West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle news http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 06:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 West Seattle Crime Watch: Repeat offender Emanuel Kozma sentenced http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-crime-watch-repeat-offender-emanuel-kozma-sentenced/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-crime-watch-repeat-offender-emanuel-kozma-sentenced/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 06:27:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325504 Nine months ago, 33-year-old Emanuel Kozma was found in a treehouse, where he’d tried to hide from police searching for him in connection with package and mail thefts in Alki. He subsequently was charged with three felonies and has been in jail since his original arrest on January 8th. Last month, a jury found him guilty of theft; today, he was sentenced – and is about to go free, having been sentenced to what amounted to time served.

In addition to the theft case, Kozma also had pleaded guilty to two other charges – one, a plea bargain that brought the burglary charge in the Alki case down to criminal trespass, the other in a case for which he had a warrant out for his arrest when caught in Alki. In that case, he pleaded guilty to felony harassment. Charging documents in that case say he had threatened to shoot and kill an 18-year-old woman who was described as a friend, when she avoided responding to his requests to drive him to a probation appointment. The threat happened near Kozma’s home in White Center in the summer of 2014.

Court documents say Kozma’s criminal record – with three and a half pages of convictions – goes back 20 years, to age 12, with what’s described as “numerous misdemeanors and felonies” along the way, including harassment, assault, indecent exposure, and weapons charges. Today, Judge Dean Lum sentenced Kozma to a year in jail, suspended while he is monitored for two years, plus what amounted to the time he’s served since the January arrest, 274 days. He’s still on the King County Jail Register right now, but court documents say the judge signed the order for his release (a drug warrant from Everett is still listed on the register, and it’s not clear whether that’s been resolved, so we’ll continue checking on his post-sentencing status). The photo above, by the way, is the most recent one the state Corrections Department had when we requested it after his arrest.

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Highway 99 tunnel: State sues its contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners, to ‘protect … taxpayers’ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-state-sues-its-contractor-seattle-tunnel-partners-to-protect-taxpayers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-state-sues-its-contractor-seattle-tunnel-partners-to-protect-taxpayers/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:38:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325495

(Added: Image from webcam over tunnel-machine access pit tonight)

No hint of this just two days earlier, when WSDOT released a video update on the Highway 99 tunnel-machine repairs, hours before its quarterly stakeholders meeting, but, late today, the state sent out a very different update, saying it’s suing its contractor:

WSDOT is committed to working with Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) to complete the SR 99 Tunnel Project.

We are also committed to protecting taxpayers.

Today, WSDOT filed a lawsuit against STP in King County Superior Court. This filing was prompted by recent court filings by STP and their insurance companies. Filing this lawsuit ensures WSDOT will have a right to make legal claims in the future. This lawsuit does not prevent STP from pursuing claims under the terms of the design-build contract.

Taking action to preserve WSDOT’s rights in court was a necessary step. Our focus remains on completing the project, and removing the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct. We intend to ask for a stay of WSDOT’s lawsuit until the project is completed and asked STP to join us in this request.

This delay in the lawsuit will allow for work on the SR 99 Tunnel Project to be completed before litigation takes place.

The intent of today’s action is simple: protect the interests of Washington taxpayers.

There will be no further statements on this legal matter.

While WSDOT provided the case number – 15-2-24943-6 – we checked the online files, and no documents are available there yet, just “Case Title: Washington State Department of Transportation vs Seattle Tunnel Partners” on the page. We’ll keep checking.

This follows news earlier this week, first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal, that WSDOT has told insurers it expects costs to rise more than $78 million because of the tunnel-machine trouble. That in turn came out as part of another lawsuit, one filed in New York state by insurers against STP, which says it’s hoping to get the machine going again in November, almost two years after its underground breakdown.

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PROGRESS REPORT: New Junction mural, day 2 http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/progress-report-new-junction-mural-day-2/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/progress-report-new-junction-mural-day-2/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 02:37:18 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325490

Last night, we reported on the first day of work by artist Jesse Link on the mural long planned for the south-facing wall of the Lofts At The Junction apartment building (4535 44th SW). We went by late this afternoon to see how it’s going. The artist was gone for the day, but it’s clear that, as he had told us in a brief shouted exchange yesterday, it’s a heron and a boat – with the words WORK IN PROGRESS painted across the space for now, lest anyone think otherwise.

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UPDATE: President Obama’s three-hour Seattle visit is over http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/president-obama-en-route-to-seattle/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/president-obama-en-route-to-seattle/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 22:06:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325458

(Added: Photo by David Hutchinson, seen from Don Armeni)

3:06 PM: As of a few minutes ago, Air Force One had left Eugene and was headed this way, so, as expected, the president should arrive at Boeing Field by 4. He’ll be headed to downtown, and then back to Boeing Field 7-ish. Updates to come.

(Added: Photo courtesy Jonathan – AF1 approaching Boeing Field)

3:43 PM: Air Force One landed a few minutes ago. Northbound I-5 is closed from Albro northward, awaiting the motorcade.

3:56 PM: Regional media at Boeing Field say the motorcade’s heading for downtown. The onramps to I-5 close for this too, so if you’re heading for the eastbound bridge, you can expect to be stopped until President Obama has passed.

4:07 PM: The onramps have reopened, so traffic on NB I-5 should get back to normal again soon. Downtown, you’ll see these restrictions and these bus reroutes until the president’s visit is over. Metro also issued a general alert about “service delays for routes heading south from downtown Seattle.”

6:34 PM: Regional-media coverage indicates the president’s speech is over and he’ll be headed back to Boeing Field momentarily. This WSDOT tweet underscores that:

If you need to get to the east side of the West Seattle Bridge, particularly Southbound I-5, we’d advise waiting a bit.

6:49 PM: The freeway has reopened; the president is at Boeing Field.

7:02 PM: Wheels up for Air Force One, now headed for San Francisco. If you like the behind-the-scenes details, here’s the “daily guidance/press schedule” for today, information routinely published by several news sites.

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The Growler Station is at Admiral Chevron 2: New WSB sponsor http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/the-growler-station-is-at-admiral-chevron-2-new-wsb-sponsor/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/the-growler-station-is-at-admiral-chevron-2-new-wsb-sponsor/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:16:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325447 We’re welcoming a new WSB sponsor this afternoon: Something new at Admiral Chevron 2, the Growler Station!

It’s part of the new “Extra Mile” store at the station on the northwest corner of 41st SW and SW Admiral Way, a new place to stop to buy fresh craft beer to take home. You’ll find four rotating selections, including local favorites – you can check them online here before you go, and they’re on a reader board at the station too. Bring your own growler, or get one while you’re there. Here’s a reason to stop by and try it: a coupon!

You can either print the coupon (right-click on the image) or show it on your phone when you’re at Admiral Chevron 2. (You can use the ShareThis feature beneath the story to e-mail yourself the link if that’s more convenient!)

We thank Admiral Chevron 2 featuring the Growler Station for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.

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Your time, everyone’s river: Sign up now for Duwamish Alive! http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/your-time-everyones-river-sign-up-now-for-duwamish-alive/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/your-time-everyones-river-sign-up-now-for-duwamish-alive/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:00:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325442

Those are the sites where you can help Seattle’s only river by giving a few hours of your time to be part of this fall’s edition of Duwamish Alive! – one week from tomorrow, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, October 17th. Organizers would love to hear from you ASAP, so use this list to choose one of the sites on the map – which include five in West Seattle – and sign up.

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FOLLOWUP: Questions, advocacy emerge as teacher-cut news circulates at local schools; Sunday rally planned; district’s letter http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-questions-advocacy-emerge-as-teacher-cut-news-circulates-at-local-schools/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-questions-advocacy-emerge-as-teacher-cut-news-circulates-at-local-schools/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:00:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325428 (UPDATED 4:50 PM with two more online petitions and word of a Sunday rally, and UPDATED 6:43 PM with district letter to parents – scroll to story’s end)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At least five West Seattle elementary schools have been told they’ll lose teaching positions as a result of Seattle Public Schools‘ review of where enrollment stood at the end of September.

While a district-wide list has not been made available, as first reported in our Thursday coverage, we were able to confirm Alki, Highland Park, Roxhill, Schmitz Park, and West Seattle Elementary Schools are among the ~25 schools citywide dealing with this.

Nothing’s completely final yet, though, and principals and their school communities have been scrambling to see what they can do to minimize effects. Here’s what’s new so far today:

*Last night at Schmitz Park, this area’s most populous elementary with 600+ students, the annual Curriculum Night for first- and second-grade families found principal Gerrit Kischner trying to explain how his long-crowded school – moving into a new building next fall – has wound up with a teaching position on the chopping block. And it found parents declaring that the ongoing funding challenges of public education are unacceptable and vowing action, including a letterwriting campaign. (They also are continuing the online petition we mentioned in Thursday’s report.)

*This morning, an Alki Elementary parent confirms that school has started a crowdfunding campaign to try to save the position that’s slated to be cut.

First, from the Schmitz Park meeting, which we covered at the suggestion of several concerned parents:

“Remember, the kids are going to be fine,” Kischner reassured the first-grade parents who gathered in the school cafeteria instead of dispersing to classrooms as would have been SOP – a change made necessary by the expected loss of the first-grade class that was to be taught by Julie Pietsch.

Several parents, including PTA president Robert Kelly, sported T-shirts in support of that classroom, P-8:

(“The fox says” is a reference to Schmitz Park’s mascot.) In the early going at the meeting, before the second-grade parents left to visit their teachers, he promised the organization would find ways to support the teachers in what he declared to be a crisis, and reminded parents that volunteer work would be important like never before.

Kischner said principals had found out about the cuts on Monday night. He said a group of them is meeting with Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland today “so we can say we did everything we can to lessen the impact on kids.”

For the students directly affected – they will now be in three classes of 28 students and one of 29, though the contractual limit for K-3 classes, he said, is supposed to be 26. He said the students who had started the year with Pietsch had been told, and were discussing what would be good about the change and what would be not so good about the change.

For the parents directly affected – Kischner tried to dissuade them from considering emulating what Gatewood Elementary had done last year when faced with the loss of a teaching position, fundraising to keep it. He suggested that it just wouldn’t be fair, when, unlike last year, other West Seattle schools are being hit too, some in less-affluent communities where fundraising might not be an option.

And then came his explanation of how it happened, though it seemed apparent that what the principals had been told didn’t make much more sense to them than it did to the parents.

He explained that Schmitz Park had begun the year with a “start-of-school substitute” position, based on the enrollment trends they were seeing and expecting. “As recently as Sunday, our numbers held,” justifying the position – but then on Monday, he said, a “new formula, new ratio” was applied to the budget for K-3 classes in Schmitz Park and four other schools (which he didn’t name), none of which, he said, “hit the mark.”

A parent asked how many more students Schmitz Park would have to have enrolled for the cuts to be canceled. “It’s not that simple,” the principal replied. “… The rules changed.”

That’s where he again mentioned that the affected principals were meeting with district officials today, saying they had some hope of effecting change, because “in so many ways, this doesn’t make sense.” If it’s a budget shortfall, they would hope to get specific numbers, because “maybe there are some things that should be cut first.”

Earlier, he had said that teachers in the newly enlarged first-grade classes would get “overage pay.” When they moved to Q & A, that led to an impassioned parent asking, “But how will the KIDS be compensated?”

Kischner thought perhaps they could find ways to get a part-time reading specialist or some tutoring support.

Right about then, a man who was leaning against the wall in the back of the lunchroom, as were we, said aloud in disbelief, “This is the United States of America, and we have to go with our hands out like that?”

Back toward the front of the room, someone said, “The numbers don’t really seem to add up.”

And shortly thereafter, parent Emily Giaquinta, introduced as having served as the “capacity chair” and legislative chair for the PTA, spoke about the big picture – the state continuing to fail to fully fund public education. She said that in meetings, she was struck by “how often (elected officials) say they want to hear from us – but how seldom we speak out.”

This, she declared, has to change. “If we don’t flood them with communication, nothing will be done. We have to start to get people organized.”

The letter template is now posted on the Schmitz Park PTA website, and, she said, can be amended any way a sender would like. “Do whatever you want with it. Just get it out.”

Also declared at this point in the meeting: It’s time to advocate for all West Seattle schools as a community.

Clearly moved by what he’d heard, Kischner made one final point: Though there were concerns around the city that the strike-delayed school year would start under a cloud, he has instead seen “palpable” energy, concern, and spirit.

BACK TO ALKI ELEMENTARY: Thanks to parent Amy King for letting us know about the Crowdrise campaign, which is past $5,200 as of this writing. She adds – in the spirit of what we heard at Schmitz Park last night – “We have also reached out to parents from the other West Seattle schools to work together in our response. There is a meeting this morning with reps from at least 3 schools, as we at Alki are very aware that we have schools in our WS community that will be hurt by this even worse than us.”

WHAT’S NEXT: We’ll continue to follow up on this; we appreciate all the updates and information received from parents and others so far – community collaboration has been our coverage style from the start – while we have other communications channels, e-mail to editor@westseattleblog.com is preferred. You’ll also find citywide coverage of the situation at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com.

ADDED 4:50 PM: Word of a rally and two more online petitions. First, the latter:

*”Our Kids Need Their Teachers – Rethink Budget Cuts” – petition here

*”Keep Alki Elementary Class Size Manageable” – petition here

*And Emily, who sent word of the latter petition, says: “Sunday immediately following the Seahawks game folks will be gathering at the Admiral Junction to raise awareness, support, donations etc. regarding the WS school situation.”

ADDED 6:43 PM: The district has sent this letter to parents, signed by assistant superintendents Flip Herndon and Michael Tolley:

Every year at start of the school, districts across Washington state compare enrollment projections with actual student counts. School districts receive state funding to pay for staffing based on actual student enrollment (counts) as of Oct. 1.

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) undergoes a staffing adjustment process to monitor enrollment at every school, adjust staffing levels relative to actual student enrollment, and comply with negotiated staffing ratios.

This process is not unique to Seattle. All districts undergo the same process of staffing adjustments by school relative to the actual numbers of students who enroll and attend. Staffing adjustment decisions are made to match student needs with limited staff resources across the district. In Seattle, 52,399 students enrolled in the district this year, according to the 10-day student enrollment count. That is an increase of 411 students over last year.

While we have more students this year, the number is lower than we projected by 675 students. This translates into $4.23 million less revenue, not including the enrollment decline effects on Special Education, Transportation or Nutrition Services.The reduction in staffing allocations will reduce the effect of the loss of revenue. The number of students who transferred out of the school district is higher this year than last.

As your principal may have shared with you, staffing adjustment recommendations were developed by a team of representatives from School Operations, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning, Special Education, Budget, Capital Planning, Continuous Improvement, and English Language Learning using enrollment data. The team considers multiple factors including equity and detailed school, class and program configuration. Staffing allocation analyses are conducted at the individual class and grade level. Staffing allocations were reviewed and approved by the Superintendent’s Cabinet. Some schools have additional enrollment and require additional staff. Some schools have lower enrollments and require staff reductions.

It is important to note, teachers and instructional assistants will continue to be employed by SPS. Each staff member will be reassigned to another school. This process is a careful matching of individual skills and qualifications of certificated staff to school positions and needs.

Eight start-of-school substitutes were added district-wide and funded centrally in schools where principals believed their enrollment number was going to be higher than the district projection. Principals used this resource to support start of school efforts. The goal is to reduce the number of classes without a teacher, and to mitigate for last minute enrollment changes. Based on enrollment counts and class configurations, seven of these eight substitutes will be removed from their schools and returned to the substitute pool because anticipated enrollment did materialize at the individual schools. The eighth will be converted to a teaching position to support enrollment.

The School Board has highlighted resource stewardship as a board priority, refocusing the district on the importance of assuring responsible management of its limited funding. While more students are enrolled this year, the number is still lower than projected. With less revenue district-wide, SPS must reduce the staffing budget from schools with lower enrollment and add staffing budgets to schools with higher enrollment to ensure our class sizes and support personnel are equitably distributed to best support all students’ teaching and learning.

Additional good news is that elementary schools have benefited from an increase in funding for teachers in order to reduce class size (about one additional teacher per building) as part of the Legislature’s action in June. And the district has invested more in staffing for unique situations (mitigation) than we did last year.

Reductions are never easy, especially after the school year begins. Average class sizes district-wide, however, are improved over last year at the elementary level.

We know that these changes are not easy for our schools, students, staff, parents and guardians. Such decisions are a delicate balance of financial resources and needs across the entire school district. Our district team takes this work very seriously and tremendous effort and thought goes into every decision about every classroom in every school as the team works hard to allocate limited resources to the greatest need. In a situation where one school loses a staff member, that individual is moved to a school which has less staff and desperately needs more.

Staffing adjustments are being finalized, and your school principal will communicate that information once completed.

Also, at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com, Melissa Westbrook has published an update with some documents she obtained related to enrollment and the teacher-shuffling process.

We e-mailed West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren several questions about the situation this morning, but have not yet received a reply.

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What’s up for the rest of your West Seattle Friday http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/whats-up-for-the-rest-of-your-west-seattle-friday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/whats-up-for-the-rest-of-your-west-seattle-friday/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:00:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325417

(Dark-eyed junco, photographed by Mark Wangerin)

From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

FRIDAY AFTERNOON MOVIE: “A Knight’s Tale” (2001), 1 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle. (California SW & SW Oregon)

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: 5:30-8:30 pm at Admiral Congregational Church – details here. (California SW & SW Hill)

FRIDAY NIGHT SKATING: 6:30-8:30 pm, go skate at Alki Community Center! (5817 SW Stevens)

HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Two games are being played in West Seattle tonight, both at 7 pm, Ingraham visits Chief Sealth International High School at Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle) – it’s homecoming night for the Seahawks! Also – Bainbridge visits O’Dea at West Seattle Stadium (4432 35th SW)

CHRIS & LYLE: Live music at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), 7-9 pm. (5612 California SW)

NODDY & QUALIA: Electropop music at The Skylark (21+), 9 pm. (3803 Delridge Way SW)

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Go browse our complete calendar to see what’s up. The biggest event of the weekend will be Sunday afternoon’s Fauntleroy Fall Festival – if you missed our preview, complete with activity/entertainment schedule, see it here!

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Friday updates, including President Obama’s pm visit http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/traffictransit-today-friday-updates-including-president-obamas-pm-visit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/traffictransit-today-friday-updates-including-president-obamas-pm-visit/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:59:45 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325409

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
6:59 AM: One traffic alert to start with – the investigation of a deadly shooting at 4th Avenue S. and Royal Brougham has the northbound lanes of 4th closed. Buses are rerouted off 4th in the area as a result. The shooting happened three hours ago.

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT: Looking ahead to the afternoon/evening commute – President Obama‘s schedule is projected to be about the same as what we were discussing yesterday, arriving at Boeing Field before 4 pm, heading to the Westin downtown for two events, leaving around 7. The transit reroutes planned for the visit are detailed here; the downtown security zone is detailed here. He’ll be coming here from Eugene, OR, where Air Force One will remain during his visit to Roseburg (shuttling via helicopter), so we’ll have a good short-term alert when he’s on the way.

8:01 AM: 4th is now open both ways, per SDOT:

8:05 AM: One weekend traffic reminder for West Seattle – 2-5 pm on Sunday (October 11th), the Fauntleroy Fall Festival is happening at venues on both sides of the 9100 block of California SW. Our preview has details, including the entertainment/activity schedule.

8:11 AM: If you’re headed for southbound I-5 from the West Seattle Bridge, it could get a little problematic – there’s an SFD response at Albro.

8:13 AM: The 4th Ave. S. bus routes that were rerouted earlier are back to normal except for one thing: “The northbound stop just north of Royal Brougham Way remains closed,” per a text from Metro.

8:38 AM: That stop has now reopened.

9:01 AM: All SB I-5 lanes are now open at the scene of the fire call mentioned above, south of the West Seattle Bridge (though two northbound lanes remain blocked).

9:43 AM: From Washington State Ferries:

Starting Monday, Oct. 12, customers are advised to prepare for at least a week of longer than usual wait times due to a temporary vessel downsizing on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route. The temporary downsizing is needed to maintain a 3-boat sailing schedule while the Cathlamet is out of service for its annual maintenance and U.S. Coast Guard inspection. The F/V/S route will be served by the 124-car Issaquah, 87-car Tillikum and 87-car Evergreen State.

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PLAYTIME! Pathfinder K-8′s new playground officially opens http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/playtime-pathfinder-k-8s-new-playground-officially-opens/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/playtime-pathfinder-k-8s-new-playground-officially-opens/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 08:30:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325398

West Seattle’s newest community-created playground is officially open. It’s at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point, whose principal David Dockendorf wielded the ribbon-cutting scissors:

One of the parents who led the project through years of fundraising and volunteer work parties, Kelly Guenther, emceed the celebration:

Along with the play equipment, you’ll find a message here and there:

It was a true reason to celebrate, after more than a year and a half of work:

And now, it’s all about playtime.

See all the steps along the way via the playground project’s official website.

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FOLLOWUP: Memorial bench from ARK Park has been found http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-memorial-bench-from-ark-park-has-been-found/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-memorial-bench-from-ark-park-has-been-found/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 05:25:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325391 Update on a story we reported here about this time last night: The memorial bench from ARK Park in Arbor Heights has been found. The family of the baby for whom it was named says the little bench turned up in some bushes in the park, broken in two. Despite the damage, they’re glad to have it back, and thankful that so many people were on the lookout for it.

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West Seattle Art Walk scenes: Sheila Lengle’s benefit show; Deanna Baldi at Click! http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-art-walk-scenes-sheila-lengles-benefit-show-deanna-baldi-at-click/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-art-walk-scenes-sheila-lengles-benefit-show-deanna-baldi-at-click/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 04:43:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325382 Two scenes from tonight’s West Seattle Art Walk, both in The Junction on California between Oregon and Alaska:

That’s Sheila Lengle, who spent the evening at Windermere West Seattle (4526 California SW), where her show “Prevail!” raised money to fight breast cancer, which she has survived. As the preview of her show noted, creativity was a pathway to healing for her, resulting in bright, beautiful paintingss.

A few doors south, Click! Design That Fits (4540 California SW; WSB sponsor) is featuring the work of Deanna Baldi (and shared this photo of her, taken tonight):

As you can see, her work is also inspired by the world of plants – her paintings “strive to capture the essence of beauty in bloom,” she says. They’ll be at Click! until next month’s Art Walk, which will be November 12th (remember that WSAW is a great night for artful holiday shopping, especially in November and December).

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Wildlife sighting ahead: Jesse Link painting mural for The Lofts At The Junction http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/wildlife-sighting-ahead-jesse-link-painting-lofts-at-the-junction-mural/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/wildlife-sighting-ahead-jesse-link-painting-lofts-at-the-junction-mural/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:53:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325373

Thanks to Eddie for the photo and word that painting is under way on The Junction’s highest-profile mural in a long time. A mural has always been in the plan for the south-facing wall of The Lofts At The Junction (4535 44th SW), but the design wasn’t done until long after the project went through Design Review and started construction. After Eddie shared the tip this afternoon, we went over and hollered up at the artist to ask what’s in store – not knowing at the time that it’s Jesse Link, last featured here when he painted a mural on The Shack coffee house in Luna Park a month and a half ago. This afternoon, via that ground-to-bucket exchange, he told us the mural will feature a heron and a tugboat.

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FOLLOWUP: Suspect charged with arson in Westwood house fire http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-suspect-charged-with-arson-in-westwood-house-fire/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-suspect-charged-with-arson-in-westwood-house-fire/#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 23:41:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325368

(WSB photo from Saturday)
The 18-year-old arrested in connection with last Saturday’s house fire on 31st Place SW is now charged with second-degree arson. Ezekiel M. Hoskins was arrested blocks away from the scene of the fire, less than two hours later. Charging documents include the same details we reported the day of his bail hearing, that his girlfriend said they had argued earlier in the day and that he had threatened to set the house on fire. Police say he told them he was smoking in the house that afternoon and that his discarded cigarettes might have ignited the fire, but he denied deliberately setting it; court documents say he was seen walking away from the house before an explosion that preceded the fire. While his girlfriend was quoted as telling investigators that Hoskins lived in the house, which had belonged to a relative, charging papers say he told police he had been living elsewhere with his aunt, but that they were unable to verify it. Also, while we couldn’t find a criminal record for him in previous checks, the court documents say that as a juvenile, Hoskins had two robbery convictions in the past two years. Before SFD cleared Saturday’s fire scene, a firefighter suffered a hand injury and had to be taken to the hospital. Damage to the house and its contents is estimated at $105,000; Hoskins remains in the King County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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Parents angered to learn that Seattle Public Schools’ fall reshuffle will cut teachers at local schools http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/parents-angry-to-learn-that-seattle-public-schools-fall-reshuffle-will-cut-teachers-at-local-schools/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/parents-angry-to-learn-that-seattle-public-schools-fall-reshuffle-will-cut-teachers-at-local-schools/#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:18:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325350 (NEWEST UPDATE: Adding fifth school, West Seattle ES)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Public Schools says “approximately 25 teachers are being pulled from” schools around the city now that it has actual enrollment counts for the start of this school year, with overall district enrollment up, but not as much as expected.

At least five elementary schools in West Seattle are affected, according to what we have found out so far from information that includes, in two cases, letters sent by principals and forwarded by parents, some of whom are furious.

The district checks enrollment in early October every year and decides whether schools have appropriate staffing levels. Last year at this time, you might recall, Gatewood Elementary was told it would lose a teacher, and raised more than $66,000 in a frantic fundraising campaign to keep the position, one week after getting the initial word.

We asked district spokesperson Stacy Howard for a list of the schools affected this year; she told us that’s not available, but also added that no teachers are being laid off – just being moved.

Since there’s no list, all we know so far is what we have learned from parents – letters sent by the principals of (updated) Schmitz Park, Alki, Roxhill, and West Seattle ES, plus information from the PTA president of Highland Park.

SCHMITZ PARK ELEMENTARY: Losing one teaching position, according to e-mail that principal Gerrit Kischner sent last night to the school’s first-grade parents. More than a dozen parents have forwarded it to us.

He began, “Every year, the Seattle School District reevaluates enrollment on October 1st and makes budget adjustments accordingly. I am writing tonight to share some very unfortunate news: because of significant shifts in enrollment District-wide, Schmitz Park has lost funding for one of our first grade classrooms.” That means, he went on to write, that one class will be “collapsed” with its students reassigned to the remaining four 1st-grade classrooms. He had notified that class’s families directly, but added that “we know that the impact of this staffing reduction will be felt throughout the first grade cohort and across the school. Schmitz Park is not alone. In fact, enrollment is lower than projections by over 600 students districtwide (although we have grown overall in our total enrollment), and approximately 25 elementary schools (nearly half) will be losing one and, in some cases, more than two teachers. This news comes as much as a surprise to us as it is for you, and I am very sorry to have to bring you this news. In fact, I maintain a glimmer of hope that this budget decision can be reversed, but at this point it is extremely important that we plan rapidly to ensure that students can make a smooth transition to their new classroom.”

Kischner’s letter also quoted Schmitz Park’s enrollment at 643, one above projection, but “a drop from the 663 students we had on our rolls at the end of August.” First grade is at 114, up from the 99 at which the cohort ended kindergarten. He also noted the district’s end-of-September headcount as 52,399, 411 students more than last year, but 675 below what was projected, citing “budget pressures at the District level” for leading to the loss of what was the last teacher hired there before the school year began. “Unless new information comes our way very soon, our plan is to introduce students to their new classrooms Friday afternoon, ahead of starting Monday in the new classrooms.”

This information from the letter was attributed to the district:

Annually, at the beginning of the school year, Seattle Public Schools undergoes a staffing adjustment process to monitor enrollment at every school and to adjust staffing levels relative to actual student enrollment. Staffing adjustment decisions are made to match student needs with limited staff resources. In this process, adjustments are made in staff levels at schools to reflect the number of students actually enrolled in a program, grade and school, as opposed to forecasted/ projected enrollments. While our enrollment projections are historically very accurate at the district level, a wide range of factors can influence the final number of students enrolled at a grade, program and school level.

Once receiving student enrollment counts for each school, the district then reevaluates staffing across schools, making adjustments up and down based on each school’s enrollment. Please know that our best efforts are being made to assess all factors for staffing adjustment decisions at all schools. Staffing adjustment recommendations are developed by a team composed of members from Budget, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning, School Operations, Capital Planning, Special Education, Advanced Learning and English Language Learning departments, who use current enrollment numbers in determining staffing adjustments.

Additionally, Enrollment Planning also takes into account other factors in staffing allocations, including projected changes, expected attrition, historical trends in enrollment for each school as well as unique factors affecting each schools’ enrollment. Each school is carefully reviewed for any factors which could impact the classroom.

A change.org petition has been started by parent Rachel Lazarsee it here. She also shared her initial reaction: “What kind of screwed-up educational system gets kids back to school two weeks late after a strike, lets them settle into their classes, then decides to cut a beloved 1st grade teacher because their counts were off and cram her students into the other classrooms, letting them hit nearly 30? Add to that a school who has been forced to expand its boundaries again this year BEFORE our new facility opens, leaving it bursting at the seams. Oh, and do this all in 48-hours time so there is little time to work through it with the kids, and no time to try and address or fight it. This makes absolutely no sense to me and I’m fired up. Our kids deserve better. This phenomenal teacher deserves better. How the hell do we fix this mess our school system is in in Seattle!?!”

ALKI ELEMENTARY: Scheduled for a 1.5-position cut, according to the letter, forwarded to us by multiple parents, sent by principal Shannon Hobbs-Beckley to her school’s community. She began, “Earlier this week, I was informed by Seattle Public Schools that we are one of several schools that will experience a staffing adjustment based upon our current school enrollment. Last year, our adjustment resulted in adding staff to our school. This year, our adjustment results in a reduction of staff to our school. … This is not an easy adjustment to make, by any means. And some questions remain unanswered, so I consider this letter the first communication about the changes we are about to embark upon.” She quoted the same district information that Kischner’s letter did, and said that with Alki Elementary having “lower enrollment than projected,” its budget was cut “by 1.5 full time teaching positions (1.0 from a general education classroom and .5 from the specialists of PE/Multi-Arts/Technology).” She went on to write that the staff was still “determining all of the impacts of this change” and thinking they might be able to cover the half-position specialist reduction, but, “What we are still working through is the 1.0 reduction from a general education classroom.”

Parent Nikki Eisenhut, who has three children at Alki, shared her letter of concern with WSB; it talks about her children’s experience at the school and concludes, “These teachers have worked hard to create a safe, inspiring learning community in the last month. I cannot support a ‘staffing adjustment’ that is going to interrupt these communities. I do not see the benefit of interrupting student learning to create larger classes and less support for the students who need it the most. I want you to know that the ’1.5 FTE’ that you will take from Alki is removing a human being and impacting countless students. It will create larger class sizes and interrupt learning. I know that at Alki, we will weather the change, our students are resilient, our teachers are inspiring and our leader is our foundation. These staffing changes are unjust and our community is strong and resilient.”

(2nd update, 3:40 pm) ROXHILL AND HIGHLAND PARK: Thanks to the Roxhill Elementary who scanned the hard-copy letter sent home by principal Sahnica Washington; she quotes much of the district explanation excerpted above, before saying her school has “experienced lower enrollment than expected” and therefore has had its budget cut by 3.7 teachers: “As a result of the loss of teachers, we will be consolidating classrooms.”

Earlier, after this story’s initial publication, we heard from Highland Park Elementary PTA president Holly Briscoe, who says that HPE is slated to lose one teacher: “The 4 kindergarten classes will be combined to create 3 classrooms and the kindergarten teacher will then be moved to another grade level and displacing the least senior teacher, and affecting upward of 90 students, or approximately a quarter of our total population.”

(added) WEST SEATTLE ES: Thanks to the parent who sent an image of the letter sent to some families, in which principal Vicki Sacco said a lower enrollment for first grade than expected had led to the loss of one teacher.

THURSDAY NIGHT P.S. Some of the concerned parents at Schmitz Park suggested we cover tonight’s Curriculum Night for the first- and second-grade families, and so we did. The cuts were a hot topic, to say the least. We will be writing a separate story about it for tomorrow morning. No revelations but some insight, and also a spirit of bringing together the wider West Seattle community to fight for the state to fix education funding.

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