Seattle Courant

School Board Trying to Decide What to do with Shuttered Schools

By Ryan Burr
April 16, 2009 01:04PM

A variety of options were explained for the other closed sites, such as declaring them permanently or temporarily vacant or placing them into two “inventory” categories: one for sites that will be needed in less than three years and the other for those needed beyond three years.

Cedar Park, Columbia and John Marshall schools are proposed for inventory for more than three years, while Old Hay and Sand Point are expected to be used sooner. All inventory sites can be rented short-term, said Ron English, the district’s attorney in the facilities department, during the presentation.

There was some dissension on the idea of retaining a private real estate firm to manage the surplus and other properties, which board member Harium Martin-Morris first mentioned.

“If we have three (surplus) buildings to run versus one, it might make some sense to outsource,” he said.

Board member Sherry Carr supported looking into outsourcing, but board President Michael DeBell had some doubts about any real estate firm being able to provide an effective plan and reasonable price and still care that these sites are “a neighborhood resource and we have pride in ownership.”

During a workshop recess, board member Steve Sundquist said it would likely take until summer before the board reached consensus on what to do with all 28 buildings and sites. This will come as an amendment to the district’s facilities master plan.

One additional task related to the designation of closed sites is school naming. The board committed to finding a new location with the same name for the Martin Luther King school, for instance, when it was closed in 2007. The Aki Kurose building had been named for Caspar W. Sharples, a doctor in the area in the early 1900s who, along with his family, was heavily supportive of education. When the name change occurred in 2000, the board also agreed to eventually find a new location to reassign the Sharples name.

In the process, the school board will examine its criteria for school naming, as well.