After careful consideration, Interim Superintendent Art Jarvis made the decision to relocate Jing Mei to the current Wilburton building and to relocate Big Picture to the current Eastgate building. While both buildings have aspects that can serve either school community well, some key considerations led to this final decision.
Jing Mei has a current enrollment of approximately 475 students in grades P-5, with approximately 100 students on a waitlist. Big Picture School has a current enrollment of approximately 375 students in grades 6-12, with a goal of keeping the enrollment under 525 students, in alignment with the school program.
The Wilburton building has the capacity to house 744 students, and the Eastgate building has the capacity to house 552 students. As a result, the Eastgate building would not provide the opportunity for the Jing Mei community to expand because the student capacity exceeds the size of the building.
Big Picture and Jing Mei are both currently operating in facilities that do not meet the standards of the Bellevue School District. This decision will allow Jing Mei to move into the Wilburton building during the summer of 2023 and begin school at their new location starting in the fall of the 2023-2024 school year. Big Picture would not be able to move into either building for approximately two years due to the construction requirements for a secondary school and the necessary permitting needed for renovations.
The Wilburton building is located on land that is surrounded by wetlands. This means there are significant restrictions and regulations that prohibit or limit construction outside the current footprint of the building and parking area. The only addition that could be made is a commons area in the location of the covered play area. All other modifications would have to be made within the current structure and mechanical systems. The ability to achieve the vision for the new Big Picture facility is more feasible at Eastgate.
Both Big Picture and Jing Mei have an equal need to be centrally located; however, geography and timing are factors that outweigh location when making the decision.
While some challenges regarding transportation at the Eastgate location exist for the Big Picture community, the District will work together to meet student needs through multiple options including school buses, van service, and working with Metro. School principals will continue to work with staff, students and families to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.