Schools says with community issues *being* sorted out, $14.2M plan moving forward to re-open Hill middle school

Meany renovation awaits (Image: CHS)

Meany renovation awaits (Image: CHS)

Community groups that had staged a grassroots takeover of a temporarily mothballed Central District school building have moved aside allowing the school district to move ahead with millions of dollars in planned renovations and opening up the path to a $14.2 million renovation and re-opening of a public middle school on Capitol Hill, officials tell CHS.

Despite recent uncertainty about the future of the Horace Mann building and community groups that call it home, the Nova Alternative High School is on track open in the E Cherry Mann building next year, Seattle Public Schools says. That move puts Meany campus near Miller Community Center at 19th and Thomas, which currently houses Nova, on track to reopen as a Capitol Hill middle school in 2017.

Nova’s impending return to Mann had grown increasingly uncertain in recent months. After being stalled earlier in the year it appeared the project was on its way in June when the Department of Planning and Development approved the district’s plan to renovate the building. But community groups putting an empty Mann to use for social and educational programs formed the More 4 Mann Coalition to urge the district to reconsider the Nova move. In response Seattle Public Schools formed a task force last month to rethink plans for the 110-year-old school.

Apparently, the task force moved quickly. SPS official Pegi McEvoy tells CHS that the community groups have now moved out of the old E Cherry schoolhouse and the district is working with an architect on the $7.5 million renovation. UPDATE: Seattle Schools tells CHS the talks have made progress but are ongoing and that another meeting with the Mann groups is scheduled for later this week.

Also in the mix are plans to move The World School, formerly called the Secondary Bilingual Education Program. The program is is currently housed in the Meany building and will relocate to TT Minor in two years.

Horace Mann had been the long time home to Nova, which opened in 1970. Nova left Mann in 2009 and set up shop in the Meany building. McEvoy said finding a central location for Nova was critical because the school pulls students from all over the city.

In an effort to save money while middle school enrollment was declining, the school district shut down the Meany Middle School in 2009. When middle school enrollment started increasing, putting strain on the Washington Middle School, the district moved to reopen Meany.

Plans to reopen the Meany campus as a Capitol Hill middle school are moving along. Voters approved funding for the work in February with the passing of the Seattle Schools  Capitol Levy. The next step for Meany will be for the district to assemble a School Design Advisory Team to begin reviewing the renovation plans. Positions are open to the public. Construction at Meany is slated to start in June 2014.

The 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 would have cost more than $82 million, school officials said.

In 2009, KUOW reported on needed seismic upgrades on the campus.

On September 18the, the Seattle school board will vote on an action to secure funding from the state to start work on Meany. McEvoy said the district is currently looking for an architect to work out the renovation plan.

The new Meany building will be mostly occupied by the middle school, but McEvoy said there’s “always potential for space allocation” when it comes to community groups that currently call the building home.

Here is the SPS plan for Mann:

“Budget $7.5 million

Project Description

Modernize existing school building to enhance learning and teaching at Nova Alternative High School.

Modernization includes:

  • Abatement and demolition of unnecessary site structures such as portables.
  • Abatement and demolition of interior spaces as necessary to reconfigure for optimum use.
  • 15,000 square-foot addition.
  • Rehabilitation of building envelope including roof replacement, exterior wall updates and painting, and installation of energy efficient windows.
  • Structural work and earthquake retrofitting including replacement of roof diaphragm, tying roof structure to supporting walls, and installing lateral bracing systems.
  • Interior finish work such as replacing floor and ceiling finishes and complete repainting.
  • Addressing accessibility issues such as wheelchair access, restroom sizes, and accessible fixtures.
  • Renovation or replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
  • Technology upgrades such as building-wide wi-fi and data networks.
  • Installation of new fire alarm and sprinkler systems.
  • New furniture, fixtures and equipment.
  • Site work including installation of new building signage and energy-efficient lighting, and resurfacing and restriping of the parking lot.”

And the plan for Meany:

Budget $14.2 million

Project

The building will be completely renovated and reopened as a comprehensive middle school. With a capacity of 850, this project will address current and projected middle school enrollment growth in central Seattle and reduce overcrowding at Washington Middle School.

Modernization includes:

  • Abatement and demolition of unnecessary site structures.

  • Abatement and demolition of interior spaces as necessary to reconfigure for optimum use.

  • Rehabilitation of building envelope including roof replacement, exterior wall updates and painting, and installation of energy efficient windows.

  • Structural work and earthquake retrofitting including replacement of roof diaphragm, tying roof structure to supporting walls, and installing lateral bracing systems.

  • Interior finish work such as replacing floor and ceiling finishes and complete repainting.

  • Addressing accessibility issues such as wheelchair access, restroom sizes, and accessible fixtures.

  • Renovation or replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

  • Technology upgrades such as building-wide wi-fi and data networks.

  • Installation of new fire alarm and sprinkler systems.

  • New furniture, fixtures and equipment.

  • Site work including playfield renovation, installation of new building signage and energy-efficient lighting, and resurfacing and restriping of the parking lot.”

10 thoughts on “Schools says with community issues *being* sorted out, $14.2M plan moving forward to re-open Hill middle school

  1. I don’t have children, so I really don’t follow the schools as closely as some would. But is it just me, or does the district seem to open and close schools alot, shuttling different programs hither and yon?

    Also, how many alternative high schools does the district have? Can the programs be consolidated on to one campus, or would this just exacerbate the issues?

    Now this next question might be naïve, but what exactly constitutes an alternative high school?

    I’m genuinely interested, and I’m not a “Vote No” on school issues kind of person. I value public school education, and I want the best we can get for our students.

    • Yes, the schools closed in 2009 have had to be reopened within a few years. There’s a change which has surprised a lot of people, including the School District planners: far fewer families with young children are moving to the suburbs while their children are still young. It used to be that significant percentage of families would move to suburbs before their children started kindergarten, and another significant percentage before their children got old enough for middle school. The rate at which that happens has declined sharply, so there’s more need for schools, buildings that were only leased need to be reopened, etc.

    • P.S. maybe I should mention that the Seattle Schools Community Forum is not affiliated with the Seattle Schools district itself. The forum is set up and maintained by interested community members.

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