Seattle Public Schools

Ribbon-Cuttings Kick Off School Year

Celebrations Mark Completion of Capital Levy-Funded Construction Projects

For three elementary schools, Sept. 6 wasn’t just the first day of school, it was also the first day of classes in new or renovated school buildings. All three projects were funded by the Building Excellence V Capital Levy (BEX V), which was approved by Seattle voters in 2019.

James Baldwin Elementary School

On Thursday, August 31, the former Northgate Elementary School celebrated the opening of their new school building. As part of the ceremony, Principal Nicole Silver signaled for the unveiling of the school’s sign with the new name — James Baldwin Elementary School.

“Our new building was designed around the concept of equity, where students and families would experience a genuine sense of belonging, said Principal Nicole Silver. “James Baldwin was an activist and author who fought for the right to express one’s identity freely.”

Principal Silver was joined during the ceremony by Dr. Dedy Fauntleroy, the former Northgate principal, who worked closely with the design team in planning the new school building.

“Our heart and soul went into this building,” said Dr. Dedy, as she prefers to be called.

Dr. Brent Jones, superintendent, made the final remarks.

“We are not just celebrating a brand-new building and name,” he said. “More importantly, we are celebrating the student learning that is going to happen here.”  

Dr. Jones charged everyone present with taking care of the school and the students, saying “This is not just THE school; it is YOUR school.”

Project Highlights

  • This approximately 98,000 square-foot two-story building has space for up to 650 current and future students in grades PreK-5.
  • Colors throughout the building are drawn from a painting by Amy Sherald, a Black woman artist who painted the official portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery.
  • The entire school is connected to the natural world through natural light, garden spaces, and open areas, and the site lines through the school and to outside help with supervision.
  • Seating nooks and little libraries have child-size spaces to give students space for quiet, both in the classrooms and in the shared areas.
  • Learning clusters include classrooms surrounding shared learning commons and smaller pull-out spaces for focused instruction, allowing supports like speech therapy to come to students versus students going to an office.
  • The large and welcoming library holds lots of new books for students to read, check out, and share with their families.
  • The family resource center provides a comfortable, welcoming space for families. So far, there has been a family coffee hour, computers used to fill out school forms, and drop-in hours with the family support worker.

Sustainable Design: The new school building is built with highly energy efficient systems. In keeping with SPS’s clean energy goals, no fossil fuels (oil, natural gas) are installed. The roof is designed to accommodate solar panels. A geothermal heating and cooling system ensures a comfortable temperature, enhanced by ceiling fans and operable windows. The ventilation system uses 100% fresh air while also recovering heat before sending the air out of the building.

More project information and photos

Kimball Elementary School

The Kimball Elementary School community also celebrated the return to their new replacement school building on Thursday, August 31.

The Kimball Elementary School Lion Dancers kicked off the ceremony by leading principal Melissa Gray and other leaders through the school. A delighted crowd welcomed them into the commons as they danced through the space to the stage.

two people dressed in a white lion dancer costume at the bottom of a stairway with people watching from the stairs
Lion dancer enters the commons
A two story brick building has a walkway leading toward it
New Kimball Elementary School entrance
two people in a yellow lion dancer costume
Kimball lion dancer performing at school entry
a person in a red lion dancer costume
Red lion dancer performs at the school entry
a large group of people in front of a wall with a map
Enthusiastic audience
three people are shown from just below the waist. the one in the center holds giant scissors
Principal Gray, Superintendent Jones, and President Hersey
a group of people on a stage lean toward a red ribbon with scissors in their hands
Cutting the ribbon

Principal Gray welcomed students, staff, teachers, families, and neighbors. She thanked everyone involved in the project, and most of all, thanked Kimball families for their patience and flexibility while being located at an interim site for two years.

During his remarks, Superintendent Jones said that school buildings play an important role in delivery high quality learning experiences, and thanked Seattle voters for approving capital levies for school construction.

“This school design was based on the educational needs of student, and also on the hopes and dreams of the school community,” he said. “Welcome to your new home. It has been planned, designed, and constructed specifically to support your success.”

Project Highlights

  • The approximately 98,000 square-foot three-story building has space for up to 650 students in PreK through 5th grade — and provides the school with spaces they didn’t previously have such as the commons/cafeteria, family resource room, and preschool.
  • The design preserved many of the trees that existed on the site and exterior colors reflect the natural environment.
  • Outdoor learning spaces and exterior views connect students, teachers, and staff to nature.
  • Students love the new school, especially the playground, which offers multiple choices for activity.
  • Teachers appreciate that the grade level learning pods include open sight lines and operable glass walls between classrooms, which preserves the collaborative tradition of this formerly open-concept school.
  • Families have complimented the way the library serves as the heart of the school, with beautiful views out the windows, and the adjacent learning stairs offer a location where classes can meet and learn together.
  • The family resource space provides a comfortable gathering location for meetings with staff or parent groups and includes computers and other resources to help support family goals.
  • Salvaged materials, such as wooden panels and artwork, were preserved and installed in the new building.

Sustainable Design: Like the new James Baldwin Elementary building, the new Kimball Elementary School is built with highly energy efficient systems, no fossil fuels and a roof designed for solar panels. Geothermal wells are buried deep beneath the playground to provide heating and cooling for a comfortable environment. The ventilation system uses 100% fresh air while also recovering heat before sending the air out of the building.

More project information and photos

West Seattle Elementary School

On Wednesday, September 6, West Seattle Elementary School welcomed students and families to the first day of school with their traditional celebration and red-carpet greeting. This year was made even more special as it included a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate completion of the addition and renovation project.

“It takes a lot to be a school community,” she said. “I want to thank our community partners and our new parent group, Friends of West Seattle Elementary.”

a group of people line up behind a red ribbon. all hold scissors. a circular canopy is above and behind them
Lining up to cut the ribbon at West Seattle Elementary School
five people hold pieces of red ribbon and scissors with their hands up to cheer
The ribbon is cut to mark the opening
a two story brick building has a circular entry canopy with colored panels
New entry canopy at West Seattle Elementary School
a child high-fives an adult with other adults around them
High-five welcome!
a crowd of people includes children and adults and are moving toward the camera
Hugs, cheers, and high-fives welcome students
a crowd of people includes children and adults and are moving toward the camera
Students and parents are welcomed by teachers and staff
a crowd of people includes children and adults and are moving toward the camera
Red carpet welcome through the new entrance

The addition includes 12 new classrooms, learning commons, and specialized instruction pull out spaces. The renovation of the existing building refreshed all the classrooms and added a new light-filled library over the new secure front entrance.

“This is where opportunity starts,” said Superintendent Jones. “When you enter, you will get a sense of high expectations. This school embodies what we are about at Seattle Public Schools.”

Project Highlights

  • New, approximately 20,000 square foot 2-story addition includes 12 classrooms, learning commons, and small group spaces.
  • A new entry canopy sets a sense of place and clearly marks the front doors.
  • Renovations to the existing school building moved the administrative office next to a new secure entry vestibule, inviting visitors to check in at the office before entering the school.
  • The new library is directly above the entrance with multiple exterior windows where students can develop a love of reading.
  • A Family Center includes an office for the school social worker, a food pantry, and resources for parents.
  • Outside, new play equipment, a playfield, basketball courts, a bicycle traffic garden, and a school garden offer multiple spaces for outdoor activity.

More project information and photos

Additional September School Openings

Three other schools started the school year in new or renovated buildings.

Viewlands Elementary School returned to a newly constructed replacement school after two years at a temporary site. Additional work is underway, and an opening celebration will be scheduled later this fall.

More project information and photos.

Cascade Parent Partnership cut the ribbon on their newly renovated school on Monday, Sept. 11. North Queen Anne School underwent seismic improvements and upgrades. Spaces were reconfigured to better fit Cascade’s needs including a new playground, a secure entrance, and modernized classrooms and group spaces.

More project information and photos.

Mercer International Middle School began a two-year stay at the newly expanded Van Asselt interim location. The landmarked 1909 building was modernized and additions were added with classrooms and a gymnasium. Replacement of the previously existing Asa Mercer Middle School building is underway.

Van Asselt project information and photos

Mercer project information and photos

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