one in our area – 6:30 pm Monday, September 28th, at West Seattle High School.

5 Replies to "Westside School days away from dedicating new campus; EC Hughes likely to reopen as public elementary"

  • AmandaKH August 22, 2015 (7:08 am)

    So is that the list of new projects on the proposed Levy? I know it’s cached – but I don’t see Roxhill there…

  • Extracrispy August 22, 2015 (10:37 am)

    That is interesting news about the future of the EC Hughes building. Our child’s preschool just relocated into the portables outside the main building recently. I wonder if they will have to move again.

  • Melissa Westbrook August 22, 2015 (12:05 pm)

    Just to quickly note, the district got state funds for E.C. Hughes and Magnolia to reopen them as noted by WS Blog. (I believe each building gets about $5M.) But I guess they need more money to reopen them, hence E.C. Hughes on the BTA IV list.

    A couple of things to note about the BTA IV levy:

    – this will be the first Seattle Schools levy (BTA IV plus the other one, the Operations levy) where charter schools operating in Seattle district boundaries, will get their share of funds from BOTH levies. That means fewer dollars for Seattle Schools. There will be two open charters that will receive funds if the levies pass – First Place Scholars and Summit Sierra. (I believe they will get funds on how many students they have enrolled.)

    – Mayor Murray has a $900M+ transportation levy on the ballot in November. King County Executive Dow Constantine has a nearly $400M levy on the ballot in November. The school district levies comes on the ballot in Feb. 2016 and will probably clock in at nearly $900M.

    I think Seattle voters are the most generous people but that is a LOT of money to say yes to. Will Seattle voters say yes to all of that? It’s hard to say.

    I think that some voters might believe that with McCleary dollars coming in, maybe the district doesn’t need those operations dollars. Or, parents who are unhappy with the district’s efforts around capacity management (and that’s throughout the city) and see that district working hard to give the City space (and resources) for the City preschool program, may think that voting for BTA IV is not going to help their school building.

    The district is really going to have to sell these levies and it’s going to be a tough job.

    Meanwhile, Seattle Schools continues to grow.

  • MOVE! Seattle PLEASE! August 23, 2015 (8:32 pm)

    And the Seattle teacher’s union is asking for a 21% pay increase over the next 3 years! Is that McCleary dollars in their eyes?!?!

  • Seattle Educator August 24, 2015 (9:43 pm)

    To Move! Seattle Please! I am not sure you understand how teacher pay works. Teachers are paid in part by the state which is their base salary, and the rest of their pay is from their district. In Seattle, the average teacher makes $50,000 roughly. Of that pay, only about $12,000 comes from the district. The teachers are asking for a 7% increase each year for 3 years from the district. This is $840 a year. Over 3 years this is about a 5% raise based on their total salary.

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