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Seattle might reopen 4 elementary schools

Seattle Public Schools might reopen four elementary schools to deal with overcrowding in some areas of the city.

This fall, Seattle Schools reopened Viewlands and Rainier View elementary schools. In the next few years, the district could reopen Van Asselt, Columbia, Boren and Hughes elementaries.

Between 2006 and 2010, Seattle Schools closed 11 schools when the enrollment trend was going down like a first grader on a playground slide. But that’s changed. Over the past few years, the district has picked up a few hundred students each years – from a low of 45,581 in the 2007-2008 school year to 47,735 in the past school year. A new enrollment number for the current school year should be out soon.

The district is holding community meetings to figure out what to do if enrollment continues to increase. Please read their 33 page “Draft Intermediate Term Capacity Management Plan 2012-2016.” That title alone gives you a slight headache doesn’t it? Does “Here’s the deal with crowded Seattle Schools” sound more manageable? That’s what I’ll provide.

PortablesSeattle doesn’t have enough school building space for all their students, so each day thousands of kids spend chilly, wet Northwest days like today in portable classrooms.

Portables weren’t meant to be permanent.

“They’re dumpy, smaller, either too hot or too cold, and generally a tougher learning environment,” according to my daughter who’s spent many hours in the middle school portables pictured here.

Some portables are probably nicer than others. Without the extra space they provide many schools in the district couldn’t function.

Middle school capacity “appears generally OK,” according to the district’s report. They’re not considering crowding issues at high schools for these discussions even though, “overall capacity exceeds projected enrollment, certain schools are over/under utilized.” The report is mainly an elementary school crowding issue for the moment.

Seattle needs to either expand existing schools that are over capacity by plopping down more portables, adjust the school boundaries again, or reopen schools they’ve closed.

More portables? Again, they’re supposed to be temporary.

Change the boundaries? That’s least likely since Seattle just went through a long process of doing that when it changed the assignment plan to require that students go to the school that’s closest to their home addresses.

Take back some old schools? Bingo. Seattle Schools is considering reopening four elementary schools: Van Asselt on Beacon Hill; Columbia near Columbia City; Boren in West Seattle; and Hughes also in West Seattle.

The School Board will consider a recommendation for dealing with capacity issues in early November, with a possible vote later in the month.

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