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Should Islander Middle School be torn down and rebuilt?

Some of last April's school bond supporters want to split that bond issue into chunks, starting with tearing down and rebuilding IMS.

The proponents of last April's school bond issue wanted to tear down and rebuild our elementary schools and Islander Middle School.  The bond was defeated handily.

Now some of these bond supporters want to split up that bond issue into chunks.  They want to start with tearing down and rebuilding IMS.  See http://www.engagemercerislandschools.com/, the site hosted by Triangle Associates, the school district's "community engagement" vendor.

If you are unsure whether this is a reasonable thing to do, and you haven't been inside IMS for a while, come to the town hall meeting there on Nov. 7, Wednesday at 7 pm.  Discuss how you think the school district should deal with our school overcrowding problem, but also look around and decide for yourself whether you think the school is outdated, aging or otherwise in need of replacement.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

SickOfTheMIOldFarts November 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
@David - sure, put my name out there and have this band of bullies get personal with me and my family as they have so many times on this forum? I'm not interested in having people look up and post whether or not I remodeled my home or where I live in proximity to this project or that--all to make their point. I also find it interesting that you self-selected into this group considering that you don't seem to fit the demographic I was describing. You must have identified with the "Know-It-All" part of the description and their no-to-everything attitude. Maybe you can just be an honorary member of the Mercer Island Old Fart Association. I'm sure they will let you in.
Ira B. Appelman November 09, 2012 at 04:26 PM
@David – I respectfully disagree. Let Sick keep that white sheet over her head. It looks good on her! For years, I've heard of bullying at MISD. Since I didn’t experience bullying as a student, I was reluctant to believe it. However, the defeated school bond issue has convinced me. Last April, a few brave parents publicly described the bullying they experienced. Over 1400 were listed as supporters, but privately many said they were voting NO; they just felt pressured by the crowd running MISD. That crowd has real potential power over those parents’ children in the schools; those who opposed the bonds have no such power over “families,” despite those Sick claims. I was taught at MISD that citizens should publicly state their views whether they agree or disagree, and change those views if so convinced. I was impressed by our current history teacher who received a statewide award. That teacher was introduced at one of the Board meetings Sick objects to us attending; that teacher said she received her statewide award because she emphasizes civics and civic involvement in her classroom. With the rush to strengthen STEM education to compete internationally, we shouldn’t forget that the justification for the AMERICAN IDEA of universal education is that, unlike in the Old Country where a select few ruled, in America the people are sovereign and so need a sovereign’s education for the civic involvement needed to maintain our democracy.
David de Yarza November 09, 2012 at 04:34 PM
@Sick. I happen to be one of the very few parents who publicly opposed the bond last spring, so I got to hear it all from the band of bullies, as did my family. Interestingly enough they all sounded a lot like you. Since the defeat last spring the School Board has done a good job of engaging the community at large, and I would recommend that you come be a part of that process. Maybe you can channel that energy into the solution rather than take it out on me.
Thomas Imrich November 09, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Dear Lisa (if that is even your real name), I completely fail to understand your implicit logic. Why should public schools, unlike private schools, be exempt from both the laws of economics and physics. Yes that was a private school and yes they tore down Building 20 and rebuilt it. But it was only after decades of extended life remodeling of a "temporary WWII building" to fit its validated education use. It was done only because, and when, they needed that specific land for a building that had to be vastly larger, and would be permanent. Further, economics and education requirements drove the need, not a falsely assumed infinite free money tax source, or perceived competition with a school located down the river. An additional point, regarding that particular private school, they also elected to REMODEL a building (Bldg 33) that was approaching a century old, and NOT just "demolish and rebuild". As to issues such as lighting in windowless rooms, there are now methods and lighting systems that can match the spectral output of the star at the center of our solar system, even at various incidence angles of inbound light. As to the anonymous coward "Sick", that comment is its own response, and I just feel sorry for him or her
Lisa Thomas November 09, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Thomas, thanks for the post -- your facts aren't exactly right as I researched and found that RADAR existed well before Building 20 was created -- it's true that some new radar systems were developed in building 20, but your words suggest it was invited there. The reason this is important? When you provide erroneous information, it challenges all your posts, facts, etc. Also, since you posted all this about building 20, i research some more and found out there were numerous other buildings built around the same time and summarily torn down less than a decade later and replaced with then-modern buildings. This also seems to argue against your "remodel, don't replace" posts that you have been using for the fire station and for schools (which were built in the 60s and remodeled already in the 90s). That makes them 50+ years old already.
Thomas Imrich November 09, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Again Lisa you are simply WRONG. I well know the history of Radar. I never said it was invented there. Substantial contributions to its development were made there. That's all I said or implied. I am NOT posting erroneous information. Sorry, but you are simply wrong.
Kendall Watson November 09, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Hey Tom, this story about some of MIT's buildings, funny as it may sound, has an analogue where I went to school. There were some "temporary" art department buildings, lovingly called the "Blauhaus" http://www.thedp.com/article/1998/03/constructed_cheaply_blauhaus_built_with_thin_walls_for_temporary_use I say lovingly in jest, because they were universally regarded with disdain and did not fit the mission of the Fine Arts department (now part of the Penn School of Design). The windowless building, which was legally compliant for construction and ventilation, ect., was a poor fit for the arts program, and was only intended as a temporary structure. The reason I remember it was because some fellow classmates of mine who took art courses had the misfortune of having their studio seminars in there rather than inside several other buildings better-suited (and better ventilated) on campus. Just about everybody hated it and vented about how much tuition money they were paying for what they were actually getting. That, and a robbery that went wrong on 33rd Street, resulting in a stray bullet injuring one of my friends in the leg while he worked on his term project. They were torn down immediately after the permanent building (which they had to construct twice — a construction mishap burned down a renovated building the first time, then they build an entirely new building the second time and finished it 3 years later) was finished. And yes, the new building has plenty of windows.
Thomas Imrich November 09, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Great Story Kendall !! I strongly agree with your example. Each case has to be decided on its own merit, considering the full range of facts and data. In the case of some of the buildings back east that I referenced, I have first hand knowledge of the factual basis (and not from Google), and of the consequent choices and decisions that were made, directly from the principal architect in one of the renovations (my brother).
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 09, 2012 at 10:52 PM
. Mercer Island Patch gets more interesting every day. I hope AOL keeps an eye on what Kendall Watson is running- way out here in the West. J-
Lisa Thomas November 10, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Thomas, you said "where RADAR was developed in WWII". That is simply not true. The fact that this was pointed out to you and the fact you dismissed the correction speaks volumes. Your use of the word "developed" is akin to saying "Beaverton, Oregon, where footwear was developed," since Nike is based there and has buildings where new shoes get produced". Your use of the phrase "in WWII" is equally wrong. Even a cursory google search shows it existed, practically, many years before. Note, I don't doubt that you know well the history of Radar. I only say that the phrasing your use is not only misleading and incorrect, it's in the context of presenting data-based arguments to support one's position. I can only conclude that your ends (no rebuild) drive your selective use and presentation of information. I don't blame you for this ....many people do it on all sides. But I do call it out when I see it. And when I do, and am told I'm wrong, I call our that false reaction as well.
Lisa Thomas November 10, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Also to your comment "or perceived competition with a school located down the river." -- do note that two families with young children wouldn't have moved here if they were buying a house after the bond failed. And two people stood up at one of the school bond town halls this spring and said the same thing. This isn't a large sample...but it does suggest it's not perceived, but actual, to some degree. Also, about remodel vs rebuild, I guess you're saying the 60 year old schools built here mirror the quality of the century old buildings on the MIT campus? I have been to both and I'm no architect, but I'd say from walking around that is completely untrue. The old buildings at MIT (with the exception of the WW2 temp ones that lived on) were built in a much superior way. The pictures alone on this site make that clear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campus_of_the_Massachusetts_Institute_of_Technology
Thomas Imrich November 10, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Lisa, (or Megan H1 or whatever your real name), apparently you also clearly can't read. You are still dead wrong. I clearly said "..Building 20 (where RADAR was developed in WWII).." no more, no less. WHICH IS COMPLETELY TRUE. I didn't say RADAR originated there, and I didn't say RADAR was first was initiated in WWII. And I don't need to use Google to answer you on RADAR history. Not only have I personally seen some of the original pre-WWII and WWII radar equipment both in Europe, and in Cambridge, and had a father who used it in WWII, have at least 4 radar textbooks within easy reach of my office desk here at home while stiiting down, worked with and studied under Professors who knew, studied under, or even in some cases worked on original Radar developments in that era, and later at Lincoln Lab, as well as personally having studied in Building 20 where many of the early developments took place, and have professionally certified a significant number of RADARs, for nearly an entire career ....the point is, .... a "demolish and rebuild" of IMS is unnecessary, inappropriate, and unjustified. Just as it was unnecessary for Building 20, until the land was clearly and economically needed for other uses, such as for a vastly larger building. And I have that information through direct sources too, without needing to use Google.
Kendall Watson November 10, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Hi all, The origins of SONAR, RADAR, where the first "computer" was invented (another plug for my alma mater, and there's a sign in front of Moore Hall proudly proclaiming this) are all interesting, and all debatable. They're also waaaaay off topic. There's nothing stopping you for talking about this on Patch, but it appears the conversation has devolved into a bad-faith match of wits. I would also ask that commenters not challenge identities on bad faith. I personally know both Tom (Thomas) and Megan Hand, and they are both real Mercer Island residents. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Lisa but I'm sure of the same. May we return to the far more interesting topic at hand — namely what to do about the "inadequate" (MISD's word) IMS?
Lisa Thomas November 10, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Readers have enough information to make their own informed opinions. Thomas has left nothing to the imagination -- all the evidence is there in the open. I don't know Megan H1 (interesting name), but I do know how to recognize fallacies and falsehoods in arguments -- it's what I do for a living. In this case, it's been way too easy to detect. Regarding IMS...I submit, to the readers, that the end desire of remodeling instead of rebuilding has generated a flurry of inaccurate, unsubstantiated and easily refuted statements. Here's hoping the readers have an objective view of things and aren't swayed by rhetoric that is sorely lacking in its veracity.
Kendall Watson November 10, 2012 at 06:06 AM
He's referring to Megan's initial post, which inadvertently reproduced some sort of screen name for her — apparently she has some sort of screen name that is "Megan H1". Makes sense as her name is Megan Hand. She's very nice and personable, and her passion for the arts and art instruction is one of the principal reasons that the MISD hired an extra couple of art teachers last year — I believe it was funded by a grant that she won. Tom is very involved in the current public process and I would suggest it might be in your interest to engage him constructively rather than not. Thanks for your consideration.
Thomas Imrich November 10, 2012 at 05:26 PM
The MISD and Board's willingness to more fully consider citizen input is most appreciated. The MISD and Board's direction, moving toward a north end solution, which well matches the location of the actual data and growing need is appropriate. Their new willingness to consider fiscally superior options of "construct where necessary, and remodel where needed", acknowledging getting a reasonable return on building life for structures we already own, is excellent. Their recognition that the stadium and pool issues, while perhaps having merit, are not necessarily central to education, and may need to be addressed separately by the community, is wise and appropriate. The idea of "Demolish and rebuild, as for tearing down IMS right now", as the solution?... Just nuts. Our children, education, as well as the taxpayers deserve better.
Lisa Thomas November 10, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Please accept my sincere apologies. I will strive to do better in the future. Thomas, I owe you similar apologies. I hope not to repeat my mistakes.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 10, 2012 at 07:00 PM
. Glad to see Tom Imrich's rational approach to this "getting a reasonable return on building life for structures we already own". Being a top Boeing Test Pilot teaches one the need for situational awareness, clear thinking before action in all things. J-
Thomas Imrich November 11, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Thank you Lisa. I really do hope that you are able follow up however, and learn of the full and extraordinary story of Building 20. Its history has many profound lessons for us all today, including for our present situation with schools on this island. I'm sure the MISD and Board could find various nuggets of wisdom in its storied history too, especailly in these times of very tight fiscal constraints, while we yet have great needs. Building 20 successfully went 50 or more years past its expected service life, remaining at the center of what was a global electronics revolution (with the RLE), while serving as the abode for multiple eventual Nobel prize winners. I look forward to helping work with you and our MISD and Board, to make the best decisions possible,to help assure the next levy try passes overwhelmingly. Our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren deserve no less.
Lisa Thomas November 11, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Let's get together and move forward to a plan that can get the support needed to address the real issues we I'm pretty sure we agree on -- solving overcrowding and providing a great education for students. I think the letter by Ralph Jorgonson about ways to get involved and provide input is great. But ultimately I agree that we need the leaders to propose a solution that will garner support among the 60%+ necessary to move forward. The issues are real and must be addressed. I am hopeful this can happen soon and we can vote early next year and pass this for everyone's sake. And let's hope we don't get bogged down in paralysis by analysis.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
. I'm really glad to see Lisa Thomas contributing to Mercer Island Patch. She's able to add a lot to the important matters now being discussed. Jerry-
Lisa Thomas November 11, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Also, i hope we don't do what happens in DC -- that is, compromise becomes a dirty word. Let's all agree to review the information, be willing to change our positions as new data becomes available and in search of the best possible outcome. Let's not refuse to budge from our current positions...I pledge not to. Hopefully all others will too. Any takers?
Thomas Imrich November 11, 2012 at 07:14 PM
The issue isn't to get 60%,... or to be addressing what is, or is not happening in Washington DC. Instead the issue is what is the "right" school district plan, ...that both satisfies education requirements, and other requirements, (e.g., safety), while being affordable and fiscally responsible, considering all the Islands valid needs. If we have the right plan, it will undoubtedly pass with strong support. The objective here is not to try to somehow game the system to just get 61%. It instead is to first identify the best set of widely "public vetted" options, from which we'll eventually select one best option (or the least bad option), to put to the next vote. Only by doing so, we will assure the next levy passes with strong community support.
Lisa Thomas November 11, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I believe we are in agreement.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 13, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Perhaps our School ReDos are more needed than a new FireStation. J-
Lisa Thomas November 13, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I learned a ton at the town hall meetings and encourage everyone to attend one. The amount of information is impressive. It's hard to generate opinions without seeing all the data.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 13, 2012 at 12:30 AM
. Tom- If you look at my WebSite below, you'll see that lots of windows are the hallmark of my long design practice. J- http://sites.google.com/site/jgropp2/alterationsanadditions
Thomas Imrich November 13, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Was looking forward to meeting you Lisa. Didn't see your name on any of the town hall meeting rosters??? ....but nonetheless was there for multiple sessions???
Lisa Thomas November 13, 2012 at 05:05 AM
I didn't see a roster.....sorry...but I just went to one. It was very informative.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 14, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Tom- It's not all that hard to put more windows in those schools that need them. Ask your architect brother. JerryG-

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