West Seattle, Washington
Now that we’re in the second half of the school year, many families are looking ahead to fall, and it’s peak season for open houses and tours, at Seattle Public Schools as well as local independent schools. The WSB West Seattle Event Calendar is one place to find tour dates – we add all the ones we receive (if you haven’t sent yours, email@example.com – thanks!). For example, the dates are in for both of the SPS K-8 “option schools” in West Seattle:
*LOUISA BOREN K-8 STEM (5950 Delridge Way SW) – Dates are listed here, including tours and the February 9th open house for all grades, in two sessions – 6-7 pm for elementary, 7:30-8:30 pm for middle school.
SPS open enrollment starts February 13th, and school-choice info is here.
Some of what else you’ll find on our calendar this week:
*Alki Elementary morning tours (Tuesday and Thursday)
*Seattle Lutheran High School evening open house (Thursday)
*West Seattle Montessori School & Academy (WSB sponsor) afternoon open house (Saturday)
*Our Lady of Guadalupe open house (Sunday)
*Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School open house (Sunday)
Again, if you have tours/open houses to add to our calendar, firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP – thanks!
Before we move on into Saturday, photos from two more school demonstrations on Inauguration Day:
Those are students from Taproot School, an independent K-5 school based at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. And on Delridge, students from Louisa Boren K-8 STEM rallied on Friday afternoon:
Thanks again to everyone who shared photos – email@example.com is the best way, and if news is breaking, you can text us at 206-293-6302.
1:06 PM: West Seattle High School students are marching in The Junction right now. The photo above came in via text – and our crew is catching up with them as they arrive at California/Alaska. Police are monitoring the march, according to what we’re hearing via scanner.
More photos later – also, Madison Middle School students are expected to head that way soon.
2:07 PM: The Madison students didn’t go to The Junction after all. They left the school around 1:45; we recorded them walking toward California a few minutes later (see Twitter video here – it’s not embeddable today for some reason). We saw them cross paths with returning WSHS students shortly thereafter, and went further down California – but instead of heading toward The Junction, they headed back to school, where we saw the group back outside the entrance a few minutes ago.
4:49 PM: Thanks to the reader who texted this video of the Madison group as they walked along California earlier:
9:58 AM: Though much of the discussion of possible Inauguration Day student walkouts has focused on Seattle Public Schools, the first walkout of the day turned out to be from an independent school. A tip from a parent (thank you!) led us to Westside School (WSB sponsor) in Arbor Heights, where some of the preK-8 school’s older students walked out at 9 am, heading along 35th SW to SW Roxbury, then east for a bit and back to the school. More photos later.
ADDED 11:59 AM: Two more photos:
According to a letter sent to Westside families (shared with us by parents), middle-school students approached teachers and administrators yesterday with their plan for a demonstration. Here is an image of the letter – we are asking the school for a copy:
Also see comments below for explanations from students.
The Seattle Public Schools administration has sent SPS families a note saying they’ve heard school walkouts are likely on Friday. No specific schools were mentioned. But overnight, we received this:
I am a student at Madison Middle School writing to inform you of a walkout happening January 20th at Madison Middle School.
This will occur 6th period, or 1:30. We will walk from Madison, down California, and then to the Junction and back. It would be helpful if you could post the walkout on the blog to spread the word.
Thank you for your time,
A Madison Student
Here is what SPS sent families (thanks to those who forwarded it to us):
We have heard from some principals and through social media channels that our middle and high school students may choose to participate in a planned walkout on Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20. This call to action is not endorsed or sanctioned by the school district. The “National Student Walkout Against Trump” has been organized by a group called Socialist Students.
In November, ten thousand of our students safely walked out of school in response to the presidential election results. The district supports students’ rights to express their views in a peaceful manner. However, when civic engagement includes missing class, there are appropriate and standardized consequences. Students should understand that if they choose to participate in the January 20 walkout, they will receive an unexcused absence per board policy.
Board Policy 3121 (pdf)
Following an unexcused absence, students do not have the right to make up school work. Any make up is at the discretion of the principal and classroom teacher. The opportunity to make up work will depend on the course syllabus and other factors. If students do choose to walk out, you will receive a notice from the individual school. At this time, it is hard to predict how many schools and students will participate, if any.
Educators and other school staff have been asked to remain at school. Staff participation in the January 20 walkout, for reasons other than ensuring the safety of our students, will be treated as a personnel matter.
Finally, any time we know of a planned walkout, the district’s Safety and Security department works very closely with the Seattle Police Department (SPD). We are already in contact with SPD regarding this potential event.
In closing, if you have questions or concerns regarding the potential January 20 walkout you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or direct them to your child’s school principal.
11:38 AM: Thanks for the photos!
The crowd rallying at the State Capitol in Olympia right now for full education funding includes West Seattleites – Keri Watson sent the two photos above, and Emily Goldstein sent the next two:
Parents, students, and educators are continuing to pressure legislators to fix the education-funding shortfall – both the failure to live up to the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, and the “levy cliff” problem (explained here) that is further constraining funding. After a School Board work session last week, Seattle Public Schools has a list of what cuts will be made if needed to cover $63 million of its potential $74 million gap, if nothing changes by February 28th – here’s the update from Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland.
ADDED 2:11 PM: More photos! First, texted by a Pathfinder family:
And two more from Emily Goldstein – first, meeting with 34th District legislators (in the background, from left, Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody, and Sen. Sharon Nelson), and then hearing from Gov. Jay Inslee:
ADDED 7:31 PM: Thanks to Lindsay Yost for this photo of the Alki Elementary PTA contingent with SPS Superintendent Nyland at the rally:
ADDED 8:46 PM: Thanks to Shawna Murphy for this photo of the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 contingent just before they left for Olympia this morning:
And she also shared this panorama from the Olympia rally:
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: Thanks also to Darcey Pickard for STEM K-8 photos from Olympia:
If you are concerned about school funding and not already involved with the PTSA/PTA at your school – check out its next meeting.
As previewed here last night, students were joined by VIP visitors for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day assembly today at West Seattle High School. Teacher Jennifer Hall, who advises the WSHS Diversity Club, shared some visuals, and the full text of senior Amy Ijeoma‘s speech from the assembly, titled “The Only Black Kid”:
Individuality is amazing. It’s something we value because it offers more perspectives, more conversation, more ideas. It does a lot of good. But we also like to be relatable – we find comfort in knowing that others go through or have gone through similar situations, think similarly, and that others share common characteristics and interests. That’s how we make friends. We find people who are in some way similar to us, and we find people who are almost nothing like us. But that’s how we bring out the best in each other. With the right balance of individuality and relatability, we can collectively grow in how we view each other’s unique experiences.
So our schools and classrooms reflect that, right? We’re working towards it, but there’s room for improvement. In recent Harvard studies they show that students of color perform better academically and engage more in classes where they have race congruent teachers. And white students perform just as well. From my own experiences, I’ve felt more comfortable in a class where there’s a teacher who I see myself in. Whether it was a teacher of color, a woman, or someone who has lived a shared experience. And I quickly learned that at a young age.
In my early years of elementary school, I began to feel the disconnect. I knew the majority of the other kids didn’t have a similar upbringing as me, that they didn’t like how I looked because they didn’t understand it, but I knew so much about their European roots. I learned so much eurocentric history that I knew it like it was my own. At times I would try to feel like them. I remember one day I tried pinching my nose, so it would stay narrow the way their noses do. By 4th grade, I was straightening my hair every morning before school. I tried to adapt to white culture, while forgetting how beautiful my own culture was. Imagine a little brown girl intimidated by her own skin tone, because she never saw or heard about enough of it. Anywhere, in school, on tv, in children’s books, on barbie dolls. It was a strange feeling, but that was only the beginning.
When my culture and many other cultures were finally being introduced in classrooms, (and still to this day) everyone would turn and look at me. It was sad to know that people of color’s histories, their oppression, and their contributions to society were talked about so little –it seemed almost forbidden; as if their history didn’t encompass mass incarceration, genocide, systemic racism — the silencing of my people, other people of color, and many other marginalized groups. Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. It’s not something people of color should just “get over and move on” from, because it happened, and it’s still happening. So what do we do?
As members of society, we need to respectfully acknowledge history and current events when they come up. We must create an environment that allows people of color to freely speak their minds, and truly be heard; to educate and be educated. We need to display our true personalities, because not only will you benefit from it, but the people around you can see themselves in you as well, and feel more comfortable being who they are. Respectfully include and welcome valid perspectives that aren’t your own! Debate. Learn. Remember that if you’re one who benefits from the oppression of others to listen. Although your opinion matters, if you ever want to learn, you have to listen. Because people of color just want to be noticed and heard for who they truly are, and how they feel. So when Monday comes around, and you remember one of the many people who fought for justice, remember that the fight isn’t over.
Last February, Amy Ijeoma was one of the WSHS students we featured because of their project related to family homelessness.
Also at the assembly, as previewed last night, three state legislators who worked together on the creation of MLK Day in our state reunited for the first time in decades – former 34th District Reps. Georgette Valle and Bruce Addison, and former 43rd District Rep. Jesse Wineberry. Teacher Hall shares this three-minute clip from their Q/A session after the speech:
The bill they co-sponsored, creating the state holiday, passed in 1985.
After a question about work under way now at currently vacant EC Hughes Elementary (7740 34th SW) – likely to be the new home of Roxhill Elementary starting in fall 2018 – we followed up today with Seattle Public Schools.
As we reported back in October, the district planned to take the ~$14 million Hughes renovation project to bid early this year, and district capital-project manager Paul Wight tells WSB today that’s still the plan: “The Capital Department is preparing the documents for bidding. We will advertise this project on February 7th, open bids on March 8th, award the contract in April and start construction in May.”
Our photo above, taken this morning, shows some signs of work there now. Wight says it’s “critical maintenance” that must be done before the renovation work:
The Seattle Public Schools Facility Department has cleaned up the front landscape, removing some unhealthy vegetation and trimming up heathy trees and plants. They are also repairing the historic wood windows from the interior of the building. Our Masons are working on the brick repairing mortar by tuck pointing the brick as well as installing seismic ties around the egress points of the building. The brick will be cleaned, resealed, and anti-graffiti coating installed.
The city Department of Construction and Inspections, Wight adds, is reviewing the permit drawings and is expected to issue the permit “within the next month or two.”
One more thing: The public is welcome to the district’s next meeting with the Roxhill Elementary PTSA, which Wight says is set for 6 pm February 13th at
Roxhill EC Hughes. (Our report on the district’s briefing with the PTSA last fall is here.)
Announced tonight by West Seattle High School‘s Diversity Club adviser Jennifer Hall:
Former state Representatives Jesse Wineberry, Georgette Valle (now 92 years of age, and writing her fourth book), and Bruce Addison (the last Republican Washington state legislator to be elected from Seattle in over 18 years) have agreed to attend West Seattle High School’s Martin Luther King Day Assembly as honored guests.
These three individuals overcame personal differences to work closely together almost 30 years ago, to craft and pass Martin Luther King Day legislation in Washington State. Former Representative Wineberry will be the main speaker at the assembly. Wineberry will also serve as a keynote speaker at Seattle’s MLK Memorial Rally, after the march from Garfield High School on Monday, January 16.
School confidentiality rules prohibit video or audio recording by local news agencies at the assembly, but local community group representatives are not prohibited from attending. The morning assembly will be held at 10:35 AM. All visitors to West Seattle High School are required to sign in at the main office, and pick up a visitor’s badge.
If you’re interested in attending, RSVP to Jennifer Hall – email@example.com.
Addison and Valle are both former 34th District (which includes West Seattle) representatives; Wineberry served in the 43rd District.
Seattle Public Schools has warned of a potential $74 million budget gap because of underfunding from the state and the so-called “levy cliff,” both explained here. At a special School Board meeting tomorrow, a long list of ways to make up that gap will be discussed, including larger classes and smaller staffs. It’s now available online – here’s the slide deck:
(You can also see it on the district website here.) The presentation also includes a list of schools are ranked through an equity list the district could use to protect some of the highest-need schools from some of the cuts. Among West Seattle schools, Denny International Middle School ranks highest there.
The board will not be taking final votes on any of these proposed budget cuts tomorrow – it’s a work session, starting at 4:30 pm at district HQ (3rd Avenue S. and S. Lander). The meeting is open for public observation but not spoken comments, so if you have comments for them, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. P.S. While board work sessions aren’t usually streamed, the agenda says this one will be.
Concerned about public-school-funding problems, from the district’s “levy cliff” to the state’s McCleary Decision? Your next chance to find out where things stand, and what concerned citizens can do, is tomorrow night. The Gatewood Elementary PTA invites everyone – whether you are affiliated with their school or not – to their meeting tomorrow night (Monday, January 9th), 6:30-8:30 pm in the cafeteria (4320 SW Myrtle). The announcement shared by vice president Melissa McNeel says their special guest is Heidi Bennett, a longtime advocate who’s been the Legislative Chair for the statewide and citywide PTSA/PTA organizations, among other involvement. Child care will be available for the meeting, as will interpretation services in Spanish and Somali.
Congratulations to nine local students for their success so far in a national arts competition! Thanks to Lindsay Yost for sharing the news tonight, on the eve of districtwide recognition for them:
Students from three schools in West Seattle have qualified to advance to the state level of the National PTA Reflections arts program! These students will be competing against students from all over Washington State. The Seattle Council PTSA is hosting a recognition ceremony, with special guest, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland, tomorrow (Sunday, Jan. 8th) at the Seattle Armory from 2-3pm. The schools are:
Literature – Collin Temme, Where I’m From
Denny International Middle School
Visual Art – Kai Jackson, Girl in the Galaxy (above)
Visual Art – Daniel Crawford, My Weirdness (above)
Literature – Richard Garcia, The Meadow of Death
Literature – Kendall Sementelli, The one with scars
Photography – Veronica Dempster, Headshot (above)
Dance – Ruby Martin, Ruby’s Dance Choreography
Chief Sealth International High School
Literature – Audriana Slye, Four
Literature – Olivia Palmer, ON WRITING
Yost is Reflections chair at Alki Elementary and co-chair of the districtwide event (with Liza Rankin); Manuela Slye is Reflections chair for Denny and Sealth. Good luck to the young artists at the next level of competition! (You can see all their work on the Seattle website for Reflections – browse school-by-school.)
Last week, we brought you an update on the plans for remodeling and addition work at the ex-church/ex-supermarket at 9601 35th SW that is set to become charter school Summit Atlas this fall. As mentioned in our update, the formal land-use-permit application is now on file with the city, and that meant a new public-comment period would soon begin. Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin brought the official notice – see it here. If you’re interested in commenting, here’s how. The permit is required for the second phase of the project, involving a two-story addition to make more space for the school; work is expected to start soon on the first phase, which mostly involves interior remodeling of the existing building. (Our report from last August included a look at a building elsewhere in the city that the charter company already has remodeled, telling us the plan for use of the Arbor Heights space is similar.) Deadline for comments, meantime, is January 18th.
For the first time since official word that the Salmon in the Schools program would continue this year, as reported here in October, volunteers are delivering eggs to participating local schools today.
Our photos were taken at Sanislo Elementary School on Puget Ridge, one of 10 schools where Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland were stopping after picking up the eggs first thing in the morning at Soos Creek Hatchery. Three local preschools also were receiving eggs, with volunteer Jack Lawless making those rounds.
Last year, the state had warned that the eggs might not be available, for the first time in 25 years, because so few coho spawners had returned to the Sound the previous year. But this past fall’s returns were enough to convince the state to go ahead and provide eggs. The schools will rear them until they’re ready for release in Fauntleroy Creek this spring.
Looking for a preschool? The 8th annual West Seattle Preschool Fair is set for next Monday (January 9th), 5:30-7:30 pm at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church (3050 California SW). It’s presented by the West Seattle Preschool Association. The latest list of participating schools is here, and WSPA’s Renee Metty says there’s room for more (sign up here), adding: “The majority of programs are for 2.5-5 year olds, but some offer programs for under 2.5, as well as before- and after-school care.” The fair is free for families, and you’re welcome to bring your child(ren). WSPA requests an RSVP registration if you’re coming.
IslandWood is just around the corner for our fabulous fifth graders, but we are in real need of funding this year! I’ve created a GoFundMe to subsidize the cost for students, but we need help raising the money. Please consider donating and/or sending the link out to your networks. Every dollar matters!
Here’s the GoFundMe link you can use to help.
As public meetings start picking up after the holiday season wraps up, here are two of interest this week related to Seattle Public Schools:
TUESDAY: The last of three district-budget-gap meetings is set for Tuesday night, 6:30 pm, Franklin High School (not in West Seattle – none of the meetings are/were – but not far). The Seattle Council PTSA is hosting the meetings to talk about, and look for community input on, budget priorities, in the face of what could be a $74 million shortfall for the district. FHS is at 3013 S Mt Baker Boulevard [map].
WEDNESDAY: The Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors meets for the first time this year, 4:15 pm at district HQ in SODO (3rd Ave. S./S. Lander). Action items are at 4:55 pm, with a break for public comment at 5:30 pm before action items resume at 6 pm – see the full agenda here.
One item of West Seattle interest – details of the upcoming EC Hughes Elementary renovation project are in this “value engineering report” that the board will consider accepting, with recommendations that could save about a quarter-million dollars. The work is currently scheduled to start next summer, and while final action hasn’t been taken, Roxhill Elementary is tentatively set to move into the Hughes building in fall 2018. (Our most recent coverage of the Hughes renovations and Roxhill move are these two stories from October – here and here.)
Roxhill, by the way, is mentioned in another Wednesday board-agenda item of West Seattle interest – the board will consider finalizing a motion to award Bassetti Architects a $931,000 contract for BEX V ballot-measure planning. From the agenda-item details, this paragraph mentions which schools they’re looking at:
Schools to study were selected based upon their existing facility conditions and forecasted enrollment growth to meet capacity needs. Selected schools for master plan study include: John Rogers, North Beach, Northgate, Sacajawea, Montlake, Kimball, Alki, Lafayette, Roxhill, and Schmitz Park Elementary Schools, Salmon Bay K-8, Whitman, Washington and Mercer International Middle Schools, and Rainier Beach High School and a Downtown High School. In addition, Bassetti Architects master plan proposal allows Seattle Public Schools to identify three additional schools to be selected in June 2017.
Whatever winds up included in BEX V, the measure is planned to go to voters in 2019; its predecessor BEX IV, which funded the new elementaries at Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill, won voter approval in 2013.
Another districtwide item of note on Wednesday’s agenda – introduction of the plan to continue a three-tier transportation (and therefore schedule) program in 2017-2018, with the possibility of going to two tiers if “external funding” – an estimated $2.7 million – becomes available by next May.
Almost exactly two years after we broke the news of West Seattle’s first charter school planned in an ex-church/ex-supermarket in Arbor Heights, site work is about to start. The middle/high school to be called Summit Atlas is planning to open with sixth- and ninth-grade classes in fall of 2017, one year later than originally planned, after charters lost and then regained state funding. James Heugas of Washington Charter School Development, which purchased the site in 2015 for $4.75 million, tells WSB that they expect to start work by mid-January on the first phase, interior remodeling for the first phase. They also have “submitted drawings” in the land-use-permit process for the second phase, which will involve a two-story addition – that’s why the new notification signs (including the one in our photo) are up. A formal city notice will likely be out soon, opening a comment period for that application. (See the “preliminary site plan” here.)
We asked what neighbors will see on the sprawling site once the remodeling work begins; Heugas says it depends on whether they will be able to keep the building’s existing roof, which they are currently discussing with the contractor. Because there’s so much room on the site, he expects that the crews and materials will be largely kept within its confines, minimizing disruption to neighbors. (For more on what’s planned at the Arbor Heights site, see our August report.)
(WSB file photo: Portable bound for West Seattle Elementary in 2012)
School may be out for winter break, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of activity at local campuses. West Seattle Elementary School is expecting a big delivery this week, for example: Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tom Redman tells WSB that a one-classroom portable is to be delivered to WSES this Wednesday (December 21st). He adds, “SDOT has determined the schedule for delivery to be during the day between the morning and afternoon rush-hour time frames.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“There are some really good things happening.”
So declared West Seattle/South Park’s rep on the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, its newly elected vice president Leslie Harris, as she assessed changes in the district, one year after her election changed her role from outsider to insider. Increased transparency, in particular, is one of the “good things” she’s happy about. She’s also glad for something small, yet big – the district home page finally has a button linking directly to the School Board section (it’s toward the upper right), whereas previously you had to click through several layers to find board info.
These observations came on Saturday afternoon, as Harris opened one of her periodic community-conversation meetings, this time at Delridge Library. She also was clear that not everything is rosy. Not at all. She also was clear she wasn’t complaining. “I asked for the job. It’s a very uncomfortable job.”
More than 15 people were there to hear Harris also address – and listen to concerns about – the district’s potential $74 million budget shortfall, and other issues, such as boundaries and the Student Assignment Plan that’s coming up for a board vote after “lots of things got dropped in at the last minute.”
One of those drop-ins: The district’s announcement that Chief Sealth International High School was to become part of the international-education pathway for students in the Southeast section of the city, not a popular decision. Sealth was chosen because other high schools’ principals didn’t feel they could handle it, Harris explained. She also acknowledged that the International Baccalaureate program, offered at a handful of high schools including Sealth, “has never been set up in a sustainable fashion for the extra money and the extra teachers and the more expensive course work …”
Harris’s introductory remarks were followed by attendees’ self-introductions, including what concerns had brought each person to the meeting. Most were from outside West Seattle and concerned about a controversy related to the assignment plan.
As mentioned in our daily highlights list, the West Seattle High School boys-varsity basketball team plays for the second night in a row tonight, again at home, hosting Rainier Beach at 7 pm. Last night, they beat Bishop Blanchet, 65-33. That was one of four home games on the peninsula – the WSHS girls also faced Blanchet last night, losing 64-60. The Chief Sealth International High School girls, meantime, beat Holy Names, 64-56, while the Sealth boys fell to O’Dea, 85-79.
That video produced by Seattle Public Schools features Mike Popelka, who’s been teaching at Roxhill Elementary in West Seattle for seven years. He’s being spotlighted on the district website right now for receiving a prestigious Fulbright Award, which will take him to The Netherlands:
… Popelka recently accepted a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant. The longtime kindergarten teacher is one of only 45 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad this year through Fulbright’s teaching program.
While in The Netherlands, Popelka will study the Dutch educational system – specifically how the system supports minority and immigrant students. Later, he plans to translate his study into practice both at Roxhill and across the district. His goal is to help find a way to help eliminate opportunity gaps for his students and all students.