Developing West Seattle-wide Seattle Public Schools priorities: Collaboration @ school-board member McLaren’s meeting

October 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 61 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“I cannot describe to you how much we want you to be our advocate.”

West Seattle’s elected representative on the Seattle School Board, Marty McLaren, heard that plea and a whole lot more during her two-hour community-conversation meeting on Saturday.

Before the meeting was over, she in turn asked community members to help her advocate for them – and that resulted in this whiteboard list of priorities suggested by the 20 or so who came to her meeting:


(Click image to see larger view)
The urgency of a priority list comes from the fact that within days, McLaren and other board members are expected to see the next draft of the Seattle Public Schools BEX IV levy. It doesn’t go to voters till February, but the board is supposed to finalize the levy proposal by early November.

While the group in attendance on Saturday was dominated by parents of students at K5 STEM at Boren – who are suddenly in turmoil over district administrators’ repeated refusal to say where they eventually will be housed, or even whether they are a “school” or instead a “program” to potentially be dispersed among campuses – the priorities were for the entire peninsula.

“This is so exciting,” McLaren enthused by meeting’s end.

The format for these meetings is informal; most board members have them, and often they can be sparsely attended, unless there is a hot topic before the board – as there is now.

The meeting in the basement of the West Seattle (Admiral) Library branch began with one Arbor Heights Elementary parent asking “why are we last?” in the current draft of the forthcoming BEX IV levy – slated to be rebuilt for a 2019 opening, despite being in worse condition than any other building in the district. (She was part of the AH contingent that went to last Wednesday’s board meeting to plead their case again in the public-comment period – WSB coverage, with video, here.)

“Fairmount Park [reopening and addition] is first because it’s quickest and cheapest,” McLaren explained. “The argument is that Schmitz Park is so overcrowded, with well over half their students in portables, and even if we get them into a new building by 2015, they’re still going to have too many students for it and add two more portables.”

“Half the kids at Arbor Heights are ALSO in portables — that were past their useful life 10 years ago,” interjected another parent.

Adding on to that was another one: “We have projects all over the city that could be arranged – it’s not Arbor Heights vs. Schmitz Park, just because we’re in the same neighborhood.”

“Why can’t we leave the old Schmitz Park open” to create room for more students, was the next question.

Rick Johnson, a parent who’s been working on capacity issues as a volunteer for Schmitz Park, said, “We had put that on the table.” He said there are “so many variables,” but one thing that is clear is that Fairmount Park, closed since summer 2007, needs to be reopened as soon as possible. (It’s scheduled to open in fall 2014, after renovations and an eight-classroom addition.) What it will be, the district will not say – a neighborhood school, or perhaps co-housing for a neighborhood school and K-5 STEM.

The boundaries set up for “neighborhood schools” are causing the Schmitz Park overflow, as one parent pointed out. “We are being set up to fail.”

The past then came back to haunt the future, as conversation turned toward the rationale for the last round of school closures, widely acknowledged now as a massive mistake. “The (then-) school board messed up,” reiterated McLaren (who defeated an incumbent who had been involved, West Seattle’s previous school-board rep Steve Sundquist). The last closure round closed the Genesee Hill Elementary campus where Pathfinder K-8 had long been housed; Pathfinder was moved to the building that had housed the now-nonexistent neighborhood school, and that area of east West Seattle was left without a true neighborhood school.

Now, while concerned parents fear they see mistakes being repeated, McLaren cautioned, “There are so many moving parts … to come up with solutions for the whole peninsula. The superintendent’s cabinet is looking at so many scenarios and trying to hash out the pros and cons of each. The story I’ve heard is that this is so complex that we must really land the levy proposal first and figure out what the buildings are and then we can work out the building situation.”

McLaren said she had met yesterday with deputy superintendent Bob Boesche and given him two messages: “The parents at STEM need to know what we are thinking right now – transparency – and the parents of West Seattle need to know what you are thinking regarding program placement – have you devised a process yet for making those decisions?”

She then alluded to the “leadership vacuum” elsewhere in district management, with open positions.

The meeting was joined by more parents at that point, and by K-5 STEM’s best-known teacher, Craig Parsley, who left Schmitz Park to be a guiding force at the new school.

McLaren said she had not heard anyone suggest that they would let K-5 STEM “dissolve.”

But: “Being a ‘program’ is definitely an option,” she said, adding that she had heard various suggestions: “That it could move to Arbor Heights and be merged with Arbor Heights … one thing that could happen, Arbor Heights could move into Boren at almost any time, and that could ease the pain at Arbor Heights, which could co-exist with K-5 STEM for some time while getting rebuilt.” Number two, she said, she had heard it suggested that Schmitz Park at Genesee could become the STEM school, “but I don’t see how that could work”

Other possibilities McLaren said she had heard mentioned (though in exactly what context and by whom, was not clear):

*STEM could go to Schmitz Park
*STEM could go to Fairmount Park
*STEM could go to the current Schmitz Park (“a fine idea,” Parsley said from the sidelines, “since it already has science labs …” referring to the forested park adjacent to the school)

“There is no talk about booting people out who are already in?” said one parent.

“Oh for heaven’s sake, NO,” retorted McLaren.

“But,” said another parent, all the planning (for K-5 STEM) has been as a (self-contained) school. “From the beginning, the concept was different, it was meant to be a school that has a different approach. The design team worked on it that way.”

For an example of what’s a program vs. what’s a school, McLaren brought up APP, the district’s top-level-gifted program, which has gone through some location changes in recent years. She said it was still a “strong program … so having K-5 STEM identified as a program is not the kiss of death.”

“People in ‘programs’ are kicked around, torn apart,” contended one parent, who noted that there is a transitional-preschool “program” co-housed with K-5 STEM at Boren right now. She talked about all the preceding discussions of K-5 STEM and how it was “sold to the West Seattle community …. (as) an option school.” She said that the concept of a “program” dispersed around the district does not have to be either-or with the existence of the West Seattle K-5 STEM school. She expressed frustration that energy now has to be spent on this fight for survival, instead of on exploration of curriculum, best practices, other things to make this school better, and to discover ways this form of education could be deployed elsewhere. “We are a school, we have teachers, we are a community.”

Said a K-5 STEM parent: “I don’t think the district realizes how hurtful it is to be referred to as a program. Why are we not being referred to as an option school? You would never say that to Pathfinder. We already have 300 kids. (It’s not the same) to place us next to another school.” She expressed concern that making it a “program” would limit its access, which is the last thing they want to see.

Rod Clark, who has been working with McLaren as a volunteer, talked about how the BEX IV levy is smaller than originally proposed – at this point – and how it will not even address overcrowding as it stands now. He also noted that BEX III led to undersized buildings such as the Denny/Sealth co-located campus, where both schools are now jampacked.

“Has reopening EC Hughes even been put (back) on the table?” asked one parent. “When we are talking about overcrowding, I don’t understand why (it’s not).”

That was a reference to the closed public school in Sunrise Heights that is leased to independent Westside School (WSB sponsor); having the district take it back was proposed a couple times during the process of capacity management and BEX IV drafting, but it is not in the latest draft, because district administrators say the Fairmount Park 8-classroom addition will handle enough additional students to make it unnecessary.

McLaren said, “It’s not off the table, though it was taken out of the second iteration.” One reason it might not help is that it’s so far south, she noted, pointing out that boundaries will be redrawn.

She also said that the next time the district redraws boundaries, it should be clear “that if people move into different areas in order to access those schools, we will have to redraw those boundaries again …”

Another parent: “The district needs to acknowledge they have not been transparent. … I want to believe in new superintendent (José) Banda, I like his message, but there’s a lot of baggage that came before.”

Parsley spoke next, including, re: K-5 at STEM, “The subjective indicators here are that we are not a supported school. We’re still lacking basics. We’re still lacking essentials at the school. I understand there’s been a lot of change downtown, we lost our chief warehouse people, I understand that. But for schools to function, they needto hve basic materials, they need funding for professional development, core support from administrator. I **personally** feel that all of that is absent, therefore we have a future uncertain. We (as teachers) left secure jobs to create this vision, we planted the seed the STEM grew and the fruit is rotting on the vine. From a teacher’s perspective I understand this because I am in the trenches…. On the other hand, the parents in this community know that this fruit is rotting on the vine because we are not supported, beause promises … we can’t say the are not kept yet, we can say (there is concern) they may not be kept” because of what’s been said publicly. “In the future in terms of the buiding … we don’t know if we will get what we will be promised. That hurts me as a teacher because I letf a job that was secure … I chose this, with these parents, for one vital reason, that STEM education is what Seattle needs more than anything else right now, because the president’s report says we need millions of STEM-educated children in the next 10 years to be competitive (internationally) … our school is the cutting edge … if it dies on the vine, we fail the national vision, the local vision, … I don’t want that to happen, I want this to succeed.”

The room, with more than 15 people by then, applauded.

McLaren said, “There were things that should have happened …. and the people who were at the top were just assuming that other people were taking care of it, but it turns out there was too much loss of staff and of memory and all that. I can say authoritatively that the people now in responsibility, Bob Boesche, (executive director of school operations) Phil Brockman, (new executive director of West Seattle schools and former Roxhill Elementary principal) Carmela Dellino, are now aware of what’s going on at STEM and they are going to be bringing resources to bear.”

The resources that are needed are human as well as physical, said Parsley – support workers, for example. McLaren suggested the parents do the research to figure out what is available out there. “Aren’t there people in the district who should be doing that?” responded a parent. McLaren suggested they are so maxed out that while they can pick up on research that’s done, they can’t just start from scratch.

Somebody on site would be best to figure that out, offered Parsley – a head teacher, for example, who would teach part of the time and do that sort of administrative/proactive work part of the time.

Maybe the budget could be rearranged? McLaren wondered aloud.

No one involved with K-5 STEM in the room had seen the budget.

McLaren thought that might be because it’s classified, as rued earlier, “as a program. Technically, you don’t have a school.”

Another parent said, that’s part of the problem with the district, a trust issue. “We were told it was a school, not a program.” .. “It’s on the list of schools. I signed my child up for a school, not a program.”

Parsley interjected, “Let’s go to the children here … the ultimate goal is to educate children in a STEM environment. There’s are two ways to do that – a school within a school, or an independent school.” An independent school would seem most cost-effective, he noted.

But the nomenclature is vital because of district policy, a parent pointed out – a policy that spells out “a whole set of issues that come with that name. … A school is not the building. The school is the community, the principal, it has a focus, it is one whole entity. We are a whole.”

“My anxiety stems from my past experience with Arbor Heights [when AH was proposed for closure],” another parent said. ” … even as a public-school proponent, I feel like pulling my kids out of the school because I feel I have no control” as decisions are made, and “It really is upsetting. I’m looking 5 years down the road, 6 years down the road, where are my children going to be … It doesn’t seem the district is making decisions with forethought.” She also repeated that the school community would like to be working now on creating a “template that could be disseminated to other schools that could use the same template … if we are the designated STEM school we could work on those things and they could be disseminated throughout the district.”

One parent – on the verge of tears – said, “It’s ridiculous that this amount of energy has been spent … and we’re having this semantic argument about whether we are a program or a school. We ARE a school. … We as a community want to be a school, we want to be known as a school, we want to be at Fairmount Park, it is the best resource, it is the best use of that resource, we will fill it. We want Arbor Heights to be moved up on the timeline, we want Schmitz Park to get Genesee almost simultaneously, and we urge you to leave the old Schmitz Park to help with capacity. … I cannot describe to you how much we want you to be our advocate … how much we (WS schools) need someone to say, West Seattle deserves better, we need these things to happen … I understand there are the politics of compromise, but we have kids that are affected, and when we don’t have answers, it hurts. As parents we’re just trying to do what’s best for our kids.”

“One of the things that worries me about what you said,” another parent told McLaren, “and that you don’t understand what we said … is that the APP program has its classes, and then it will share music, share PE. One of the things I loved this year is that our PE and music teachers talked about how she’s incorporating the STEM curriculum into her classes …” She stressed that K-5 STEM needs to be kept together and Arbor Heights needs to be moved up to “immediate status.” Because of the building condition at AH, “half of the community is (now) somewhere else.”

Parsley continued on the PE point – the physics of archery, for example, the math of music … “When we have the materials – we are already on that,” he said. “Those are our next steps.”

The parent advocating a vision for West Seattle said, “We need to be four steps ahead … we need to look at it like chess. If this, then this, then this.” She said EC Hughes could be another option for STEM, with Fairmount Park handling north West Seattle growth.

A K-5 STEM mom said, “There are so many tears being shed right now … These decisions that are being made with no transparency … this is ripping us apart and killing or enthusiasm when all we want to concentrate on is teaching and learning. Right now this is being discussed so clinically … there are humans and small children on the other side of this.” She noted that co-location could present issues because the STEM kids, for example, are in uniforms.

Parsley wondered if a Creative Approach School might be created (it takes 80 percent of the teachers voting to approve it, he said) – providing more centralized in-building control over curriculum, how money is spent . “It’s out on the horizon, maybe closer than you think.”

Another suggestion: The current Schmitz Park would make a better neighborhood school than Fairmount Park – which would be drawing from less-crowded areas than SP. “It’s not the big solutiont hat people would like to think that it might be.” She also suggested that STEM’s status as an option school is indeed relieving pressure on some schools where there are extra children but not enough to add extra classes. It was noted that the school has just under 300 students – and 13 fifth-graders. It hadn’t drawn from overflowing, portable-laden Schmitz Park, though, because “(SP) is basically a STEM school already,” Parsley pointed out.

Before the meeting went into its final 20 minutes – Johnson suggested that they all come up with some ideas for all of West Seattle. That’s where the whiteboard (above) came in. The top of the list was advocating for Arbor Heights to be at the top of the rebuild list in the BEX-IV levy: “It has to have a new facility now.” Then, a permanent home for K-5 STEM and recognition it’s a school, not a proram.

The rest of the list is on the whiteboard.

It was pointed out that a group advocating for all West Seattle public schools already was in the fledgling stages, with a meeting of PTA/PTSA representatives recently. Next, a message will be crafted, with a request for the greater West Seattle community to get behind it – watch for that soon, and for a request for support at the October 17th School Board meeting.

61 Comments

  1. To be clear, the primary issue for K-5 STEM families is the bizarre decision of SPS to start referring to our SCHOOL as a “program”. It was not presented to WS families as a program. We were sold a school. We were not told about a program that would likely be moved around, split apart, and regarded as secondary to an established school – we were told about the SCHOOL it would be.
    .
    Granted, we always knew that we would be a school without a permanent home for 2+ years. We knew going in that we would be at Boren until 2014. Until they gave us a permanent home. We are a SCHOOL without a home (or proper name for that matter) but we are a SCHOOL.
    .
    This new obsession with wanting to define us as a “program” did not come from the people who started the school. It did not come from the design team that spent countless hours researching curriculum, visiting other STEM schools, hiring teachers, developing policies & procedures… It certainly did not come from the stakeholders – the brave families and staff that left other schools to make the vision a reality.
    .
    It is absolutely ridiculous that we are spending any energy on semantics. However, it DOES matter because the School Board and the Superintendent have made important distinctions between what can be done to/with programs versus schools.
    .
    STEM is a SCHOOL. We always have been and regardless of whatever the district decides it would like to do with STEM in other parts of the city, we will remain a SCHOOL.
    .
    Period.

    Comment by StringCheese — 4:40 pm October 7, 2012 #

  2. I remember when Sr. staff was trying to sell K-5 STEM to the board this spring. It was sold as “it won’t cost us anything in the near term because it can be paid with capital dollars.” That was disingenuous (Boesche was there) because you can’t use capital dollars to pay for staff/paper/crayons/balls etc.

    Unfortunately, there is a string of broken promises going back to previous BEX levies. So the K-5 STEM families have joined a rather large club. Also unfortunate is the now well-accepted practice downtown of never answering a question directly. We are undeserving of the truth it seems.

    Comment by skeptical — 4:41 pm October 7, 2012 #

  3. As an Arbor Heights parent, two words- frustration and dismay!! Mold, rodents, water issues, pealing paint. What more?! Seriously people?

    Comment by Amy — 4:58 pm October 7, 2012 #

  4. What a mess. I hope the stem school starts to get some transparency from the district on their future. These pioneering families and teachers, who took a leap of faith, deserve that.I hope Arbor Heights gets moved up on the priority list. I also hope the boundary redraws don’t continue to cause pain and upheaval for neighborhoods like mine (Delridge) that were impacted by school closures. It feels like living on shifting sands right now with no idea where and how things will end up and that is not a good feeling. Also, seeing any money spent on a new downtown school as part of this levy feels like a slap in the face to West Seattle. If the school board actually votes for that, I think they may get a nasty surprise when it is time to actually decide this Levy in February. There are WAY too many other pressing concerns to be addressed before that needs to happen. As a public school parent, I strongly suggest the school board rethink that money and use it where REAL crises already exist.

    Comment by kayo — 5:00 pm October 7, 2012 #

  5. Give a AH a new building and bring more equity among the schools. Give us all new computers, white boards, labs new math programs, etc.. All of our children should be given an education that prepares them with a “competitve edge” for the future.

    Comment by WSParent2 — 5:58 pm October 7, 2012 #

  6. I’d like to share some analysis I did this weekend. I combined the West Seattle elementaries by service area (Denny or Madison) and looked at the movement of Denny service area kids going North and Madison service area kids coming South. Here’s what I found (the data is from 2011-2012 so STEM is not included).
    .
    276 South End WS kids attend North End WS elementaries
    118 North End WS kids attending South End WS elementaries
    .
    **Net gain to North End WS elemantaries = 158 kids (this is between 6-7 classrooms of 23-25 students)
    .
    Surprisingly, the distribution of South End vs. North End attending Pathfinder is equal. 158 South End kids and 159 North End (this further confirms what I’ve always suspected that the lottery isn’t a true lottery).
    .
    Breakdown by School (based by what attendance area kids LIVE)
    .
    Denny Service Area
    Arbor Heights – 58 kids going North End, 41 going Pathfinder
    Highland Park – 16 kids going North End, 30 going to Pathfinder
    Concord – 3 kids going North End, 12 going to Pathfinder
    Roxhill – 22 kids going North End, 16 going to Pathfinder
    Sanislo – 28 kids going North End, 19 going to Pathfinder
    West Seattle – 149 kids going North End, 40 to Pathfinder
    .
    Madison Service Area
    Alki – 12 kids coming South End, 17 going to Pathfinder
    Gatewood – 40 coming to South End, 50 to Pathfinder
    Lafayette – 52 coming to South End, 56 to Pathfinder
    Schmitz Park – 14 coming to South End, 36 to Pathfinder
    .
    Clearly, by ignoring health/safety, facility conditions, and attractive program placement at South End schools has perpetuated the CAPACITY problem. It’s REALLY looking to me like Fairmont Park is going to need to be reopened as a NEIGHBORHOOD school and for the boundaries to be drawn before 2015. West Seattle Elementary has an attendance area of 660 kids – the largest of ANY West Seattle school and look where a good chunk of those kids are going!

    Comment by Public School Advocate — 7:13 pm October 7, 2012 #

  7. Public School Advocate -That is interesting but I think you need to isolate for 2011-12 Kindegarten only, since the assignment plan for schools chnaged drastically at that time and even then probably doesn’t tell the full story as there was grandfathering etc…available.

    Comment by was — 8:38 pm October 7, 2012 #

  8. What does that mean that Arbor Heights could be moved to Boren AT ANY TIME? That would EASE THE PAIN??? So they would move our kids to an area where there is crime and it isn’t safe and no playground at all to EASE OUR PAIN? Get real! Rebuild the school RIGHT NOW. They should have done it years ago but they just constantly ignore Arbor Heights.

    Comment by Another AH Mom — 8:54 pm October 7, 2012 #

  9. @was, the data made available from the district doesn’t break-down this specific migration data by grade level. I’ve asked Tracy Libros, Dir. of Enrollment Services for it this way yet always get they are short staffed and don’t have anyone to pull it.
    .
    I agree, when the new neighborhood assignment plan went into effect at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, that changed things. However, whether we are looking at kids starting school pre or post neighborhood assignment plan implementation, we still see the trend and reality that more kids (a lot more) from South End WS elmentaries are currently being served at North End WS elementaries. Looking at it from this angle the epicenter of the capacity crisis in WS is in the West Seattle Elementary attendance area. There are 660 students LIVING in that attendance area; it is far and away the largest attendance area zone in our whole region. The next largest is Lafayette with 530 and Gatewood with 520.

    Comment by Public School Advocate — 9:22 pm October 7, 2012 #

  10. I’m appalled that millions were spent on the establishment of a new stem school, while Arbor Heights, in the same neighborhood, has continued in ignored squalor.

    Arbor Heights has many cloudy plexiglass windows. There is no insulation above or below the back hallway classrooms, where the majority of the student body is. The drinking water situation is a joke. Student bathrooms are disgusting. The heat/cooling system is a joke. You bounce when you walk across a classroom quickly.

    There is NOT ONE interactive smartboard at Arbor Heights. I taught there for the past 21 years. I was the technology leader at the school, and I have NEVER EVEN SEEN ONE of those things. The k-5 stem school has one in every classroom. Really. Hmmm, where did that money come from? Give me a break.

    So now the new k-5 stem school community is concerned that they don’t have a home. Sorry folks. Arbor Heights HAS a home, has had a good one for decades rooted in a strong community, has a dedicated staff, is in a close knit neighborhood with very involved parents – and it has been neglected for decades.

    It’s time to take care of the basics before rushing off on a falsely whipped up frenzy that our kids will not succeed in life unless they go to a stem school. This is brainwashed garbage.

    I hope SPS decides to invest immediately in this wonderful neighborhood school. It’s way overdue. The staff and parents are just waiting for a chance to shine and show what they can do. The return on that investment will astound people.

    Comment by Mark Ahlness — 9:33 pm October 7, 2012 #

  11. I hate to say this but I have decided that if AH isn’t moved up (way up) on the list and if they do proceed with the ‘downtown elementary school’ I will not vote for BEX. I pay my fair share of property taxes and our school shouldn’t be treated so poorly. I will voice my opinion with my vote.

    Comment by Bonnie — 10:00 pm October 7, 2012 #

  12. I’m refreshed to hear there may be more possibilities for WS Schools than what has been proposed in the levy planning and a few vocal STEM parents. More balance of program equity and decent facilities is obviously needed in WS neighborhood schools. I’m very interested in hearing about STEM as a curriculum program in more WS schools. The district botched capacities and facilites in the rush to get Boren open and now has 250+ option STEM families to add to the list of WS families who want to be kept together. So I would also like to hear more ideas for a successful STEM option program housed in new building at Arbor Heights with an adequate neighborhood geo zone. I don’t agree with the urgency to move STEM to Fairmount Park. Fairmont Park as a remodeled neighborhood school, Schmitz Park rebuilt at Genesee, and Arbor Heights with a new building should give WS a more balanced canvas for equitable programs, curriculums, and facilities. All WS students need a public neighborhood option with a decent building, good science and math, whiteboards/Technology access, and a solid school community.

    Comment by For WS students — 10:08 pm October 7, 2012 #

  13. All WS parents should advocate for AH to be re-buildt first. Next on the agenda reopening Genesee Hill and Fairmont to alleviate overcrowding at several schools.

    Am I missing something more: Why would Schmitz Park be completely shut down? Can’t it remain open and be remodeled? Is it in dire need of repairs like AH?

    Comment by WS concerned parent — 10:16 pm October 7, 2012 #

  14. Just a quick question for the AH folks … isn’t a move to another school in the interim while a new AH is built a necessity? I was under the impression that they could not build a new school on that site while still keeping the current one open because of space constraints, but please correct this if I have it wrong. I agree that moving to an interim location is not ideal, but when balanced against the health concerns of staying in the current building, I’m just wondering what the consensus in the AH community is.

    Comment by NT — 10:32 pm October 7, 2012 #

  15. I disagree with you Mark, as do many other teachers & the families who switched from AH to STEM. It is essential that we change the way education is done in this country. STEM is very much needed, particularly in a district that has been saddled with EDM and scores miserably in science. AH deserves more, as do the other schools in WS. The point of our school is not fancy gadgets, but rather innovative teaching methods and more project-based, hands-on learning. I could care less about the whiteboards, but the science labs were the exciting part (promised, not received). Anyway, quit pitting one school against another. We are advocating for all WS schools to have better STEM, and intended for our school to be a lab in discovering best practices that could then be carried to other schools. We are fighting for your school as much as our own.

    Comment by evergreen — 10:35 pm October 7, 2012 #

  16. Please notice there were 15 + K-5 STEM parents there – and we put REBUILDING ARBOR HEIGHTS as our #1 priority.

    1 parent from Arbor Heights was at the meeting – but we are your biggest cheerleaders. We are on the same page – we agree with you! AH needs to be rebuilt AND Schmitz Park needs funds NOW.

    Capacity and AH are the 2 biggest problems and instead of fighting the who has it worse game we should be advocating for more BEX funds for all of West Seattle.

    Side note – STEM wants a home. We are an option school – not a “program”. That was the promise. That was the direction of all choices we made as a design team. That is the focus of the community and PTA. We are a school.

    I am working on a “One Voice” petition for all West Seattle families as requested by Director McLaren. We need to advocate for all West Seattle children to have equitable educations, in safe schools, with SPS acting to support our children. All of them. Not North side, South side – WEST side.

    Comment by WSMama3 — 10:44 pm October 7, 2012 #

  17. I think whiteboards and technology for students ARE a necessity. I can create an elementary school lab at my kitchen table next to my kitchen sink. I can not create a smart board and computer lab for my kids. These are things ALL students need public access to.

    Comment by For WS students — 10:45 pm October 7, 2012 #

  18. Wow. While my whole body is begging me to go to sleep, I know that I can’t until I respond to some very misguided and outright incorrect information popping up on this comment thread.
    .
    #1 EVERY SINGLE PARENT IN WS IS IN AGREEMENT THAT ARBOR HEIGHTS NEEDS TO BE REBUILT. FIRST. IMMEDIATELY. If you watch the video from the BEX meeting, the notes from the Banda meeting, the School Board meeting, you will see numerous advocates from STEM and multiple other schools state this repeatedly and unequivocally.
    .
    #2 STEM was built with funds that could not be used for ANYTHING other than occupying Boren. The school was built with capital funds and very little else. By law, this money could not have gone to AH or SP. Indeed, it couldn’t even be spent one year later.
    .
    #3 The vision behind the STEM school is not so we’ll have better math and science than any other school. This is not something that every school could decide tomorrow that they want to do and have in place in a couple of months. This is an ENTIRE PHILOSOPHY. It is a school-wide curricular focus based on Project Based Learning. It is incorporating yet untried curriculum. It involves teachers that spent weeks in extra training over the summer, spent countless hours after school to get more training… These teachers (with the exception of Mr. Parsley) entered into a completely new EVERYTHING. We have agreed to be the guinea pigs on a pilot Balanced Literacy curriculum, an engineering curriculum never used in SPS history, finding a way to move beyond the FOSS science kits, and Singapore math.
    .
    WHY?
    .
    Because we believe that the entire district needs better. We need to try new approaches, new curriculums, new pathways. We have agreed to be guinea pigs so that we can TAKE WHAT WE LEARN AND ADVOCATE FOR WHAT WORKS to be incorporated in ALL SCHOOLS. We may very well find that the curriculum choices made by the design team are inherently flawed. We may not. Wouldn’t you rather have someone try something out and weed out what works and save you from the hassle of what doesn’t?
    .
    Why are we being vilified?
    We did NOT take money away from any other schools.
    We have NOT, nor EVER INTEND TO, take over a campus currently being used by another community.
    We do NOT want to withhold better math, science, and technology from other schools.
    .
    We DO want to be the incubator for best practices in K-5 STEM education.
    We DO want to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
    We DO want Arbor Heights built NOW.
    .
    When you are looking to buy a car or TV, you read the reviews. When you are looking to hire a contractor or mechanic, you look to those around you for their experiences. You value the fact that the experiences of others will lead to a more informed decision.
    .
    The STEM school is trying to do that. If we could simply be supported and left to work on this amazing vision, EVERYONE could be the wiser.
    .
    Villians? I don’t think so.

    Comment by StringCheese — 10:55 pm October 7, 2012 #

  19. WSMama3 – How many STEM parents were at the BEX Levy meeting last week and the SPS Board meeting?

    Comment by WSParent2 — 11:00 pm October 7, 2012 #

  20. 10 – by my count at BEX, no count on SPS meeting. AH had an amazing showing at both. Every STEM parent that said something at the BEX meeting also advocated for moving SH up on the LEVY.

    Comment by WSMama3 — 11:07 pm October 7, 2012 #

  21. I didn’t mean that AH didn’t show Sat – I meant that we are on your side. We want SH to be rebuilt now too!

    Comment by WSMama3 — 11:08 pm October 7, 2012 #

  22. WSParent2, I’d say 12 at the BEX Levy meeting and 1 at the Board meeting. Our STEM parent was actually there advocating for AH. Looking at the agenda of the last School Board meeting, it was determined that our energies would be better spent at the next meeting. There were also at least 6 of us at the Banda community meeting at Concord. Why?

    Comment by StringCheese — 11:14 pm October 7, 2012 #

  23. Science labs could be used for real chemistry experiments and with Bunsen burners, microbiology plating, large physics demonstrations that the kids could also operate at their own tables, room to use a Tesla coil, growing and dissecting plants, using microscopes, having space to do robotics, etc… one kitchen sink is not enough for this. Elementary students deserve and can handle real science.

    Comment by evergreen — 11:15 pm October 7, 2012 #

  24. Then to the very vocal STEM parents, please be happy and sit tight at Boren. Many WS neighborhood schools have big problems, you likely know this because you chose to leave yours and go to a start-up option school at Boren. You have had extra funding, and whiteboards in every classroom, you have Singapore math and lab space. We are not “one voice” in West Seattle. We are many. And there are many families who want their kids all over West Seattle to have a great *neighborhood* school and not apply to option schools and have waitlists and no sibling priority. I want to know that wherever I move in West Seattle that my kids will have a safe and enriching academic neighborhood public school. Our West Seattle neighborhood schools that have a valuable history and community investment from parents, teachers, and staff that spans a lot longer than the one month that WS STEM has been in existence. WS families don’t deserve to wait for buildings, programs, and technology while you set “best practices.” All of these schools, Arbor Heights, Schmitz Park, Alki, Sanislo, WS Elementary, Gatewood, Layfayette, Roxhill, etc. ect. ect. have plenty of “best practices” in many unique areas that have been established over many, many years. What WS need is funding, facilities, technology, and great curriculum for all public school students.

    Comment by For WS students — 11:54 pm October 7, 2012 #

  25. There is one consistent theme across all communities and even shared by those who disagree on priorities or needs: The District needs to be more transparent.

    Right now Seattle Public Schools is refusing to disclose any information. The District refuses to disclose even information that they are required, by their own polices, to disclose.

    The first thing that has to happen is that the District has to come clean. The District has to tell the truth. The utter absence of any candor from the District has been one of the most frustrating, insulting, and angering parts of this entire debacle. And it would be the easiest, quickest, and cheapest to fix. It would cost them nothing to simply tell people what’s going on. They could do it today.

    What dreadful secret is the District hiding? Why won’t they tell us the procedure for program placement decisions? Why won’t they tell us if STEM is a school or a program? Why won’t they share their thinking about expediting the Arbor Heights rebuild? Why doesn’t the District do anything in an open, honest, transparent way?

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 6:49 am October 8, 2012 #

  26. Sorry stringcheese but capital dollars could purchase whiteboards for anywhere. They are considered capital assets at AH or STEM.

    The semantics are ridiculous. Every school is a program. The Pathfinder “program” was moved to occupy the Cooper Building and displace the Cooper program. The Roxhill program was assumed to be (and still will be) subsumed into the AH program.

    Comment by skeptical — 6:50 am October 8, 2012 #

  27. This is the “it’s all about us and our neighborhood” approach, which makes me sick to my stomach.

    School board members are elected by the entire city; they should be thinking of BEX as a city-wide puzzle, not just their own areas. Yes, there is some geographic emphasis in the primaries, but ultimately Marty needs to understand the entire city, not just West Seattle.

    Comment by Limes — 7:03 am October 8, 2012 #

  28. Has anyone, here, looked at the Genesee Hill school property? The school system wants to build a 650 student school. Because the property is split in half with a steep drop to the lower field, the only way to build would be a 2-3 story building on the upper half and the playground would have to be through the woods to the lower half of the property. Also, there is currently no parking space at the school and very little space for parking in the upper half if the building is going to be that large. VERY expensive proposition no matter how you cut it!

    Comment by Trying! — 7:29 am October 8, 2012 #

  29. WS students – pretend that they were threatening to close down your school. All that energy, time, and money – gone. Your kids getting jerked around like game pieces. That intense sense of betrayal.
    -
    That’s how the STEM families feel. Yes, we’re vocal. You’d be vocal too.

    Comment by Another STEM Mom — 7:31 am October 8, 2012 #

  30. I don’t normally comment, but I really feel that a lot of what is being said here is counter productive. I am the AH parent who attended the meeting on Saturday. We all know that everyone has a different view of what would be best for our kids and for SPS in general. What came out of the meeting though, is that we can make a bigger difference if we present our priorities as the southwest region, as a whole. All of west seattle speaking together as a unifed group will have a greater influence on those in a position to make these decisions that will have a huge impact on the lives of our kids. The list generated at the meeting (on the photo above) was long, but the top 3 are the really the crucial elements. There is nobody in west seattle who does not agree that getting AH rebuilt now is the number one priority. SP and AH can be rebuilt at the same time. The district needs to hear that we don’t accept the “cash flow issue” response and they need to make west seattle a priority and direct the cash flow to the southwest first.

    Last year the district make a decision to open a new option school in west seattle. Whether or not everyone in west seattle thought that was the right choice is irrelevant at this point. K-5 STEM is listed on the SPS website as a school. Families, teachers, and staff took a huge risk leaving their former schools to start something that they truly believe in, and they deserve both our respect and everything that they were promised by the district. Their biggest concern right now is that they be declared an official option school, the same as Pathfinder. From what I understand, they have opinions about what facility will best suit their needs, but they are willing to be flexible on their location as long as they have been declared an official school in WS, and not a program that could be tossed around and broken apart.

    That being said, we truly need to work together as a region. Everyone will have their own opinions on what they feel is important. Not everyone will agree 100% of the time on every issue. Of course it is important that all neighborhood schools are good schools, nobody is going to disagree with that. Step one in that process is getting priority funding for WS from the upcoming BEX levy. The way to get the attention of those who will make these decisions is to speak as a region. We have much more power as a unified group than as individuals fighting against each other in order to get our own needs taken care of first. To recap the top 3 priorities:

    1. Arbor Heights becomes the number one priorty for a new building.

    2. The district keeps it’s promise to the STEM families and staff and makes them an option school with a permanent home in west seattle.

    3. Schmitz Park stays on schedule to get their new building at Genesee Hill, and that the 2 new buildings for SP and AH can be done simultaneously.

    We will have a much bigger impact if we work together on this.

    Comment by Dawn — 7:59 am October 8, 2012 #

  31. Charlie, the issue is not whether the district will tell us if we are a school or a program. The issue is that we were sold, and bought into, a SCHOOL. Now they want to forget everything from the past year and call us a program. The district is the one making this an issue of semantics and we will not allow them to forget the past 9 months because it is more convenient for them.

    Comment by StringCheese — 9:08 am October 8, 2012 #

  32. Dawn, thank you.

    Comment by StringCheese — 10:01 am October 8, 2012 #

  33. Well said, Dawn.

    Comment by N.A. Neighbor — 10:22 am October 8, 2012 #

  34. skeptical, these funds could NOT have gone anywhere except Boren. Here is a quote from Marty McLaren from April:
    .
    “Basically, this is a one-time opportunity; it’s urgent for the district to place a program at Boren in order to maintain the building’s Occupancy status. Otherwise, re-opening the building when needed as an interim site will cost about five times more money. The Capital Budget funds which happen to be available for opening and refurbishing the building include startup costs for the first year of the program. These startup costs are available to whatever program is put in place, for the first year only, and would pay for equipment, books, etc.”
    .
    If the money had not been spent, it would be gone. Now, of course, all of that funding is gone and we will be limited by the same fiscal constraints as every other school.

    Comment by StringCheese — 10:32 am October 8, 2012 #

  35. Amen. This district has a habit of pitting neighbor against neighbor (school closure process, anyone?) which enables the district to do whatever it wants, no matter how misguided. This comment thread may not be the best place to formulate a unified vision, but if STEM and AH parents simply argue with each other, the district will likely end up screwing both of them.

    Comment by Euripides — 10:33 am October 8, 2012 #

  36. I see from the 2011-2012 budget data on the district’s website that STEM@Boren has 1/10 the budget for supplies and 1/10 the budget for contracted services than other WS schools. Was the thinking that WA STEM was going to provide ALL the money for miscellaneous. These grants usually comes with many strings attached.

    What is the truth? That some poor schmo in Warehousing screwed up? Or they never had budget for non-capitalized items in the first place? Good luck getting an honest answer. Again, the same sr. staff is there: Pegi McEvoy, Duggan Harmon, Bob Boesche, Lucy Morello, Bob Westgard. Are they trying to point the finger somewhere else? Not surprising.

    Comment by skeptical — 10:38 am October 8, 2012 #

  37. Sounds like a bunch of you are counting your chickens before they have hatched. I am no sure why I would vote for this at all since my children’s schools don’t seem to be affected AT ALL. It doesn’t even seem like any of these things will alleviate the crowding at our schools. So unless I can be convinced otherwise I am voting NOPE.

    Comment by WSTroll — 10:43 am October 8, 2012 #

  38. Wow there is so much misinformation and spite on this thread about K-5 STEM. I know it’s easy to throw out comments anonymously as if you know something for a fact when you don’t. Here are some facts, come tour the school for yourself, or have the guts to engage in a non-anonymous dialoge by coming and talking to us.

    - K5 STEM is NOT getting millions or extra funding.

    - We DON’T have science labs. They were promised, but they sit empty. We don’t even have water in the classrooms.

    - We DON’T have smart boards. They were promised them, but they are not there. To effectively use them, we also need staff development, which we have no money for.

    - We DON’T have a playground or playground equipment other than what parents have been able to donate. We were shown cool photos of playground structures that would be added to Boren. They’re not there. We have a slab of concrete, crowded by portables that the district is supposed to, but has not moved.

    - Our teachers are WITHOUT basic supplies because everyone in management thought someone else was handling it and they budgeted for a very small group of kids when the interest was so high we have nearly 300.

    - We would LOVE to stay at Boren; it’s not us that are saying we need to move ASAP. We are told staying at Boren is NOT going to happen.

    - We are real people, your friends, your neighbors, who trusted the district when they promised us a SCHOOL. We are heartbroken and hurting over the broken promises. We’ve been kicked in the gut and slapped in the face. If you are for all students, do our nearly 300 children not count? Please, have a little respect and human decency.

    - Our Principal and teachers are likewise real people. They left secure jobs on the promise of every educator’s dream – the opportunity to build an innovative school. Let’s not forget how this effects them. They are hurting, too, and just want what they were promised.

    - Everyone should hold the district accountable for past promises, whether you agree with the decision or not. This is a fundamental point. If they don’t keep their promise to us, how can we trust that they will keep any promise to any other schools?

    - Placing K5 STEM at Fairmount Park is the most EQUITABLE solution. No other children would be displaced and it is the only facility that will allow the largest number of children to access the school. This is not for a selfish reason, we’re already there. I just want a permanent home anywhere. But I’m advocating for Fairmount because I want as many kids as possible to have the opportunity to choose an intergrated approach, if their parents decide that it is right for them.

    - Placing STEM at Fairmount does not take funds away from any other school. The building is already in the works from other budgets. The placement does not delay either AH or SP, it just clarifies what the plan is. Why the district is not saying what the plan for SP’s current building or Fairmount Park shows a lack of foresight. They need to tell us or we are back to square one in a couple of years. We are in this mess because the district closed a school because Pathfinder needed a home and the district didn’t adequately plan for that. Let’s not go there again.

    - Fairmount’s location does not make sense for a neighborhood school. It would draw from WS and Gatewood, but those are not the overcrowded schools. The need is in Admiral, SP, and Alki, that’s why it makes sense to keep SP as a neighborhood school while also rebuilding and re-opening Genesse.

    - K5 STEM as a school is not just about more science and math. It’s a specific approach with project based and integrated curriculum. Yes, all children should have better math and science, but the K5 STEM approach is not right for all children. We did not want to leave Gatewood, but even my son’s teacher at Gatewood encouraged it because she also knew a project based curriculum was the right approach for my son. It’s not right for everyone and you can’t just disburse a specific approach among other schools because other schools need more math and science.

    Isn’t this what we’ve been saying in West Seattle for years – we want more CHOICE so that INDIVIDUAL needs can be met? That’s why we have option schools. Other neighborhoods in Seattle have multiple option schools with alternative approaches. This is the first time we’ve had two. We’ve been demanding that for years to have some equity compared to North of the ship canal. Why on earth should it divide us now? We get equality with the north by coming together as a region.

    PEACE

    Comment by Heidi A — 10:44 am October 8, 2012 #

  39. Thanks to WSBlog for covering this meeting and the ongoing W. Seattle school issue in such detail. For those of us who cannot make it to every meeting your coverage is invaluable.

    I am another AH parent (with one child attending and two more upcoming) and I feel strongly about supporting both AH and STEM, and the whole of W. Seattle with the above plan. It makes me sick to think of schools and families being pitted against each other, as I know every family and child deserves the very best education possible and a strong and welcoming school community to support them. It is too late to be arguing the pros and cons of STEM (and I think holding grudges doesn’t help either), it has been created, and I thank all who are part of the planning and implementing for your vision, dedication and the huge leap of faith that I know it took to be a part.

    I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support I have seen and heard from parents and teachers throughout W. Seattle for Arbor Heights at the other BEX and SPS board meetings and I thank you for your larger vision of a strong network of neighborhood schools!!! I believe W. Seattle, with such a large and predominantly residential focus (historically underserved/ignored by SPS) deserves and can support two great choice schools as well. Let’s fight for our greater neighborhood (West Seattle as a whole) and show the BEX committee and SPS board that our community as a WHOLE needs and deserves so much more.

    Comment by Kristin — 10:59 am October 8, 2012 #

  40. Dawn, from what I have read only a certain amount of the levy money is released each year. This is probably one of the reasons AH ended up so far done on the list. Because of this schedule, projects cannot be done concurrently. A rebuild would account for most of a year’s levy release and you can’t stop and wait for the next year’s levy budget once they start building.

    Comment by Trying! — 11:01 am October 8, 2012 #

  41. I have a couple of questions. It sounds like nothing is going to be perfect, but obviously we need some changes.
    1. Where will the AH and/or SP students go when their schools are being rebuilt or remodeled? Funding aside, where is space for them in the interim? If Boren is the district’s designated interim school, is there room for AH to go there now, even with STEM there? I know there have been concerns about mixing the schools, but it seems too urgent to wait. Recesses can be staggered (it may mean more kids per recess, but other schools manage all-school recess fine). If the uniforms are the issue, STEM may need to either see how that goes (teach the kids not to judge based on clothes) or maybe put the uniforms on hold for a year. Maybe not ideal, but certainly not the end of the world.
    2. I like the idea of WS schools working together and not against each other. But doesn’t that just make it a neighborhood vs. neighborhood issue? All SPS schools should be working together. I don’t want to go against another region any more than I want to go against another individual school. We’re all part of the same district.
    3. It seems impossible that anything could be worse than rodents and flooding in a school, but what exactly are the requests for the schools prioritized above AH? I only heard about the deplorable conditions there recently and I’m wondering if some of the other schools are as bad. It seems unlikely and I have no love for the school board, but I’d like to hear more about what the other schools need as well.
    4. Doesn’t the district lose the SP land if a school isn’t housed there? Why are we considering a permanent move for SP to Genesee if we then lose that property? Shouldn’t SP have a temporary location during the remodel, since we obviously need every school we can get?
    5. This would be really upsetting for the Pathfinder families and staff, but isn’t that the location that needs a neighborhood school? I would hate for them to move again in such a short time, but if you look at the map, that is the ideal place for a neighborhood school.

    Comment by Mary — 11:02 am October 8, 2012 #

  42. Actually, the Denny service area is most in need of seats, with WSE and AH projected to be most overcapacity in 2015 according to the district Cap Mgm analysis.

    http://bit.ly/VG3erV

    Comment by skeptical — 11:16 am October 8, 2012 #

  43. If SPS brands STEM a “program” and splits the STEM kids up into other schools, this be the bait and switch of the decade. We put trust in SPS, and disrupted our children’s lives to pull them out of our neighborhood schools and send them to this innovative new SCHOOL we were promised–now they’re going to scatter us to the four winds? That would be a travesty.

    Comment by STEM Parent — 11:24 am October 8, 2012 #

  44. Reading your story was just a major flashback. After reading through most of this article I had to write a letter of warning to those in the STEM school fighting for your kids. A very similar situation happened at Denny with kids and families who were “promised” one thing and then all of sudden that was no longer going to happen because the “map” changed (thank you Tracy Libros and co.!) Our story was stemmed around the pathway into Sealth from Denny. During the passing of BEX 3 many families bought into the levy because we were told by Principal Clark at Denny, Principal Boyd at Sealth, Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson, Board President Sundquist and others that the co-located campuses created a seamless pathway from middle school to high school. Well…when the maps changed only 1 of those sales people remained and he claimed he could do nothing to help the situation. A prinicipal did not feel empowered to help his own kids or have the integrity to stand up for what he sold the families on. Talk about a messed up situation!! We wrote letters, had meetings with administration, presented at board meetings our issue and what was done…NOTHING! The administration simply just began to ignore emails and brush it under the rug like they do many issues until September 30th hit and no more movement of kids happen. This promise of pathway was in multiple media articles and videos but, yet they still did not uphold their promises that were made. Over 30 families were involved in this fight from March to September and Marty did NOTHING of significance to help us. The families fought on grounds of inequitable programs and pointed out the fact that the “pathway promise” was in writing, but, they still did nothing to uphold what they sold the families on. And…wouldn’t ya know it…the bait and switch sales pitch that happened with the Denny/Sealth “pathway” promise occurred during the time when the administration was trying to get the BEX 3 passed! In the end, the families that were promised the pathway to Sealth from Denny were farmed off to schools that were 2 metro bus rides away from many homes!!! The school district is full of lies. They are very good at telling you one thing and feeding into your emotions but, truly will do nothing. Everything you have said regarding selling you on one idea and then switching to another idea is the SPS way of operating. They are frauds!! Have you tried emailing the Superintendent?? What a joke! I get that the Superintendent must have many emails hitting his inbox but it is because the school district is such a disaster!! The administration has no foresight and the decisions are made without thought of impact. At some point legal action should be a consideration. Marty did nothing for us but, to smile, write things on her notepad and tell us she was talking to Bob Boesche…hmmm sounds familiar (?)…maybe the white board notes will get you further but, again, all of the promises that were made to us were in writing in multiple places and nothing was done. Tracy Libros was ineffective too. I wish you all luck.

    Comment by Previous Denny Middle School Parent — 11:29 am October 8, 2012 #

  45. And that’s exactly why we all need to stand up and say we’re not going to accept broken promises.

    Comment by Heidi A — 11:45 am October 8, 2012 #

  46. This does seem to be a repeat of history, Denny Middle School Parent. And not just with your situation and ours, but many times over with several different school communities in SPS. I used to think the district was just incompetent, but now I wonder if it’s thoroughly corrupt. How depressing.

    Since we are all either getting screwed or likely to get screwed one day, the only thing we can really do is band together with one powerful voice, demand better, and make the news. Either that or eat it.

    Comment by evergreen — 12:03 pm October 8, 2012 #

  47. StringCheese. The STEM parent at the Board meeting was a former AH parent who happens to live in house adjacent to the school property. She has a history at AH as well as an interest as home owner in what will happen to the property should the school close. With our 2019 time line and attrition to STEM. We are losing resources and possibly staff and that will all lead to closure. We asked her to come and speak on our behalf and are so thankful she did.

    Comment by Ann — 12:04 pm October 8, 2012 #

  48. It seems part of the problem is the constantly changing administration. Nobody takes accountability for their actions.

    Comment by Bonnie — 12:18 pm October 8, 2012 #

  49. Stringcheese to answer your question of why?

    I was curious about the numbers since it was posted that 1 AH parent and 15 STEM were at the meetig on Sunday with Marty.

    I was at both the BEX and Board meeting and was curious as to why there were not more STEM folks there. You answered my question on that one.

    Comment by Ann B. — 12:28 pm October 8, 2012 #

  50. It’s been great to see a conversation happening on here about this issue.

    Thanks to those of you correcting the mistakes about STEM.

    And a HUGE thank you for Dawn for seeing the big picture – her post captures that we should be for all Seattle kids, all West Seattle kids – all children benefit from a transparent, open district who put kids first.

    History has shown us many mistakes, here is our change to demand they learn from them.

    Comment by WSMama3 — 1:13 pm October 8, 2012 #

  51. Heidi A – Gatewood is not overcrowded?? There are 4 K classes this year and last year there were 29 kids in my child’s K class! Are you kidding me? FP should definitely be a neighborhood school. Let SPS start to clean up the mess they caused by closing neighborhood schools! This is ridiculous. I don’t trust SPS even a tiny bit. I will be voting against the BEX levy and encouraging others to do the same. On another note, I will be voting for charter schools.

    Comment by E — 2:05 pm October 8, 2012 #

  52. Trying!- yes you are absolutely correct, only a certain amount of money is available each year for building new schools, and that does take up a lot of the funds for the year. However, the bulk of the funding from past levies and from the current proposal has gone to the North Seattle region. In the current proposal for BEX IV, West Seattle is supposed to get 2 new buildings, one in 2015 (SP)and one in 2019 (AH). In the north, they are scheduled to get one new building in 2016 (which has quite a bit of opposition from that community- they do not want it),3 new buildings in 2017, and one new building in 2018, plus the downtown school scheduled anywhere from 2014-2019. The reason why we need to stand together as the southwest region at this time is because we need to level the playing field. Once we are all working with the same tools, we can then work on the district as a whole. I do not know what issues the schools in the north end face, but I doubt they are the same issues we face at Arbor Heights.

    Comment by Dawn — 2:08 pm October 8, 2012 #

  53. Will those who have begun organizing a group to regularly meet and advocate for all W. Seattle schools please post an email for those of us who want to get involved? Thank you!

    Comment by Tara — 2:15 pm October 8, 2012 #

  54. Very nice report. Almost creepy too; change a few school/program names and you have the exact same meeting in N/NE Seattle. Only –would never happen with our board director! We’re all in the same boat – maybe we should row together.

    Comment by Chris — 2:42 pm October 8, 2012 #

  55. E- I love Gatewood and the wonderful community there. We were at Gatewood last year and there were 28 kids in my class. We were overcrowded, but STEM alleviated the capacity problem at Gatewood because the most kids came from Gatewood, followed by AH. My friends at Gatewood say that class size is down this year; there is major concern that the population will go down enough that funding will go away (e.g. you only get a vice-principal if your numbers are high enough). That’s why I think central WS (my home) doesn’t need another neighborhood school. I’m not hearing any disagreement or push from Gatewood. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gatewood and wouldn’t advocate for anything that I thought would harm Gatewood. My younger son may go there when he enters kindergarten.

    Comment by Heidi A — 4:08 pm October 8, 2012 #

  56. PSA – Thanks for crunching those numbers on where kids attend vs. where they go to school. It does shine a light on the north end capacity issue. Seems strange, however, to say that it indicates that Fairmount should be a neighborhood school. It tells me that we could stem the northbound flow by investing in southern schools: facilities at Arbor Heights and programs at West Seattle Elementary. I live less than a mile from West Seattle Elementary and do not personally know anybody that attends there. Why create another neighborhood for those kids to flock towards instead of rebuilding (both programs and perceptions) of existing schools?

    Comment by OnGraham — 5:35 pm October 8, 2012 #

  57. This is one good discussion. Main thing for me is to get out and vote for that levy, and try to get friends and family to vote too. That’s not a sure thing. Second, I agree with working together to improve all schools, and to resist the temptation to tear others down to advance one’s own interests. More to say but it’s time for dinner. :)

    Comment by Goodguy — 6:42 pm October 8, 2012 #

  58. I don’t imagine that it will make anyone feel any better, but the simple historical fact is that Seattle Public Schools has never kept any promise ever made to any community.
    .
    You say that the District broke their promises to K-5 STEM? Yeah. So what else is new?
    .
    I can’t imagine why anyone would trust them to do anything that they promised to do.
    .
    If Superintendent Banda wants to introduce any radical change, he can start with keeping promises. If he wants to change the culture of the District he can start with keeping promises. If he wants to introduce accountability or a culture of compliance, he can start with keeping promises.
    .
    I don’t know why this isn’t also a priority for the Board, but it clearly isn’t. People come to the board and tell them that promises are broken and there is no evidence of any Board action as a result.

    Comment by Charlie Mas — 7:26 pm October 8, 2012 #

  59. E,
    Encouraging others to vote against the levy, to show your mistrust of the District is sabotage. Nothing will be rebuilt, students will continue learning in current and worsening conditions. Please do some research on Charter schools. There are good reasons we have been smart enough to vote against them 3 times. Let’s not let our frustration with a few bureaucrats cause us to take down our school district.

    Comment by Neighborly — 7:21 am October 9, 2012 #

  60. When we COULD have sent the message we want our school district back was in the vote for the Supplemental Levy in 2010. That was pure gravy for Goodloe-Johnson’s misdirected schemes.

    We must still make it absolutely clear to board and administration that WE are the customers and WE are the voters (not the Downtown Seattle Association or the Chamber of Commerce or Tim Burgess)

    Comment by skeptical — 12:04 pm October 9, 2012 #

  61. I think the current Westside private school location should be used as a public school again. it’s not right that it’s being used privately when the public schools in our area really need the space.

    Comment by jake Lee — 11:13 am October 13, 2012 #

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