North Delridge Neighborhood Council asks for K-5 STEM program to stay at Boren

K-5 STEM PTA supports the idea too or would support move to Fairmount Park

The North Delridge Neighborhood Council (NDNC) wants the K-5 STEM program at the Boren School to stay there citing its positive impact on the area as a primary reason. There for just a year the school has had a stabilizing effect on the area. Seattle Public Schools is looking at a number of options for school reassignment as part of their Growth Boundaries Project. The NDNC has written a letter expressing their support for the school to stay at Boren (see below).

SPS has previously made three recommendations regarding this issue:

  • To open Fairmount Park Elementary in the fall of 2014 as a neighborhood school, subject to new boundary adjustments, rather than as the permanent home of K-5 STEM;
  • Co-locate Arbor Heights Elementary with K-5 STEM at Boren beginning in the fall of 2014
  • Move K-5 STEM to the current Schmitz Park building in the Fall 2016, after Schmitz Park Elementary moves to Genesee Hill, subject to new boundary adjustments. There are no plans for the Boren building after 2016.
  • The K-5 STEM PTA has covered the issues surrounding these plans on their website:

    "We believe there are two viable alternatives that are consistent with the “guiding principles” of equitable access and financial responsibility, adopted by SPS, to make these decisions. These are:
    1. Move K-5 STEM to Fairmount in 2014, or
    2. Make Boren the permanent home of K-5 STEM – but make it a K-8 option school to also address the need for middle school capacity in the near future.

    Under either scenario our school remains centrally located and able to accommodate demand.

    K-5 STEM was created to address over-crowding (aka “capacity”) in other schools. K-5 STEM could immediately fill the approximately 500 seats at Fairmount Park in 2014 and alleviate crowding in neighboring schools. As a neighborhood school, SPS plans to open Fairmount Park on a reduced basis, without filling the capacity immediately. Similarly, space is available at Boren, but SPS is not planning to efficiently use it.

    Why Not Schmitz Park?
    Locating K-5 STEM at the Schmitz Park building may limit access to those who live in the immediate vicinity. This is compounded by the fact that the building capacity is officially listed as 217 without portables. A central location would serve all of West Seattle, and bothFairmount Park and Boren have capacity for our school to grow beyond our 2013-14 projected enrollment of 350 (with a significant waiting list).

    · The boundaries of a location in the Northwest corner of West Seattle limit equitable access to the school for students in the southern part of our community.

    · The location will create additional transportation expenses for the school district and will increase traffic and vehicle congestion in the Schmitz Park neighborhood. Our current geozone overlaps that of West Seattle Elementary, and the majority of current students live south of the California Junction. Only a small percentage of our students would be able to walk to the SchmitzPark building.

    · The capacity of the Schmitz Park building, even with a projected eight portables, will artificially cap enrollment. The high demand for a project-based, STEM curriculum, as demonstrated by first year enrollment and the wait list for our second year, will only continue to grow and can only be accommodated at Fairmount Park or Boren.

    · K-5 STEM at Schmitz Park would NOT alleviate overcrowding in the North end of West Seattle. Keeping Schmitz Park open as a neighborhood school creates more seats in an area that needs capacity relief, thus decreasing transportation costs and increasingwalkability.

    K-8 STEM at Boren Provides a Middle School Pathway
    Currently there is no STEM curriculum at the middle school level. Expansion to K-8 STEM at Boren provides our students with a continuum of education, utilizes an existing facility, and alleviates projected middle school crowding.

    Having a building sit empty is a luxury and poor use of taxpayer funds in these fiscal times.

    Boren is currently designated as an interim school building to be used for schools under construction or in case of emergency. The maintenance of a large-capacity interim school in the current environment of school overcrowding and budget shortages is a luxury the school district should reconsider. There are no high schools or middle schools scheduled for construction in the foreseeable future, and we suggest EC Hughes could be made available as an interim elementary school. STEM at Boren would eliminate moving expenses, serve a community that currently has no elementary school, allow us to explore options for growth, and provide a sense of stability for our students."

    The letter from the NDNC to Superintendent Banda

    Dear Superintendent Banda,
    We are writing on behalf of the North Delridge Neighborhood in support of maintaining the K-5 STEM program at Boren School. The North Delridge Neighborhood Council is a community based volunteer organization that serves the neighborhood in which the Boren School is located.

    Delridge as a neighborhood has felt the negative effects of having the Boren School used as a transitional and temporary school for many long years. It has been a pleasure to see the students, parents and staff of the STEM school begin to "take ownership" of the building and grounds in a really positive way.

    Prior to the K-5 STEM program, the impact on the neighborhood was mostly negative. We experienced the blight of an empty building - attracting vandalism and unsavory activity - as well as the lack of connection and care that only a permanent school community can provide. When a school was only in the building temporarily, there was not the same desire to care for the facility or to become part of the neighborhood. In the short time that the STEM program has been located at Boren, they have worked to improve the playground and implemented traffic calming signage along Delridge Way SW.

    We ask you to reconsider your plans to relocate the K-5 STEM program away from the Boren School.
    The Boren building is centrally located and has the capacity to meet the huge demand for the STEM curriculum, as well as to grow to K-8 program if desired. To keep the STEM program at Boren would provide needed stability for the students, as well as for the surrounding neighborhood.

    Kirsten Smith, Co-Chair
    Parie Hines, Co-Chair

    A community meeting in West Seattle should find these issues being discussed. It's coming up September 25, 6:30–8 p.m West Seattle High School Commons 3000 California Ave SW .

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