Monday, February 4, 2013

School Levies and their impact on Lake City

Our friends at Families for Lake City have put together a post that explains the significant improvements Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 will have on Seattle Public Schools in Lake City and Northeast Seattle.

The Building Excellence (BEX) Capital Levy (Prop 2) and the Operations Levy (Prop 1) will bring much-needed improvements to our neighborhood schools. Families for Lake City and Douglas Park Cooperative both ask you to vote YES for Proposition 1 and YES for Proposition 2 to help improve and invest in our community schools.

If approved, these two levies will be a continuation of expiring levies. If approved, these levies would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $13 a month over what the homeowner pays on the expiring levies. A simple summary of the two levies is available here.

Below Families for Lake City explains how these levies will impact individual schools in Lake City.
What do these levies mean for Lake City area schools?
The Capital Levy (Prop 2) will help fund new construction and safety improvements at multiple Lake City area schools. The Seattle School District is facing severe capacity shortages, particularly in our NE corner of Seattle, just based on current enrollment. With projected enrollment included, the capacity issues worsen.  Without Prop 2 passing, we’ll see Lake City schools overcrowded and thriving programs dislocated or disbanded altogether.
The Operations Levy (Prop 1) provides crucial support for everything from textbooks and transportation to student activities and support for bilingual and special education students.
With schools bursting at the seams, whether or not the levies pass, the following Lake City area schools will be impacted:

Olympic Hills Elementary
If the Capital Improvement Levy passes, Olympic Hills Elementary will receive a rebuilt and expanded school.  The Olympic Hills program would temporarily re-locate during construction – either to the currently closed Cedar Park site, or to another location. If the capital levy does not pass, Olympic Hills will not be rebuilt. Instead, neighbors would likely see a slew of portables added to house more students, putting additional strain on the school’s small infrastructure.

Cedar Park
The Cedar Park site formerly housed a neighborhood elementary school, but has been leased to an artist cooperative for the last 30 years. Regardless of whether the levy passes or not, the school district plans to re-open this site. At a recent community meeting, Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, presented two scenarios: 1) if the levy passes, Cedar Park will be used as an interim site for Olympic Hills, then reopened as a permanent school, 2) if the levy fails, the district will need to reopen the school as soon as it can be made ready; a time crunch that will limit the district’s flexibility with how to redevelop the site.

Jane Addams
To relieve overcrowding at Eckstein Middle School, the district will begin a comprehensive middle school at the Jane Addams site in fall of 2014, called Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS).  Currently, the Jane Addams site houses the Jane Addams K-8 option program (JAK8). It’s expected that these two programs may be co-housed at the site for one or more years.
If the Capital Levy passes, the JAK8 program will be permanently relocated to a new facility at the existing Pinehurst site by 2017. If it doesn’t pass, it’s unclear what will happen to the JAK8 program.
With JAMS will come a new middle school feeder pattern, with Olympic Hills, John Rogers and Sacajawea feeding into JAMS instead of Eckstein. This has raised equity concerns, as these elementary schools have much higher concentrations of low-income students than the elementary schools which will remain in the Eckstein feeder pattern. In a meeting last week, the School Board voted 4-3 to wait until 2014 to open JAMS in order to allow adequate planning time to address these concerns and bring this new school online.

If the levy passes, the existing Pinehurst site will have a new facility built on it to house JAK8. District plans for the existing Pinehurst K-8 program aren’t specified, but the possibility of relocating it to the Cedar Park site was mentioned at the Cedar Park community meeting with Pegi McEvoy.
If the levy doesn’t pass, the Pinehurst program may experience even more radical changes. It’s unclear what the district would do to relieve capacity issues, but almost certainly the Pinehurst site would get more students than it currently does.

John Rogers, Sacajawea & Jane Addams
If the levy passes, these three schools will receive important seismic upgrades to improve earthquake safety.

In addition to benefiting Lake City area schools with new construction and seismic upgrades, these levies will also fund sorely needed projects in other areas of Seattle, such as replacement of the severely dilapidated Arbor Heights building.  If approved, these levies would equate to a $13/month increase for the owner of a $400,000 home. The following chart provides a comparison of how Seattle’s education levy tax rate stacks up against other cities:
*Levy rate chart available via
**Note:  With any school construction, the school district will work with the City of Seattle to address neighborhood impacts following SEPA and best practice protocols for community involvement.

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