It is time for a Downtown Seattle public school

In partnership with the City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools, DSA recently completed a study that projects significant growth in the enrollment of Downtown children in Seattle Public Schools. The number of children living in Downtown has grown by more than 70 percent in the last two decades, and today nearly 2,000 children 14 and under live in Downtown Seattle. This has led to overcrowding at both Bailey Gatzert and John Hay Elementary Schools.  Located at the top of Queen Anne hill, John Hay is the school that a majority of Downtown children currently attend.

Students in a hallway at John Hay Elementary. Courtesy Seattle Times

Projections for the 2012-13 school year place both Bailey Gatzer and John Hay over capacity, with Bailey Gatzert swelling to 435 students (116% over capacity) and John Hay spilling over at 505 students (105% over capacity).  This problem is nothing new for John Hay students.  In fact, the overcrowding problem led to students attending class in the hallway last year, as noted in this story by KING5-TV.

Among peer U.S. downtowns, Downtown Seattle has experienced the most population growth over the last two decades, but is one of the few that lacks a public elementary or K-8 school.

This October, the Seattle School Board will finalize the capital school levy, which will appear before voters in February 2013. The levy is our opportunity to secure investment to develop a school in Downtown Seattle, and the school district’s opportunity to put a plan in place to meet a growing demand. A public school in Downtown could potentially serve not only families who live Downtown, but also Seattle residents who work Downtown.

We’re urging Downtown residents, employees and employers to send an email or letter to members of the Seattle School Board to reiterate the need for a school in Downtown Seattle.

You can reach all seven school board members by sending an email to

Please bcc so we can track the volume of emails.

Let the school board members know that the upcoming levy needs to include funding for a school in Downtown.


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1 response

  • Mary G.
    September 10th, 2012 at 16:40

    No doubt your intentions are good, but frankly there is school capacity right on Capitol Hill, next to the freeway, for students (Lowell). There are overcrowded conditions and failing school plants all over this district. Maybe on the next levy this will fly, but at this time of reduced spending other SPS needs simply outweigh a ‘nice to have’.