School Facilities Update (a/k/a “Do the Math”)


I asked Kathryn Reith for more details about Temporary (portables) vs. permanent classrooms in the District.  I focused on the difference in permitting / approval between the two structures.

She reported that according to Forrest Miller, Director of Support Services “the process for getting a permit for an addition to a school and for getting a portable is exactly the same. A portable is considered a building and is subject to all the requirements of a building based on its size and its occupancy. The process starts with the determination of whether the project has a significant impact on the environment according to the State Environmental Protection Act, moves on to procuring a land-use (“conditional use”) permit and then a building permit.”

Currently within LWSD there are 128 portable classrooms (some are single units; others are double classroom units).

Page 21 of the Capital Facility plan lists “Calculations for Capacities for Elementary, Middle and High Schools”.  Please note that capacities are calculated at 23 students per classroom; when the average is much closer to 30 per classroom.

This page also shows the location and counts of all current portables in the District; 80 in the Elementary levels, 30 in Middle level and        18 at the Senior High level.

Page 34 of the CFP shows Six Year Enrollment Projections for 2013 through 2019 in LWSD.

Page 36 shows Inventory and Capacity of Existing Schools.

Page 37 lists “Inventory of Undeveloped Land” (Map on page 38)

Page 40 lists a 6 year finance plan.

When I asked about temporary classroom approval processes; she also reported that the District is moving towards all “Green” buildings.

“This time, the plan is to use “green” portables that are more durable, have lower energy consumption and more windows. They are more expensive than conventional portables, costing about $12.7 million to add 28 classrooms. That is still considerably cheaper than a permanent addition.”

~ ($12.7 million/28 classrooms = $453,571.43 per classroom) ~

In July 2013, I had an email conversation with Ms. Reith regarding the difference in construction costs between the temporary classroom additions and the permanent building (“B” Wing) at Redmond High School (RHS).  Her answer via email is below:


Here is what I have been able to find out. One of the portables is actually destined for Redmond Middle School, which needs additional space. The two portables for Redmond High are for specific special education needs. They will not be used for regular classes.

 With regard to classroom cost, here’s the answer:

  • Per permanent classroom cost (this is for the addition) = $728,484
  • Per portable classroom cost = $190,000 *Single Classroom*


Let me know if you have any additional questions.


Kathryn Reith, APR

~ (at this date, there are 4 portables at RHS; at least one of the portables is used for language classes; which is not considered “Special Education”) ~

“Green Classroom” vs. traditional temporary classroom is 1.19% difference ($453,500 / $380,000 = 1.1934)

If we take $728,500 (cost of “B” Wing at RHS in 2012) times that 1.19% increase, the cost for the “B” wing (assuming that inflation/costs increases are similar in that 3 year time period) in 2015 dollars would be approximately $869,407 to construct.

For ease in calculations, let’s say a Temporary ‘green’ classroom costs $500k; and a replica of the “B” Wing at RHS would cost $1M in 2015 dollars.  “B” Wing provides 12-14 classrooms plus restrooms, while a temporary classroom only provides one classroom (no restrooms).

For the $12.7 million quoted for 28 temporary classrooms, the district could build 12 replica/similar “B” Wing structures (144 classrooms at 12 classrooms/structure).

Student capacities for 28 temporary classrooms would be 644 – 840 students vs. 12 “B” Wing Structures capacities of 3,312 – 4,320 students (23-30 student average/classroom).

According to a LWSD September 25, 2014 release,

To ensure enough classrooms overall, district staff analyzed five options to address short-term capacity needs, including:

  1. Changing the Capital Facility Plan standard of service temporarily
  2. Making interior building modifications
  3. Adding portable classrooms, either traditional or “green”*
  4. Constructing permanent additions
  5. Leasing commercial space

After analyzing the needs and costs, district staff developed a plan that included a combination of the first four options. Leasing commercial space was found to be too costly after the expense of interior space renovations for school use were factored in.

Plan details

  1. The Capital Facility Plan standard of having separate art / science rooms and computer rooms in modernized elementary schools is temporarily suspended as needed. Those rooms are already being used as regular classrooms in some schools. Adds 18 classrooms No monetary – cost.

  2. Building modifications at Juanita High School and Evergreen Middle School to provide teacher planning spaces. When middle and high school teachers plan in rooms other than their classroom, it frees up their classrooms during their planning period for another class. This increase in classroom utilization will provide the equivalent of 17 classrooms. Cost: $1 million.

  3. Add “green” portables to Audubon Elementary (1 portable), Franklin Elementary (1), Rush Elementary (3), Alcott Elementary (4), Redmond Elementary (4), Redmond Middle School (1), Evergreen Middle School (4), and Lake Washington High School (10). Adds 28 classrooms.Cost: $12.7 million.

  4. Construct permanent addition to Redmond Elementary School of six classrooms, restrooms and a shared instructional space. Adds six classrooms.Cost: $6.3 million.

The district’s Board of Directors reviewed this plan at its September 8 study session. The plan adds 69 classrooms at a cost of $20 million.

Redistributing enrollment by changing school boundaries
The district announced last spring that a boundary process would take place this fall so that all classroom space in the district could be used to house its growing enrollment. Now that a plan to add classroom space has been determined, the boundary process is the next step to distribute student enrollment accordingly.

This short-term plan will enable the district to accommodate student enrollment growth through the 2017-18 school year. The district is also engaging in a long-term facilities planning process to determine how it will accommodate enrollment growth and management of facility needs for 2018-19 and beyond. 


The Long-Term Facilities Planning Working Subcommittee reported on February 5, 2015:

Long Term Facilities Planning challenges: (Page 6)

  • Lack of Classroom Capacity
  • Aging Facilities (Building Condition, Current Educational Expectations)

Some of the ideas discussed to alleviate the challenges: (Pages 7 & 9)

  • Build “a” new additional school building
  • Replacement vs. modernization of existing school
  • Update & make improvements to heating, roofs, etc. of existing structures
  • Site portables to provide additional classrooms
  • Use Old Redmond School House
  • Buy or Rent spaces from adjacent districts
  • Year-round, late-start, half days or ‘shifts’ of students
  • Virtual classes from home

I’m not convinced that the District or the facilities planning committee are really looking towards the long-term issues of our capacity challenges.  I’m also concerned that currently available funds (leftover from previously approved bonds) are being used for short-term fixes.

Continuing to build temporary classrooms that have limited uses and life-spans instead of permanent structures with more durable functions seems to replicate the existing challenges we have and continuing them on for future committees to deal with.


City of Redmond (Potential) Levy Open House


City of Redmond Levy Open House

The City of Redmond has hosted two open house events regarding the proposed/potential Levy for 2015/2016. The items proposed are based on a recent survey (August 2014) by the city about community priorities.  If approved, the funds would be in use beginning fiscal year 2017.

Amount of the proposed Levy:

“The actual levy proposal amount is pending Council’s decision on what services to include in the levy, though it is estimated to in in the 25-40 cent per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. At this range, it is estimated to impact the average Redmond homeowner (of a $500,000 home) approximately $15-$18 per month. “  (Lisa Rhodes, Communication Manager, City of Redmond, via email)

Are the levy funds separated by priority/focus?   “…the potential levy-funded services are grouped by priority (infrastructure, parks, public safety).  In its levy considerations, the Council will also decide if any levy would combine these proposals in one levy or address them in service-priority specific levies.”

Time Frame of Levy:  6 years, beginning 2017

Ratings results will form recommendations that will be presented to City Council at the February 17, 2015, meeting and offered for a vote, after approval by Council; possibly as early as August 2015.

Survey responders were asked to rate 6 priorities for the budget:  Clean & Green, Vibrant Economy, Responsible Government, Infrastructure, Connected Community and Safety.

Based on the results of the survey the top 3 priorities were Clean & Green (Parks), Safety (Police) and Infrastructure (Roads, etc.)

The first link above has 3 PDF documents that were available for viewing at the Open house; Infrastructure, Parks and Public Safety.

I’ll discuss Infrastructure first.

“Invest in Asphalt & Pavement Maintenance on Local and Arterial Streets”

  • The City maintains 219 lane miles of arterial and 128 lane miles of local streets.
  • It’s more cost effective to repair/resurface the roads instead of replacing.

“Invest in Sidewalks, Crosswalks, & Safe Pedestrian Crossings”

  • City maintains 454 crosswalks, 515 stop bars and 2900 pavement symbols.
    • A stop bar is the broad strip on the road before the stop sign.
    • Pavement symbols are all the other markings on the roadways

“Invest in Bridge Repair”

The City has 18 bridges ranging in age from 45 years (1970) to present (2006)

Next is Park Improvements

“Continue to Enhance Park Service Levels Through Additional Park & Trail Maintenance”

  • Backlog of project & repairs is $3.6 million

“Invest in Idylwood Park & Parking Lot”

“Invest in Farrel McWhirter Park Safety Improvements”

“Invest in Neighborhood Parks – SE Redmond, Westside & NE Redmond”

“Invest in Phase II of the SE Redmond Park Improvements”

“Invest in Phase II of the Perrigo Park Accessible Playground & Park Improvements”

“Invest in Phase II of the NE Neighborhood Park Improvements” 

“Support Anderson Park Restroom Renovations”

Finally is Public Safety

“Continue to Enhance Police Service, School Resource Officers & Firefighters from Previous Levy”

“Invest in Additional Police Personnel to Reduce Property Crime”

  • “two additional officers in 2017-18 dedicated to investigating offenders responsible for property crimes in Redmond”
  • State of Washington property crime rate per 1000 – 38.6
    • * City of Redmond property crime rate per 1000 – 43.8

“Invest in Police Personnel for Additional Patrol & Evidence Processing”

  • Two additional Officers in 2017-18 dedicated to neighborhood problem solving (Neighborhood Resources Officers)
  • Two additional Patrol Officers in 2019-20 dedicated to crime reduction at times and locations identified as high crime hot spots
  • One additional specialist in 2016 to manage the increase in evidence and personal property
  • Calls for service have increased from 24,000 in 2010 to over 24,500 in 2014
  • Property/Evidence intake has increased from roughly 2,700 in 2010 to almost 4,000 in 2014

Overall, it was a very informal event, with city council members, police and other city staff available to answer questions.  The City had tables set up with small laptops for ease of voting, or you could return the back page of the handout with your support votes; I completed the survey using my phone.

The Open House survey online has an interactive section for entering in the assessed value of your home so you can calculate the monthly and yearly cost of the levy for your household/zip code.  The example given was a $500k assessed value in a 98052 Zip Code; $18.03/month $216.30/year property tax increase.

I entered in $500k value with 98052 Zip code and came up with $16.86/month $202.35 a year increase.  That’s roughly 5 vente mochas (Starbucks cost) per month for 6 years.

I encourage you to click on the link, take the survey and email the City with any questions you may have at

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It’s just a game


4th down and 1 yard to go and the team punts it.  I am that girl who always wonders WHY they didn’t go for it?  The guys around me roll their eyes and attempt to explain it (again), but I think they should have just tried.

I’m the girl who doesn’t stop watching the game until it’s completely over.

The girl who yells at the sportscasters and calls them “stupid” and “idiot” and “hater” when they disrespect my team.

The girl who doesn’t understand why guys punch each other while wearing helmets and pads (but sometimes wishes more fights broke out because some guys just deserve a punch).

The girl who doesn’t understand booing.  At all.  Ever.  It’s bad form and poor sportsmanship and shows how class-less people are.

The girl who doesn’t understand why dancing in the end zone and spiking the ball isn’t unsportsmanlike conduct, but grabbing ones crotch is.

The one that kind of believes in jinxes and traditions, but doesn’t really believe that they make any difference at all.

The one that believes that at any given point in any given game on any given day, each team has a chance to win or lose.

The one that bases her likes and dislikes on character, not necessarily looks or skill.

The one that understands that football is a game.  A game of skill and chance and luck and good calls and bad calls, but JUST A GAME.

So, yesterday my team came in 2nd (my pastor likes to say that).  The news and my Facebook feed is FILLED with lots of opinions.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  I think that if the “worst play-call in Super Bowl history” had worked, the Seahawks would be HEROES.  Every play, every time is a 50/50 shot.

Just two weeks ago (TWO WEEKS!) we made the Super Bowl by coming from behind to win.  In less than 10 minutes.  The Seahawks were amazing!  The sports world EXPLODED with how great we were!  What a team!  How Awesome!

Now?  We’re goats.  Stupid.  Fire the defensive coordinator.  Hang them (after shooting them and burning the bodies).  The sports world is calling us everything but cheaters.

Why didn’t they give the ball to Marshawn Lynch?  Because it’s a team game.  Imagine that.  The Seahawks don’t just depend on one player to make every game.  Not JUST Russell Wilson, Chris Matthews, Richard Sherman, Luke Willson, Jermaine Kearse or Marshawn Lynch.  It’s a team.

How many times have we watched the Seahawks move to the 1 yard line, give the ball to Marshawn and miss the chance to score?  I’ll bet more times than the “bad call” has actually worked.  FIVE times in the game against the Packers Russell Wilson threw to Jermaine Kearse.  FIVE TIMES they failed.  FIVE!  The sixth time, in overtime with no reason to throw to the guy who had missed the first FIVE chances, Russell Wilson throws to Jermaine and wins the game.  Because chance.  Because it had a 50/50 chance of working or not.

I’m proud of my team and the chances they took and the game they played.  I’m sad they lost.  There is a bit of mourning and disbelief and numbness in a loss that close.  But in the end it is still just a game.  Our quarterback, Russell Wilson sums it up best when he said 1 play or moment doesn’t define his career.

We’ll be back.  We’ll make bad plays and great plays, win games and lose games.  Trade players and get new ones.  Have good years and bad years.  Get fined and make money.  It’s just a game.