Move STEM K-8 so Boren could co-house Alki and Lafayette? Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, district explains

As mentioned here last week, Seattle Public Schools reps will be at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 tomorrow night for a meeting about the possibility that the district will seek to move the school to another building.

The STEM community has since received more elaboration from associate superintendent Flip Herndon about what’s being considered and why. He says that as the district plans its February 2019 BEX V ballot measure, with possible school renovation/reconstruction projects including Alki and Lafayette Elementaries, they’re assessing what they have for interim sites – and finding the inventory lacking. Boren had long been an interim site, Herndon notes, and is bigger than what’s left around the city. His statement says Alki and Lafayette might be rebuilt at the same time, and that would “require a site to accommodate more than 1,000 elementary students.” Herndon’s message continues:

Current possibilities on interim locations would still be John Marshall (in use until 2021), Original Van Asselt (in use 2018-2020), Roxhill, Schmitz Park, Webster (won’t be open for any use until 2020).

The possibility of having Boren used as an interim site, as it has been in the past, would clearly have an impact on the STEM K-8 School and any move would require that any new space would be able to meet the facility needs of the program, which would include lab spaces and rooms that are able to meet the academic needs of all students. We realize that there are some concerns about needs at any site they include spaces to support CTE programs, science, two PE teachers, athletics, seven special education programs, preschool, technology integration, and middle school programming in general. Furthermore, STEM K-8 will have experienced dramatic change and growth for four consecutive years through 2017-18. Moving to a facility with significant limitations will disrupt efforts to build consistency and stability in a new K-8 program. Timing is a challenge as well. Work has to be done in preparation for any site, interim or not, in the 2017-19 timeframe to be prepared for school needs. We are also looking at the balance of options within clusters of schools. We are trying to make sure every middle school attendance area has additional options for students and families.

We are having the conversations now so we can get the perspective and understanding of impacts before we make any final decisions on how we will be able to accommodate our physical capacity needs for the next 10-20 years. These decisions and conversations are not taken lightly and they are helping to have SPS be able to meet multiple demands from multiple communities. We are looking at making some decisions, at the earliest, in October 2017 and at the latest January 2018.

Meantime, the STEM PTA is making its case about why the school needs to stay at the location designated its permanent site in 2013, rather than make a move considered likely to be to the former Schmitz Park Elementary campus:

• In its current location, STEM is able to serve all of West Seattle. By contrast, the boundaries of Schmitz Park’s northwest location would negatively impact equitable access to the school for students in the community.

• STEM is the only option school in the Denny Middle School service area, and has a geographic zone aligned with West Seattle Elementary. That geozone would change if the school moves to Schmitz Park, which means placement of students from the less diverse, more affluent neighborhoods of West Seattle would take priority over students living in the central and south areas.

• The current capacity of the Schmitz Park building is 216 without portables. The public voted to approve the BEX IV levy, in part, to get children out of portables. Moving a school from an adequate site to one where 60% of students would be in portables disregards the wishes of the taxpayers and the goal of the District to provide permanent classrooms for West Seattle’s growing student population.

• STEM provides a unique project-based curriculum. The high demand for this type of curriculum, as demonstrated by our projected 2017-18 enrollment of 539 (and waitlist of 189), will continue to grow and can only be accommodated at Boren. STEM’s Special Education families depend on the valuable services offered at the school – any disruption to these services is unacceptable.

• Schmitz Park was designed as an elementary school and does not have the physical infrastructure to support middle-school programs and activities.

• A move to Schmitz Park will create logistical hardships for families living in the southern neighborhoods of West Seattle, increase transportation costs for the school district, and increase vehicle traffic in the residential neighborhood surrounding the location.

Thursday night’s meeting is at 6:30 pm at STEM K-8 (5950 Delridge Way SW).

31 Replies to "Move STEM K-8 so Boren could co-house Alki and Lafayette? Ahead of tomorrow's meeting, district explains"

  • Robinmama4 May 31, 2017 (3:02 pm)

    Thanks Tracy!

    More information on the STEM Event page:

  • buttercup May 31, 2017 (3:04 pm)

    My heart goes out to the Stem school. They have overcome so much and have the district disregard them like this is awful. one more example how screwed up this school district is. this school is doing great, leave them alone.

  • ThereAreNoWords May 31, 2017 (3:19 pm)

    Why not house Alki at Schmitz Park, and co-house Lafayette at Boren with STEM?  Arbor Heights shared the space with STEM, so it has been done before.  Why disrupt 3 schools when you would only need to disrupt two?

    • STEMMom May 31, 2017 (4:03 pm)

      The situation has changed a bit since then: STEM was K-5 the first year Arbor Heights was there, and added a relatively small 6th grade the second year (the rollup to K-8 was actually delayed so Arbor Heights could co-locate). STEM will be a full-blown, 540 student K-8 next year, with an additional 30+ preschool students. With a waitlist of 189, STEM could be bigger if allowed to grow to meet demand.

  • STEMParent May 31, 2017 (4:11 pm)

    The frustrating thing about this is that they’re still acting like Boren is an interim site, instead of the permanent home for STEM, which was assured to the STEM community years ago. There are concerns about moving students to “other interim” locations, but no reflection on the fact that Boren is no longer an interim site. 

    It is incredibly difficult and painful to feel as though the administration of the school department where you entrust your child can’t be trusted to keep promises made.

    • STEMDAD May 31, 2017 (4:59 pm)

      I fully agree with this statement. It’s similar to announcing that Schmitz Park or Arbor Heights students would have to leave their schools while Lafayette was being built. It doesn’t make sense to displace students from a school they call their home. I know we need more infrastructure and I’m all for creating it for new and existing students but there has to be a better way.

  • Amanda May 31, 2017 (4:50 pm)

    I wish I could attend the meeting tomorrow night! I think STEM has been so good for the Delridge corridor and I really appreciate the school being there for those kids. Makes me sick how the school district would like to displace three school potentially.

    Like or not we all want a new elementary school in our neighborhoods.

    I would like to see the STEM school stay at the Boren school

  • Josh Sutton, STEM dad May 31, 2017 (5:03 pm)

    While the costs show on different ledgers, the amount the district potentially  “saves” in running concurrent capital construction cannot possibly equal the impact of moving over 1,500 kids around between the three plus campuses, the additional busses, the upset parents, continued loss of trust in district leadership, etc.

    In STEM’s case, successfully growing grades 6-8 curriculum means the district will have additional capacity for these elementary kids who will soon need places to go to middle school in West Seattle.  that’s a long term gain that this disrupts.

    Between Roxhill, Schmitz Park & portables the school district has classroom capacity to rebuild Alki, and then Lafayette (or vice versa) and not disrupt an established, successful, growing STEM K-8 school.

    Why is this so hard to figure out?

  • FJ May 31, 2017 (6:04 pm)

    80% of Schmitz was in portables for YEARS. Leave STEM alone and put the other 2 at that site with portables. Problem solved. 

  • Kayo May 31, 2017 (6:55 pm)

    I am a Delridge resident and Pathfinder parent and am 100% in favor of keeping STEM at the Boren site.  For years, our neighborhood has either had that site sit empty or transiently occupied by schools being remodeled.  Having such a vibrant school in the heart of our neighborhood has been wonderful.  Stem is also a huge success based on its popularity (one of the longest waitlists in SPS for next year).  This despite the many challenges faced in getting this school started from the ground up and other issues along the way.  In addition, there is a middle school capacity crisis on the way in West Seattle.  Why not let STEM grow?  Same goes for Pathfinder’s middle school which also has a waitlist.  If you are looking for middle school capacity that would be a relatively inexpensive way to help alleviate that problem.  SPS needs to think this through and find another solution.  

  • WS mom May 31, 2017 (7:24 pm)

    This seems crazy.  First, West Seattle needs more middle school space–all those kids that filled up the elementary schools are now moving on and STEM is the only program with the space to grow.  Second, Schmitz Park was designed for elementary kids and does not have the appropriate infrastructure for teens.  Why not renovate Alki and Lafayette separately and their students can temporarily be at Schmitz?  Schmitz isn’t ideal since it is so small, but it seems that would have the least impact and is physically close to where those schools (and the students) are now.  I’m a Lafayette parent and not really excited about this option, but it is the most fair for everyone involved.

  • DelridgeDad May 31, 2017 (8:32 pm)

    Sorry if I’ve missed it, but is there a way to submit official comments on this for those that cannot attend the meeting? I’d hate to lose the school as a neighbor and parent of a potential future student.

    • Robin May 31, 2017 (10:19 pm)

      Delridge Dad – we are waiting till post meeting and will have an action plan in place ASAP! – Robin 

  • Joeyp May 31, 2017 (10:19 pm)

    this school district administration sucks beyond frustrated with my experience in it as a parent.

  • Lynn May 31, 2017 (10:27 pm)

    It’s not just Alki and Lafayette. The district is looking for interim space for students from Mercer Middle School (1,200 students) and Rainier Beach (600 to 700 students too. 

    • WSB May 31, 2017 (10:53 pm)

      That’s in the full Herndon statement, which we excerpted, with the West Seattle focus, as I wonder whether Alki and Lafayette families are fully aware of that possibility. I don’t have a weblink for the full statement but here’s a direct link to the STEM FB item:

    • Wsmom June 1, 2017 (10:00 am)

      Rainier Beach students have specifically asked the board for some way to remain at their school while the much needed construction of their school happens.  I have no idea what that would look like.  The idea of bussing all of Rainier Beach to say Boren as an interim site makes no sense and would be a real hardship on those families.

  • Christy May 31, 2017 (10:41 pm)

    Hey Flip – you keep screwing the same folks and you are going to have a hard time passing another levy. You might want to start thinking about that. STEM parents ralleyed behind Arbor Height getting a new school only to have them share our building for 18 months. Now give us the boot completely to help out two other schools? Why keep impacting the same school, why not help build up this new school & new program rather than throw roadblocks at it? I’m done with the district bulls–t and done with your levies. 

    • Belvedere Dad June 2, 2017 (12:37 am)

      Agree. The District’s planning is abysmal, and yet the processes never change. No transparency and no accountability. If it takes saying NO to BEX V to get them to wake up, so be it.

  • CM June 1, 2017 (6:14 am)

     One of the districts top priorities this academic year is closing the opportunity gap for minority students. It is sad but not surprising that Roxhill and other schools that serve a high needs population  are not getting any sort of renovations. Many of these schools are in far worse condition than Alki or Lafayette.  Just another example of the districts hypocrisy 

    • AmandaKH June 1, 2017 (8:10 am)

      CM. Roxhill is getting a renovated 1926 building whose draw boundary had to be redrawn in order to make it fit. The district clearly discriminates against lower income families, and the question is Why? 

      • STEMParent June 1, 2017 (10:24 am)

        The institutionalized racism inherent in any white supremacist organization (see critical race theory). To put it simply, white students matter more than black or brown students. Add class to that: white affluent students matter more than poor AND black or brown students. Alki Elem. and Lafayette Elem. are both in the north Admiral/Alki neighborhoods, which are affluent and predominantly white. (not same STEMParent as above)

        • DataDriven June 1, 2017 (7:26 pm)

          Actually, if you look at the data, the schools are pretty similar.  STEM has 29% free and reduced lunch, Lafayette has 24%, and Alki has 22%.  All three schools are majority white.  Please try to avoid the stereotype of northern schools being all rich and white.  Look at the attendance areas–it’s not all view houses.

          • Stemparent June 1, 2017 (8:46 pm)

            I looked at city and census data on both neighborhoods to compare racial diversity (north W.Seattle is 20-25% diverse, while Delridge/South W. Seattle is 70-80% diverse), income, and home values to make that statement. It’s not a stereotype: the data supports it. STEM may be similar to Akli/Admiral schools for white populations because it is a choice school, but STEM’s geo-zone serves a diverse population of students who currently have a guaranteed spot at STEM. These are the students that would be most impacted by the proposed move. 

    • WsEd June 1, 2017 (12:09 pm)

      The priority is not to close the opportunity gap, the priority is to grab some of the federal dollars set aside in 2016 by the Obama administration devoted to closing the opportunity gap.  The district will align itself with the federal dollars however necessary and right now the magic words are opportunity gap.  Don’t worry, this new administration might just get rid of all of that and we can go back to the simple haves and have nots. 

      In reality if the State changes funding schools in a meaningful way much of this might be solved since funds hypothetically will be disbursed on more of a per capita basis and will potentially dissallow much of the extra funding for educators from PTAs.  Except people all think they are special so I doubt this legislation has a chance.

  • IvehaditwithSPS June 1, 2017 (8:51 am)

    Horrible bell times at stem which has made it hard for many working families who want their kids to attend stem now this with the worse scheduling next year. It seems to the district isn’t serious about seeing this school succeed and making it hard as possible for families to attend. I really wish I could afford to send my kid to another school. We have been treated like crap by sps. They have other options that are not this disruptive.  I will vote no on any further levies for this incompetent district 

  • Charlie Mas June 1, 2017 (3:11 pm)

    This isn’t so hard.

    Roxhill is moving into the E.C. Hughes building. After the students are out of the building, the district only has to renovate the Roxhill building to make it appropriate for STEM K-8. Then the Boren building will be available for use as an interim site.

    Roxhill has a big enough footprint to be built into a large K-8. The location allows STEM K-8 to remain in the Denny Middle School Service Area – the southern half of West Seattle – so there is an option school in the service area and to provide equitable access for students in low-income neighborhoods.  Because the Roxhill location is on the bus lines, families dependent on public transportation can more readily participate in their children’s education. 

    It will cost a lot less money to make the Roxhill building suitable for STEM K-8 than to make the Schmitz Park building suitable. Aside from being way too small, the Schmitz Park building is in the Madison Middle School Service Area, which already has a K-8 option school (Pathfinder), is not accessible by public transit, and is in an affluent community rather than a low-income community.

     The solution is pretty clear: move Roxhill to E.C. Hughes (as planned), and rebuild Roxhill for STEM K-8. 

    • Robinmama4 June 1, 2017 (3:52 pm)

      Thanks Charlie for the out of the box thinking! Liking this idea and will ask Flip tonight! Your input is always appreciated. -robin 

  • bertha June 1, 2017 (4:00 pm)

    Stemparent – I have been in the Seattle School District for 20 years and Administration has proven itself to be untrustworthy for at least 18 of those years. 

  • Toomuch June 1, 2017 (4:44 pm)

    Really- this whole dealio is a great opportunity for us at stem. With the advance warning, we can redirect this steamroller, and come up with much better solutions. Happy to not get this sprung on us last minute..!?

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