West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two months after the Westwood-Roxhill Find It, Fix It Walk with Mayor Murray and a platoon of city employees, has anything been “fixed”? That was the biggest item – and the final one – on the agenda for this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting.
FIND IT, FIX IT FOLLOWUP: Lemmis Stephens and Laura Jenkins, working with the city via AmeriCorps, came to WWRHAH for the followup. Here’s the report they brought:
Jenkins pointed out that pages 7-9 show which projects were awarded grants – one of the neighbor groups, at 22nd and Henderson, will have one more work party this Saturday, and, as reported here a week and a half ago, have been paid a visit by overgrowth-munching goats: Read More
Want to see change in your neighborhood? One easy way is to jump in with the people who are already working on it – but can’t do it alone – your all-volunteer community council. Next West Seattle group to meet is the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, 6:15 pm tomorrow (Monday, October 3rd), at Southwest Library (35th/Henderson). Agenda items include following up on July’s Find It, Fix It Walk (WSB coverage here) and information about the new Westside Neighbors Network. See the full agenda preview in our calendar listing – and if the issue that interests you isn’t featured, show up and speak up!
More SDOT paving work on 35th SW – this time, tomorrow in Arbor Heights. Just out of the inbox:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that crews will be repaving the intersection of 35th Ave SW and SW 100th on Saturday, October 1. This work is weather dependent.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 1, travelers can expect the following:
· Crews will be excavating and repaving the intersection of 35th Ave SW and SW 100th.
· Traffic on 35th Ave SW at the intersection will be down to one lane. Flaggers will direct traffic.
· There will be no parking in the work zone.
· Travelers may enter and exit nearby driveways, but may have to wait up to 15 minutes for equipment to clear.
This project is part of SDOT’s 2016 Arterial Major Maintenance (AMM) program. The AMM program maintains our busiest streets by making strategic small scale investments at key locations on city streets.
(WSB photo from 2015)
The only West Seattle swimming event of its kind is back next week at Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club! In case you haven’t seen it in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar yet, here’s the heads-up:
Bring your furry friends for a swim in the AHSTC pool during the week after the club closes.
11003 31st Ave SW
Tuesday-Friday, September 20-23, 5-7 pm
Saturday, September 24, 11 am-1:00 pm
We have some new treats in store for the pups this year!
This is a fundraiser for AHSTC teams used to purchase big ticket items and helps us to keep our team fees down. Suggested donation is $10/dog for one day or $25/dog for a pass and come as many days as you want! Be sure to invite your friends!
Basic details: Dogs must be healthy, up to date on shots and well socialized. Humans are responsible for their dog’s behavior (and poop). Running on the pool deck is encouraged! No people in the poo,l but you will get wet so dress accordingly.
Thank you for supporting AHSTC teams!
If you haven’t heard about this event before – this is after the last swim of the year in the pool for PEOPLE, and before the pool gets its post-season cleaning, and again, it’s dogs-only, no people. Here’s our report from last year’s event.
Another first-of-its-kind start-of-school ceremony happened today, this time at Westside School (WSB sponsor) in Arbor Heights.
While loud cheers greeted staffers dancing in the aisles of the school’s big theater space – each group introduced with inspirational “theme songs,” from Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” – the real call to action came in the form of a fish story.
Westside’s new head of school Ted Kalmus told the assembled students and parents that he had acquired a pet fish that came with the name Wonder. The story of the fish became a tale of how he hopes that everyone will go throughout the year with a sense of wonder – and curiosity, “become the best question-asker you can be.” He invited the students to each take a blue or green “jewel” (the glass pebbles often found in aquariums or terrariums) from bowls at the bottom of the stairs down from the theater, and to hold it and think of something they wonder about.
With that, Kalmus said, the school would be certain to have a “Wonder”-ful year.
One day after the dedication of the all-new Arbor Heights Elementary, Mayor Ed Murray visited this morning (as previewed here yesterday) to celebrate something else that’s new there – the Seattle Preschool Program. The levy-funded program has expanded to 600 students at more than 30 schools around the city; the levy’s original goal is to enroll 2,000 students by 2018. Tuition is free to families whose income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Arbor Heights still has room for more students, according to the SPP website, which also says there’s room at two other West Seattle schools where the program operates, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and Highland Park Elementary.
Announced after our visit to Arbor Heights Elementary for today’s dedication of the new building: Mayor Murray will be at AHES tomorrow morning to greet preschoolers arriving for their first day in the levy-funded Seattle Preschool Program. The announcement we received this afternoon says he’ll be joined by school district and city officials during his 7:45 am visit. (We published an announcement back in July that the city-funded program had dozens of openings in local schools including AH.)
And the ribbon is cut at Arbor Heights! Genesee Hill dedication one hour away pic.twitter.com/7WF4Mw6NL2
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 6, 2016
The just-concluded dedication ceremony at Arbor Heights Elementary celebrated a day that twice came close to never happening. Mentioned many times during the pre-ribbon-cutting speeches was the fact that the school community had to fight to get the rebuild – and then had to fight to get the schedule moved up in the BEX IV levy so that students could get out of deteriorating conditions as soon as possible. Not mentioned – the fact that just a few years before, during a contentious school-closing process, the Arbor Heights program was proposed for closure. That too was fought and now AH students are hours away from their first day in a $28 million building built for their eSTEM curriculum, as highlighted by principal Christy Collins:
The ceremony in the AHES Commons was attended by a crowd we estimated at more than 400 – here’s just part of it:
The ribbon-cutting was followed by tours – here are our photos from the recent media tour, including many of the elements that Collins mentioned. She was joined onstage and at the microphone during the ceremony by 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson, 11th District State Rep. Zach Hudgins, Seattle PTSA Council president Sebrena Burr, Schools First president Melissa Pailthorp, West Seattle/South Park School Board rep Leslie Harris, School Board president Betty Patu, and SPS Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland.
AHES is one of 5 new schools the district is dedicating, and the next one is in West Seattle too – Genesee Hill Elementary (1 pm)!
ADDED: Another view of the crowd in the commons, showing the bracing in the back, meant to be educational as well as safety-enhancing:
The big smiles during the ribbon cutting:
Pieces of the ribbon were offered to kids afterward – “Batman” got one:
Both kids and parents were helping the Arbor Heights PTA make the most of the big turnout, handing out cards touting the “4th Annual Direct Drive” fundraiser – one was offered to us as we walked down the sidewalk before even getting to the school, and the PTA had a table in the lobby:
It was a day for celebration and for gratitude – with principal Collins thanking many, including the neighbors who dealt with two years of construction, and the Louisa Boren K-8 STEM community whose Delridge building they shared the past two years (“wonderful hosts”). And now, as of Wednesday morning, Arbor Heights’ new future begins.
We’ve reported already on the five Seattle Public Schools in West Seattle that are starting the new school year with new principals. We have since learned that a major local independent school has had a change at the top as well: PreK-8th Westside School (WSB sponsor) is now led by Ted Kalmus, who has a two-year appointment as interim head of school while Westside embarks on a thorough process to create a strategic plan and launch a leadership search. He took over after the departure of four-year head of school Kate Mulligan last June. Kalmus served as head of school at independent Billings Middle School from 1997 to 2015, and worked with Westside as a consultant prior to taking the leadership role. He also is on the board of the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (which has its headquarters south of The Junction). By the way, tomorrow will start Westside’s second year in its permanent location in Arbor Heights.
Reader reports in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight:
STORAGE FACILITY HIT AGAIN: Two customers of the Public Storage facility in the 2900 block of SW Avalon Way have e-mailed to let us know burglar(s) have struck there again. One reports, “My unit along with about 15 others were hit overnight or sometime this morning.” She’s on a floor with “secure elevators” but was told that entry was made via emergency-exit stairwells. She says she’s moving her belongings somewhere else. The other victim who contacted us also reported being told that multiple units were broken into. We also reported last Sunday on multiple break-ins at the same facility.
MARINE VIEW DRIVE BURGLARY: Also via e-mail: “Today, around 12:30, my parent’s house in the area of 112th & Marine View Dr SW was broken into. The (burglars), possibly two of them, neighbors think were white males wearing construction vests & driving a dark SUV. Made entry through window & took the stolen items out the garage. Of the stolen items, the biggie was a safe. About 2×2.”
Thanks again for the Crime Watch reports – 206-293-6302 text or voice if it’s urgent (after you’ve called 911), email@example.com if it’s not.
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Two weeks from today, Seattle Public Schools will dedicate two new elementaries in West Seattle. We’ve already taken you inside the new Genesee Hill Elementary; now, our first look inside the new Arbor Heights Elementary.
This is the school that principal Christy Collins and families fought hard for. As recently as four years ago, Arbor Heights wasn’t scheduled for a rebuild until 2019 – despite the old school being in such bad shape, it even flooded without rain one day in 2013.
By then, the campaign had worked, and the BEX IV levy called for Arbor Heights’ rebuild to be complete this year, and now it is. This morning, district officials, school board members, and architects from Bassetti led a VIP tour of the new school. It incorporates the eSTEM philosophy – environment plus science, technology, math, engineering – that was announced by Collins in 2013. As we were shown during the tour, the school’s theme is “sea to sky,” and it’s incorporated inside and out. Like the new Genesee Hill, it’s awash in natural light, with windows and skylights throughout. Here’s a look around inside the cafeteria and stage area:
It’s also built to a capacity of about 660 students, though unlike its crosstown counterpart, it will not be near capacity at opening – more than 400 students are due here. Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As the charter organization Summit Public Schools starts the second year of classes at its first two Western Washington campuses, it says the third is on track to open in West Seattle one year from now.
We’ve been tracking Summit’s plans for the former church/supermarket building at 35th and Roxbury since discovering an early-stage proposal in city files at the start of 2015. The court fight over charter-school funding led to the California-based organization deciding at the end of last year to push back the West Seattle opening until fall 2017. Last spring, a new charter-funding plan became law (although it now is being challenged).
In the meantime, the principal originally announced for the Arbor Heights school, Greg Ponikvar, has since been reassigned to Summit’s Tacoma campus; he is a longtime Summit star, and they didn’t want to underutilize him, Summit’s regional director Jen Wickens told WSB. But the West Seattle middle/high school, to be called Summit Atlas, has a new leader in place already: Katie Bubalo, who we met during a media open house Wednesday at the Summit school in the International District, which we attended to find out the latest on the plans here. Read More
From the WSB inbox:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that crews will be paving SW 106th Street from 35th Avenue Southwest to 39th Avenue Southwest next week. This work will require lane closures and parking restrictions during the week. This work is weather dependent.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29:
· SDOT crews will grind and repave SW 106th St between 35th Ave SW and 39th Ave SW.
· The eastbound lane of SW 106th St will be closed between 35th Ave SW and 39th Ave SW.
· East-west traffic will alternate in the westbound lane, assisted by flaggers.
· Access to driveways on SW 106th between 35th Ave SW and 39th Ave SW may be delayed for up to 15 minutes for equipment to clear.
· Parking will be restricted – “No Parking” signs will be put in place 72 hours before the work starts and parking restrictions begin.
SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is completed. This project is part of SDOT’s 2016 Arterial Major Maintenance (AMM) program. The AMM program maintains our busiest streets by making strategic small scale investments at key locations on city streets.
(UPDATED 5:22 PM with fire’s cause)
10 AM: Seattle Fire is reporting smoke and flames as it arrives at an Arbor Heights home in the 10200 block of 38th SW [map]. One person is reported to be hurt and they’re calling for an additional medic unit.
10:08 AM: SFD says the patient is being cared for. Our crew will be on scene shortly.
10:11 AM: Per scanner, the fire is under control “in a shed” adjacent to the house.
10:17 AM: Our crew says firefighters are cutting into the roof – ventilating – to continue fighting the fire.
They also say the patient is male and appears to be conscious; (update) scanner indicates he’s 62 years old and likely suffering from smoke inhalation. Scanner traffic indicates they’re bringing in more engines for additional water supply. Also, our crew tells us a TV helicopter is now in the area.
10:24 AM: Per scanner, they’ve had to run a hose on SW 102nd from 35th so they’re asking to close off 102nd to protect it.
(Please stay away from the fire zone in general anyway.)
10:43 AM: We’ll be asking SFD spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl, who is now on scene, about the water situation. As discussed in comments, multiple Arbor Heights fire hydrants were upgraded in 2011 after flames destroyed a house while firefighters lost time awaiting supply. Meantime, scanner discussion indicates part of 35th may be blocked in the area too – so if you have to get to or from Arbor Heights, the further WEST you can stay, the better, for now. Meantime, SFD’s investigator has been dispatched to look into the fire’s cause.
10:50 AM: Lt. Stangl says a firefighter also was hurt, a leg injury suffered apparently on what was reported to be an unstable deck at the house. She confirmed that the 62-year-old man with smoke inhalation lives at the house. The fire is now tapped. Regarding the water supply, she said that they brought in additional engines so that they could run at the highest pressure possible – Arbor Heights does have uneven supply (as noted in our 2011 coverage, some hydrants are atop smaller mains, though some of those also were upgraded in 2012).
11:23 AM: Our crew’s back and uploading the video of Lt. Stangl’s briefing so you can hear what she had to say about the water, the fire, and the people who were hurt. We also have questions out to Seattle Public Utilities, which is responsible for water mains and fire hydrants. Meantime, photojournalists including ours were taken around to see the major fire damage:
12:05 PM: The audio in our video of the briefing is unfortunately mostly unintelligible because of the TV-helicopter noise. We’ll be following up with Lt. Stangl for further explanation on what firefighters had to do. Meantime, we’ve added a few more photos to this report.
12:21 PM: Just talked with Lt. Stangl by phone. She says that coincidentally, the incident commander on today’s fire was the same one from the 2011 fire nearby and was already familiar with the area, as are many of the crews, and with the plans for dealing with fires in the area, so that plan was implemented. She says there was not a supply shortage at any time – they did not have to use extra water from the backup engines. Lt. Stangl also noted, as we now recall learning in 2011-2012, that if necessary, SPU can reroute water supplies around the city to make higher flows available in any given area if needed, but they did not need to request that in this case, either. We’ll update again later when we hear from SPU about our questions relating to the overall hydrant status in the area.
1:34 PM: In case you wondered – SW 102nd is open again, but 38th SW remains closed, in the vicinity of the fire.
3:37 PM: We just spoke with SPU’s Andy Ryan, who reiterates that there were no problems with the hydrant system today. As per city standards, everywhere in the area is now no further than 1,000 feet from a 1,000-gallon-per-minute hydrant. The ones closest to today’s fire are 500 and 600 gallons per minute, he said, and there are 800-gpm hydrants nearby. (The WSB archives include this map from 2013 showing remaining 500-gpm hydrants around West Seattle, and this explanation of how they figure into firefighting. The hydrants’ exact addresses are listed here.)
5:22 PM: And we checked back with Lt. Stangl to ask about the fire’s cause: Accidental – the resident was doing some work in the garage, spilled some fuel, a table fell over, and “fuel vapors” were ignited.
Damage to the structure is estimated at $55,000, and $18,000 to its contents. We don’t know the resident’s condition but she says the firefighter is already out of the hospital.
5:19 AM: As day breaks, police are following the trail of a stolen ATM. The cash machine was taken from South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge a few hours ago.
5:29 AM: The investigation has led police to a north Arbor Heights neighborhood where they have just recovered it.
5:45 AM: Police have pointed us to the backyard of a house at 39th SW and SW 97th, regarding where it was recovered – they say it’s the large white item in the background of our photo. And if you’re in AH, that’s a TV helicopter. No arrest(s) reported so far.
6:09 AM: Just talked to SPD spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson, who says officers are waiting on a search warrant before going in and actually taking possession of the stolen ATM. He says he can’t yet confirm what led police to the house; discussion we’d been monitoring for hours via scanner indicated it was a satellite tracking device, relatively new technology developed as ATM theft started to spike.
6:53 AM: Apparently at least one TV helicopter also has been over the theft scene on Puget Ridge, too. We expect a bit more information from police later this morning and will update when that’s in.
11:38 AM: And here’s that information! Just posted to SPD Blotter by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee:
Police recovered a stolen ATM from the backyard of a West Seattle home Tuesday after a thief in a pickup truck smashed his way into a college building and made off with a safe filled with cash.
Officers responded to South Seattle College in the 6000 block of 16th Avenue Southwest just before 2 AM after receiving reports of a break-in. At the scene, they found someone had broken through locked gate and driven a pickup truck through a glass door on campus to get to an ATM. After dismantling the cash machine, the thief loaded the ATM’s heavy-duty cash safe into their truck and fled.
Police found the unopened safe in the yard of a home in the 3900 block of Southwest 97th Street, where robbery detectives later detained and interviewed one male resident. Detectives released the man and continue to investigate the case.
Detectives are still looking for a white Chevrolet pickup truck with a crew cab, believed to have been used in the break-in at the college.
If you have any information about this case, please contact the SPD Southwest Precinct Burglary Unit at 206-233-2623.
Here’s a closer look at the item in the yard that we now know was the ATM’s safe:
Yesterday we published an alert from an Arbor Heights mom who wanted to let families know that her daughter had been followed from a Denny International Middle School-dropoff stop at 100th/44th on Tuesday. This afternoon, Denny principal Jeff Clark has sent us the notice sent home today to families of students at his school and adjacent Chief Sealth International High School:
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,
Yesterday afternoon, one of our 6th grade female scholars reported to us that she was followed by a man in his car while she walked home from her bus stop in Arbor Heights near the intersection of SW 100th St. and 44th Ave SW. She reported that the man seemed to be in his 20s and had short black hair. His car was a black four-door sedan. Our scholar did a great job by running off and telling her mother, who contacted the Seattle Police Department.
As a precaution, we are reminding our scholars about safety tips for walking to and from school. We would appreciate your help by having a similar conversation at home. The walking safety advice includes:
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
· Pay close attention to your surroundings, avoid “automatic pilot.”
· Walk with a purpose; project an assertive, business-like image.
· Use common sense; plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
· Stick to well-lit areas.
· Develop a plan before you see trouble. Crossing a street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
· If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
· Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus.
· Carry minimal items; overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable.
· Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid shortcuts. Walk confidently. Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
· Avoid walking alone at night. As much as possible, walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
As always, thank you for your help and partnership!
Just sent to us by Sabrina, who wanted to make sure other parents know to alert their kids:
Neighborhood alert: My daughter was followed by a man in a black sedan walking home from the Denny bus dropoff at 100th/44th in Arbor Heights on Tuesday.
Description of driver: black, thin, black short hair, 20-30 years old, smoker.
Police and school notified. Police with be patrolling before and after school at and around this stop. The officers were confident this creep would be back as he has picked a target.
Here are safety tips offered by Seattle Police.
(King County Assessor’s Office photo)
From the city files: A new development proposal in the area some call “downtown Arbor Heights.” It’s an early-stage plan for nine live-work units at 4220 SW 100th, the property whose ownership is listed as the West Seattle Church of Christ. It’s zoned NC1-30, which allows commercial/residential development to three stories. The preliminary “site plan” filed last week, by Lemons Architecture, shows three units fronting on California SW, six on SW 100th, with nine surface parking spaces on the north side of the 8,100-square-foot site.
If you heard the sirens in the past quarter-hour or so – a “fire in single-family residence” response was sent to a house in the 10600 block of 34th SW [map]. It turned out to be on the porch of a vacant house, according to emergency-radio traffic, and a neighbor put it out, so most of the response has been dismissed.
They’re next door … yet currently, they are officially treated as if they are a world apart: The Westwood/Highland Park Urban Village (WWHPUV) in the city, and White Center in unincorporated King County. This Tuesday night, city and county reps will join the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council to talk about it all together, including the potential of WC annexation and the Seattle 2035 “comprehensive plan.” If you’re interested in either or both sides of the line, be in the upstairs meeting room at Southwest Library, 6:15 pm Tuesday (February 2nd).
The newest reader reports in West Seattle Crime Watch:
ARBOR HEIGHTS CAR BREAK-IN: From Shaun:
Wanted to report that our Chevy Tahoe had two windows busted out last night. Perp(s) took diaper bag with my wife’s wallet inside along with various other property, daughter’s new bday purse, CD’s….Theft occurred at approx. 3 am and set off car alarm. Car was parked at curb in front of our house.
Shaun is near 39th SW/SW 106th in Arbor Heights; when we followed up to get that information, he added, “I’ve learned that the perp/s attempted to rent 4 video games at a Redbox at 5 am. The kiosk in question is located at a 7-Eleven near 112th St S and 8th Ave S.” (We found it on Google Street View.)
HIGHLAND PARK PACKAGE THEFT: Erika near 17th SW/SW Kenyon thought her package had been stolen, then contacted Amazon and was told it actually hadn’t been delivered – and then the sad truth: “My neighbor just came by with a ripped-open package that she found in our alley near her garbage, with one item found intact on the ground and another taken out of its packaging and it’s gone. … The contents included a bag of dishwashing detergent pods and a tub of Honest brand pregnancy belly balm. What a score.” She says this stirs up bad memories from a burglary last summer, but want to be sure everyone’s aware of “activity in our neighborhood.”
MAIL THEFT: From Corey:
I wanted to report continued mail theft in Highland Park neighborhood. I have now found mail discarded on lawns and stuffed in bushes on
three different occasions/3 different addresses, around 18th-20th Ave SW and Trenton St. The first occasion was in late November, the second
right before Christmas, and (Friday) January 22nd. The mail has all been from homes in Highland Park and within a few block of where I found it.
MAILBOX BREAK-IN: Mike reports this happened to his mailbox in the 7300 block of 35th SW in Sunrise Heights.
ALSO IN SUNRISE HEIGHTS: Todd at West Seattle Autoworks (WSB sponsor) reports a potential case of casing outside the shop at 35th/Webster around 9 pm Thursday night. They reviewed video from their surveillance camera after noticing it was “tilted up – as if someone had pushed it out of place.” The video shows someone walking in front of the camera and hiding his face, then a few minutes later walking back and pushing the camera up while walking under it. Todd says they didn’t find anything else out of place or damaged but wanted to alert the neighborhood.
Thanks to everyone who shares reports via West Seattle Crime Watch – once you’ve reported it to police, share it with your neighbors all around the peninsula by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org – for breaking news (once you’ve called 911), text/call 206-293-6302 – thank you!
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The organization that was planning to open West Seattle’s first charter school in the former Freedom Church space at 35th and Roxbury is putting the plan on hold for at least a year.
That announcement comes amid uncertainty about the fate of charter schools in our state, after the state Supreme Court ruled that they weren’t entitled to “common” state funds, and refused to revisit the ruling.
A West Seattle parent just forwarded us this e-mail announcement sent last night by the Summit employee hired to lead the West Seattle school, Summit Atlas – Greg Ponikvar:
Dear West Seattle families,
I want to thank you all for your ongoing support of Summit Public Schools. I have been so impressed with the passion you have shown for ensuring your children and all students in Washington have the choice of attending a public charter school.
Unfortunately, with the state Supreme Court ruling public charter schools “unconstitutional,” we have had to make some difficult decisions. While we are still deeply committed to opening a middle/high school in West Seattle, we have decided to delay opening Summit Atlas until the 2017‐18 school year as we work toward a legislative fix that will ensure public charter schools have a secure future in the state of Washington.
I know this is incredibly disappointing to our families and students in West Seattle who are eager to enroll their students next fall. I want to encourage those of you with incoming 9th and 10th graders to consider Summit Sierra.
I hope you will also continue to be a voice of support for public charter schools so that we are able to open Summit Atlas in 2017. The state legislature meets again in January, and we need our state legislators to hear from parents and students about the importance of school choice and the need to move forward with a Summit Public School in West Seattle. If you would like to contact your state representatives to make your voice heard, you can find them here.
While we have delayed the opening, we will continue working hard on our plans in West Seattle. An additional year will allow us to continue building community support for the school which will ultimately make our school’s foundation even stronger. Please join me for coffee on Tuesday, December 15 anytime between 8 and 11 am at Dubsea Coffee in White Center to ask questions and share ideas.
Thank you again for your ongoing support and partnership. We will continue to keep you updated with important events and announcements as we approach the upcoming legislative session.
As reported by the education-news site Seattle Schools Community Forum, the state Charter School Commission – chaired by West Seattleite Steve Sundquist – met this week and started the process of shutting down, with state charter funding running out as of next week. Meantime, some of the already-open schools have been reported to be looking at other options for staying open and funded, including affiliating with a small school district in Northeastern Washington.
We broke the news of the West Seattle charter-school plan at the start of this year, after discovering early-stage documents in city Department of Planning and Development files. Summit Public Schools – a California firm that opened its first Washington schools this fall in Tacoma and in Seattle’s International District – was soon revealed as the school’s prospective operator, and this summer it was approved to open a middle-and-high-school campus at the 35th/Roxbury site.
Meantime, Washington Charter School Development – also the local arm of a California firm – bought the site from Freedom Church for $4.75 million. Interior renovations were planned so that the first two grades could start next fall, with building additions planned later; Freedom Church leased the site back for a while but has now purchased and moved into its own new location in Skyway, so the prospective school site is in essence vacant.
We’re checking with Summit for more information on what happens now, both for families who had been seeking to attend the future school and for the site, a prominent, sizable piece of Arbor Heights real estate. The organization had told WSB twice since the Supreme Court’s ruling on charter funding that they were moving forward with the West Seattle plan.