Anticipated Central Seattle middle schooler boom prompted reopening of Meany

Seattle Public Schools is planning some big changes in the neighborhood in the next couple years, including reopening Meany Middle School and moving NOVA back to a renovated Horace Mann building at 24th and Cherry.

Our sister site Capitol Hill Seattle has gathered more details about the Building Excellence IV plan and why Seattle Public Schools is proposing a $23 million investment to rebuild the 20th at E Republican campus into a full-fledged middle school.

The short answer: There will soon be even more young teens in need of education in Central Seattle.

According to spokesperson Teresa Wippel, the SPS proposal for reopening Meany Middle School is largely based on demographic studies conducted by Seattle Schools and a hired demographic expert. From the studies, SPS forecast a steady increase in middle school student enrollment for the Central Region over the next 10 years.

(Source: Seattle Public Schools)

For the Central Region, SPS is planning to take a more conservative approach, and use the mid-range projection shown above.  As you can see, the mid-range projection envisions an increase of almost 600 students enrolling in middle schools over the next decade.

SPS cited a few interesting reasons why its foresees a growth in middle school enrollment in the coming years:

  1. With the drop in housing values, people are staying put and not moving out to the suburbs, where the schools are supposedly better
  2. The improving transportation infrastructure (light rail, street cars) makes living in the city a more attractive option
  3. Given the tough economic conditions, parents are less able to send their children to private schools, and as a result there will be more students attending public schools. 

According to Tom Redman, SPS capital communications manager, some have proposed that SPS could save money and simply build more portables at existing schools to deal with the burgeoning enrollment.  However, he said this option is fraught with problems.  In addition to the fact that portables are not the ideal learning environment (if you’ve ever attended classes in a portable, you will likely agree), building more portables and increasing the size of existing schools places added stress on the schools’ infrastructures, most notably the need for more lunch periods, basic facilities such as restrooms, and additional custodial staff. 

The new school would be slated to open by the 2017/2018 school year. The $23 million price tag appears to be a relative bargain. A from-the-ground-up plan for a new middle school elsewhere in the city would cost more than $82 million according to SPS.

The NOVA alternative high school and the Secondary Bilingual Education Program have called the Meany campus home since moving there in 2009.

Schools officials say they are still considering public feedback (both pro and con), as well as having ongoing internal discussions about the plan.

We asked Kay Smith-Blum, school board member, for comment but have not yet heard back.

The discussion about Meany will continue until when Seattle School Board votes in November, and CHS/CDN will keep you informed as new developments surface. If you would like to submit feedback on the potential reopening of Meany Middle School, SPS encourages you to send your thoughts to [email protected]

10 thoughts on “Anticipated Central Seattle middle schooler boom prompted reopening of Meany

  1. .
    i agree, it looked absolutely lovely
    quality building materials
    quality architecture
    good land sq ft to building sq ft ratio
    good natural light
    double hung windows
    hardwood floors
    high ceilings
    on and on
    all adds up to comfortable pleasant conditions for teaching and learning, in my opinion

  2. these are possible plans. While Washington is crowded, it is popular. Them most important piece here is to ensure that there are enough students to maintain robust comprehensive middle school programs at all the middle schools south of the ship canal. Splitting the Central Area families into two groups, one a winner and the other a loser, due to lack of great program offerings at both schools would be very sad at best and a travesty at worst. A really good comprehensive middle school offering all the different levels of academics in math, language arts, along with exciting music and arts requires almost 1000 students.

  3. That would be a very bad idea offering the broad range of choices that both programs can drive to just that school. My understanding is that the plan would be to redraw assignment areas, which will be happening at the elementary level as well.

  4. Of course they saw it coming when they closed Meany back in 2008; only then there were buses bringing kids from out of the neighborhood.
    Now, it’s safe to re-open Meany because there are no buses and only neighborhood kids can go there. The folks sending their kids to St. Whoever’s and Stephens and McGilvra Elementary have been wanting Meany for their sqeaky clean selves for a long time. That area has had the statewide top percentage of school-age kids in private schools for years. The problem for them wasn’t south of the ship canal, it was south of Union Street. Mission Accomplished!

  5. Okay. I get it. The District believes that middle school enrollment in the Central Region (which includes Queen Anne and Magnolia) is going to grow. Their earlier numbers indicated that the part east of Lake Union would only grow by a couple hundred. Those students could be accomodated with an addition to Washington that included some core facilities in addition to classrooms and wouldn’t be bigger than the school planned for Wilson-Pacific. Now they’re talking about 600 students. Funny how elastic those numbers can be, isn’t it?

    So I guess they have no choice but to re-open Meany.

    This is all part of the District’s current five-year strategic plan, to completely un-do every decision made during their previous four-year strtegic plan while Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was superintendent. She closed Meany Middle School, and now they’re going to re-open it. She moved NOVA out of Mann, and now they’re moving it back. She found a home for the World School, now they are homeless again. Not only does this create a lot of wear and tear on students, families and communities, it costs a huge amount of money. The District is spending $50 million to put everything back the way it was. That’s after spending a like amount when they changed it. So we go all the way around the circle right back to where we started and it costs us the disruption of the communities and $100 million dollars.

    Think of all of the better ways that $100 million could have been spent and it’s hard to feel good about this.

    On top of that, the area will be divided so that students from Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, and Lowell will go to Meany, while the students from Bailey-Gatzert, Thurgood Marshall, Leschi, and Muir go to Washington. There’s going to be a pretty striking contrast in demographics there.

    Chris (above) predicted that Meany would be the APP/Spectrum school. The Spectrum part is right since Meany will have to offer Spectrum just like every other comprehensive middle school. And, since every middle school service area has to have an elementary Spectrum site, one of the four schools feeding Meany will have to be designated as a Spectrum site as well – probably Lowell since it has available capacity. It is, however, unlikely that the District will move APP from Washington. If it went anywhere, the southern APP middle school would go further south to Mercer. Mercer is well located for a half city draw with easy access from the Central area (go south on 23rd), West Seattle (just across the bridge), and the Southeast (go north on MLK to Alaska).

    I don’t like the disruption, the expense, or the segregation, but I don’t see any alternatives.

  6. Yep. The feeder elementary schools for Meany will be Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, and Lowell. They are all majority White with relatively low FRL populations.

    The feeder schools for Washington will be Bailey-Gatzert, Thurgood Marshall, Leschi, and Muir. They are all minority White with relatively high FRL populations.

    It’s hard not to notice this. The state will not provide matching funds for school construction projects that either create or exacerbate segregation. I don’t see the state kicking in any money for this project.

  7. The alternative is Charter Schools. Take the money away from SPS. They’re goal is to burn money, beg for more, and burn it again before forwarding a meager portion to actual teaching.

    These old crummy buildings should be buldozed and forgotten. Let’s build something new, without carrying the anchor that is SPS