FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Schools’ BEX V levy: Alki rebuild, West Seattle ES addition top the local list

After an hour-long Seattle School Board work session this evening, the district’s draft list for next year’s BEX V capital levy still includes two major West Seattle projects: a $53 million rebuild for Alki Elementary and $22 million addition for West Seattle Elementary. Smaller projects are also proposed for seven West Seattle campuses. Here (as first published in our preview last night) is the agenda with slide deck/documents:

(If that embedded version doesn’t work for you, go here.)

They began with the explanation of, and discussion about, weighting the proposed projects by equity. This generated quite a deal of discussion, including some wondering about demographic change in the immediate future, and whether the projections made now would hold true over the course of the six-year levy as affordability challenges continue to send lower-income residents out of the city. Another topic of discussion: The lack of alternate/interim sites elsewhere in the city is starting to affect options for what can be built where/when, district manager Richard Best said. “I’m concerned that we may not be thinking creatively and out of the box,” observed board president Leslie Harris (who represents West Seattle/South Park on the board). Some projects, said Best, would be “built in place” (with students not having to leave) – such as the proposed West Seattle Elementary addition. (Though it wasn’t a topic of discussion at this meeting, it’s been noted that Alki Elementary would move to the old Schmitz Park Elementary site during a rebuild.)

Harris asked for staffers to clearly point out any major changes from the previous meeting; the biggest, said Best, is in the “building systems and repairs” list, where they’ve added more “smaller” projects so they could “touch more schools.” This list had involved projects at 27 schools at the September 26th work session, said best, and now it’s about double that, including these West Seattle projects:

Boren STEM – K-8 HVAC – $4,034,016
Gatewood – Playgrounds – $175,000
Gatewood – Exterior Door – $150,000
Sanislo – Site Improvements – $ 383,297
Sanislo – Ceiling Fan $300,000
West Seattle – Exterior Door $ 142,977
West Seattle HS – Roof $ 8,979,237

Schmitz Park – Seismic – $472,910

Athletic Field/Lighting
Madison MS – $2,600,000

Board members agreed that the overall levy list – totaling $1.4 billion – looked “solid.” But as the hourlong meeting concluded, they also stressed that “community input is still welcome,” as board member Eden Mack put it. Board contact info is at lower right on this page. And watch for word of a public hearing on the levy in late October; BEX V, and the district’s next three-year Operations Levy, will go to voters next February.

2 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Schools' BEX V levy: Alki rebuild, West Seattle ES addition top the local list"

  • Ariel Felton October 11, 2018 (12:32 pm)

    Louisa Boren STEM K-8 apparently didn’t even make the list, for the sixth time.

    Here’s the letter I wrote to the school district on Sept. 25:

    I’m writing to highly encourage you to include Louisa Boren STEM K-8 in BEX V. My understanding is that the building has gotten zero funding for capital maintenance and improvements in BEX I-IV, and it’s no wonder it is literally falling down around our students’ heads (pieces of the library ceiling fell down last week). BTA III allocated $3M of the $3B spent from BEX and BTA levies to Boren; that is just 0.001%, when 1% of SPS students use this facility. That is unacceptable and inequitable.

    At minimum, BEX V absolutely must include priority 1b, the $4.03M to replace the heating system. If an appropriate allocation were to go to STEM K-8, however, that would amount to approximately $37M. The school has outlined priorities for this money that include $3.6M for upgraded electrical, $3.4M for upgraded lighting, $1.7M for general disrepair (the library ceiling, for example!), $0.9M to replace 55-year-old galvanized steel pipes (do you *really* want a West Seattle school to be the next Flint, Michigan in the news?), $0.7M to upgrade the sewer, $0.6M for classroom AV (seems like a no-brained for a STEM school in particular), and $0.2M for a sound system. All these add up to only $15M, or less than HALF of what the school should get if monies were allocated evenly.

    As these capital levies come up only every six years, this is your opportunity to prove that STEM education deserves its fair share of funding within the SPS system, and that you believe STEM is worth supporting. STEM is clearly a major part of the future of education, especially in Seattle; I encourage you not to leave our city behind.

    • WSB October 11, 2018 (12:36 pm)

      The Boren HVAC system you mention as a minimum need is on the “smaller projects” list that appears to be advancing, as included in this story.

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