Seattle's public schools may get a little more private

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 9:00 PM

City University shows off its new digs in downtown Seattle, and it's looking for a roommate for the third floor.

"This would be very unique in that we'd literally share the same roof," says Christopher Ross, City U's Vice President for University Advancement.

A want-ad might read something like, "non-profit regionally accredited university seeks long-term relationship with new downtown elementary school."

"A marriage of alignment, and need, and sharing," is how Ross describes a shared love of education between a new school and an existing university that produces teachers and administrators.

"There's nothing better than being located with an institution that produces students and we then would produce the teachers."

It's an idea that takes the school district out of the buy-and-build business, offering a lease option instead.
"About 40 thousand square feet, which is exactly what they need," says Ross.

A need the city sees as one that has to be filled - and fast.

"It's not an 'if we build it they will come' proposition, kids are already here," says Jon Scholes, Vice President of Advocacy and Economic Development for the Downtown Seattle Association.

So along with the Mayor's office, DSA is pushing for a unique partnership that doesn't depend on district dollars.

And there's a lot of competition.

"Organizations like the Pacific Science Center, arts groups Biotech Life Sciences CMU entities that see themselves being able to partner with this school," says Scholes.

The district is listening. But new funding models like City's U's take some getting used to.

"And they said this would be very interesting but at the same time, it's an entirely new model for them," says Ross

Despite the district's steep learning curve, Ross says City U's offer is only available for a limited time.

"For us we wanna see a school. It's just a matter of who can mobilize fastest public, private, charter."

The district didn't want to comment on City University's proposal. They're waiting to see if the levy passes. Either way, the district would still be on the hook for rent and renovation.

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