It’s been awhile since I’ve posted; life has been busy and there hasn’t been more than a short moment to put somethings together. However, I have been asking questions, getting information and doing research so I’ll likely post quite a few things in the next week(s) or so.
First up is the Bond request from Lake Washington School District (LWSD) that will be on the ballot locally on April 26th. I had a long list of questions that I asked of Kathryn Reith (*), Communications Director at LWSD.
I have copied and pasted the email questions and answers, with no edits below.
Kathryn, as always thank you for providing answers to my questions. I, of course, have more:
2) I have been told that the refurbishment of the ORSCC will cost roughly $8 million and only seat 96 students.
Is this cost-effective for under 100 students (3 & 4 years old) in one location due to the age and structural needs of the ORSCC?
How many preschool children does the program expect to serve and is this the only location for the preschool program?
Why not put the preschool program in portables on site at the neighborhood school they would be attending?
Will this require more busses (and the expense for more drivers and IA’s for the classrooms)?
What is the student to teacher ratio for a preschool program vs. Elementary?
How many classrooms does the $8 million build and what are the future plans for the building? (what will be done with the building spaces that are NOT refurbished?)
3) Why is the District focusing on buildings for preschoolers when they will be required to provide full-day kindergarten district-wide beginning in Fall of 2016? What will be the student increase with full day kindergarten to the District?
Let me give you some background on this project that will answer some of your questions. It’s important to consider all options to solve our overcrowding issues in a cost-effective, responsible manner. In doing so, the Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force recommended using a facility the district already owns, the Old Redmond Schoolhouse. Because we accepted state money to build the new Redmond Elementary School, we cannot use the Old Redmond Schoolhouse for K-12 education without forfeiting the opportunity to get state construction assistance, but we can use it for preschool. By moving 10 preschool classes out of elementary schools, we free up 10 classrooms in elementary schools for K-5 education, which will help us reduce overcrowding.
The cost is about $7.8 million. The number of preschool students that could be housed will vary depending on the level of disabilities of the specific students, which then affects class size, but the number of students served on average likely would be closer to 120. What’s important, though, is not the number of preschool students served. It’s really about the space we now would be able to use in the elementary schools by moving classes into ORSCC. Putting the preschool program in portables at the elementary school would not provide any additional space.
Preschool classes are held in seven elementary schools around the district, serving about 400 students total. This location would not be the only location for preschool. Students are all bused to their schools and IAs are already assigned to their classes so this change would not require any additional bus drivers or IAs.
Plans for the spaces that are not used for preschool have not yet been determined. The district will be working with the city as plans are developed to ensure a smooth transition. As we do in all our buildings, community use will be possible in non-school hours. Since preschool does not have after school activities, I expect there would be more opportunity for community use of this building than most school buildings.
4) As the first new schools won’t be available until 2018 and 2019, how will the District manage the estimated 1900 new students that will enter the system between now and then (District estimates 625 students per year growth)?
The district’s short-term housing plan is designed to get us through to the fall of 2018, when the first new schools open. You can find more information on that plan here. Note: the 625 students/year is the past growth, not the projected. (Last projections were for about 1500 more students by the fall of 2018.)
5) Why is the capacity so small for remodels of Kirk and Mead Elementary schools; and no increase for Explorer remodel?
The Kirk and Mead Elementary School remodels would both grow those schools to serve 550 students. Mead was designed to serve 449 students under current class sizes. With the class size reduction funded by the state legislature going into effect, they could only house 392 students in the same building as it is now. So we will actually be growing the school from 392 to 550. Kirk is designed to house 414 students at current class sizes. Under class size reduction, they could accommodate 360 students. So Kirk will grow from 360 to 550.
Explorer is a Choice School: their enrollment is set by the lottery and the fact they have three multi-age classes. This project is not designed to increase space. Instead, it is simply replacing three of the oldest portables in the district that are in the worst shape.
6) What is the capacity ceiling (assuming there is one) for elementary, middle and high schools in our District? How many schools are at that ceiling? For instance, the proposed, new elementary schools have a capacity of 550; is that the ceiling (the highest number of students an elementary school can be built to hold)?
There is no specific capacity ceiling. However, there are generally accepted practices on school sizes. Some of the considerations include supervision requirements, capacity of common areas (playgrounds, cafeterias, libraries, etc.), traffic impacts and impact on the neighborhood, etc.
7) Will the District be requesting an increase in impact fees from Kirkland, Redmond and King County with all the growth that is planned for these areas?
The amount the district can request in impact fees is determined by a King County formula. I expect we will continue to request the amount we are allowed to.
8) Will site and construction plans/layouts be available for citizen review & comment?
The Task Force recommended continued community input and involvement in planning. I don’t know yet exactly what shape that will take but I expect there will be opportunities for citizen input along the way, whether it is before, during and/or after the development of plans/layouts.
9) How will the location of the new schools affect traffic in the areas they serve? Is the City working with the District to mitigate the impact?
The city and the district will work together on traffic around the elementary school in North Redmond. The other two new schools are in Redmond Ridge, which is in unincorporated King County. We will work with King County on those schools.
10) The $398 million bond only adds 2892 student capacity (based on the #’s from this page) for specific projects mentioned. What is the proposed capacity increase for each of the bonds proposed 2018 – 2026? And how does that match with the proposed 32,000 student increase by 2029-2030? By my math, that’s an increase of nearly 2300 students per year for 14 years. (2016-2030 is 14 years; 32,000 / 14 = 2285.71 rounded up). And why is that number different than the 625/year average the District is using on the website?
The district will increase from 27,830 TO 32,000 students total. The total increase from now to 2029-30 is about 4,000 students. The 625/year average is what the increase has been over the last five years. We expect the increase in students to slow. That’s because a significant driver in our rapid growth has been the incoming classes of 2200 kindergarten/1st grade students, replacing graduating classes of 1500-1600. As those larger classes have made their way through the system, we have fewer grades with the smaller total. Once all grades have that larger cohort, we won’t see that same kind of growth. I’ve attached a chart that should help you see the impact of the proposed bonds on classroom space.
11) How many new schools does the District plan to build in the next several bond requests? Not remodel, enlargements or additions, but NEW? Where is the property located for these schools and has the District begun acquisition of these sites?
The Future Projects page now has that information for projects through 2029-30. There are two new elementary schools planned for Kirkland and one more new Redmond elementary school, in addition to those on the current bond. Two choice high schools will be added: one on each side of the district. I don’t believe that land has been specifically identified for any of those projects. The district does own some land but I don’t know if the specific parcels would work for any of these needs. There is money for land acquisition being requested in each of the next three bonds.
The information page online for the Bond requests is here. The information is updated frequently; so I recommend you check back often.
Four upcoming community meetings are a chance to learn more about the bond measure and the projects it would fund. The four meetings will take place:
March 15 changed to March 23, Redmond High School cafeteria, 6:30-8:00 pm
- March 22, Juanita High School cafeteria, 6:30-8:00 pm
- March 29, Lake Washington High School commons, 6:30-8:00 pm
- April 13, Eastlake High School commons, 6:30-8:00 pm
More information on the bond measure is also available at www.lwsd.org/news/2016-bond
If you’d like to ask questions of the school district, board members or Facilities Task Force; contact information:
Kathryn M. Reith, APR
Lake Washington School District
Facebook / Twitter
Siri Bliesner, District 5 (Education Hill)
Other LWSD Board Members and emails here
(425) 936 – 1229
Other ways to contact the District are here
(*) I had the pleasure of FINALLY meeting Kathryn in February at the Education Hill Neighborhood Association (EdHNA) meeting. After all the years of questions and answers, it was fantastic to have a face to go with the emails. I appreciate her thorough and information answers to my questions.