Merge Arbor Heights/Roxhill? Principals say it surprised them too

April 4, 2012 at 9:58 am | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 48 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The principals of Arbor Heights and Roxhill Elementary Schools say the emergence of a proposal to merge the two into a rebuilt AH was as much a “big surprise” to them as it was to their schools’ communities.

That’s part of what they told a gathering of more than 50 people last night at a quickly organized community meeting, less than a week after the merger proposal debuted in the package of possibilities that district staff is circulating (as reported here) as the first round of community meetings begins about what should be in next February’s 4th edition of the every-six-years BEX (“Building Excellence”) levy.

The meeting, led by AH principal Christy Collins, with Roxhill principal Carmela Dellino speaking from the audience, unfolded while the first of those meetings played out across the city at Eckstein Middle School (West Seattle’s school-board director Marty McLaren had sent her regrets to AH and Roxhill, saying she had to be at that meeting instead of theirs). West Seattle’s version of the levy-input meeting is set for 6:30 pm Thursday at Denny International Middle School, and the meeting materials are now on the district website, if you’d like a preview – PowerPoint overview here and “the 3 options” here (which includes the merger proposal).

In addition to answering questions, the two principals sought to explain their side of how this idea might have sprung up, and Collins explained in a show-and-tell why it’s imperative that a new building replacing the 64-year-old AH becomes part of the levy, some way, some how.

The explanations were in the context of a sort of crash course on what the BEX (IV) levy is meant to be, and how best to shape comment about it, particularly without throwing Roxhill under the bus, so to speak – “How do we, as a community with a collective voice, speak out? … In no way, shape, or form, do we want to pit school against school; that would be counterproductive,” said Collins.

(For some, that was likely to have evoked a memory of the bruising school-closure battle in 2008-2009, when an early proposal to close Arbor Heights’ program was fought and then scrapped, but the Cooper Elementary program on Pigeon Point was discontinued instead, and Pathfinder K-8 moved into the new Cooper building after years in the rundown, reopened Genesee Hill. One attendee last night suggested reviving research done back then.)

Collins is in her first year not only as principal at AH but in the Seattle Public Schools district, and noted early on that “both of our schools have lacked some ongoing maintenance … my fear is that if we are not on the BEX levy, we have a long ways to go before the next levy comes up” in or around 2020.

Even the timing suggested for the current proposal of building a new AH to host the merged school communities did not please those on hand: “Our building cannot LAST until 2017,” one teacher declared.

“I don’t know if we can maintain just by putting band-aids on things,” acknowledged Collins, who midway through the meeting narrated a PowerPoint of photos meant to show the fact Arbor Heights is virtually falling apart – peeling paint, insect and rodent traps, and a malfunctioning boiler that had students and staff wearing hats and coats in their own classrooms, their breath visible as they did their classwork. (One photo showed a sign warning against drinking the tap water in a restroom; “Is that the sign above the rat trap?” one attendee yelled out.)

Dellino did not make a presentation about Roxhill, but spoke about its challenges. And Collins noted later that by a district grading scale, the two are in similarly bad condition, saying that AH ranks 3.4 on a district scale of 1 to 5 (5 = worst), while Roxhill scored a 3.2.

As for where the merger idea came from, if not from them, Collins said the original list of BEX IV possibilities that she saw less than two weeks ago had “Arbor Heights being rebuilt in 2016-2017, then there was a proposed completion date for 2018 … at the time, there was nothing for Roxhill,” so she spoke up at a district meeting, advocating for her “neighbor” school too. Then: “We went to the (school) board work session (last Wednesday), heard there were new proposals being presented, opened up the plans and discovered there was the closure of Roxhill and the combination of Roxhill and Arbor Heights. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about how that came about – it was a big surprise to all of us.” She mentioned making a “casual” comment to McLaren some weeks back about how she thought it would be great to work with Dellino someday, but said that wasn’t intended to suggest a merger.

“I want this school [Arbor Heights] to have a new building (and) I want Roxhill to have a new building,” Dellino affirmed – though for her purposes, she said, a Roxhill rebuild isn’t necessarily the only option she had been seeking: She said she had talked with McLaren about the idea of Roxhill moving to the E.C. Hughes building (now being leased by Westside School [WSB sponsor]), because of Roxhill’s location challenges as well as facilities woes: “I think that our school and … our children do not deserve to be on Roxbury. It is not a very wonderful place to try to hold an elementary school. There happens to be a school that is close by … slightly north of Roxhill, that is owned by the Seattle School District. What I had talked to Marty about was the possibility of Roxhill becoming an inhabitant of that building … You could still have a brand-new Arbor Heights; Roxhill could still have a building that’s respectable; and we could continue to preserve the identities of the schools … that was part of our conversation.”

All three of the draft BEX IV options call for “reopening” the EC Hughes building, but, as noted later in the meeting, they don’t specify whether it would be reopened as a new neighborhood school or perhaps as a permanent home for the K-5 STEM school launching this fall in the Boren building on Delridge, which the district has said it intends to keep long-term in the role it’s filled for years, as a temporary/emergency home to other schools (most recently, Chief Sealth International High School for two years ending in summer 2010).

The other West Seattle suggestion that’s mentioned in two of the first-draft BEX IV proposals, moving Schmitz Park Elementary to a new building on the campus of closed Genesee Hill, was mentioned only briefly at last night’s meeting – Collins said it seems clear that SP needs a new facility, as it’s all but impossible to “work with 10 to 12 portables” (she alluded to a past assignment working at a school with eight).

And there were some questions about what’s not in any of the current drafts – most notably, there’s no mention of building a new elementary on the old Denny International Middle School site on 30th, though that has been part of the district’s longterm vision for the site dating back to 2008 Design Team meetings that shaped the site’s current post-demolition state as an extension of Southwest Athletic Complex. (That site would be more central to the current Roxhill attendance area, Dellino acknowledged, than Hughes.)

Most of all, though, questions abounded about the details – what few there are, so far – of the proposed Arbor Heights/Roxhill merger, particularly the capacity suggested for a new school, about 500 students, when the two elementaries’ current populations total more than 700.

Collins pointed out that the district expects to amend its attendance boundaries by the time new schools open, “and it’s my assumption that the boundary change will be how we get to 500 students.” (One person asked if any other elementary school in the district is at that size, and while no one at the meeting pointed this out, we can note here that Lafayette Elementary in the Admiral District has more than 500 students right now.)

That, a Roxhill staffer in attendance suggested later, would likely mean dispersing some of Roxhill’s students to other “less-desirable buildings”; he suggested the district’s idea was ultimately “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” Saying the Roxhill-to-Hughes suggestion seemed “viable” to him – though Dellino had been careful to say that was her own opinion, not something she had vetted with staff or parents – and said to the Arbor Heights attendees, “I ask that you advocate for us.”

One alternative was offered late in the meeting; district watchdog Chris Jackins, who had circulated flyers pre-meeting detailing his opposition to the proposed merger, wondered aloud whether the two school communities would be OK with getting help sooner that did not involve new or relocated buildings – “what could you do for 10 million here and 10 million there? … Seems to me you could fix up a lot of stuff.”

Nobody seemed to second that motion.

Collins’ words from early in the meeting resounded: “I am concerned that … the way that it’s proposed right now, it’s all or nothing … we either accept a combined school or we don’t get anything and we’re looking at another seven years.”

Said one attendee: “The question is, if we can’t both get new schools, could we live with putting our two communities together?” Speaking toward the Roxhill reps, she continued, “I don’t think it has to be you against us.”

Another, however, wasn’t in a conciliatory mood. “A lawsuit would be something (the district) would listen to,” he opined. “Be civil, but I don’t think I’d be too nice about it – be hard-nosed and say, ‘this is what we want’ … be careful about following into their trap of solving THEIR problem.”

And yet it also was stressed repeatedly that these types of proposals usually evolve, so the final levy plan could turn out to be something different from any of the three options circulating now. “Advocate for what you want, not what you don’t want,” attendees were advised. We’ll see what they have to say during Thursday’s meeting at Denny (2601 SW Kenyon), 6:30 pm. An online survey is also part of what the district has posted online – find it on this page. Arbor Heights also is expected to be represented in public comment before tonight’s School Board meeting (6 pm, district HQ in SODO, and usually broadcast live on cable TV).

48 Comments

  1. I doubt many of the other families in WS know what a sad state our school is in. Our students deserve an environment conducive to learning. Black mold, disfunctional heating/AC, the norm of non-working computers!!!! WE WILL NO LONGER BE IGNORED!!!!! AH families, PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT tonight at the school board meeting and tomorrow at the meeting at Denny!!!! We deserve a building we can feel safe sending our kids to and one that our children will not fall behind in!

    Comment by AHparent — 10:09 am April 4, 2012 #

  2. AH parent, I’m actually e-mailing your principal to see if she’d care to share the PowerPoint from last night (the one with the photos). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:33 am April 4, 2012 #

  3. Don’t Combine, the programs are full enough at Arbor Heights and even trying to drop your child off is tough. This is a Bad idea!

    Comment by hmmm — 10:55 am April 4, 2012 #

  4. What is the numerical value of the other OLD schools in West Seattle? They all look 50-60s age to me. I would assume all have rodent issues, as do most restaurants, no?

    I will be lamb-basted for this comment, but perhaps the school should have closed years ago – when the district wanted it to. Maybe AH would have their new school now or at least something better.

    I am all for “fighting the man” but it doesn’t seem to be getting anyone anything they want.

    Comment by WSParent — 11:03 am April 4, 2012 #

  5. WSB, Ms. Collins does indeed plan on showing the PowerPoint.

    WSParent, the fact is that SPS is criminal for not providing safe environments for all our Seattle children. What would they have done if AH closed? Shuffled them to another subpar building? I doubt they would have just come out-of-the blue and offered a new building. There’s no way around it, AH needs a new building. Combining w/ Roxhill is not the answer, new building or not. WS needs upgrades all over.

    Comment by AHparent — 11:23 am April 4, 2012 #

  6. “Deferred maintenance” is the big problem– the broken boiler? Apparently that is the same boiler listed as broken YEARS ago!
    The district wanted to close the building years ago, likely so that they could also include an elementary school when they were starting to plan the mega-school, Denny/Sealth.

    But in the last round of closures, they didn’t want to close the “school”, they were going to close the “program”. They would put another “program” into the building, but call it by a different name.

    As for rodents, most places have them (over 50% of homes have some sort of rodents, most often undetected!), and schools are not immune.

    Comment by smitty — 11:29 am April 4, 2012 #

  7. The more I read about the state of our West Seattle school buildings, not to mention the state of SPS’s “curriculum” of teaching only what can be measured on tests, the sicker and more disgusted I get.
    .
    Seattle Public Schools is failing our kids in every way – because unless your kid is SUPER bright, or SUPER behind, or your family has endless resources for private schooling, tutors, extracurricular activities, etc. you’re hosed. There are services and help and options up the wazoo for YOU folks. But for the rest of us? Nada. Just a sh*t ton of testing and metrics that have NOTHING to do with educating or with advancement, or with a school experience that will generate actual productive human beings that can operate and thrive in the real world.
    .
    My daughter is in Kindergarten at Roxhill. I love the staff there. For the most part, I’m repeatedly blown away by how much they are able to do, with so very little. But I also know that she’ll never get the math, science, technology, art, etc. that *I* had as a kid growing up in the SoCal public school system of the 70′s and early 80′s. Not even close. Not because the staff and teachers don’t want to provide it, but because the district (and the state, and the county, and taxpayers, etc.) refuse to pay for it. Which breaks my heart. And makes me really, really mad.
    .
    Additionally, I don’t even “get” the whole levy thing. Why do we continue to BEG the state or school district for money that should be allotted to our schools from the get go? So the government can have new office furnishings, courthouses, vehicles, and/or recklessly spend money on un-necessary projects without any accountability? Can you say FLEECING?
    .
    Ugh. I’m just so frustrated. As a working single mom, what are my options? I feel like I’m screwed no matter what I do or think. Worse, in the end, I know SPS will do whatever the h*ll they want. With little, or no regard, for those of us who have children in the system. And guess who ultimately loses in this scenario? My kid. Your kids. OUR kids.
    .
    I hope Marty McLaren is listening, I hope SPS is listening (*cough*). And dammit, I hope all of West Seattle is listening too — including, and especially those of you who are in a position to actually affect some change. You know, the ones w/ the deeper pockets and the bigger megaphones. It’s time to decide, do we want better for our kids, or don’t we?

    Comment by Cheryl — 11:51 am April 4, 2012 #

  8. God forbid that children from the “other side” of 35th would be going to the same schools as our children at AH.

    Comment by Kevin — 12:13 pm April 4, 2012 #

  9. WSParent, the district didn’t want to CLOSE Arbor Heights, they wanted to move Pathfinder into the building.

    Comment by Bonnie — 12:22 pm April 4, 2012 #

  10. Sorry, to be VERY specific, the November 2008 proposal was indeed a proposal to close the Arbor Heights *program*, not *building*, and I have added a link to our coverage of the day that proposal came out – http://westseattleblog.com/2008/11/live-seattle-public-schools-closures-etc-announcements – to clarify. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:41 pm April 4, 2012 #

  11. Arbor heigths is a great school, with amazing teachers. teacher that due to budget cuts pay for items needed out of their own pocket to ensure their students get the most out of their learning experience. i feel if we combine both schools we will not only be stretching the teachers thin, we will be robbing both schools, and students of the education they deserve. we see over populated schools all the time with education gaps, and violence. its hard to keep track when you have too many students in one school. we will start seeing too many falling through the cracks, and amazing teachers leaving for better schools. hasn’t the state done enough cutting of schools in washington? its really sad to see the state comprising the success of our children just to save a couple of bucks.

    Comment by christine — 12:56 pm April 4, 2012 #

  12. Okay gotcha. You are right. They were planning on keeping the building open. I believe a few years back (2006??) they were going to close down Roxhill but backed out of that plan.

    Comment by Bonnie — 1:12 pm April 4, 2012 #

  13. Kevin – I found your comment rude. This is not issue about not wanting to mix the Roxhill students with AH. From what I understand, Roxhill would like to keep their school and have a new faciilty and they deserve one just like AH. What people are against is having a “mega school.” I doubt you are a parent at either school..just a troll who likes to stir things up.

    Comment by AHMom — 1:38 pm April 4, 2012 #

  14. One more thing Kevin. I live on the “other side” of 35th. The AH boundary goes right up to Roxhill Elementary. I have a friend who lives across the street and the reference school for her kingergarten is AH. She was able to get her child into Roxhill.

    Comment by AHMom — 1:40 pm April 4, 2012 #

  15. I had posted this earlier on another thread and thought I would repost it on this one:
    As an Arbor Heights parent and proud member of the Arbor Heights community, I would like to address the question of “What would make the AH community happy?” I would be very happy if our neighborhood and our school were treated with respect by the district. We have a great community with a building that is horrible. Why not ask the district for a new building? Why don’t we deserve a safe place for our kids to go to school? And by the way, yes, we will fight the district because it is blatantly disrespectful to assume that because we live in a poorer end of West Seattle, we are alright with being shoved aside. Neither school deserves to be swept under the carpet in a numbers crunching game. It would be super nice to have a rich donor give both Roxhill and Arbor Heights new buildings, but we aren’t in that position. What we at Arbor Heights have are active parents who are able to do a lot with very little. We have been able to pull our school up by the bootstraps, so to speak, without a deep pocketed PTA. Our test scores are improving. We have a fantastic new principal who has been able to help motivate our community. Why is it unfair to ask for a new school, so that we can continue to grow as a community. Why is it unfair to want to have a neighborhood that would benefit from a new school? I see nothing wrong with demanding this of the district. Both Arbor Heights and Roxhill are proud communities and both deserve new and safe schools for our kids.

    Comment by ahmom — 1:50 pm April 4, 2012 #

  16. Wow. Kevin, you’re way off. I echo AHMom. Both schools want to maintain their separate identities and continue to serve the community they’re in! I have heard wonderful things about the Roxhill community, and I can speak to the fact that the AH community is a tight one. And we want our students educated to be contributing members of society as adults, and have that education received right here in AH! I am so proud to have such an amazing new principal in Christy Collins. Her contribution and dedication to our school and our community is evident! Please help support not only the effort to maintain separate schools, but the improvements both schools desperately need (and students deserve!).

    Comment by AHparent — 1:54 pm April 4, 2012 #

  17. Addressing Kevin’s comment – he’s saying what I hear “some” parents say. It’s ignorant and fearful to say the least. But, that stigma is out there. I remember looking for a home and people said “don’t buy on THAT said of 35th”. I feel that stigma follows to AH School as well. I don’t feel AH is a poorer area of West Seattle. Hello? Drive down marine view much? seems like a normal middle-class area to me. along with gatewood, pathfinder etc.

    Comment by WSParent — 2:34 pm April 4, 2012 #

  18. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isnt EC Hughes leased to the Westside School?? Is the school district going to break their lease and kick out a strong, thiving member of the community? Westside School spent a ton of $$ to clean up, refurbish and old, closed building and now SSD wants it back?? I know its business, but come on….I believe there is a clause in the contract to break the lease due to over crowding, once it reaches a certain percentage…but will kicking Westside School out of the building actually put a dent into the overcrowding issue??

    Comment by Tony — 2:51 pm April 4, 2012 #

  19. It is a 10-year lease but there is some kind of language (I don’t think I’ve ever looked up the document but need to) regarding what happens if the district says it needs the building for its own students. The prospect of SPS taking the property back first came up six months ago – here’s a story we did at that time, including comments from Westside leadership. http://westseattleblog.com/2011/10/fixing-west-seattle-school-overcrowding-2-possible-reopenings-in-west-seattle – TR
    .
    (added)
    document:
    .
    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/area/board/09-10agendas/042110agenda/closedbuildinghughes.pdf
    .
    Says either party can cancel with 15 months’ notice. And that the district will review Hughes’ status with Westside annually – status such as “surplus” or “essential.”

    Comment by WSB — 3:04 pm April 4, 2012 #

  20. I beg to differ about AH being a poorer community. We have Fauntleroy, Fauntlee Hills, Marine View Drive, Brace Point, the Ayroros (I know, I spelled that wrong). Also, I think Arbor Heights is pretty awesome. We deserve a new neighborhood school and so does Roxhill. What we don’t deserve is being crapped on by the district for a few more years.

    Comment by WSMom — 3:48 pm April 4, 2012 #

  21. Im good with merging them. If they are planning on staying in the same ah location, all that I would want is stop signs installed on adjacent blocks. I live in that area and if you ever drive down 104th or 102nd at beggining or end of school, it’s amazing how insane these parents can drive and almost hit you. This just adds to more people and more cars. There will need to be some order for both drivers and children safety.

    Comment by CBS ah — 4:21 pm April 4, 2012 #

  22. Ya know, if the district merges the 2 schools onto the AH property, the Roxhill property could be sold off (at a loss, no doubt!) to help pay off some of the district’s debts.

    Or the district could use that $ for some spiffy new administration building….

    Wonder if anyone downtown has thought of that?

    Comment by smitty — 4:50 pm April 4, 2012 #

  23. First I would like to say Cheryl is spot on. The district will continue to do what they like unless parents unite. Even then it feels pretty hopeless because ALL of their (district) choices are solely based on $$. I am a Cooper parent and endured that messy not to mention illegal closing of Cooper SCHOOL (not program). Yes, the building is open and Pathfinder K-8 is in there but the district conveniently called us a program to close us so quickly but we had to be a school because alas, we were a Title 1 SCHOOL. Once again the district is putting the cart before the horse. Really, a STEM school?! When we have AH and RH falling down?! And I know RH received some “upgrades” just last summer so why bother with that if you know the building is not structurally sound?! That Goodloe was a crook and took us all for a ride (STEM is all her) and this generation of kids and educators will be going with less because of it. I feel your pain AH and RH. It’s entirely frustrating. Be loud and contact all media avenues and call it like you see it. Don’t be shy!

    Comment by Molly — 4:51 pm April 4, 2012 #

  24. I disagree with smittys comment about putting the money towards administration upgrades. If anything the money from a school being sold should be put back into the learning system, not the management system. That would just be another PERK for mngmt. Instead of giving teachers the tools and parts to make classrooms what they should be.

    Comment by CBS ah — 5:14 pm April 4, 2012 #

  25. This is like a broken record. Why are these ideas always a “surprise” to those affected? Why do we always have to play musical chairs and have two communities vying for the same limited resources? It’s exhausting for our school communities to go through the same old rigamarole every 2-3 years. I am out of ideas and patience.

    Comment by add — 5:32 pm April 4, 2012 #

  26. It is too bad to hear of this trouble. How about this…take a year or two off of expensive testing and put that money into the improvement of buildings and instructional materials? I know that would displace some admin. positions and those that profit from testing, but don’t we need to prioritize here? Principals can still hold teachers accountable for good teaching through their formal evaluations.

    Comment by aparent — 5:51 pm April 4, 2012 #

  27. So they tried closing AH and sending all the kids to RH and there was mayhem (and rightly so!) – what a way for a community to come together! So now it’s just close RH and send them all to AH?

    While I think if it came down to it, the AH property is better, weren’t we just reading a couple months ago how BOTH of these schools were WAY over-capacity? Is the district really going to build the mega-school necesary to accommodate this? Can the Arbor Height neighborhood handle that level of traffic?

    I’ve always thought the EC HUghes building and location are beautiful and as a former Roxhill student I would love to see the school get that location. This would put a little more distance between the schools and I think would be a better option all around for students, families and the schools’ neighbors.

    Comment by WS Born & Bred — 6:39 pm April 4, 2012 #

  28. Just to clarify a few things about the AH neighborhood and school. Many of the students and families live on the East side of 35th or a few blocks away. There is not one family on the waterside of Marine View drive at AH. Their kids are in private schools and one I know worked a loop whole to get into Lafayette and when there was no grandfather clause to admit their younger child, they moved to Westside to avoid AH Elemen. One or two families in the Arroyos and not many from Fauntleroy. The school has about a 45% free and reduced lunch. Not qualified for Title One and do not have the economic clout from the community…a great auction is 35k. We have a struggling school. On a more positive note, Roxhill and AH both had teams that made into the second round of the Reading Challenge!

    Comment by AHMom — 6:50 pm April 4, 2012 #

  29. As a former Fauntlereoy resident from afar and Fauntleroy Grade School grad from 1945. I don’t know the logistics of this but could the Old Fauntleroy Elementary School be reopened?

    Reg Morgan

    Comment by Reg Morgan — 7:47 pm April 4, 2012 #

  30. I know nothing about the specific situation of either of these schools but my first thought when I read about the merger was confusion. Why does Seattle make this huge push for NEIGHBORHOOD schools and then they want to close two of them and build one new building. Kind of seems to take the neighborhood out of it.

    Comment by Cecelia Lehmann — 8:03 pm April 4, 2012 #

  31. I moved from the suburbs back to seattle several years ago. I love west seattle and the community. The politicos including the mediocre school board have me wondering why I thought Seattle would ever suffice as a place to raise a family. Even on a six figure income this is an expensive and family unfriendly place these days. Flight to the suburbs happens for a reason. If you are not willing to stretch yourself financially to the nth degree you cannot get away from the lackluster schools in the southwest cluster. A while back someone showed me a resource allocation table broken down by per capita tax revenue and correlated with school support. We do NOT get our fair share. Meaning WS is the redheaded step child of the city in general. It wasn’t until Nickles busted some heads for us that we got any support on our island.

    Meanwhile the former superintendent is still walking around free after that last bit of corruption with the MLK school.. And the current administration seems like same old same old. Congrats on a fine year of not ruffling too many feathers so you can take that job in the suburbs Marty.

    What’s that you hear, oh yes another high middle income professional packing their bags for the suburbs.

    Comment by Ah Daddy — 8:48 pm April 4, 2012 #

  32. Reg, I think they sold the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse recently. I’m not 100% sure though.

    Comment by Bonnie — 8:48 pm April 4, 2012 #

  33. I feel like this nightmare is NEVER going to end. I ran for school board with Marty, and I find myself speechless at her having proposed this insane idea. First of all, it is not a “merger” it is a closure of Roxhill, plain and simple. Dangling brand new real estate in front of the Arbor Heights community, and watching them salivate over the prospect of potentially having a new building at the expense at the Roxhill and yes, West Side school communities, well makes me physically sick. Out of principle, both communities should band together, and as you Arbor Heights parents hobnobbed with Sundquist with your “Hell no, we won’t go” signs, and fought off the your school’s closure in 2009, you should dust off those signs and protest the District’s lack of sense, vision, compassion, and racial injustice. Don’t let the District pit school against school, yet AGAIN.Arbor Heights, don’t fall for the bribe. Don’t let another Title 1 school be sacrificed just because you want a new building. This District needs to admit that closing Cooper was an utter failure. The capacity crisis in in the North part of West Seattle, not South. Our community predicted this capacity crisis, to no avail. Now, the Boren building is to be reopened in the name of capacity management. As I remember, they closed the original Cooper building in 1989 (?) Because they didn’t want the children’s playground on Delridge. Do these people read the previous Board’s notes? Put Pathfinder, (who, by the way, is I believe, illegally, phasing out the Autism program, but that is another story)in the Boren building, ease the capacity of Lafayette and Schmidz Park. Sell Lafayette, which is a valuable piece of property in a business district, put Lafayette into Boren as well. If it was big enough for Sealth, it will work for this. Build a new school on Genessee Hill site. Alki has a crummy building too, maybe a super elementary to incorporate them as well? Dissolving ANOTHER successful Title 1 school in WS is not only immoral, I am sure the Department of Education will take a very dim view of it, since they are still ruling on the Cooper closure as well. God help the District if the DOE rules that the District broke the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by closing another successful school of color. This level of insanity has to end.

    Comment by Joy A. — 8:49 pm April 4, 2012 #

  34. It is right for everyone, yes you too Cheryl, to stand up and be heard. I don’t have deep pockets or a megaphone, but the board hears from me.

    You see, some board members only listen if your name is Jon Bridge or Nick Hanuaer and you are part of the downtown circuit. Witness how quickly Paul Allen’s pet “South Lake Union Elementary” seems to have bumped us bumpkins down the list.

    Well, as long as these folks and their choir feel that they can say “oh, we won’t support your re-election”, then they think they can dictate what happens the $850M of our Levy dollars Uh, that didn’t turn out so good for Steve Sundquist and Peter Maier now did it. We CAN effect change – don’t let them tell you otherwise!

    Comment by WSBEX — 8:52 pm April 4, 2012 #

  35. I missed Reg’s comment. Yes, the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse site – most of it – was sold. The district still owns part of the site, some parcels immediately west of what was purchased by the Fauntleroy Community Service Agency (they had said they would have liked to buy it all, but money ran short). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:10 pm April 4, 2012 #

  36. How is the merging of two elementary schools not the same thing as closing one elementary school? Seems like slippery semantics to me. Plus, don’t we need more capacity in West Seattle and not less? Where are those 250 kids going to go that don’t fit into the new Arbor Heights building? Does this mean the other already overcrowded elementary schools in West Seattle get to absorb even more kids? This also obviously means that there would need to be another wholesale shifting of boundaries in West Seattle. (Whoopee!) I really have no faith right now that there is any kind of solid long range plan for dealing with capacity in West Seattle. It is an ongoing nightmare for families affected by school closures, repeated boundary changes, future boundary changes and the inhumane SPS sibling grandfathering policy. I have little doubt that my own family will be caught up in this mess in the next couple of years and it is incredibly frustrating.

    North Delridge Mom

    Comment by kayo — 9:46 pm April 4, 2012 #

  37. Horrible Management and planning on behalf of sps. I’ve been trying to give them benefit of the doubt now for 4 years. They seem to be operating from another planet. We need a lobby group or something.

    Comment by Sv — 10:30 pm April 4, 2012 #

  38. One more thing I forgot to add earlier. This goes all the way up to the state level. Does anyone remember that the state recently was ruled as underfunding public education in the courts. Great big toothless tiger. The states response is essentially “so what”.

    Comment by Ah Daddy — 10:49 pm April 4, 2012 #

  39. There is no question AH needs a new building. Not in 2017 or 2018, yet NOW! The building is failing. In fact, a SPS Maintenance person, working at the school on a Saturday told me he was there to work on the boiler…again and that the district would be better off bulldozing the building and starting over. There wasn’t ANYTHING worth saving. The frustration of continually coming out to make band aid fixes is wearing not only on the maintenance crew, yet the ENTIRE AH Community. We are a passionate community of educators and families who have been able to overlook the physical structure for many many years and focus on what goes on inside the building, not on its aesthetics, yet the building is becoming more and more of a distraction and detracting from all of the wonderful things happening within our school community.
    *
    The district’s proposal to “merge” these two programs is shortsighted and only illustrates their economic motives. The AH and Roxhill communities met together on Tuesday for a wonderful meeting to discuss this proposal and both communities appeared to echo the same sentiments of wanting to keep our programs separate to preserve the culture and identity of each community while being supportive of each other. Since a viable option exists to move Roxhill into a SPS owned building (Hughes), not far from their current site, it would make sense do this when the district has said they do not have interest in continuing to house a school on Roxbury. Another option would be to build a new structure for Roxhill on the old Denny site, yet this makes less sense when there is a perfectly good option a few blocks north. Rebuilding AH and moving Roxhill to Hughes would create a win-win for the district, our public schools and our communities.

    Comment by AH Parent 2 — 10:38 am April 5, 2012 #

  40. I see a lot of concerned parents/people in this comment thread but I want to make sure all this energy is being heard by the right people.

    What are some of the ways to make ourselves heard? Do we go directly to Marty McLaren? I’m certainly going to let her know my concerns. But is who else is there to contact? I really don’t know the ins-and-outs of the SPS, so anyone with contacts to let your voice be heard, please chime in.

    Here’s Marty McLaren’s info:
    http://www.marty4ssd.com/blog/

    martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

    Comment by cwit — 10:51 am April 5, 2012 #

  41. I believe you should also contact FACMAC at capacity@seattleschools.org

    Comment by New AH — 11:37 am April 5, 2012 #

  42. To comment on Joy’s post. Pathfinder is not phasing out the autism program. It continues to be a thriving program.

    Comment by LC — 1:40 pm April 5, 2012 #

  43. Joy, I am wondering where you are getting your information
    regarding the autism program at Pathfinder. First of all, Pathfinder cannot choose to shut down the program. That would come from the district. Second, the program is thriving and is appreciated by the entire community. Making inflammatory statements that you “believe” to be true really makes you lose all credibility in my eyes.

    Comment by wseavirgo — 6:34 pm April 5, 2012 #

  44. @wseavirgo: Many of us have been wondering for years where Joy gets her “information.”

    Comment by Juicyfroot — 10:32 pm April 5, 2012 #

  45. Total agreemnet with you AH Daddy. WS is the step child in the District…we are starting to be a very loud and demanding one. They are not going to be able to ignore us any longer.

    I also agree with you Joy. I have no info. in Pathfinder and Autisim. I am still angry about how Pathfinder Admin, Steve Sundquist and SPS pittled AH and Cooper against each other just so Pathfinder could move in to Cooper and not look like the “bad guy.” Did anyone really believe that Pathfinder would be moved from one old decaying school building to another. I am really tired of these games SPS plays and have completely lost faith in the system.

    Comment by AHMom — 10:35 am April 6, 2012 #

  46. Pathfinder never pitted anyone against each other. We are a loving and supportive community. I have been a part of this school for over seven years, and know our admin quite well. I would not be part of this amazing school if those wonderful and caring people were the nefarious characters some make them out to be.

    Comment by wseavirgo — 11:03 am April 6, 2012 #

  47. I have many friends who are involved with/ have children who go to AH – somehow we get along! I support a new building for AH (heck yes!) and would love for Roxhill to get the same love (another great group of teachers). The district is who we need to hold accountable. Please have some respect for my kid’s school, too. Thank you.

    Comment by wseavirgo — 11:11 am April 6, 2012 #

  48. I am not trying to be inflammatory…I have reputable sources and the hotline to the Department of Education’s office of Civil Rights. You probably cannot shut down the Autism Program, but you can decline admission until the program atrophies and dies. If 30 autism families applied for admittance to the program, would they be accepted, space permitting? I advocate for A LOT of people in West Seattle on education issues, and I am not going to out my sources because you don’t like hearing something that actually may be true. I have plenty of credibility in WS, so I will just keep advocating for those who need me to. Obviously your community has everything it wants for SPS, and let me add, at the expense of other students WS. But next, I would be worried about falling into step 5 of failing AYP. And the birth of a STEM elementary in WS in a temporary location. The District gives and takes away indiscriminately. You may ne next.

    Comment by Joy A. — 5:21 pm April 6, 2012 #

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