Action Needed!


Dear K-5 STEM families, teachers and supporters:

We need your help – NOW! 

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has made three recommendations as part of the Growth Boundaries project that impact the future of our school.  These include recommendations to:

1.     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;

2.     Co-locate Arbor Heights Elementary with K-5 STEM at Boren beginning in the Fall of 2014; and

3.     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 is no planned usage for the Boren building after 2016.

Please join the K-5 STEM PTA Executive Board on Monday, August 5th at K-5 STEM at Boren.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss these recommendations and prepare everyone to attend community input meetings (details below). These upcoming meetings are our last chance to be heard before the School Board votes on the staff recommendations.

K-5 STEM Proposed Alternatives Address Current Capacity Issues in West Seattle

Members of the PTA have been attending district meetings regarding these recommendations for the past two months and have serious concerns about the consequences of the recommendation to move K-5 STEM to the Schmitz Park building.  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 openFairmount 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.

We need to come together as a community to ensure our interests are being accurately represented before the final recommendations are put in front of the School Board in mid-September.

More information is available at: seattleschools.org

Upcoming Meetings

·       Monday, August 5

PTA Meeting

6:30pm, K-5 STEM at Boren, 5950 Delridge Way SW (in the gym) *CHILDCARE PROVIDED*

·       Saturday, August 3
Marty McLaren, Growth Boundary Meeting
10am-12, Southwest Branch Library (9010 35th Ave SW)

·       Wednesday, August 14
Marty McLaren, Growth Boundary Meeting
6-7:45pm, West Seattle Branch Library (2306 42nd Ave SW, behind Metropolitan Market)

·       Saturday, August 17
Let’s Talk Meeting with District Officials
1-3pm, John Stanford Center (2445 3rd Avenue South, Room 2750)

Please join us at the PTA meeting on Monday and at the community meetings!

Permanent link to this article: http://stemk8pta.org/2013/08/01/we-need-your-help-now/