Seattle Public Schools teachers’ contract talks resume tomorrow, with union-set deadline

August 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 44 Comments

Seattle Public Schools and its teachers union, the Seattle Education Association, resume contract talks tomorrow. The union has set a deadline for voting on either a contract or a strike: September 3rd, which is less than a week before the new school year starts on September 9th. The vote date was set at a union membership meeting downtown tonight. A union news release says that after 20+ negotiating sessions:

… The two sides remain far apart on:

Professional pay
Guaranteed student recess
Fair teacher evaluations
Reasonable testing
Student equity around discipline and the opportunity gap
The district’s proposal to make teachers work more for free

The district’s most-recent update was a news release on Friday, addressing some of those points. Excerpts:

Higher Standards

…The district is proposing to add thirty (30) minutes of instructional time to the school day for students, to support higher standards and state mandates. …

Equity and the Achievement Gap

Both the district and SEA care deeply about these issues. I am confident we will find common ground to address equity issues to close the achievement gap. …


…SEA has proposed a salary increase of 21% over a three year contract period. SPS has countered with a salary increase of 7% over the same three year contract period.

See the full district release here. The teachers’ current contract expires on August 31st.

Westside School days away from dedicating new campus; EC Hughes likely to reopen as public elementary

August 21, 2015 at 9:36 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 5 Comments

Westside School is finishing the transformation of the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church campus into its new permanent home. Westside (a longtime WSB sponsor) has announced August 29th – one week from tomorrow – as the date for its grand opening:

Westside School will host the grand opening of its new campus on Saturday, August 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in West Seattle’s Arbor Heights neighborhood. The Westside School community will gather to celebrate the move into its permanent home with a ribbon cutting, tours, food trucks and more.

Construction at the new location began in early 2013. The building is a complete renovation of the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church and features 53,000 square feet dedicated to teaching and learning: 27 classrooms; light-filled, child centered work spaces; a beautiful library; separate, team-oriented middle school classrooms; a 450 seat auditorium; green space, and warm and inviting gathering spaces where students, teachers, parents and visitors can connect, share, and meet.

Westside School was founded in 1981 by a group of educators and parents who wanted a positive and self-esteem building school experience for their children. Today, Westside School is the only accredited NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools) pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school located in West Seattle, with 340 students enrolled in for the 2015 – 2016 school year. Over the past few years, the school has grown into one of the largest pre-kindergarten through eighth grade independent schools in the region. Westside School’s mission is to prepare students for the world by challenging them to achieve academic success and by connecting their human spirit to imagination and learning.

Westside’s administration has moved to the new campus, while its camp and Sing Out Seattle will continue their programs at the school’s old campus, the former EC Hughes Elementary, until summer’s end. The plan for what happens to that campus in Sunrise Heights, leased and fixed up by Westside five years ago and recently designated a city landmark, has changed:

While Seattle Public Schools had been saying Hughes would be used as an emergency/interim site after Westside’s move, the district is now moving toward renovating and reopening it to add more elementary capacity in West Seattle. It’s at on the list of proposed projects for one of the levies the district plans to take to Seattle voters next February. The district has not finalized the levy plan yet, but the Hughes plan is already on a “request for qualifications” the district circulated this summer (cached here – the district website is down as we finish this story):

Project #5: E.C. Hughes Elementary: Located at 7740 34th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98126 on a site area of approximately 160,736 sq. ft. The school was constructed in 1926 with a three story classroom addition completed in 1949. This project will modernize the existing 47,307 sq. ft. school to provide permanent space for up to 490 students, grades K-5. Construction is anticipated to begin by February 2018 and be substantially complete by July 2019. The construction budget is anticipated to be approximately $15 million to $17 million including hazardous material abatement and offsite improvements. Funding for the project is provided by the State through a Distressed School Grant and BTA IV capital levy dollars. If BTA IV is passed, the project total cost will be approximately $24 million to $26 million dollars.

Before the BTA levy is finalized, the district plans a series of community meetings next month, including one in our area – 6:30 pm Monday, September 28th, at West Seattle High School.

Former South Seattle College president Jill Wakefield to retire from history-making chancellor job

August 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Almost seven years after the news that Dr. Jill Wakefield was being promoted from South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) president to chancellor of its parent system, she has decided to retire. From this afternoon’s announcement:

After 40 years with Seattle Colleges, Chancellor Jill Wakefield has announced her retirement, effective June 2016. She was appointed as chancellor in 2009, becoming the district’s first female in that position. When she retires, she will be the longest-serving chancellor in the district’s history.

Dr. Wakefield started with the district as a program assistant in the veterans office at South Seattle Community College, then served as public information officer, director of development, vice president for institutional advancement, and vice president for instruction, as well as president from 2003 to 2008. She succeeded Charles Mitchell as chancellor.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to have spent my professional career with Seattle Colleges,” says Dr. Wakefield. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to represent this great district and its talented educators and staff, and I believe we have a solid foundation in place to educate tomorrow’s workforce.”

Dr. Wakefield’s focus this final year includes:
· Getting more students to the finish line by improving recruitment, retention, and completion.
· Meeting workforce training needs in high-demand areas.
· Continuing to offer high-demand, high-quality transfer programs with clear pathways to universities.
· Establishing sustainable public and private funding sources.
· Ensuring the new Health Education Center in Pacific Tower is fully operational. …

A subcommittee of the board will lead the search for a new chancellor.

Read more about Dr. Wakefield and the transition here.

West Seattle schools: New ‘multi-age’ co-op class launching

August 19, 2015 at 11:20 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Something new this year from West Seattle’s cooperative preschools: A “multi-age” co-op class. We found out about it while talking recently with Judy Hall, who oversees the South Seattle College Cooperative Preschools program that has operated for years at multiple locations around this area. As explained on the flyer:

Have you ever been curious about cooperative preschool but couldn’t quite make it fit your schedule? Do you have more than one preschool-age child? Could you use a little parent coaching to smooth out the rough spots in your parenting journey? Would you benefit from finding a strong support system of parents like you?

If so, you can contact Judy to find out about possibly being part of the new program, which will meet Fridays at the Alki Co-op Preschool site. She’s at and 206-938-2278.

P.S. Again this fall, the Cooperative Preschools will be the beneficiary of the West Seattle Monster Dash. It’s set for Saturday, October 24th, at Lincoln Park, 5K at 9 am and kids’ dash at 10 am, costumes encouraged (with a contest at 10:30) – you can register by going here.

West Seattle schools: Why students are at many elementaries today

August 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

The first day of classes for Seattle Public Schools is still weeks away, but hundreds of students are on site this week at many schools in West Seattle, for Kindergarten Jump Start. It’s a voluntary “weeklong experience for new kindergarteners and their families to learn about their new school.” Most participating schools will have half-day sessions all week, 9 am-noon. According to the district flyer, schools participating in our area are Alki, Arbor Heights (at Boren), Concord, Fairmount Park, Gatewood, Highland Park, Lafayette, Pathfinder, Roxhill, and Sanislo.

West Seattle’s first charter school to open in August 2016 after getting state-commission approval today

August 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 31 Comments

(June 2015 WSB photo of future charter-school site at 35th & Roxbury)

Summit Public Schools has just cleared a major hurdle in its plan to open West Seattle’s first charter school at the site of what’s currently the Freedom Church/Jesus Center at 35th and Roxbury – the state Charter School Commission, chaired by West Seattle resident Steve Sundquist, approved the plan today at a meeting in Georgetown.

Summit, a California-based organization, is opening its first two Washington schools this fall, in the International District and in Tacoma, and plans to open this one in fall of next year, phasing in middle- and high-school grades over four years, starting with 6th and 9th grades in year 1. As we’ve reported during coverage going back to January, Washington Charter School Development already has purchased the site for $4.75 million and plans first to remodel its supermarket-turned-church building, later adding onto it.

We’re seeking comment from Summit managers, who told us last month that as soon as this approval came through, they would proceed full speed ahead with setting up the school and recruiting students. By authorization of state voters, charter schools get public funding, and are open to all; Summit told us last month that if more students apply than they have room for, they’ll use a lottery to assign the spots.

West Seattle schools: Portable classroom arriving at Pathfinder early Friday

August 13, 2015 at 11:28 am | In Pigeon Point, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

“No Parking” signs are up in the Pigeon Point area already, to clear space for movement of a portable classroom scheduled to be delivered early tomorrow at Pathfinder K-8. Tom Redman from Seattle Public Schools sends word of the impending delivery; he had mentioned earlier this summer that Pathfinder was among the local schools that would get portables before the new school year. He didn’t have delivery-route specifics, but Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point tells WSB the signs are up “on Andover from Delridge to 21st Ave SW, then all along the west side of 21st to Genesee and then on both sides of Genesee to 19th.”

UPDATE: Fireworks blamed for Madison Middle School field fire

August 10, 2015 at 5:11 pm | In West Seattle fires, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 13 Comments

5:11 PM: Thanks to Charlie G. for photos from another brush fire this afternoon – one that broke out just as the Arroyos response was starting to wind down. This one was reported around 2:45 pm on the northwest side of >Madison Middle School, at 46th and Hinds.

Scanner traffic indicated that firefighters were getting a quick handle on it, so we didn’t break away to go to this scene, but Charlie’s photos show it’s likely to have left behind enough charred grass to raise questions for passersby. We’re checking with SFD to see if they determined a cause – firefighters called for Marshal 5 (the investigative unit) fairly quickly, but had to wait until after the investigator was done at the Arroyos fire scene.

7:29 PM: We’ve just confirmed with Seattle Fire spokesperson Kyle Moore that the fire was sparked by somebody setting off a bottle rocket – not only illegal, but more dangerous than ever in these tinder-dry conditions, and this is another reminder.. Moore says the fire burned about 200 square feet near the Madison field.

West Seattle scene: City Serve spruces up Sanislo Elementary

August 9, 2015 at 8:05 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle religion, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

More community-volunteer TLC for Sanislo Elementary. Principal Bruce Rhodes shares the photos and report:

City Serve West Seattle, a group of West Seattle churches, partnered to beautify Sanislo Elementary School. The churches came Saturday, August 1st, and painted the kindergarten areas, the hallways, and the gym in bright yellow.

Additionally, the group completed cleaning up the grounds work!

Bruce Rhodes, Principal, and the Staff and Students at Sanislo are appreciative of the gift that City Serve has given to make our school a more pleasant place to learn.

This was one of four locations around West Seattle visited by church volunteers from the City Serve group that day. (We would be happy to add information crediting the full list of participating churches if someone directly involved e-mails us – – thanks!)

ADDED TUESDAY: Thanks to Kathie for adding that list in comments:

Over 200 people volunteered from 10 West Seattle area churches at Roxhill and Sanislo Elementary Schools, White Center Food Bank and the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. Faith Communities involved were: All Souls, Bethany West Seattle, Grace Church, Hope Lutheran, New City Church, Skate Church, Trinity West Seattle, Union Gospel Mission, West Side Presbyterian, and Young Life West Seattle.

You can help! Be part of the ‘town hall’ about Highland Park Elementary

August 3, 2015 at 2:17 pm | In Highland Park, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

On August 17th of last year, an important conversation was convened at the Highland Park Improvement Club – community, city, and school leaders talking about how best to support Highland Park Elementary School.

On August 17th of this year – two weeks from tonight – you’re invited to the school library for the next installment in that conversation. Announced today:

*Highland Park Elementary School Town Hall Meeting*

Monday, August 17, 2015 @ 6:30 pm
Highland Park Elementary School Library, 1012 SW Trenton

The Highland Park Elementary PTA invites the community to a meeting to discuss our neighborhood school. We will learn about results from this past year, what the plan is for continued improvement, and the long-term vision for the future of Highland Park Elementary.

*Questions? Contact HPE PTA President Holly Briscoe,*

The school’s population continues to grow, projected at about 385 students in the coming school year.

Later school starts for teens/tweens? Here’s what Seattle Public Schools might do, and how to let the district know what you think

August 3, 2015 at 11:47 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 42 Comments

After years of talk and one year of official analysis, Seattle Public Schools is looking at action on changing schedules so that older students would start school later. Next step in the decision about “bell times” involves public comment, including a meeting in West Seattle.

First, here’s the schedule changes (updated) recommended to district superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland by the Bell Times Task Force:

High Schools – 8:50 AM to 3:20 PM
Most Elementary Schools – 8 AM to 2:10 PM (a few elementary schools yet to be identified would be 8:50 AM to 3 PM)
Middle and K-8 Schools – 9:40 AM to 4:10 PM

The public meeting scheduled for West Seattle is set for 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 29th, at Chief Sealth International High School, but you don’t have to wait that long to tell the district what you think: Send your comment(s) to

P.S. In connection with the bell-times analysis, the district has published a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement about potential effects of the changes such as transit and park impacts. You can see it here; comments on the potential impacts can be sent to

ADDED 12:35 PM: Thanks to Lynn for pointing out in comments that the times listed above are the task force’s recommendation TO the superintendent, who hasn’t made his recommendation yet; we have amended the line above to reflect that. See more background in this announcement.

West Seattle High School reminder: Playing a fall sport? Get ready!

August 3, 2015 at 10:12 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 3 Comments

Though summer vacation is only half over, it’s time for some families to start thinking about next school year – including those with students who are playing fall high-school sports. West Seattle High School athletic director Trevor Leopold asked if we would share this reminder (in particular, note the last line, as health-care providers often book up far in advance):

If your child is playing a Fall sport, packets will not be accepted over the summer. Packets will be accepted starting Wednesday August 12th with a deadline of Friday August 14th. Packets turned in after Friday August 14th may affect your practice opportunities. There will NOT be accepting participation fees at this time. However, there will be a possibility of a small equipment fee in the fall.

The first day of football begins on Wednesday August 19th; all other sports start on Monday August 24th. Before you can participate in your sport, you need to attend a Parent/Athlete meeting to get all the information for the season. The following dates will be reserved for each sport:

Monday, August 17th – Football and Girls Swimming
Wednesday, August 19th – Volleyball and Golf
Thursday, August 20th – Girls Soccer and Cross Country

All meetings will start promptly at 6 pm.

If you have participated in a sport at WSHS in the past, you can leave after your coach has provided you with all the information for the upcoming season. If you are new to WSHS or never played a sport before, you need to stay for a short Code of Conduct meeting with Athletic Director Trevor Leopold. Please make sure if you have not done so, SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR ATHLETIC PHYSICALS NOW with your doctor.

(We always welcome school news – – thanks!)

West Seattle schools: Milestone for new Arbor Heights Elementary

July 29, 2015 at 6:07 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments

(Photo by Scott Thomas)
11 months after crews began the process of building the new Arbor Heights Elementary by demolishing the old one, construction has reached a milestone, with structural steel going up. Both Scott Thomas and Darren Pilon sent photos today.

(This photo and next by Darren Pilon)
We also have an update on the construction plan – Seattle Public Schools is building to the maximum possible capacity, about 660, rather than to the smaller option, 500 students. This is according to district spokesperson Tom Redman; the decision had not been made when the last pre-construction community meeting was held, nor had it been made when we asked a few times in the ensuing months.

Arbor Heights students and staff will spend their second year in interim quarters at the Boren Building starting in September, with enrollment projected at about 400. As of right now, the plan to occupy the new building for the 2016-2017 school year is still on. That’s three years earlier than what the district was planning until the Arbor Heights community convinced SPS leadership that they couldn’t serve students appropriately for that much longer in the old, crumbling buildings.

‘Something more to contribute’: Award-winning music leader Marcus Pimpleton announces he’s leaving Denny and Sealth

July 29, 2015 at 10:08 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS culture/arts | 13 Comments

Our area’s most-renowned music educator has announced he’s leaving for a new career direction, in another school district. Multiple award winner Marcus Pimpleton has told the Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School communities about his departure; he’s staying with the summertime Seattle Public Schools-wide All-City Band program, but otherwise, he is moving into a school-administration role in the Bellevue district. With permission, we share his e-mail announcement in its entirety:

To my Denny and Chief Sealth Family,

It is with mixed emotions that I formally share the news that I will be leaving the Denny and Sealth community this fall to accept the position of Assistant Principal at Interlake High School in the Bellevue School District. I have had the privilege of working with the band students of Denny and Sealth for over 13 years now and it has been a source of great joy and the highlight of my life thus far. It is a tremendous understatement for me to say that this was a difficult process.

Denny and Sealth will forever hold a special place in my heart, both from my time as a student and as an educator. My time at Denny and Sealth has been full of amazing memories and milestones I shall not soon forget. I have been blessed to be a part of thousands of students making their way through the transformational power and discipline music. From the Denny Dolphin Marching Band’s first parade as the only middle school marching band in Seattle Public Schools, to the numerous middle and high school trips to places like New Orleans, New York, Washington D.C., Honolulu and Anaheim, it has been a tremendous ride. There have been amazing partnerships with local artists and community organizations as well as some pretty phenomenal concerts including the Music Night Out, Soul Jambalaya, and Band Jam. Together we have coordinated over 300 student musical performances in school and community events locally, regionally, and nationally – concrete opportunities for students to apply and demonstrate their learning in real and meaningful ways as opposed to a standardized test. It has been a tremendous blessing for me to have had this opportunity to live, learn, and serve in my community, and I pray for your continued musical success in the years ahead.

Over this past school year I have done a great deal of reflecting on the past and thinking about the future through the University of Washington’s Danforth Educational Leadership program and while I love engaging students in music making activities, I have come to believe that I have something more to contribute to the profession in developing the capacity of adults and of school systems for the improvement of the learning experience provided to our students most in need. The opportunity to learn and serve in a highly successful, highly diverse setting as a part of a strong and experienced leadership team like the one at Interlake High School is really the best thing for my career, professional learning, and goals. This new role will provide me with the next step and prepare me for more effective instructional leadership at home or in another high needs community down the road. I hope that through my example, my students will see learning as a lifelong pursuit and find the fortitude to pursue their calling and take the necessary risks in order to grow.

To my students, I want you to know that of the many aspects of this job that I will miss, the most difficult part will be leaving all of you. It has been fun watching you all as you came in, many times as tiny fourth graders to one of our spring break or summer music camps, and to watch your growth as musicians and leaders as you approached your departure for college. While I would have loved nothing more than to continue working with all of you, I believe that every student, in every school deserves access to rich and engaging teachers and curriculum and that it takes high quality school leaders to ensure that happens. I want to learn what it takes to be the type of leader that can help to ensure that all students have access to the high level instruction and experiences that put them on the path for successes in school, college, and life. This is a necessary step for me to do that. I will miss working with you all during the school year, but am excited to share that I have been invited to continue as the Director and Program Administrator for the Seattle All-City Marching Band. Next year we will be celebrating our 65th anniversary and it will be my 25th year as a part of that program. I would love to see many of you participating next summer.

Until we meet again,
Marcus J. Pimpleton

As mentioned in his announcement, Pimpleton himself is an alumnus of both Sealth and Denny. We will be following up with Denny and Sealth principals to ask about plans for who will be leading the programs he’s leaving. (Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand, taken during last Friday’s Band Jam at SWAC)

West Seattle scene: Freshening up the Sanislo playground

July 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments

Thanks to Denise for the photos from Sanislo Elementary School‘s playground, which she reports, “has a new coat of paint! Per [principal] Mr. Rhodes, a Sanislo parent/family repainted the playground. So nice & bright for the kids!”

Seattle Public Schools students are at the exact midpoint of summer vacation – six weeks since the last day of last year, six weeks to the first day of next year (September 9th). Are you having a school-beautification project before the fall? Please consider letting us know ( so we can cover it – thanks!

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Official state hearing for what would be West Seattle’s first charter school

July 21, 2015 at 6:12 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 55 Comments

SUMMARY: Twenty people spoke tonight at the only local hearing the Washington Charter School Commission will have for Summit Public Schools‘ proposal to open West Seattle’s first charter school in a supermarket-turned-church building in Arbor Heights. Only one was a charter-school critic. Another voiced some skepticism. The other 17, including Summit employees and even a recent graduate from a Bay Area Summit school, voiced strong support. The speakers were chosen in a drawing; when they were done, time remained, and many more numbers were called, but almost all those ticketholders seemed to have vanished. Meantime, the commission will make its decision in mid-August and is still taking written comments.

Below, our as-it-happened coverage of tonight’s meeting:


6:12 PM: We’re at what will become, if the state Charter School Commission approves, the home of the first charter school in West Seattle, where three commission members are in attendance for an official public hearing/forum on the proposal. Summit Schools, a California-based charter operator, wants to open a middle-/high-school campus at 9601 35th SW, just purchased by a charter-development firm from Freedom Church (which is leasing back the space until the project gets under way). We’ll be reporting live as the hearing goes.

Joshua Halsey, executive director of the commission (whose members include West Seattleite Steve Sundquist, former member of the Seattle Public Schools board), has just welcomed attendees and explained the process, that the commission will vote to approve or reject Summit’s application in mid-August. Two other commissioners are here, including Trish Millines Dziko, who leads the Technology Access Foundation, which has its headquarters in White Center.

Halsey says speakers will have up to 2 minutes each (longer if they need translation services). A stenographer is here to record the comments. A rough estimate of the crowd? Maybe 100 people, seated in the Freedom pews. Written comments are being accepted, by e-mail and postal mail, between now and July 31st, Halsey says.

And with that, Jen Davis Wickens, Summit’s chief regional officer for Washington, begins her presentation. (We spoke with her for our most-recent story on the proposal, which we’ve been covering since the first of the year, after finding out about it via an application in city Department of Planning and Development files.)

She first shows, on the big screens here in the cavernous former supermarket, a shot from “signing day,” a celebration of college acceptance among Summit schools.

Click to read the rest of AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Official state hearing for what would be West Seattle’s first charter school…

West Seattle schools: 3 more portables headed for Schmitz Park

July 14, 2015 at 9:04 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

West Seattle’s most populous elementary school, Schmitz Park, is getting three more portables for the coming school year, and Seattle Public Schools says they’ll be delivered later this week. One single portable classroom, transported in two sections, is scheduled to arrive around 4:30 am Friday (July 17th); the next day, Saturday around 5:30 am, two single portable classrooms, moved in four sections, are due. SPS says they’re coming from Olympic Hills Elementary in the north end and the route/date/time are all determined by SDOT for city streets, WSDOT for the I-5 portion of the move. You’ll see “No Parking” signs placed today where they’ll be needed.

According to the most-recent enrollment projections we found online, SPE is expecting 642 students this fall; that’s up more than 30 from last year and just a few under the capacity for which its new campus is being built on Genesee Hill (scheduled to open in fall 2016). Meantime, SPS also says portables will be moved to Pathfinder K-8 and West Seattle Elementary next month – more on that when it gets closer.

What might West Seattle’s first charter school be like? Here’s what Summit Public Schools’ regional executive says

July 8, 2015 at 10:30 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 33 Comments

(WSB photo, June 2015: 35th/Roxbury site purchased for charter-school development)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before California-based charter-school operator Summit Public Schools even opens its first two campuses in our state, it’s in the thick of awareness-raising for its pending-state-approval third one, a middle/high school at a supermarket-turned-church in Arbor Heights.

That awareness-raising includes a public forum at the planned West Seattle site on July 21st – a key test Summit must pass before the state Charter School Commission decides whether to let it go ahead with its plan (which is spelled out in this 472-page application).

We’ve been reporting on the Arbor Heights plan since we dug early word out of a city file at the start of the year. But much of our coverage in the ensuing six months has focused on the physical plan for the school, planned for the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury, the property recently sold by Freedom Church/Jesus Center to Washington Charter School Development for $4.75 million. Meanwhile, our reports have sparked comment discussions on what might or might not happen at the school. While voters in our state approved charter schools – which are public schools, run with public dollars (explained here) – three years ago, so far only one is open.

More are about to launch – the prospective operator of West Seattle’s first charter school, Summit, is getting ready to open two charter high schools in the International District and in Tacoma next month. The school year starts in mid-August; they’re moving into the locations on August 3rd. While overseeing all that, the woman in charge of Summit’s operations in this state – including the West Seattle middle/high school – sat down with us for a conversation this week.

Click to read the rest of What might West Seattle’s first charter school be like? Here’s what Summit Public Schools’ regional executive says…

One West Seattle classroom for 1st year of city preschool program

July 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

When the levy-funded Seattle Preschool Program launches this fall, one of its first 12 classrooms will be in West Seattle. That’s according to a city announcement sent to media outlets today, listing the locations at which the program will begin this September. The announcement says the Community Day School Association, including a location described as “Delridge,” will be among the first providers. For specifics, we followed up with Jason Kelly from Mayor Murray’s office, which sent the announcement; he says the CDSA site at Highland Park Elementary will have one classroom for the SPP. If you’re interested in applying for a spot in the program – which the city says will expand year by year, find the application here.

West Seattle High School Class of 1970: Almost reunion time!

July 1, 2015 at 8:50 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

Thanks to Verne for sharing this in case you or somebody you know graduated from West Seattle High School in 1970:

We are looking forward to seeing you Saturday July 18th, 12-4 pm. Class of ’70 is having “Our 45th Reunion Potluck Picnic” at Alki Shelter #1 (the only shelter) on the grass by 61st and 62nd SW and Alki Ave. Come down and join your classmates for some casual fun in the sun. We had enough funds for the shelter and 4 tables, so this is free this time. Might want to bring a chair, something to share, and beverage; we’ll have some water and paper plates available. We don’t have everyone’s emails so please forward this to your classmate friends and invite them to join us. We hope to see you there. I bet we see some kids, grandkids, and dogs too.

Your reps, Cathy Westwood McLynne and Jami Hanning Vaux

P.S. You can use the “Share This” button below this story to do exactly what they suggest – options include e-mailing the link as well as sharing to your favorite social-media channel.

35th/Roxbury charter-school updates: Site sale finalized; new development plan; local forum scheduled

June 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 37 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Four updates today on the planned charter middle/high school at what’s now the Freedom Church/Jesus Center on the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury, almost six months after we discovered the proposal:

DEAL CLOSED: The nonprofit that’s developing the school for California-based charter operator Summit Public Schools, Washington Charter School Development, has closed the deal to buy the property. King County records show the purchase price was $4,750,000, almost $2 million more than the site’s 2008 sale price.

TWO-PHASE SITE DEVELOPMENT: Once we found the records of the purchase, we started checking on the status of the plan to remodel and add onto the former supermarket building at the site, and discovered a change in the plan: It’s now going to be developed in two phases, confirms a spokesperson for WCSD, which is affiliated with Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development. First, they’ll remodel the existing building, and they’ve applied for a building permit to do that. The proposed additions (shown here a month ago) would be in a second phase. The school itself would be phased in anyway – Summit says it would start with 6th and 9th grades and add middle/high grades each year until fully enrolled as 6th through 12th.

CHURCH STAYING TFN: Summit Public Schools is still more than a year away from its proposed opening (and awaiting state approval, required because charter schools operate with public funding). So in the meantime, WCSD says, Freedom Church/Jesus Center is “renting back the building for the near future to allow the Church to continue providing its outstanding and award-winning community service in West Seattle while plans for the school are being finalized.” In addition to the church, the center also works with a variety of community programs and partners, including the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.

PUBLIC FORUM NEXT MONTH: According to the calendar for the Washington Charter School Commission – which will have to approve Summit’s application (linked here) before it can open the school – a public forum is planned at the site as part of the process (as mentioned in our previous update), 6 pm July 21st.

West Seattle High School athlete in the house? Read this

June 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | Comments Off

School’s out but some students are preparing for next school year already – which leads to a reminder from West Seattle High School athletic director Trevor Leopold, who asked us to share it: Summer conditioning is available for all athletes playing next year, including incoming threshold – “report to the WSHS weight room at 9 am tomorrow” (Monday, June 22nd). If you didn’t turn in the packet(s) for the fall-sport player(s) in the family by this past Friday, your next chance starts Wednesday, August 12th, with the deadline Friday, August 14th; Leopold says the school “will NOT be accepting participation fees at this time. However, there will be a possibility of a small equipment fee in the fall.” Sport-specific information ahead:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle High School athlete in the house? Read this…

Explorer West students share idea for creating low-cost housing

June 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle schools | 6 Comments

(From left, teacher Tim, students Jackson, Grant, Henry, Riley)

As we noted in an earlier story, Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) 8th graders are tasked with working in groups on major projects to research, plan, and present big ideas to “change the world.” Rather than just let their ideas and proposals stay within the confines of the campus, most if not all of the groups found ways to share them with the community. In the case of one group, its members wrote a story about their project and invited us to publish it:

Four Explorer West Middle School students – Riley Walden, Jackson Cecil, Henry Burton, and Grant Gerberding – started a project to reduce homelessness in King County and Seattle.

The project assigned by History/Social Studies teacher Tim Owens was to research, plan, do, and analyze the data, then present it to panelists. They decided to research on housing for homeless people.

One of the group members, Riley Walden, pitched his idea of using retrofitted shipping containers as temporary or even permanent homes. They decided to specifically work on this idea, and with more research, they found that Seattle was a perfect place to house the containers.

Click to read the rest of Explorer West students share idea for creating low-cost housing…

Congratulations to South Seattle College’s Class of 2015!

June 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

(Members of the 2015 graduating class – photo courtesy South Seattle College)
Tonight at Benaroya Hall downtown, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) became this year’s final West Seattle school to celebrate its commencement. The photo and announcement are from SSC:

South Seattle College celebrated the achievements of its 2015 graduating class at the 45th Commencement … All told, more than 800 graduates received degrees and certificates surrounded by cheering family, friends and South faculty.

“Graduates, you need to be very pleased and proud of your accomplishments and completion of your certificates, two-year and four-year degrees,” South Seattle College President Gary Oertli said to the full house at Benaroya Hall. “I’m truly proud and honored to share this special occasion with you. Your hard work, drive, and commitment have helped you earn this special day.”

This year’s commencement address was delivered by Class of 2015 graduate David Yama. Yama, who dropped out of high school at the age of 14, started at South to earn his GED, and today will graduate with an associate of science degree. This year, Yama has been recognized as the top-scholar on the All-Washington Academic Team and also earned a spot on the All-USA academic team as the top-scholar. During the ceremony, Yama was honored by Congressman Jim McDermott for his outstanding academic accolades. Yama will continue his education in pursuit of a doctorate thanks in large part to the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which he will be awarded with a value of up to $40,000/year for the next three years.

South’s 2015 graduating class is as diverse as the degrees and certificates they obtained. Awards included bachelor of applied-science degrees, associate transfer degrees (which open up the opportunity to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to pursue bachelor’s degrees), high-school diplomas, and associate degrees and certificates that prepare graduates to enter the workforce with desirable skill sets.

Summer quarter at South will begin on Monday, June 29.

For coverage of our area’s high-school graduations, see the links on the right sidebar.

Student safety: How SPD followed up after chief’s Denny visit

June 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle police, West Seattle schools, Westwood | 2 Comments

(WSB photo from June 1st @ Denny)
Two weeks after Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole visited Denny International Middle School and heard students request more help from police in staying safe (WSB coverage here), members of her department followed up to start making good on that promise. Southwest/South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon shares these notes of what happened when they visited the Denny/Sealth campus this past Monday, one day before the last day of school, particularly to lay the groundwork for a safer start next fall:

* SPD Reps met up with students and staff at 12:40 at classroom

* Walked SW Kenyon Street between 2600 Block and Delridge SW

* Walked from Kenyon & Delridge to Holden & Delridge; observed Holden Stairs; returned to Denny via same route

* Mark drove routes between Denny/Sealth Campus and Westwood Village to observe areas about which students expressed concerns.

* SPD Officers spoke with students about ways to minimize their chances for victimization (Robbery/Assault)

* Discussed the possibility of SPD officers getting together with students at the beginning of the school year to discuss safety measures; being proactive and focus on prevention vs. being reactionary.

Measures in Progress

* Mark will work with Youth Ambassadors and Denny Staff through the summer to engage surrounding neighbors to form Block Watch groups with have Denny/Sealth student safety as a prime focus.

* Mark will facilitate communication between the Youth Ambassadors Program and The Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative regarding the Safe Passages Program (a group of adult volunteers who provide a presence in the Rainier Beach community between the 1400-1800 hrs on school days to deter youth violence and disorder). The goal is to try to implement this program for the Denny/Sealth campus area by the fall of 2015.


* Raise tree canopy on SW Kenyon Street Between 2400 – 2600 Blocks. Tree canopy should be no lower than 8′ to ensure good lines of sight for pedestrians transiting SW Kenyon ST.

* Request SDOT conduct additional vegetation clearing at dead end of SW Kenyon ST & 24th Ave SW.

* Request SDOT conduct vegetation clearing along trail/walkway/bridge over creek between Delridge WY SW & 24th Ave SW along SW Kenyon Street (Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail).

* Request additional vegetation clearing be done on the Holden Stairs, between Delridge WY SY & 20th Ave SW. (possible return of the goat herd?)

* Request vegetation clearing along the non-through streets of 26th Ave SW, 25th Ave SW and the North/South Alley that runs parallel between those two streets, between SW Thistle Street and SW Trenton ST. Students use these corridors to transit anyway; let’s open them up to reduce cover and concealment.

* SPD conduct student safety assembly at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

VIDEO: Congratulations, Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2015!

June 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, Westwood | 4 Comments

(Sealth staff & students’ procession at start of this afternoon’s ceremony)

Story by Tracy Record
Photos/video by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers


You probably know that’s short for “You Only Live Once.” It started and ended what language-arts teacher Breanna Whited told the Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2015 at its graduation ceremony this afternoon. (More on her speech later.)

Though commencement is considered to be the start of the rest of graduates’ lives, as Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer detailed, the 267 graduating seniors already have achieved quite bit. She went through a long list of achievements including more than 20,000 hours in community service and $1.2 million in college scholarships.

The principal noted some of the class’s “bold” accomplishments – from a World Water Week focus on the unglamorous but life-saving topic of toilets, to Hafid Yassin‘s dunk seen ’round the world.

The first student to speak was Timothy Wo, who observed that “we’re all thinking right now … ‘it’s over’.” (That’s him in the frame grab below, but the video is of the entirety of the rest of the ceremony, beginning with the principal’s speech.)

To get to “the promised land of graduation,” he said, he and his classmates “crossed the land of procrastination.” Whatever lies ahead for them in the immediate future, he expressed confidence they would “reap success, whatever it is, and make it into whatever it can be.”

Another student speaker, Monica Harris, urged her classmates to “stand tall – we have nothing to fear.”

And she celebrated the fact that “by persevering, we have proven we deserve to be here today.” The proud family and friends had proven that too, and they were saluted during the ceremony.

They of course exhibited plenty of exhilaration themselves:

Back to staff speaker Whited, introduced as “hilarious and beautiful.”

She spoke warmly and personally to her now-former students, saying she watched them while chaperoning the senior prom three weeks ago: “It was OK for me to cry there, which I did, because I had to be strong to speak to all of you today.”

Mentioning she was a 1985 high-school graduate, she said, “I am you in 30 years … and yes, you’ll still be this fabulous.” With the help, Whited continued, of three things to remember, starting with: “Apologize quickly, even when you are right – you will be loved and you will be happy. It’s better to be happy than to be right.”

The essence of her other advice: Shut down your “negative self-talk,” and “do what you love,” which she said she’s been doing for decades. And shortly thereafter, the Chief Sealth Class of 2015 was off to find a way to follow her advice.

OTHER NOTES: One of the valedictorians and the salutatorian, Sophia Boyd and Olivia Boyd, are sisters, and the daughters of former longtime CSIHS principal John Boyd. Samuel Orlin also is valedictorian. … SPS executive director of southwest schools Israel Vela had a stand-in, northwest ED Jon Halfaker, because he was at his son’s graduation in Kent … Last year, umbrellas were in use because of the threat of rain; this year, one was in view because of the sun:

Congratulations! Madison students honored @ districtwide Science & Engineering Fair

June 12, 2015 at 9:00 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

Thanks to Madison Middle School science teacher Fred Jenner for sharing word of students’ success at the districtwide Science & Engineering Fair – and congratulations to the winners!

Madison students received many awards at the 17th Annual Science & Engineering Fair! There were more than 200 projects displayed from around the district. We are proud to say that we had students from every grade level win awards. Here they are:

Engineering Category (This was the first year that engineering projects were officially part of the fair):

From the 6th Grade:

Best Data Analysis: Will Cell (Project Title: All The Eggs, Less The Mess):

Best Young Inventor: Natalie Hinkey (Project Title: Water Monitor Alarm):

Most Likely To Be Patented: Livia Woelfle (Project Title: The Convertible High Heel Shoe)

From the 7th Grade:

Best Aeronautics Project: Svetoslav Nikolov (Project Title: Which Airplane Wing is the Most Useful and Aerodynamic?)

From the 8th Grade:

Most Original: Alina Guyon (Project Title: Homes For All)

Inquiry Category – From the 8th Grade:

Most Original: Angelique Brock & Madeline Rainwater (Project Title: Fear Factor)

Congratulations to all!

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