Seattle School Board unanimously approves BEX IV Levy proposal

The Seattle School Board unanimously approved the district's BEX IV Levy Resolution at their SODO headquarters on Nov. 7.

The Building Excellence (BEX) IV Levy aims to improve school infrastructure throughout the city over six years if the $694.9 million levy is passed by voters on the Feb. 12, 2013 ballot.

Two measures drew attention in West Seattle: the districts plan to replace Arbor Heights Elementary by 2019 and their plan to move Schmitz Park Elementary students to a new building on the Genesee Hill site by 2015. The Schmitz Building's future was left hanging limbo as to whether it would be used as a school or sold off/rented out for other purposes.

In weeks leading up to the final school board vote, the district altered those plans thanks in large part to community backlash from Arbor Heights parents and faculty and the Schmitz Family, who donated the land for Schmitz Park Elementary 50 years ago.

Arbor Heights replacement has been moved up to 2018 "or earlier if feasible" and they plan to "replace existing Genesee Hill building with a new/expanded facility on the Genesee Hill site; relocate Schmitz Park staff and students to the new facility by 2015 and repurpose the Schmitz Park building for elementary seats."

Here is the full district press release:

Seattle School Board Approves $694.9 million Capital Levy
Measure to be on ballot Feb. 12, 2013, along with Operations Levy

The Seattle School Board on Wednesday approved by a 6-0 vote the $694.9 million Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy ballot measure, which is a replacement for the expiring capital levy. This measure, along with the Operations Levy ballot measure, will go before Seattle voters on the Feb. 12, 2013 ballot. Director Sherry Carr was absent.

Enrollment at Seattle Public Schools is on the rise, with an additional 7,000 students predicted during the next decade. The BEX IV Capital Levy measure, if approved by Seattle voters, would take a major step to address overcrowded schools and classrooms. In addition, the BEX IV levy addresses earthquake safety issues, building conditions, infrastructure and technology improvements. The levy will also reduce the current maintenance backlog and address future major maintenance needs throughout the school district.

The School Board also unanimously approved placing a $551.9 million Operations Levy on the ballot to replace the expiring Operations Levy, which was approved by voters in 2010. This levy provides 27 percent of the District’s general fund operating budget and helps fund classroom instruction, textbooks and supplies; transportation and security; Special Education and English Language Learners programs; and student activities such as athletics, music and art.

“The renewal of the BEX IV and Operations levy provides much-needed funding to meet the needs of our growing enrollment,” said Superintendent José Banda. “We had to make some difficult decisions on the BEX IV project list; however this levy package reflects what is best for our students.”

BEX IV projects were chosen based on four criteria: 1) safety and security, 2) capacity needs, 3) building condition, and 4) maximizing flexibility for programs and services.

Specific projects and schedules include:

· Arbor Heights Elementary: Replace existing building with new/expanded facility by 2018 or earlier if feasible.

· Bagley Elementary: Modernize and build a classroom-core facility addition by 2020.

· Fairmount Park Elementary: Modernize building with necessary upgrades, add classrooms and a lunchroom by 2014.

· Jane Addams K-8: Move K-8 school to a new location to open by 2017; open building as a middle school by 2017.

· Lincoln High School building: Modernize and open as a new high school by 2019.

· Loyal Heights Elementary: Modernize and build addition by 2018.

· NOVA High School @Mann: Modernize and build addition for NOVA by 2014.

· Meany Middle School: Reconfigure for a comprehensive central region middle school by 2017.

· Northeast Seattle elementary school: To meet growing capacity, add K-5 school on Thornton Creek site by 2016 or equivalent additional seating capacity at another location.

· Olympic Hills: 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 Elementary: Replace existing Genesee Hill building with a new/expanded facility on the Genesee Hill site; relocate Schmitz Park staff and students to the new facility by 2015 and repurpose the Schmitz Park building for elementary seats

· Wilson Pacific: Replace building with a new elementary and a new middle school for additional capacity by 2017.

· Wing Luke Elementary: Replace existing building with a new/expanded facility by 2020.

· World School program: Relocated to remodeled TT Minor.

Additional projects in the BEX IV plan include:

· Maintaining and enhancing technology: Install wireless networks in every school and make needed hardware upgrades in the classroom; upgrade parent and student portals, improve academic/business systems; enhance student file storage; automate processes; improve legal compliance; renovate aged network; enhance disaster recovery.

· Earthquake safety improvements: Seismic upgrades to 37 schools, improving safety for students and staff in case of an earthquake – Adams Elementary, Jane Addams K-8, Aki Kurose Middle School, Alki Elementary, Beacon Hill International Elementary, Catharine Blaine K-8, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Dearborn Park Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, Franklin High School, Gatewood Elementary, Graham Hill Elementary, Ingraham High School, Kimball Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Leschi Elementary, Lowell Elementary, Maple Elementary, McClure Middle School, McGilvra Elementary, Mercer Middle School, Mountlake Elementary, Muir Elementary, North Beach Elementary, Northgate Elementary, Orca Elementary (Whitworth building), Rainier Beach High School, Rogers Elementary, Roxhill Elementary, Sacajawea Elementary, Sand Point Elementary, Thornton Creek School (Decatur building), View Ridge Elementary, Washington Middle School, Wedgwood Elementary and Whitman Middle School.

· School safety and security: Install integrated security camera systems at 10 middle school buildings – Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Jane Addams, Madison, McClure, Meany, Mercer, Washington, Whitman and Wilson Pacific; and at nine high schools – Ballard, Cleveland, Franklin, Garfield, NOVA (Mann building), Rainier Beach, South Lake, West Seattle and World School.

· Lunchroom and common areas: Add new lunchrooms at Green Lake Elementary and McGilvra Elementary.

· Science labs: Build new science labs at Aki Kurose, Mercer, McClure and Eckstein middle schools.

· Roof work: Replace or repair roofing at Gatewood Elementary, Laurelhurst Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, Franklin High School and Whitman Middle School.

· Field and track improvements: Install new or replacement athletic fields and tracks at five schools; Eckstein Middle School, Ballard High School (track only), Cleveland High School, View Ridge Elementary (field only), and Thornton Creek School (field only).

· Interim downtown school: Funding for planning and support of an interim site, with funding for a permanent site dependent upon external partner funding.

Planning for the BEX IV Capital Levy began in January 2012 and has included participation by the School Board, the Facilities and Capacity Advisory Committee (FACMAC), the Classroom and Business Technology Advisory Committee (CABTAC), the BEX Oversight Committee, and feedback from individual citizens. Two sets of three regional community engagement meetings (a total of six meetings) were held in April and September 2012.

“This is a bold package,” said Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell. “I have complete confidence that this is very, very well thought out and offers real solutions to the challenges we have.”

Planning for the BEX IV Capital Levy began in January 2012 and has included participation by the School Board, the Facilities and Capacity Advisory Committee (FACMAC), the Classroom and Business Technology Advisory Committee (CABTAC), the BEX Oversight Committee, and feedback from individual citizens. Two sets of three regional community engagement meetings (a total of six meetings) were held in April and September 2012.

For additional information on BEX IV, please visit http://bit.ly/SPSBEX.

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