BEX IV plan would make possible major school replacement and improvements in West Seattle

The replacement of Arbor Heights Elementary, by 2019, the reopening and upgrades of Fairmount Park Elementary School by 2014, and the replacement of the existing Genesee Hill building at Schmitz Park Elementary with a new and expanded facility on the Genesee Hill site then the relocation of Schmitz Park to the new facility by 2015, are all part of the latest round of Building Excellence levies coming up in February. This one, called BEX IV will be the subject of a public meeting at Madison Middle School, Monday, Sept. 24, from 6:30- 8 p.m.

In a letter to the community, new Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda and Pegi McEvoy Assistant Superintendent for operations detailed the proposed changes and upgrades that the new levy would make possible.

"Dear Seattle Public Schools families, staff and community:

We opened our doors to about 49,500 students last week and had a great start to our 2012-13 school year. We spent time in several schools and it was wonderful to see our students already engaged in learning.

Seattle Public Schools is growing!

Anticipating approximately 1,000 new students this year, we have been working hard to address our enrollment growth challenges. Projections show continued year-to-year increases in our enrollment for the next five years and beyond. We estimate an enrollment of more than 57,000 students by the 2021-22 school year, if current trends continue.

Part of our long-term solution to meet the demands of this growing enrollment is the continuation of our capital levies, including the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy, to be submitted to Seattle voters in February 2013. This levy would provide capital funding for six years (2014-2019) and would help with necessary remodeling and replacement of existing buildings, along with new/expanded school facilities.

This status report provides you with our updated BEX IV project list. We want your feedback on this latest proposal, and will be sharing the list at three upcoming community meetings. The School Board is expected to vote on the final BEX IV list in early November.

What are we doing to plan for this growth?

During the summer, we have been doing in-depth work reviewing a variety of potential capital projects, all of which were screened using four important criteria established by the School Board. These criteria require that proposed projects address issues surrounding:
1) safety and security 2) meeting capacity needs
3) building condition 4) maximizing flexibility for programs and services

In putting together a proposed Building Excellence plan, our staff is continuing an extensive review process. During the past spring and summer, we have:

· Conducted community engagement in April to receive ideas and feedback from the public.
· Solicited input from school principals, the Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC), District program staff and our School Board.
· Analyzed new enrollment projections and demographic data from several different sources.
· Updated project cost estimates from construction estimators, architects and engineers.
· Continued to analyze and update school building capacity numbers.

What is the latest proposal for BEX IV projects?

Based on the variety of suggestions we received last spring and the resulting analysis of data, estimates and projections this summer, the district has revised and refined the proposed list of potential BEX IV projects. It’s important to note the project list shown below is not final. We will continue to take into consideration future feedback and input from our staff, advisory committee and community before the final recommendation is sent to the Board for consideration and approval this fall. The following is a summary of currently proposed projects under consideration for BEX IV:

· Arbor Heights Elementary: Replace existing building with new/expanded facility by 2019.
· Fairmount Park: Open this existing building with necessary upgrades, add classrooms and a lunchroom by 2014
· Lincoln building: Modernize and open as a new high school by 2019
· Mann building: Modernize and construct a new addition for NOVA by 2014
· Meany Middle School: Reconfigure for a comprehensive central region middle school by 2017
· Mercer Middle School: Build an addition to meet enrollment projections by 2019
· North Beach Elementary: Replace the existing building and add capacity by 2018
· Northeast Seattle elementary school: To meet growing capacity, add K-5 school on Thornton Creek site.
· Olympic Hills K-5: Replace existing building with a new/expanded facility by 2017
· Queen Anne Elementary: Build classroom and gym addition to the building by 2019
· Schmitz Park: Replace existing Genesee Hill building with a new/expanded facility on the Genesee Hill site; relocate Schmitz Park to the new facility by 2015
· Wilson-Pacific: Replace building with a new elementary and middle school for additional capacity by 2017
· Wing Luke Elementary: Replace existing building with a new/expanded facility by 2020
· World School: Determine a permanent location in the Central area by mid-September 2012

During the construction period, we will house students at interim sites, including Boren, Columbia, the original Van Asselt building, Lincoln and John Marshall. In addition, this plan builds flexibility for housing instructional programs such as Accelerated Placement Program (APP).

The following two schools were on the list of possible projects last spring, but are not currently being recommended:

· Jane Addams K-8: Will not move to Cedar Park
· Daniel Bagley Elementary: Because of revised enrollment forecasts, it has been determined that additional capacity is not needed to the degree originally projected.

What other possible BEX IV projects are under consideration?

· Technology improvements: Wireless in every school and needed hardware upgrades.
· Seismic Improvements: A total of 67 schools would receive seismic upgrades.
· Lunchroom and core facilities: Currently planning lunchrooms at Green Lake and McGilvra elementary schools.
· Major preventive maintenance and infrastructure improvements.
· Interim downtown school: dependent upon external partnership funding.
· Capacity flexibility: Building stronger core facilities to provide for expansion and including academic program placement and services close to where families live.

The latest BEX IV list of possible projects totals about $650 million. Additional information is online at http://bit.ly/SPSBEX

In addition to meetings with staff, FACMAC and the School Board, we will have another important round of community meetings later in September to present updated information and ask for feedback. You are invited to attend one of these meetings:

· Thursday, Sept. 20, 6:30-8 p.m. at Whitman Middle School
· Monday, Sept. 24, 6:30- 8 p.m. at Madison Middle School
· Thursday, Sept. 27, 6:30-8 p.m. at McClure Middle School

In the meantime, we continue to collect, record and review all input. Send comments to capacity@seattleschools.org."

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.