Not long ago, a school building as old and worn out as Arbor Heights Elementary could count on being at the top of Seattle Public Schools' priority list for remodeling.
Half its classrooms are 1950s-vintage portables with yellowing plexiglass windows, and grass-clogged cracks riddle the asphalt playground. Signs in the bathrooms warn students not to drink the water. In some classrooms, students can see their breath on cold days, and one day last spring, a hot-water pipe burst and a group of students had to huddle to the side of the classroom while their teacher and staffers mopped up the mess.
A 2009 analysis gave the Southwest Seattle school the worst rating of any building in the district in terms of educational adequacy. Yet the district's nearly $700 million proposal for a six-year school-construction levy, presented to the Seattle School Board on Wednesday evening, puts off renovating the 63-year-old elementary for another six years.