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City Government, School District to plan together on future schools, Memorial Stadium, and Fort Lawton

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess speaks at Memorial Stadium to announce the City’s partnership with the Seattle School District, November 2017.

The City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools today announced a historic new partnership to plan for a new Memorial Stadium and the potential of a new school at Seattle Center, provide land for a new downtown elementary school, and allow the school district to join the Fort Lawton Redevelopment Agreement process.

The agreement signed today at Memorial Stadium outlines a process for the district and the City to plan together for a growing student population, explore opportunities for the district to acquire land for educational uses at Ft. Lawton and other areas of the city, and achieve an exciting shared vision for Seattle Center. The school district and city will form joint technical teams to review school capacity issues, plan strategically for future school locations, and redesign Memorial Stadium.

The City of Seattle has added almost 100,000 residents since 2010. Nearly 8,000 additional students have enrolled in Seattle Public Schools over the last decade. The City and the district will better coordinate their planning efforts to meet future school needs for students and families.

“Making sure every one of our children has a strong, healthy, and fair start is the measure of a great city. Public education is one of the most important factors in sustaining a great city. This partnership agreement signals an even stronger relationship between the city government and Seattle Public Schools,” Mayor Tim Burgess said. “As part of our agreement, the city is committing to consider a financial partnership for Memorial Stadium’s revitalization and we will proactively help identify other potential partners. We will make land available for schools and other school-related uses. We will establish technical teams to review capacity issues and to prepare designs for the new Memorial Stadium.”

“With this agreement we are making a huge leap toward a wonderful future in which we’ll have a new stadium and school facilities at Seattle Center fully integrated with the broader Seattle Center campus,” Mayor Burgess added. “I want to thank our partners at Seattle Public Schools for having the vision and commitment to take advantage of the many opportunities this partnership agreement creates. It’s about the future, the future of Seattle’s children.

They deserve a strong, healthy, fair start and the best possible education any city can provide.”

“We are in the midst of a capacity crisis, and in some areas, we are bursting at the seams,” School Board Vice President Leslie Harris said. “We have added students faster than we could add classrooms and buildings. Finding affordable land for new schools is nearly impossible. This makes it essential for the City and Seattle Public Schools to work together to plan for how and where we build new schools.”

“This is a great opportunity for Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle to work together for the benefit of our city and schools,” said Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland. “With collaboration and commitment, our shared vision will turn into a better Seattle Center for our students and our community.”

“A deeper partnership between the City and the school district will benefit all Seattle students,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “By planning together for future schools and a new Memorial Stadium, we ensure better facilities to serve the entire district and support equity of opportunity for all families across the city.”

Today’s agreement sets forth the process for the City and the school district to work together on these efforts. In January 2018, there will be a joint meeting of the School Board and the City Council to set direction for the joint planning process and involving the public.

Seattle Public Schools students are a vital presence on campus. The school district operates Center School and owns nine acres at Memorial Stadium and an adjacent surface parking lot, and is surrounded by the adjoining Seattle Center campus. Both parties agree that the school district properties at Seattle Center must be better designed into the overall campus.

At 70 years old, Memorial Stadium is deteriorating and severely outdated. The stadium is an asset to the school district and community, hosting many community and district athletic events, graduation ceremonies, Seattle Reign matches and concerts. Any renovation or remodeling plan will honor and preserve Memorial Wall, a monument inscribed with the names of former Seattle students who died in World War II.

Seattle Center, our region’s top tourism destination, receives 12 million visitors at more than 16,000 events each year. The new Memorial Stadium will be planned as part of an update to the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan to ensure that the facilities are fully integrated into the surrounding campus design. The partnership advances master plan goals of creating more public open space, better access and pedestrian connections, an outdoor performance venue, and a new stadium. Integrating the design of a new facility and outdoor amenities will improve pedestrian flow, transit access, and vehicle parking to serve the larger Seattle Center campus.

The City is studying options for redevelopment of affordable housing and park uses on surplus land at Fort Lawton. This agreement includes an opportunity for Seattle Public Schools to join the Office of Housing and Seattle Parks and Recreation in the planning process, with the goal of enabling SPS to obtain land for park uses.

The City recently adopted a new plan for the Uptown neighborhood adjacent to Seattle Center that includes new Green Streets pedestrian improvements, incentives for additional cultural spaces, and affordable housing requirements. Other nearby investments include the potential redevelopment of Key Arena, renovation of the Space Needle, Seattle Opera facility improvements, completion of the SR 99 tunnel, reconnection of Harrison, Thomas, and John Streets across Aurora Ave., and a future light rail station.