Evan Smith: School District now plans to make Ronald building part of Shorewood

Thursday, July 8, 2010

By Evan Smith

ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer

The agreement between the Shoreline School District and the Shoreline Historical Museum is apparently off.

The School District now plans to include the old Ronald School building in plans for a rebuilt Shorewood High School.

The change follows the failure of the Museum to complete purchase of nearby property to which it hoped to move the Ronald building that it has occupied since 1976. The nearby land now has another buyer.

The District and the Museum board reached an “agreement in principle” before the February election for a bond issue to build new Shorewood and Shorecrest high schools. The agreement called for the Museum to buy land east of its current parking lot. The School District would move the building to the site that the Museum would purchase and give the Museum full title to the building. Then, the Museum would move to the closed Sunset School while the Ronald building is moved.

Now, the District says that it will go back to its earlier plan to incorporate the Ronald building into the Shorewood campus.

A news release from the School District says, “The architectural plan will incorporate the historic Ronald School building into the Shorewood design - honoring, preserving and restoring the original school building, while bringing the unreinforced brick masonry building up to code and making it a safe structure for student use.”

The District says that, after the agreement in principle, it had directed its architects to plan the new Shorewood with the Ronald building gone, but now it has to return to its earlier plans because the Museum did not meet needed conditions by July 1. 

Those conditions included having a signed purchase agreement for the new land, a signed legal agreement with the District stipulating all of the necessary conditions outlined in the agreement in principle and dropping an appeal of the District’s determination of non significance of its plans for the Ronald building.

The District says that it must move forward to stay on its planned construction timeline and to be able to get $17 million in state construction money.

Museum Executive Director Vicki Stiles said Wednesday that the Museum board is looking for other land to buy.

Meanwhile, the District and the Museum are waiting for a decision on the Museum’s appeal of the District’s determination of non-significance on plans for the 98-year-old Ronald building.

A hearing examiner hired by the School District will make the decision, not after a hearing but based solely on written pleadings from both sides. The parties expect a decision in mid-July.

The District says that there are no plans for the Museum to use any part of the Ronald building and that the Museum will have to move elsewhere. School spokesman Craig Degginger said Wednesday that plans for the Museum to move to the vacant Sunset School site were only part of a plan to accommodate the Museum during a move, a move that now will not happen.

The District says that it has no desire to have Ronald School demolished. “It is a City of Shoreline official historical landmark, and as such is a protected structure.”

The District says that conceptual plans for Shorewood High School incorporate the Ronald School into the design, bridging the historic landmark structure with the brand new building. 

“The plan proposes Shorewood to use the upper two floors for visual and performing arts to support the school's award winning programs, while the lower level would be renovated to accommodate other school programs,” the District says.

The District says it can’t leave the Museum in Ronald School and build around it because the Shorewood site is just 26 acres, and is small by standards for a high school. By comparison, Shorecrest is 38 acres. By incorporating the Ronald School as part of the school, the District can more readily accommodate all the needs of a new Shorewood elsewhere on the site. These include baseball, softball, a synthetic turf football field and a practice field, not to mention parking for teachers, staff and students.

Stiles noted Wednesday that the six-tenths of an acre that the Museum occupies will do little to close the gap.

The School District says that the remodeling of Ronald School will be governed by the historic buildings chapter of the 2009 International Existing Building Code. 

“At a minimum, the structure will have to be stabilized to resist collapse during an earthquake. It must meet current standards for an un-reinforced masonry building. This generally means adding some type of bracing elements to selective walls and floors or roof,” says a statement on the District web site.

The District statement added, “In addition to the minimum that is required for historic buildings, the District will upgrade the Ronald School for full compliance with all other codes. These include life-safety, energy, mechanical and electrical, storm water drainage, and ADA accessibility. The District intends to extend the functioning life of the historic building for many years to come so that it provides maximum safety to students and the community, conserves energy to protect the environment and save taxpayer dollars for building operation, manages storm water drainage responsibly on the site and allows universal accessibility to all citizens. Anticipated upgrades include providing fire sprinklers, insulating the exterior walls and roof, providing new thermal windows, providing safe emergency egress, providing full handicap accessibility throughout the building, and reducing current downstream flooding impacts due to storm water runoff.

“All of the upgrades will take place on the interior of the building to preserve the building's historic character. Concrete will be added to the inside face of some exterior brick walls as reinforcement. This approach is preferable to adding reinforcement to the interior walls and floors since it reduces the potential safety hazard of falling brick on the exterior of the building and disturbs less square footage on the interior.

“The District plans to revitalize the original Ronald School building to provide exemplary education for Shoreline students in the 21st century. According to the building's landmark description, the 1926 addition to the south side of the building was "clad in wood rather than brick in anticipation of further building expansion." The new high school building will attach to this elevation as originally planned.

“The District will return to the preferred plan that emerged from a year-long dialogue with the community-based school design team. The plan is to re-purpose the Ronald School as a cornerstone of the design for the new Shorewood, converting spaces into exciting and functional areas for student learning.

“Under no conditions would the District consider demolishing or destroying the Ronald School building in the process of replacing Shorewood High School. It is a ‘landmark’ building, with great educational significance to our community.”

The District says that Bassetti Architects, a firm with extensive experience in historic buildings, will design the new school. The firm has planned the historical renovation and restoration of several schools and buildings, including. Roosevelt High School, Franklin High School and West Seattle High School in the Seattle School District; Guggenheim Hall and Mary Gates Hall at the University of Washington, and Stadium High School in Tacoma,

The Museum has a lease on the land on which the building sits that expires in 2014. However, the District says that the lease provides that in the event the School District needs the land for District purposes, the lease may be cancelled at any time upon six months written notice to the Museum.

The District has an option to purchase the building from the Museum for $10. In the option agreement, the District agreed not to seek to recapture the building "prior to considering and eliminating all other reasonable alternatives for providing the District with needed facilities."

The District says that a seismic evaluation in 2009 determined that the Ronald School building does not meet the structural requirements to be seismically safe. Based upon the condition of the building, engineering professionals estimate that a new high school structure would have to be set back from an unretrofitted Ronald School at least 45 feet on all sides, with provisions to keep students out of this space.

Former Shoreline City Councilwoman Janet Way Wednesday described the School District’s actions as a “hostile takeover."


Anonymous,  July 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

How about buying the old Sugars spot? It would put the museum on our busiest street, near the city hall and high school. It would be a huge improvement to our town.

Anonymous,  July 8, 2010 at 10:49 PM  

Hear hear!
And a HUGE improvement!

Anonymous,  July 11, 2010 at 6:12 PM  

What happened to the parcel the museum was supposed to buy?

Anonymous,  July 17, 2010 at 12:24 PM  

There are 4 vacant lots south of 185th between Ashworth and Stone across from a church. Two or more of these would be perfect, but that might not be possible. Sugar's lot would probably be more expensive. But possible? who knows. Does it really sound that crazy for the school district, to use their land and their historic building to remodel and update and incorporate into a new school? Does the museum own the building? There might be another suitable house, or lot to build on. I don't think the historic museum would lose much of its luster in a different structure, but if they can pull off moving the building, great. I think the historical museum is a nice community asset, but certainly could operate in a different structure.

wd,  July 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM  

As a building, it was intended as a school and owned by the school, and further the structure would be better off being retrofit by the school and not moved. For historical merit, it would cool to have the old school still a school. The historical museum would do well to look into alternative structures.

Anonymous,  December 18, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

All completely clueless comments, from "well meaning" folks who did not know the facts and did not consider the consequences to our community from their suggestions.

It is remarkable how thoughtless and short-sighted nearly everyone has been on the subject of the Ronald School and the Shoreline Historical Museum. The Museum was established as a tribute to the school district.

However, it is now clear that the District is not worthy of any historical tribute. They care nothing about history or the community they inhabit and do not deserve any tributes. Nevertheless, they now have $150 Million of the taxpayers money to play with and use as a cudgel on
anyone who gets in their way. Classic bully behavior.

They will NEVER get my vote again on any of their proposals for funding.

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