Memorial Stadium site among options for new high school

Many Seattle schools are bursting at the seams. 

In the last six years, the district has added approximately 7,000 students, and the growth is expected to continue in the coming years. 

Some of that growth will be addressed by the reopening of E.C. Hughes, Webster, and Magnolia Elementary schools, along with an addition to Ingraham High, all funded through the passage of the BTA IV capital levy last year. Meanwhile, the BEX IV levy passed in 2013 will fund the reopening of Lincoln High School in 2019. 

However, those moves won’t be enough to fully address increasing enrollment and current overcrowding. 

One option? A new school on the Seattle Center campus.

At last week’s Uptown Alliance meeting, SPS Associate Superintendent of Facilities and Operations Flip Herndon discussed the potential of adding a 1,500-seat high school in the neighborhood on the site of Memorial Stadium. 

“Almost all of our high schools are overfilled,” he said. 

Herndon said that location already serves as a great transit hub, and wouldn’t require a land purchase as its already controlled by the district.

However, such a development wouldn’t mean the end of high school athletics on the site either. 

“The stadium will still be there,” he said. “So we’re looking at how we fit the high school and stadium, co-locate it in the same footprint, and we have a couple of ideas about that.”

Herndon said the property was deeded to Seattle Public Schools, and part of the land deed says that it has to be used for Seattle high school athletics.

“As long as that happens, we get to continue to use the field, which is why we would continue to have that as a stadium,” he said. 

Currently, Memorial serves as the home stadium for four Seattle schools that do not have their own facilities (the reopening of Lincoln will bump that number to five).

“It serves an important function,” he said. 

Parking also isn’t a major concern for the site.

“Many of our high schools do not have a lot of parking associated with them,” he said. “So we’re not really worried about students driving themselves a lot.”

Herndon also touched on the status of the Center School is currently located in the Armory, and what a new high school on the Seattle Center campus could mean for those 300 students. 

“That’s a small high school by design, and so sometimes when you have a program like that, locating a school within a school can somewhat diminish the point of a smaller school,” he said. 

Herndon said further details will come out over the next several months on the high school plans. He put an estimate on the cost of the new high school at approximately $90-$100 million. 

Also discussed during last week’s meeting was long-held plans from the district to add an elementary school in the vicinity of downtown. 

“We’ve had lots of conversations with families who live downtown, and the desire to have an elementary school.”

That’s included conversations with developers about siting an elementary school within buildings already under constructions, and had bid on the Federal Reserve Building. Generally, the cost of building an elementary school runs approximately $40-$45 million. 

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