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Briarcrest Elementary Temporarily Relocating for Next School Year

We are excited to announce that Briarcrest Elementary School will have significant improvements made to the building next school year, thanks to a voter-approved bond that is funding a new HVAC system and more upgrades for the building. 

To accommodate this work, Briarcrest will temporarily relocate to the North City School site for the 2023-24 school year. All Briarcrest teachers, staff, students, instruction, programs, and services will be part of this temporary relocation to North City.

The main improvement driving this work is replacing the Briarcrest’s HVAC system. The heating and cooling at Briarcrest has been inefficient and, at times, quite ineffective. The current system is failing, and due to its age, we are unable to source parts or service to maintain it any longer, so it must be replaced in its entirety. 

While the HVAC system is replaced, this presents an opportunity for improvements to many other building systems, including all lighting, fire sprinklers, fire alarm panel, and the security system. We are hopeful that budget and timing will also allow for additional improvements to restrooms and the Briarcrest playground and/or playfield. The improvements to Briarcrest will result in a safer and significantly more efficient building, which improves learning conditions for all students and eliminates the building’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Located at 816 NE 190th St., to the west and north of Briarcrest, North City has a modern and secure access system, beautiful library, and large playfield, in addition to the expected elementary school classrooms, cafeteria, gym, and other spaces. Some Briarcrest students, staff, and families may be familiar with the North City campus, which housed the North City Kindergarten Program during the 2019-20 school year and the district’s preschool programs while Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center was built. The building has been maintained by the school district since closing North City Elementary in the early 2000s, and it was also used for one year by Parkwood Elementary while their new building was constructed. 

While this opportunity to improve an aging school building is a huge benefit to Briarcrest students, staff, and the community, we understand that this news might cause some anxiety about the unknowns of this move, and we’ve answered a few questions that we anticipate from families.

Q: Will students be provided transportation to and from North City?

A: If your family lives outside of the walk zone for North City, you can expect district transportation to and from school. Those who live within the Briarcrest walk zone will be bused to North City from Briarcrest. As always, parents may transport to/from school.

 

Q: Will this change have an effect on activities beyond the school day, such as safety patrol, jump rope and chess clubs, honor choir, etc.?

A: We plan to continue the Briarcrest clubs and enrichment activities that our students, staff, and families have come to enjoy, just as we would at the Briarcrest building.

 

Q: Is there a possibility that this will last more than just one school year, or could we move back to Briarcrest during the school year?

A: While construction and materials delays are always a possibility, the current timeframe for the project fits comfortably into one school year, with a bit of grace period to help ensure a return to Briarcrest’s building in the 2024-25 school year. We do not anticipate an early completion that would allow a return to Briarcrest in the 2023-24 school year.

 

Q: Will kindergarten students still possibly be overflowed to another school building for the 2023-24 school year?

A: School placement is done each spring in advance of the following school year, based on that year’s enrollment numbers and availability of classroom space at all schools. So while we cannot determine if there will or will not be an overflow of Briarcrest kindergarten students in the 2023-24 school year, the relocation to North City does not guarantee either outcome.

 

Q: How can the district pay for this given the current budget challenges it is facing?

A: The Briarcrest improvements are funded entirely by voter-approved 2006 capital bonds. These are entirely separate from the general fund, which is where the district is facing budget challenges.

 

Q: Could the improvements take place with school remaining in session at Briarcrest? 

A: The projects planned would be too disruptive to the learning environment if school were held at Briarcrest during this major construction work.

 

Q: Could the improvements take place over the summer? 

A: The projects planned will take too long to be completed over school breaks.

 

Q: Will Briarcrest still have on-site extended care at the North City building?

A: We do not anticipate that a move to North City would affect the district-run extended care program.

 

Q: WIll the new light rail station on 185th be open while Briarcrest students are at North City?

A: No. SoundTransit’s original opening of the station was planned for mid-2024, which would likely be after school dismisses for the summer, and the station opening now looks to be delayed another four to six months.