FIXING SCHOOL FUNDING: West Seattle-wide invitation for Wednesday conversation

October 12, 2015 at 11:46 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

In the midst of the current school-funding crisis – with schools here and around the city facing the loss of teachers, and voices (including last night’s $70,000 donor) calling for a look at the big picture – here’s your chance for the latter. Just out of the WSB inbox:

Fairmount Park Elementary PTA cordially invites members of the West Seattle Schools Community to join us Wednesday for an overview of the current education funding situation and a candid conversation about how our schools can come together to effect change.

Our Paramount Duty: Getting to the Heart of School Funding in WA
Wednesday, October 14th, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Fairmount Park Elementary School Auditorium
3800 SW Findlay


*Welcome from FPE PTA Leaders
*Show Us The Money: McCleary & Washington State Budget – Heidi Bennett
*Coming together to create change: How can community members work together to address the ongoing funding shortfall in our state?
*Participate in constructive dialog and candid conversation with longtime education advocates and PTA leaders to formulate action items to which our community can commit to moving forward.

FOLLOWUP: Alki Elementary reaches teacher-saving goal with $70,000+ donation; donor says it’s time for ‘some real change’

October 11, 2015 at 11:23 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 64 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:23 PM SUNDAY: Just in: The West Seattle school that was crowdfunding to try to save a teacher from being cut has apparently met its goal. After receiving e-mail announcing that the Alki Elementary fundraising drive had reached its goal thanks to a $70,000+ donation, we checked the crowdfunding page, and the donation is listed there. Donor Brian Jones posted on the page:

This lack of funding has to end. It starts with our state legislature who has dropped the ball and is failing our children. We need to come together as families and support the most important need of our children – education. I donate this money on behalf of my two children, one who entered kindergarten at Loyal Heights this year and the other who will start kindergarten in two years. I am outraged and fed up with this entire issue and the fact that our legislature does not seem that this is an urgent priority. Please contact me at if you feel the same and let’s make some real change. I am ready to lead and make that happen. I’m not a politician. I’m just a pissed off parent, who is sick and tired of the horrible leadership that is failing our children.

ADDED MONDAY 12:25 AM: We e-mailed Brian Jones with a couple questions, to follow up. He replies:

I have two daughters, age 3 and 6. I live in Ballard and have no children that attend school in West Seattle. When my daughter entered Kindergarten this year at Loyal Heights, I learned I had to pay over $2000 to cover the second part of the day. I found that ridiculous and didn’t know why until I learned more about the McCleary decision and the basis of that lawsuit.

The legislature and Governor seem to be taking forever, (and my state rep and senator never even email me back). So when I heard about the lack of funding and teacher pulls, I talked with my wife and we decided that enough was enough and that we would do what we could to help, because our elected officials are failing our children. I don’t know anything about politics, but I do know a child’s education and a loving family is a recipe for success.

The first step that anyone can do is come to the rally this Tuesday at SPS headquarters and learn how our children are taking a back seat to this absolute ridiculous inaction by our elected officials.

After that I plan on galvanizing others to pressure our legislature to move fast and swift regarding this issue or face a movement of parents who will vote them out of office. … I’m not a politician or even “political,” I just can’t stand by and see our education system run like this.

The rally he mentions has also just been mentioned to us by Schmitz Park Elementary parent Rachel Lazar, who’s been a leader in advocacy at that school since this all started circulating on Thursday. It’s set for 4 pm this Tuesday (October 13th) outside district headquarters, 3rd and Lander in SODO.

TEACHER CUTS: California/Admiral streetcorner rally calls for fully funding schools

October 11, 2015 at 2:24 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

2:24 PM: As promised, dozens of local parents are rallying right now at California and Admiral in hopes of raising awareness of the teacher cuts hitting at least five West Seattle schools (among what the district says is approximately 25 citywide). We first reported on the cuts Thursday, with a followup on Friday, and updates on Saturday. In addition to the parents, the people at the rally right now include Schmitz Park principal Gerrit Kischner – whose explanaton to his school’s parents is part of our Friday coverage – and school-board rep Marty McLaren. She told us on Friday that the board had “little power to help in this extremely painful situation.”

SUNDAY EVENING: More photos added. Some signs, like the one above, focus on the sentiment that the district is top-heavy and should cut administration jobs to get more resources into school buildings. There were school-specific sentiments too:

We’ll continue to follow up during the week ahead; the district said in its statement on Friday that final decisions were yet to come.

TEACHER CUTS: Rally at California/Admiral tomorrow; 2 fundraisers for Alki; more

October 10, 2015 at 8:32 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 35 Comments

Two days ago, we reported that at least five West Seattle schools were dealing with the news that they would lose teachers because the district’s enrollment projections had fallen a bit short – along with about 20 other schools around the district. We followed up on Friday with updates including how Schmitz Park Elementary‘s principal explained the situation to families of his first-graders, and early word of a Sunday rally for West Seattleites to show their concern.

Tonight, some updates:

*The start of tomorrow’s rally has been described as “after the Seahawks game” (which starts at 10 am) – approximately 2 pm. Everyone interested in participating is invited to show up at California SW and SW Admiral Way. This is a rally to call attention to the West Seattle-wide situation. Organizers suggest wearing your school’s colors and bringing noisemakers.

*A Tuesday afternoon protest outside Seattle Public Schools headquarters in SODO (4 pm, 3rd and Lander) is being planned.

*Alki Elementary families are expanding fundraising to try to avoid losing a first-grade teacher, in the vein of what Gatewood Elementary did when facing a cut last year. The fundraising now includes two dine-out events announced by the Alki PTA:

-Mission (2325 California SW) is donating 20 percent of food/drink sales tomorrow (Sunday)

-Marination Ma Kai (at Seacrest, 1660 Harbor SW) is donating 15 percent of its food sales 4 pm-8 pm Tuesday (October 13th), according to Patti Johnson from the Alki PTA. She also shared these points about how loss of a teacher affects more than that teacher’s class:

The loss of this one teacher will have an enormous impact to the school and the children.

*First grade class sizes from 21-22 students per class to 26.
*Second grade class size from 23-24 students per class to 26-27.
*Will put at least one classroom in overload status.
*Creation of a 1st-2nd grade combination classroom (in addition to the 4th-5th combination we already have).

In addition to the statistics above, changing classes in-year will have other ramifications and effects on the children:

Learning a new routine takes approximately 2-3 weeks. Students changing to new classrooms will result in all students in those classes losing instructional time because the teacher will have to spend time teaching every class routine to the entire class, again, after having just become proficient in routines from the start of the school year.

Students will spend time meeting their new classmates and new teacher prior to the change in class assignments, thus resulting in more loss of instructional time.

Building custodians and other staff members will take time out of their normal duties to move student furniture (desks) and any other furnishings needed into new classrooms to accommodate the need for more desk, table, and shelf space in the newly assigned classrooms.

School counselors will have to work with students who have anxiety, fear, depression, etc. from loss of stability due to new class assignments. (Some students have pre-existing issues that make them more susceptible to these feelings).

Tutoring time that was intended for intervention of students needing to reduce the achievement gap will be shifted to support students in a split classes.

There will be less Playground Supervisors during two recesses per week for Alki 1st graders because of the reduction of staff members able to do supervision.

Alki also has an online petition:

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

Schmitz Park, whose principal says two 1st-grade classes now will be at 28 students each and a third at 29, also has an online petition, first noted in our Thursday story – find it here.

This one has a broader focus:
*”Our Kids Need Their Teachers – Rethink Budget Cuts” – petition here

And as noted at Schmitz Park on Thursday night, advocacy to elected officials matters most of all – whether you’re involved with any of the affected schools or not, you can help with this.

The district, meantime, as reported on Friday, has responded with this general message.

High-school football: Chief Sealth player hurt in homecoming game vs. Ingraham

October 10, 2015 at 1:50 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | No Comments

At Southwest Athletic Complex on Friday night, Chief Sealth International High School‘s homecoming game vs. Ingraham ended in a 1-point loss, 13-12. But before we get to the details, an update on a frightening incident that stopped the game for a while just before the end of the first half:

Sealth senior Andrew Leota was down for about 20 minutes before being taken to a medic unit. Both teams and their cheer squads made a line to the ambulance and applauded as the stretcher went by.

While injuries are not uncommon at football games, many already had a nearby tragedy on their mind, the death of Evergreen player Kenney Bui after an injury in Burien a week earlier, so that gave this even more gravity. This injury, however, did not appear to be major. Sealth athletic director Ernest Policarpio told us that Andrew thought he “took a helmet to his lower back” and was doing better as he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. The game eventually resumed and the first half was finished. We will be checking on his condition.

Here’s the rest of the story from the game:

Click to read the rest of High-school football: Chief Sealth player hurt in homecoming game vs. Ingraham…

FOLLOWUP: Questions, advocacy emerge as teacher-cut news circulates at local schools; Sunday rally planned; district’s letter

October 9, 2015 at 11:00 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 38 Comments

(UPDATED with new online petitions, plans for a Sunday rally, and more – 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.”

Click to read the rest of FOLLOWUP: Questions, advocacy emerge as teacher-cut news circulates at local schools; Sunday rally planned; district’s letter…

PLAYTIME! Pathfinder K-8′s new playground officially opens

October 9, 2015 at 1:30 am | In Pigeon Point, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

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.

Parents angered to learn that Seattle Public Schools’ fall reshuffle will cut teachers at local schools

October 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 63 Comments

(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 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.

West Seattle schools: Portable leaving WS Elementary on Saturday

October 7, 2015 at 12:16 am | In High Point, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

One more school note: Heads up for the High Point area – a temporary portable used for the start of the school year at West Seattle Elementary will be removed from campus this Saturday morning (October 10th), now that a new one to be used TFN is in place. The district says the 12′ x 56′ modular structure is scheduled to be moved out at 9 am Saturday “via the site access gate at the intersection of 34th and Willow Streets. The city will coordinate with us and may or may not place traffic signs on the street(s) being affected.”

West Seattle schools: Another taste of food literacy at Sanislo

October 6, 2015 at 10:12 pm | In West Seattle books, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

Food literacy was back on the menu today in the Sanislo Elementary library, as Katherine Pryor – author of “Sylvia’s Spinach” and “Zora’s Zucchini” – came to visit. First- and second-graders rotated through over the course of the morning. Sanislo librarian Craig Seasholes featured “Zora …,” the newer of the two books, with kindergarteners back in June, and wrote about it here. Pryor’s publisher is Readers to Eaters, whose co-founder Philip Lee visited Sanislo last year. (Check out all the Readers to Eaters books here.)

Pryor talked to the students about growing food, including how she gardened in the back of a pickup truck one summer. In a re-enactment of the story about Sylvia, they all got to taste spinach leaves, in case they hadn’t before – and we hear some spinach was to be planted in the school garden beds, too.

CONGRATULATIONS! ‘Pathways to Excellence’ awards for Denny IMS, Chief Sealth IHS

October 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments

(Photos courtesy KCTS 9 - above, at Chief Sealth IHS; below, at Denny IMS)
In a program that premiered tonight, KCTS announced that Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School are two of this year’s three “Pathways to Excellence Award” recipients:

KCTS 9 is pleased to announce the 2015 Pathways to Excellence Award winners, recognizing schools in Washington state that are helping low-income students and students of color achieve at higher levels, making measurable progress in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. Each school is improving teaching and learning and expanding connections with families and communities in meaningful ways. The honorees are selected by KCTS 9 in partnership with the Washington State Board of Education.

The 2015 honorees are:

Denny International Middle School, Seattle Public Schools, West Seattle
Chief Sealth International High School, Seattle Public Schools, West Seattle
Chinook Elementary School, Auburn School District, Auburn

My School, Our Future: 2015 — a new half-hour special on KCTS 9 — looks at the three Washington State schools to see how dedicated teachers, families and students are working together to beat the odds. See their stories and those of past award-winners, at

Ensuring that all children, regardless of racial, ethnic or socioeconomic background, have fair and equitable access to quality learning experiences is one of the great challenges of our time. Across the country, schools are struggling to fully serve low-income students and students who have been traditionally underserved — including African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians — and ensure that all students find a pathway to success. When we hear about the opportunity gap — the disparity in access to the quality educational resources needed for all children to be academically successful — the headlines are usually quite grim. Fortunately, some Washington schools are generating good news. These bright spots are an inspiration to parents, teachers, principals and communities, showing that there are strategies that are working to combat the persistent gap in educational equality and provide students with the skills they need to succeed in school and life.

You can watch the feature about Sealth here; about Denny, here. On TV, the full half-hour program about all three schools will be shown on KCTS 9 on October 17th, October 20th, and October 31st – check the schedule for more information.

YOU CAN HELP! Be a tutor for program at 2 West Seattle schools

October 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

A tutoring program serving schools around Seattle, including two here, is looking for help. Maybe you can answer the call. Here’s the announcement:

Invest in Youth is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that provides free tutoring to local elementary students across the city, including at Roxhill Elementary and Fairmount Park Elementary, both in West Seattle. We are looking for volunteer tutors to work with students this school year. Will you join us this fall?

Tutoring begins in early October, runs through May and takes place once every week at one of our six conveniently located schools across the city.

The program is pretty straight-forward. Each tutor is matched with the same student for the whole school year and the pair works together on things like playing math games, reading stories or working on homework, for an hour once a week. Educational materials and activities, training and support, and heartfelt appreciation are provided at every session.

The impact of Invest in Youth’s tutoring program is dramatic:

· 100% of classroom teachers agreed that Invest in Youth was a valuable resource for their students.
· Students in our program made an average gain of 10 points on their MAP tests, which is twice the national average.
· Our volunteers collectively provided more than 3,000 hours of FREE academic support to students in need during the 2014-2015 school year.
· Tutors felt that the lasting bond they form with their student is the most meaningful element of the program.

We are looking for volunteer tutors to join us this fall. Apply today!

For more information or to apply to be a tutor, please visit our website: or contact Alison at Can’t commit to the full school year? Become a substitute tutor or share this with your friends who might be interested.

CONGRATULATIONS! National honors for Chief Sealth International High School Academy of Business

October 5, 2015 at 5:29 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Congratulations to Chief Sealth International High School for again being recognized as having one of the nation’s top career/vocational business academies. From Gary Perkins, who also shared the photos:

For the third consecutive year, the Academy of Business, which includes both the Academy of Finance and Academy of Hospitality & Tourism programs, was awarded “Model Status” by the National Academy Foundation, an award given to only a select number of business academies across the country. NAF is a leader in the movement to prepare young people for college and career success and operates in more than 650 academies across the 50 states. For over 30 years, NAF has refined a proven educational model which included industry-focused curricula, work-based learning opportunities through summer internships and job shadows, and a relationship model that connects the classroom to the workplace.

There are only five NAF academies in the entire state of Washington, with two of those located here at Chief Sealth Int’l. Over the past five years, the graduation rate for the Academy of Business has exceeded 99% and over 95% of those that graduate have gone on to college or post-secondary education.

In the pictures are juniors and seniors from the Academy of Finance and Academy of Hospitality & Tourism. Also included are Gary Perkins (Academy Coordinator/Instructor) and Jenny Austad (Academy Instructor). You can find out more about the program by E-mailing Gary Perkins at

YOU CAN HELP! What Chief Sealth IHS’s Clothing Closet needs

October 5, 2015 at 11:02 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

New and “gently used” items would be greatly appreciated by students in need at Chief Sealth IHS – here’s how to help:

The Clothing Closet is open and looking for donations!

Chief Sealth International High School PTSA — along with CSIHS staff and Key Club — coordinates the Clothing Closet, where students in need can get clothing, school supplies, and toiletries at no cost. The Clothing Closet relies on donations to keep its shelves stocked.

Here are some things that we’re currently in need of:

new men’s and women’s athletic and dress socks
new men’s underwear — preferably stretchy boxer briefs of all sizes
new women’s underwear – preferably cotton bikinis of all sizes
gently used athletic shorts — all sizes
gently used sweatpants, athletic-style pants, yoga pants, and leggings — all sizes
gently used men’s belts — casual and dress

You can drop off donations at the collection box in the Main Office. We’ll also have a collection box outside the Clothing Closet during the Open House on October 8. For more information, please contact Lisa Conley with PTSA at or 206-938-1947.

The school is at 2600 SW Thistle.

High-school football: Chief Sealth Seahawks’ first win of the season

October 3, 2015 at 11:23 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 1 Comment

Thanks to Mel for reporting the score from Memorial Stadium tonight – Chief Sealth International High School over Franklin, 7-6. According to @SealthAthletics tweets, Daron Camacho scored the TD, Baxter Knannlein kicked the extra point. Next Friday night at 7, Sealth is home at Southwest Athletic Complex vs. Ingraham.

High-school football: West Seattle HS vs. Roosevelt at SWAC

October 3, 2015 at 7:33 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | No Comments

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
One local team had a home football game last night – the West Seattle High School Wildcats hosted Roosevelt HS at Southwest Athletic Complex.

The visitors went home with the win – 35-15. Two quarterbacks played for the Wildcats, #18 Carter Golgart (above) – who passed to Nate Pryor for the run that netted WSHS’s first touchdown – and #17 Gabe Gangon (below):

Here’s the game log via MaxPreps. Next week, WSHS goes to Memorial Stadium downtown at 7 pm Thursday night to face Cleveland.

The Wildcats are now 2-3 on the season.

Celebrate the opening of Pathfinder K-8′s new playground

October 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm | In Pigeon Point, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

(WSB photo, August 2014)
That volunteer work party more than a year ago was one of many events along Pathfinder K-8‘s path to its new playground … which is now about to officially open. The Pathfinder PTSA has announced a community celebration for next Thursday afternoon:

Please join us in celebrating our community’s accomplishment and to show appreciation to those who helped make this project possible. Event includes accolades, ice cream and of course, kids demonstrating how to enjoy the new playground!

Thursday, October 8 – 3:30-4:30 pm

Questions to:

The school is at 1901 SW Genesee. Much of the journey to making this a reality – volunteer work, construction, fundraising, sneak previews – is chronicled on the project website.

West Seattle schools: Reopened, expanded E.C. Hughes might be Roxhill Elementary’s new home

September 30, 2015 at 4:06 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 19 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

After our report on Monday night’s Seattle Public Schools levy briefing in West Seattle, a commenter asked a key question: Since the district is saying it plans to reopen E.C. Hughes Elementary (7740 34th SW), in part with money from one of those levies, why isn’t it shown in the district boundaries that are now drawn up through 2020?

Today, we got the answer: “We are considering moving the Roxhill Elementary School program to the E.C. Hughes building,” district spokesperson Tom Redman told WSB today.

This has been suggested before, but it raised capacity questions, as Hughes – closed by SPS in 1989, used as an interim/emergency building until Westside School (WSB sponsor) occupied it as a tenant for the past five years – was built to hold about 300 students. Roxhill’s most-recent enrollment estimate is approaching 400. But if the levy plan – augmented with a state grant – goes forward, the idea is to not just reopen Hughes but also to expand it to a capacity of 550.

The Roxhill building is in poor shape, to say the least, and there was a proposal just three years ago to get the “program” out of the building. At that time, the proposal was to merge it with Arbor Heights Elementary in the expanded AHES that’s now under construction. When that was floated during early discussions of the BEX IV levy, both schools’ principals were taken by surprise. But then-Roxhill principal Carmela Dellino said at the time that she had been talking with School Board member Marty McLaren about a different idea – moving Roxhill to Hughes.

Various discussions ensued but in the end, the Roxhill-AH idea went nowhere, and some were surprised that Roxhill didn’t make the preliminary project list for this new BTA IV levy. The idea of moving its program to an expanded, reopened Hughes apparently is the explanation for why it didn’t.

So what would happen to Roxhill’s campus at 30th/Roxbury? “The future use of the Roxhill building has yet to be determined,” Redman told us.

At the Monday night briefing, district officials said the target date for reopening Hughes is fall 2018; so far, no set date for this to come before the board, aside from the BTA IV levy language needing to be finalized, and that’s likely where more details would emerge. If you have a comment or question, Redman says you can e-mail him, We’ll be following up on all this in the days ahead.

Big changes for Seattle schools’ bell times? Big concerns voiced at tonight’s district discussion

September 29, 2015 at 11:25 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 46 Comments

Seattle Public Schools‘ draft proposal for changing bell times didn’t draw much support among the two dozen or so people who showed up at the first of five public meetings about it, held tonight at Chief Sealth International High School.

The proposed change in so-called “bell times” starting next year follows years of advocacy for starting middle and high schools later, to better align with tweens’ and teens’ biological clocks.

The “draft proposal” would give all high schools in the district an 8:50 am start; that would be an hour later than West Seattle High School starts now, 10 minutes later than Chief Sealth IHS starts now. But the most dramatic change would be for middle schools, moving all to a 9:40 am start – that’s almost two hours later than the current 7:50 am start time they all have, including West Seattle’s Madison Middle School and Denny International High School.

Start times for K-8s and elementaries would vary. Local schools’ current start times and proposed new ones (as listed on a district handout) are below:

Pathfinder K-8, 8:40/8:50
Louisa Boren STEM K-8, 9:30/8:50
Alki, 8:40/8:00
Arbor Heights, 8:40/9:40
Concord, 9:30/9:40
Fairmount Park, 8:40, 8:00
Gatewood, 8:40/8:00
Highland Park, 8:40/9:40
Lafayette, 9:30/8:00
Roxhill, 9:30/9:40
Sanislo, 9:30/8:00
Schmitz Park, 8:40/8:00
West Seattle, 8:40/8:00

Tonight’s meeting, led by assistant superintendent Pegi McEvoy, got testy at times; most of those who spoke said they don’t want the times to change at all. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise, given that results of an online parent survey (see page 13 here) showed this area with the highest support (46 percent) for keeping the status quo. Concerns voiced at the meeting ranged from insufficient data supporting the change to uncertainty over how afterschool activities would be affected.

And that didn’t just mean classic extracurricular offerings such as athletics – for example, Denny principal Jeff Clark said his school and two other middle schools are showing significant improvement in closing the “achievement gap” thanks to special after-school academic programs; if school starts two hours later, those programs will end two hours later – keeping participants at school until 6:20 pm.

The data concerns had to do with results of a district survey about changing bell times. Most of the parents in attendance said the plan to move ahead was based on too small a set of responses to really justify the change. But McEvoy and staff pointed to slides showing that they had gathered and parsed large amounts of data from parents and students. One parent asked if elementary-school kids had been included – answer: no – while others wondered if the older students who responded realized that later times would affect after school activities and even the possibility of holding a job.

Regarding athletics and after-school activities, attendees wondered how the district was working with Seattle Parks regarding field use, especially for West Seattle HS and adjacent Hiawatha Playfield. According to McEvoy, a district contract with Parks has expired and they’re working on an agreement, but don’t want to finalize anything until the district makes its bell-times decision. Some parents suggested that seemed to be a backward way to go about it, and some wondered if practices would end up being moved to the morning hours before school, canceling the expected benefits of a later start time for classes.

About those benefits – those in opposition questioned whether the American Academy of Pediatrics‘ findings related to improved attendance and grade performance.

Other concerns included family schedules: How would this affect students who currently are responsible for picking up younger siblings? And if middle school started later, would 11- and 12-year-olds find themselves staying home for a few hours by themselves, and getting themselves to school?

There were a few voices of support, including someone who said studies back east showed this could result in GPA and attendance improvement.

So what happens now? The board – whose West Seattle rep, Marty McLaren, attended the meeting – will consider the issue as part of a transportation item on the agenda on October 21st, McEvoy said. The district, she added, is trying to work this out so that it’s “cost-neutral” in terms of bus schedules.

If you have something to say – pro, con, or otherwise – the district is continuing to accept comments through October 6th; e-mail yours to As noted above, 4 more meetings are planned elsewhere in the district; see the list here. If you want to read through some or all of the backstory and district documentation on this issue – go here.

What you’ll be voting on in February: Seattle Public Schools details levies, answers questions

September 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

(Slide deck from last night’s meeting – see it here as a PDF)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Why DOES Seattle Public Schools put its levies on a “special election” ballot in February, instead of November when everything else is out to be voted on?

That was one of the questions asked – and answered – as the district led an informational meeting at West Seattle High School last night about the two levies it plans to put before you on February 9th, 2016, known as Operations and BTA IV (background info here).

This was the third in the district’s second series of five citywide meetings, deputy superintendent Flip Herndon said, and by far the best turnout, by multiple accounts – about three dozen people, around half there to show support for a project that’s not on the levy’s draft project list, the West Seattle Indoor Tennis proposal – yet.

Click to read the rest of What you’ll be voting on in February: Seattle Public Schools details levies, answers questions…

West Seattle back-to-school: Fall quarter’s first day at South Seattle College

September 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm | In Puget Ridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

(Photos courtesy South Seattle College)
This just might be the final “back-to-school” day of the year in West Seattle. It’s the first day of fall quarter at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), headquartered at 6000 16th SW on Puget Ridge. SSC spokesperson Kevin Maloney tells WSB that more than 5,000 students are enrolled, including 103 13th-Year Promise Scholars, and that students “were greeted this morning with breakfast bars, coffee, and a warm welcome by staff members scattered throughout campus.” Those staffers include Computer Science instructor Ravi Gandham:

The fall quarter, which includes 55 instructional days, ends on December 16th; winter quarter starts January 4th.

P.S. A “Welcome Fair” is scheduled for noon-2 pm Thursday by the Clock Tower (which is shown in the top photo).

FREE! What Westside School is giving away at former campus on Friday

September 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm | In Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments

From Shoshannah Hoffman at Westside School (WSB sponsor), word of freebies this Friday – take note, this is at its FORMER location in Sunrise Heights, NOT its new one in Arbor Heights:

After the big move, Westside School has tons of free stuff to give away! On Friday, October 2, from 10 am-3 pm, Westside School will be opening the doors of its old building and giving away tons of great school furniture.

Items include:

Folding chairs
Teacher desks
File cabinets
Chairs of all sizes
Much more!

Come check it out at 7740 34th Ave SW. Everything is first-come, first-served.

And yes, Hoffman says, they’ve already worked with recipients before just opening the doors for this: “We spent quite a bit of time giving away items to local schools, but still have a bunch of stuff.”

TONIGHT: West Seattle briefing on upcoming school-district levies

September 28, 2015 at 8:41 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 11 Comments

Biggest event on tonight’s local calendar is about the two Seattle Public Schools levies headed for your ballot in the February 2016 election. They’re not finalized yet, so if you have something to say – or just want a preview – this is your chance: 6:30 pm at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW), it’s a community meeting about the Operations and Buildings/Technology/Academics/Athletics (BTA IV) levies. The district has a page of background links here. As reported here in August, the biggest local item proposed for the BTA IV levy is money to renovate and reopen E.C. Hughes Elementary in Sunrise Heights (photo at left), the site leased for the past five years by Westside School (WSB sponsor), which has now moved into its own permanent location in Arbor Heights, leaving the Hughes building empty again, 26 years after its original closure. E.C. Hughes (7740 34th SW) would be renovated and expanded to hold up to 550 students. The proposed project list specifies work at other local schools, including the roof at WSHS and the HVAC system at Gatewood Elementary. At tonight’s meeting, the announcement says, SPS staff “will present information, ask for comments and answer questions.”

High-school football: West Seattle High School at Rainier Beach

September 26, 2015 at 1:44 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | No Comments

Road game for the West Seattle High School Wildcats on Friday night, and they went away with a win – at Southeast Athletic Complex, WSHS 22, Rainier Beach 20. Next week, the Wildcats are home at SW Athletic Complex, hosting Roosevelt at 7 pm Friday (October 2nd).

High-school football: Chief Sealth’s first home game of 2015 season

September 26, 2015 at 1:33 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | No Comments

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand. Above, Sealth senior linebacker Orlando Lopez, #55, driving Ballard’s Simon Robinson out of bounds)
You never lose hope so long as the team’s still out on the field and there’s time on the clock, and so went Friday night for Chief Sealth International High School players and supporters, hosting Ballard at Southwest Athletic Complex.

(Chief Sealth cheer squad, coached by TahReana Turner)
The Seahawks fought on as their first home game of the season continued, though the final score was lopsided – Ballard 46, Sealth 0.

(Sealth senior quarterback, senior Kyler Gaither, #10, on the keeper, against Ballard’s line)
The band did its part to keep spirits up on the occasionally raindrop-spattered early-fall night:

(Chief Sealth band, under new director Brian Goetz)
Head coach Simon Iniguez‘s team had a tough fight, but there were moments:

(Sealth’s #11, junior Daron Camacho, and Ballard’s Jessi Elion)
But as tweeted on the Sealth Athletics account at game’s end, “you win some, you lose some.”

Next week: Sealth plays Franklin at Memorial Stadium downtown, 7 pm Saturday, October 3rd.

SCHOOL MAKE-UP DAYS: District announces post-strike plan

September 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 19 Comments

Just in from Seattle Public Schools:

The following makeup days for a revised school calendar have now been finalized with our SEA partners, pending approval by the Board of Directors on October 7.

Please mark your home and school calendars accordingly.

School Year Calendar Changes

With the Board’s approval, the following days will now be regular school days:

Fri., Oct. 9
Fri., Jan. 29
Wed., Feb. 17, Thurs., Feb.18, and Fri., Feb. 19. This is a shortened mid-winter break.
Fri., June 24

Seattle Public Schools staff and the Seattle Education Association worked together to finalize the 2015-16 school year calendar to adjust for the school days missed by the teacher strike.

State law requires school districts conduct a school year of no less than 180 school days in such grades as are conducted by the school district, and 180 half-days of instruction, or the equivalent, in kindergarten. The district and its partners needed to meet that requirement and looked for the best options for adjusting the calendar that works for families.

Looking back at the original calendar – October 9th was supposed to be an off-day for students but NOT for teachers; January 29th, everybody was supposed to be out for the “day between semesters”; June 24th was held as a possible “snow (makeup) day.” June 27th, apparently, will remain on the calendar as a potential “snow day.”

VIDEO: An evening of art and entertainment, from Chongqing to Chief Sealth

September 24, 2015 at 1:42 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS culture/arts | No Comments

Long after Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s two-day visit – ending this morning – is over, hundreds of local students will continue learning about China’s language and culture in local schools. The Confucius Institute is involved in much of that local education, and its Washington branch co-sponsored a spectacular slate of art demonstrations and performances at Chief Sealth International High School last night – coincidental to the president’s presence in our area, as far as we know. The artists and performers were all from Seattle’s sister city Chongqing, in western China; above, a demonstration of sugar painting; below, our video of the Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe performing “Girls Playing Water”:

That was just the first of eleven planned song, dance, and acrobatic performances. The art demonstrations outside the Sealth auditorium preceded the show; they included crafting with shredded bamboo:

Fans and scrolls are some of what’s made from the bamboo filaments:

Before returning home, the Chongqing artists and performers will appear in San Francisco on Saturday.

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