Seattle Public Schools

Mercer Middle School


Mercer International Middle School Capacity Challenges

The video and information below provide an introduction to the capacity challenges at Mercer International Middle School. The latest information is available on the Mercer Middle School Capacity page.

Summary: What we have heard

Updated Jan. 11, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has responded. You may continue to use the feedback form to share your thoughts.

  • Several respondents expressed a desire to use a racial equity lens in making decisions and ensuring the least amount of disruption to students of color, furthest from educational justice.
  • Many respondents at Dearborn Park and other schools don’t want to see disruption to language immersion pathways and several said they want to ensure the pathway continues from Dearborn Park and Beacon Hill to Mercer.
  • A few respondents are concerned about loss of DLI access (by testing in) in middle school for those who aren’t in the DLI program currently.
  • Some respondents asked about moving the middle school dual language immersion program to either Aki Kurose or Washington or adding DLI to those schools to allow Beacon Hill and Dearborn Park to feed to middle schools other than Mercer.
  • Many respondents suggested proximity be a deciding factor in assigning students to middle school.
  • Many respondents expressed concerns about walkability and transportation if Kimball is moved to Washington, mentioning the availability of safe walk/bicycle routes to Mercer and no direct Metro bus service to Washington.
  • Several respondents advocated for keep neighborhoods and families together and at neighborhood schools and/or expressed unhappiness about moving students from Beacon Hill (Kimball/Mercer) to another neighborhood (Washington).
  • Some respondents expressed that they want current students to remain at Mercer, that priority be given to students who have siblings at the school.
  • Several respondents suggested changing the schools feeding into each middle school. Suggestions included (in no particular order):
    • Kimball to Washington,
    • Hawthorne to Washington,
    • Hawthorne to Aki Kurose,
    • Rising Star to Aki Kurose,
    • Beacon Hill to Washington,
    • Beacon Hill to Aki Kurose,
    • Dearborn Park to Aki Kurose, and
    • Dearborn Park to Washington
  • Multiple respondents want Kimball to feed into Mercer.
  • Multiple respondents want Dearborn Park to feed into Mercer.
  • A few respondents (after the scenarios were shared) suggested moving Beacon Hill to Washington instead of Kimball/instead of Hawthorne.
  • Some respondents expressed preferences for certain schools, specifically Hawthorne to Aki Kurose (primarily for proximity) or Hawthorne to Washington (primarily for STEMbyTAF), while others were against moving to certain schools (primarily due to reputation, HC, or STEMbyTAF).
  • A few respondents who reported that they were Kimball families said they were in favor of moving Kimball to Washington.
  • A few respondents who reported they were Hawthorne families said they were in favor of moving Hawthorne to Aki Kurose.
  • Several respondents expressed the importance of keeping the entire elementary school feeding to the same middle school.
  • Some respondents expressed safety concerns about overcrowding at Mercer.
  • Some respondents suggested building Mercer for more students given population growth or asked why it could not be built larger.
  • Some respondents suggested that the district evaluate why Mercer has been attracting more students than others and to implement changes to duplicate that success at neighboring middle schools.
  • Some respondents asked about high school assignments if elementary schools feed into a different middle school.
  • A few respondents expressed a desire for remote learning to continue as an option after schools re-open.
  • Some respondents expressed concern about the schedule for developing potential solutions.
  • Other comments included:
    • Ensuring that all three middle schools have adequate staffing and equitable programs
    • Sending students south of Othello to Aki Kurose and those north of Lander to Washington
    • Staggering classes and start times
    • Verifying addresses for Mercer students
    • Having families visit middle schools
    • Share information introducing families to STEM by TAF at Washington
    • Making Kimball or Maple a K-8
    • Making Kimball 5-8 and Maple K-4
    • Providing yellow school bus transportation to Washington
    • Keeping Maple feeding to Mercer
    • Building two middle schools
    • Adding more portables instead of replacing Mercer
    • Considering expanding the DLI program at both ES and MS level to meet demand
    • Considering what changes to the HCC program will do to Washington enrollment
    • Considering a Washington replacement construction project and the impact on students who would go to
    • Kimball at the current location, Kimball at the interim site, Washington at current location, and Washington at an interim site.
    • That changing Kimball to feed to Washington means that Kimball students in grade 3 would not be at the interim site for two years as Kimball students and then two years as Mercer students
    • African American students should be allowed to pick school to remedy racial disparities.
    • Hawthorne to Aki Kurose increases diversity at Aki Kurose; Hawthorne to Washington reduces diversity at Washington.
    • Difficult year for families; this makes it more challenging.
    • Should not be making a decision this fast and just before open enrollment.
    • Disruption of social groups/community resources at middle school age will be damaging.


Capacity and enrollment at Mercer

This is not a new issue. Mercer has been over-enrolled for multiple years.

Right-size capacity (without portables or converted spaces): 792

  • 2020-21 enrollment: 1,188 students (as of Sept. 30, 2020)
  • 2019-20 enrollment: 1,115 students
  • 2018-19 enrollment: 1,146 students
  • 2017-18 enrollment: 1,136 students
  • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,181 students

What has been done so far

The district has taken several measures to help address these capacity issues.

  • Seattle voters approved a levy to tear down the existing school and build a larger school building. 
  • Existing spaces within the school building have been repurposed — rooms that may have been originally designed for storage have now become offices or meeting spaces.
  • Portable classroom buildings have been added — 24 classrooms are now in portables, more than any other school in the district.
  • The Seattle School Board temporarily closed Mercer to new student enrollment during the 2020-21 school year — students who move into the Mercer attendance area will not be assigned to the school.

Not solved by new building

Overcrowding at Mercer will not be solved just by replacing the building.

  • The new school and the temporary location will hold up to 1,000 students — meeting the educational standards for new middle schools
  • New school will not open until 2025

Neighboring middle schools

The two middle schools that are closest to Mercer — Aki Kurose Middle School and Washington Middle School — have space for more students.

Aki Kurose

  • Right-size capacity: 868
  • 2019-20 enrollment: 656


  • Right-size capacity: 895
  • 2019-20 enrollment: 603

Elementary schools that go to each middle school

Each elementary school in the district leads to a middle school. Currently six elementary schools move up to Mercer, six move up to Aki Kurose, and three move up to Washington. You can also view this elementary to middle school map.

Mercer International Middle School

  • Beacon Hill International Elementary
  • Dearborn Park International Elementary
  • Hawthorne Elementary
  • Kimball Elementary
  • Maple Elementary
  • Rising Star Elementary

Aki Kurose Middle School

  • Dunlap Elementary
  • Emerson Elementary
  • Graham Hill Elementary
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary
  • Rainier View Elementary
  • Wing Luke Elementary

Washington Middle School

  • Bailey Gatzert Elementary
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary
  • John Muir Elementary

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