With the students and staff from Schmitz Park Elementary moving into the new Genesee Hill Elementary, many have wondered what would happen to the SPE campus. Bits and pieces of information have emerged unofficially, and we’ve continued to ask the district for comment. Finally, this morning, the plan is out, as part of this announcement:
Seattle Public Schools is excited to announce that starting in fall 2016-17 families will be supported with expanded child-care options in West Seattle. SPS, in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, will be providing new child-care options in the Schmitz Park building as well as in the Genesee Hill and Lafayette Elementary buildings.
For many years, the need for child care has been growing across the City but reached a crisis level in West Seattle. Recognizing the growing need, former Lafayette Principal Robert Gallagher and Schmitz Park (now Genesee Hill) Principal Gerrit Kischner, along with Associate Superintendent of Capital and Facilities Dr. Flip Herndon and other central staff, Seattle School Board Director Leslie Harris, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, worked together and identified a solution to meet the needs of the districtâ€™s West Seattle families.
Details of the solution:
â€˘ Eighty child-care spots are planned for the new Genesee Hill Elementary school.
â€˘ The district has finalized a multi-year lease with the Associated Recreation Council (ARC), to provide additional child care at the Schmitz Park building. At least 100 new childcare spots are expected to be licensed and made available to waiting families.
â€˘ ARC staff will walk child-care students from Genesee Hill students the three blocks to the Schmitz Park building after school dismissal, just as they do currently in walking students between Lafayette and the Hiawatha Community Center. Once registration is complete, ARC will determine which students will remain at Genesee Hill for child care and which students will walk to Schmitz Park.
â€˘ Child-care registration and enrollment began on July 2 for the majority of waitlisted families.
â€˘ Additional child-care spots are also being added to Lafayette Elementary thanks to Hiawatha Community Center and Seattle Parks and Recreation.
The district wants to thank our community, Schmitz Park PTSA, and the City for supporting this solution for our shared families. We couldnâ€™t have done it alone. While we havenâ€™t been able to meet the needs of all our West Seattle families, we have made significant gains.
We also want to recognize the Schmitz familyâ€™s contribution to Seattle Public Schools and the West Seattle community. The Schmitz Park site opened as an annex to Genesee Hill Elementary in 1953 when Dietrich Schmitz served as President of the Seattle School Board and his brother, Henry, served as President of the University of Washington. In 1956, the assistant principal at Genesee Hill, Ms. Dorothy Jack, was appointed to open Schmitz Park School, and the current building was completed in 1962. With the start of the next school year, neighborhood students will return to Genesee Hill Elementary. SPS will retain the former school building in its inventory, and we are pleased it will remain open and serving families in West Seattle for the foreseeable future.
In keeping the building open, we not only meet the needs of our families but also reduce potential vandalism, ensuring SPS continues to be a good neighbor and steward of our resources.
Principal Kischner, who has been instrumental in development of the child-care plan, said, â€śThis agreement shows what we can get done when we work together. I am especially pleased that this multi-year lease will allow families to plan ahead and commit themselves to the long-term viability of the Schmitz Park-Genesee Hill community. It demonstrates the kind of partnership that can make a difference to neighborhoods throughout the city.â€ť
The SPS history of Schmitz Park Elementary is here. The school, at 5000 SW Spokane, is on land donated by the Schmitz family, which remained involved with the school for its decades of operation. They were part of the community celebration of the school that we covered back in June, and Vicki Schmitz Block and son Dietrich Schmitz represented the family as Grand Marshals in July’s West Seattle Grand Parade.