Friday, December 12, 2014

KING 5 News Story On Plans For More Portables At Laurelhurst Elementary School And Petition Circulation To Stop Addition Of Portables

Growing enrollment and a mandate for smaller class sizes has the Seattle school district dealing with some serious space issues. Meg Coyle reports. KING 5

SEATTLE -- Making more space to learn could mean less space to play. That's the dilemma facing at least one Seattle elementary school that could end up losing part of its playground for up to four more portables.
Parents for Playgrounds and Proper Planning is trying to stop it. They say they're concerned about the district's effort to change the zoning so it can legally add more portables at Laurelhurst Elementary. The school is currently zoned for 35 percent building lot coverage. The district wants to increase that to 45 percent. 
"Play takes space," said parent Jill Geary. "And if you start filling up that space with portables where are the kids going to play?" 
In a written statement, the District admits adding portables reduces available play space for students. "However, it is a necessary step to have more instructional space when we don't have the current fiscal capacity to physically expand all of our buildings through a renovation process." 
Parents say Laurehurst already has the smallest lot size of all eleven northeast elementary schools and the highest building-to-lot ratio. 
"It doesn't make sense to put more kids on our playground and yet take away the space that they need to play and be healthy," said Geary. 
Geary also cites studies that suggest recess is critical to a student's overall success. And taking away play space sets a dangerous precedent. 
"Children need to be able to play. And they need to be outside. We're hearing more and more from every level that play is important to kids, important for their health and conquering the obesity problem," said Geary. 
The school's playground is divided. Younger kids play at the north end of the property and the older kids playing at the south end. The main school building sits in the middle. 
The school already has four portables on site. The district says it wants to add one more next summer. 
The city's Department of Neighborhoods is forming a committee to decide whether to approve the zoning departure.

An on-line petition is also circulating, in conjunction with the group “Parents for Playgrounds and Proper Planning,” to stop the addition of up to four new portables on the Laurelhurst Elementary playground. 
An email says:
We believe children need lots of outdoor space to play for physical fitness, learning, and well, just because they're kids. 
If you think that you can support our efforts to stop the addition of more portables, please consider signing this online petition.
December 17th is the deadline to submit a letter of interest to be considered for one of eight representatives on the City's School Design Departure Advisory  Committee
Letters should be sent to Steve Sheppard at or regular mail to:
Steve Sheppard
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
700 5th Avenue Suite 1700
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649

For more information go here.

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