Seattle Public Schools is looking to make Catharine Blaine K-8 School safer when it comes to earthquakes and other natural disasters, accepting a bid to make structural improvements.

The SPS Board of Directors approved a motion that authorized Superintendent Denise Juneau to execute a $629,000 contract with CDK Construction Services to make the improvements. The upgrades are part of a list of projects funded by the Building Excellence (BEX) IV Levy. This levy was implemented and has been funding school district capital projects since its approval in February 2013. Voters approved the BEX V Levy earlier this year.

The Catharine Blaine structural improvements are some of the last projects to be funded by this levy, which expires at the end of the year. The work on the school will include improvements to the gymnasium and auditorium. The boiler masonry chimney will also be reduced in height.

SPS has replaced the roof at Catharine Blaine, upgraded libraries, made Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and replaced fire sprinklers and a water main since 2000.

Construction is estimated to begin on June 24 and continue through Aug. 18.

SPS adopts racial equity plan

The SPS Board of Directors approved the district’s new five-year strategic plan last Wednesday.

The new strategic plan, which is laid out in general terms in a six-page document on the district’s website, focuses mainly on racial equity in the district.

“Seattle Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps to ensure access and provide excellence in education for every student,” according to the mission statement.

To do this, the strategic plans calls for:

• Delivering high-quality, standards-aligned instruction across all abilities and a continuum of services for learners.

• Creating healthy, supportive, culturally responsive environments from the classroom to the central offices.

• Directly and consistently working in partnership with families and communities representing students of color who are furthest from educational justice.

• Making clear commitments and delivering on them.

In the six-page strategic plan, the district lays out three top priorities and a list of goals to be met with planned measure changes and evaluations.

Some include focusing on helping students of color stay on course with their grade-level and path to graduation. Other measures include staff and family surveys, retraining and teacher retention, especially teachers of color.

“Our theory of action was created by the steering committee with the intent to find racial equity in our educational system and to unapologetically address the needs of students of color who are furthest from educational justice and to undo the legacies of racism in our educational system,” Juneau said.

The new strategic plan received a lot of praise and support from parents and faculty, but there were staff and parents who asked for a more thorough plan.

SPS Director Eden Mack, who represents Queen Anne and Magnolia in the school district, believes the plan “robustly” captures the district’s goals but requested a change during the March 13 regular meeting.

“I do agree with the concern around the measures that are being stated for the high-quality instruction,” Mack said. “It states in the actual goal that we are focusing on accelerating growth for students of color but there isn’t even one measure that reflects that.”