Seattle Public Schools BEX V levy: Alki and West Seattle Elementaries on the short list?

The Seattle Public Schools Board meets Wednesday for a work session meant to get their consensus on what to ask voters to fund via the BEX (Building Excellence) V levy next February. And information prepared for the meeting suggests that staff is recommending major projects for only two schools in this area of the city: An addition for West Seattle Elementary and a rebuild for Alki Elementary.

As we’ve chronicled since last year, possible projects under discussion for BEX V also had included an addition or rebuild of Lafayette, as well as a rebuild of the original Roxhill site. Expansions for Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and Madison Middle School had been considered along the way too.

But now, a priority list is in the agenda for the Wednesday work session, out even before Tuesday night’s last-in-this-round public feedback meeting (at Meany Middle School; we covered this area’s meeting two weeks ago at West Seattle High School). The board has the final say, but this is a map of priorities:

(See the full agenda/info packet here.) Alki’s potential rebuild is envisioned as keeping the existing gym while expanding the student capacity to 500, 131 above current capacity. The WSE addition is envisioned as adding eight classrooms, which would expand capacity by 113 students.

Other West Seattle-area proposals for a slice of BEX V money include seismic improvements at the former Schmitz Park Elementary, which would be an interim site if for example Alki Elementary was indeed chosen for a rebuild. (For those who remember Schmitz Park’s portable-laden past before the program moved to Genesee Hill Elementary, built with money from the expiring BEX IV levy, note that portables are planned when it serves as an interim site.) With other levy components such as technology projects, the agenda proposes a potential six-year cost range from $985 million to $1.3 billion.

Though Wednesday’s 4:30 pm work session at district HQ (3rd and Lander) has the stated intention of “Consensus on BEX V Capital Levy projects” and “Consensus on Operations and BEX V Capital Levy amounts” (the Operations Levy, which covers three years, also is expiring and goes to voters in February), it’s not the final decision. That process will play out next month, including a public hearing likely to be set for the week of October 22nd. Wednesday’s work session, meantime, is open to the public but does not include a public-comment period. Here’s how to contact the board.

18 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools BEX V levy: Alki and West Seattle Elementaries on the short list?"

  • Admiral Mom September 25, 2018 (8:56 am)

    And what about Lafayette Elementary? Based upon the data provided, Lafayette is one of the most neediest schools on the list for repairs. Our socioeconomic ranking moved us out of the modernization/rebuild list. Apparently the school board believes that it is equitable for students of higher socioeconomic ranking to learn in a dilapidated building that has unsafe and hazardous conditions. Another school in West Seattle is receiving millions of dollars for a new drop off zone. Did you know that Lafayette does not have a drop off zone for parents to use? We don’t even have a parking lot–unless you count the staff parking (filled with large pot holes) that butts up against the aging portable buildings. Also, students walk through that parking lot to access classrooms. Our handicap accessible ramp is literally falling apart and is dangerous to use. We have a retaining wall where the students play that leaks water and is crumbling. Our financially self-sustained garden program (due to volunteers and generous donors) has had it’s water supply line cut off because the district office cut off the line. The district has still not replaced the water line so we have to have volunteers hand water all of our plants so they do not die. Speaking of plants, have you noticed that our school looks more like a prison now that all the trees in front of the school have been cut down? Does the city or school district have any plans to replace that, or should our PTA continue to fund everything? For many years, our PTA paid for our school counselor. Should I mention that we finally have a principal that has stayed for two years? That’s right, we had 5 principals in 5 years. Also, the advanced learning program was removed from our school and placed at a renovated Fairmount Park. Clearly, the school board and district do not believe in investing any funds to Lafayette. The parents and PTA of Lafayette have had enough. We will be representing our school at the next meeting with Leslie Harris on October 20th at the Delridge Library. Please come support us. Remember that our children our the future. They deserve to learn in a safe and EQUITABLE learning environment. 

    • WSB September 25, 2018 (11:27 am)

      This only addresses a small part of what you wrote about but since it’s the small part we DO have recent info on – SDOT will replace the trees:

      • Admiral Mom September 26, 2018 (8:26 am)

        Yes, they have said that they would replant the trees although we haven’t received a date. We have had two trees that were removed by the front entrance years ago. Those trees have never been replaced. Our wonderful Garden Team was going to work on this plan to spruce up the exterior, but there is no water line to that area so everything would need to be hand watered and that’s too much for our Garden Team. Once again, we’re limited on what we can do because of our aging school. The school district actually broke the water line that goes to the plants on the playground. Our Garden Team now has to hand water all of those plants because the school district hasn’t fixed it. And don’t get me started on the crumbling retaining wall on the playground that our PTA is planning to fix and repaint.

  • admiral parent September 25, 2018 (9:16 am)

    Interesting that Lafayette was rated as one of the schools most in need of upgrades all throughout this process (rated deficient in capacity as well as condition) and now suddenly it is dropped from this list, while West Seattle Elem, in good condition but over capacity, gets $$$. The overcrowding at Lafayette will only get worse as a segment of WS that had been feeding into Genessee is now being fed into Lafayette. When the project list doesn’t reflect the needs list, I can’t help but wonder what is driving the decision making process.

  • KM September 25, 2018 (9:45 am)

    I know this is a very complicated issue, but can someone who follows school funding a bit closer shed some light on why school districts will continue to have levies with the change in state funding? For some reason I thought levies wouldn’t be happening any more–or perhaps it was just levies for certain types of funding?

    • WSB September 25, 2018 (10:54 am)

      The state has NEVER fully funded everything public schools need. The fight in Olympia was just over getting the state to fund what portion of school needs it *has* historically funded. There’s some explanation in the slide deck from the current round of informational meetings, as shown in our report from the recent meeting at WSHS:

      • KM September 25, 2018 (11:06 am)

        Thank you for the link. I either misunderstood or was misinformed regarding the levy cap when discussing this with someone in education earlier this year. Since the Roxhill building is not on this recommended list, I wonder what will happen there next.

  • zark00 September 25, 2018 (10:16 am)

    Lafayette – dropped, Madison Middle – dropped.   Brilliant – SPS, again, can’t seem to understand their own data.  Maddison, 2nd largest projected enrollment growth 2016-2020 – Jane Addams has 20 more kids projected.  JA has 2 portables, Madison has what, 6 now?  And just to make sure they get everything wrong, Alki elementary, Largest Projected DROP in enrollment 2016-2020.  Really it’s like SPS runs these studies and projections just for fun.  Why do it if you have zero plans to use the information you gathered?  Alki – LOSING 116 students by 2020.  From SPS’s own data, Gatewood should be getting the funding.   

  • WSMom September 25, 2018 (12:50 pm)

    The Seattle Public Schools cite is not listing either current enrollment numbers OR current projected enrollment numbers for schools.  But looking at past numbers, the addition to West Seattle Elementary does not make sense.  It is not much over capacity, and its enrollment is trending downward.  Nearby schools like Sanislo and Roxhill have capacity, and decreasing student numbers.  Arbor Heights just lost a teacher because SPS overestimated its student numbers.  AH also has capacity in its numbers.  Highland Park and  Concord are trending down in enrollment.  It would be simpler and cheaper to change boundaries for West Seattle Elementary.  Lafayette has huge need, and I agree it should be funded first.

  • WSMom September 25, 2018 (1:58 pm)

    SPS has overestimated the projected enrollment in the Denny service area for years, even though the actual enrollment numbers at Sanislo, Highland Park, Concord, and Roxhill have been trending down.  I think the West Seattle Elementary numbers are also down from their peak, but I can’t access current numbers on the SPS website.  Remember when they tried to put West Seattle Elementary in the Madison service area?  And then they briefly put Sanislo in the Madison service area?  Yet, Madison has portables and Denny has room.     

  • SPS PUT DOWN THE BONG September 25, 2018 (2:12 pm)

    Since SPS can’t use Schmitz Park for anything other than a school, why don’t they tear that down & rebuild it on par with Genesee Hill? Then send Alki & Lafayette there and dispose of Lafayette to pay for it because that property has to be worth a fortune sitting where it is on California.

  • WSMom September 25, 2018 (2:20 pm)

    Here is an example of how bad SPS projections for the Denny region have been: to the West Seattle blog in 2014, SPS made a bunch of predictions for growth in Denny area elementary schools for the following year.  Sanislo was predicted to be 275 (it is now 200).  Roxhill was predicted to be 372 (last year it was 297).  Concord was predicted to be 420; last year it was 345.  Highland Park was predicted to be 396; last year it was 328.  I can’t access the SPS website to get West Seattle Elementary school numbers, but I think after a lot of growth its numbers have stabilized.Arbor Heights has grown a lot, but it still has a lot of physical capacity (up to 650 kids).  How can SPS justify adding capacity to a region with declining numbers, particularly when you have a school like Lafayette that needs work on its condition as well as capacity?

    • admiral parent September 25, 2018 (9:10 pm)

       How can SPS justify adding capacity to a region with declining numbers, particularly when you have a school like Lafayette that needs work on its condition as well as capacity?It’s easy to justify, they just call it social justice. Ie, don’t spend any money in areas that have above average income because those people are obviously abhorrible creatures that suppress the poor and downtrodden.

  • STEMMOM September 25, 2018 (9:12 pm)

    A lot of schools need help – and I don’t want to take away from other schools saying they need it more. It’s in the SPS playbook to pit schools against one another and I do not play that game. Laffayette parents and community know what they need better than any other. At Louisa Boren STEM K-8 $3,000,000,000.00 has been spent by BEX & BTA since 1995, .001% of that has been on the Boren site. There is documented backlogged maintenance and repair (BMAR) deficiencies of $15,000,000.00. Literally pieces of the ceiling fell out of the library last week. Not on a student – but when I say “the school is falling apart” I literally mean “THE SCHOOL IS FALLING APART.”  Our school has been used as a dumping ground, an interim site, and we’ve been at capacity since Day 1 seven years ago when they thought 55 kids would show up and 250 + did and they had bandaids and cheap painted a quick solution together over 4 months. Now 550 kids are here, after co-housing with Arbor Heights for two years, we’ve been told it’s a permeant location, and we are not getting any remedies for anything?! Again. Again. UGH! AGAIN?! It’s hard to put full blame on the legislature when the decisions being made here by SPS are so negligent. 

    • WSB September 25, 2018 (9:18 pm)

      You should consider publicizing pix of the fallen ceiling. That sounds like a story. It’s how Arbor Heights managed to get into BEX IV and then moved up a few years … a slide deck about what was falling apart.

    • STEM Parent September 26, 2018 (10:12 am)

      Not to mention that STEM kids don’t have safe drinking water flowing from their drinking fountains. It’s depressing to have to explain to my fountain loving kindergartner that it could make her sick. Super cool.

  • Another STEM Parent September 26, 2018 (1:25 pm)

     I agree – SPS pits schools against each other.  I think it’s great that the WS PTAs ignore that and support each other.  Several years ago the WS PTAs all supported Arbor Heights moving up on the BEX list because it was the school that needed it the most.   This BEX again gets it wrong – there are WS schools that need it more than the schools on the BEX list, based on age/disrepair of buildings and enrollment size.  My kids go to STEM – it is fully enrolled and has 15 MILLION in backlogged repairs.  It was built in the 1960s.  The windows are old and rattling, the cement flooring is chipped and gouged with age, the heating system is alternately freezing and boiling (depending on where your classroom).  The middle-school gym locker rooms cannot be used because they have been torn apart.  The water is not safe to drink, and the library ceiling is falling apart.  The bathrooms are also in bad condition and sized for middle schools students – not the best option for littler students.  The cafeteria needs serious upgrading and there is no stage/theater (all other elementary schools have a dedicated stage for important events).  The field has limited accessibility and is in poor disrepair.   The inner courtyards are overgrown and the pavement is falling apart due to overgrowth of plantings.The district made very bare improvements when students moved in 6+ years ago – paint, a tiny playground sitting on a paved lot (which is not large enough for student size), and furniture.  Most improvements since then have come out of the pockets of parents and the PTA.  We have invested time and love into this building – adding plantings and improving where we can.  But, we can’t and shouldn’t have to take on plumbing, ceiling repair, and major structural work. Lafayette is in the  same boat.  An older building with significant repair needs, solid enrollment, and a PTA that has put money and time into the school to keep it running smoothly.  It just doesn’t make sense that neither of these schools have any priority on the next BEX. 

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