West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle schools http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 13:43:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 High-school football: Chief Sealth player hurt in homecoming game vs. Ingraham http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-chief-sealth-player-hurt-in-homecoming-game-vs-ingraham/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-chief-sealth-player-hurt-in-homecoming-game-vs-ingraham/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 08:50:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325511 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:

WSB’s Patrick Sand was at SWAC and reports that, largely, both teams played great defense. Sealth’s defense shut down all but a few of Ingraham’s long drives.

Sealth got two touchdowns. In the first half, senior defensive back C’zhai Terrell (seen above in a different series) picked off an Ingraham pass and ran 65 yards for a touchdown. (Sealth’s point-after failed.)

Sealth’s second touchdown came with less than a minute remaining.

Senior Daron Camacho ran 12 yards for the score. The Seahawks’ two-point attempt failed, so the game wound up 13-12 Ingraham.

It was also senior night:

The game was followed by the homecoming dance at CSIHS, across the street from SWAC.

Next week, it’s the annual Huling Bowl game between Sealth and West Seattle High School, 7 pm Friday (October 16th) at SWAC (2801 SW Thistle).

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FOLLOWUP: Questions, advocacy emerge as teacher-cut news circulates at local schools; Sunday rally planned; district’s letter http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-questions-advocacy-emerge-as-teacher-cut-news-circulates-at-local-schools/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-questions-advocacy-emerge-as-teacher-cut-news-circulates-at-local-schools/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:00:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325428 (UPDATED 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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADDED: We did hear from McLaren Friday night. She shared with us the response she said she’s had for those who contacted her:

I’m sorry to say that I have little power to help in this extremely painful situation. We are in a similar situation in many schools district-wide. Although enrollment continues to grow, there were many unexpected student transfers from SPS to out of district schools at the last moment, so overall enrollment is down dramatically – about 600 students.

SPS cannot operate at a deficit; we are legally bound to stay within our budget, and so are having to make painful adjustments all over the school district. I am cc’ing Israel Vela, Executive Director of Schools in the Southwest region, based on the possibility that expected continued growth at Schmitz Park might bring more funding. However, I know that he and other district leaders have already looked at the picture very closely.

I can say that all of us in the district are reeling at these developments. I’m sure that virtually everyone working in the district understands deeply the hardship involved. At this point, it’s not clear why there were so many transfers.

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

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

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

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

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

And now, it’s all about playtime.

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

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This information from the letter was attributed to the district:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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West Seattle schools: Portable leaving WS Elementary on Saturday http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-schools-portable-leaving-ws-elementary-on-saturday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-schools-portable-leaving-ws-elementary-on-saturday/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 07:16:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325180 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.”

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West Seattle schools: Another taste of food literacy at Sanislo http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-schools-another-taste-of-food-literacy-at-sanislo/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/west-seattle-schools-another-taste-of-food-literacy-at-sanislo/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 05:12:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325171

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.

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CONGRATULATIONS! ‘Pathways to Excellence’ awards for Denny IMS, Chief Sealth IHS http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/congratulations-pathways-to-excellence-awards-for-denny-ims-chief-sealth-ihs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/congratulations-pathways-to-excellence-awards-for-denny-ims-chief-sealth-ihs/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 03:41:13 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325156

(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 KCTS9.org/pathways.

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.

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YOU CAN HELP! Be a tutor for program at 2 West Seattle schools http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-can-help-be-a-tutor-for-program-at-2-west-seattle-schools/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-can-help-be-a-tutor-for-program-at-2-west-seattle-schools/#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:50:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325133 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: www.investinyouth.org or contact Alison at aallen@investinyouth.org. Can’t commit to the full school year? Become a substitute tutor or share this with your friends who might be interested.

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CONGRATULATIONS! National honors for Chief Sealth International High School Academy of Business http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/congratulations-national-honors-for-chief-sealth-international-high-school-academy-of-business/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/congratulations-national-honors-for-chief-sealth-international-high-school-academy-of-business/#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 00:29:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325081

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 gaperkins@seattleschools.org

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YOU CAN HELP! What Chief Sealth IHS’s Clothing Closet needs http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-can-help-what-chief-sealth-ihss-clothing-closet-needs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-can-help-what-chief-sealth-ihss-clothing-closet-needs/#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:02:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325036 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 lisalconley@hotmail.com or 206-938-1947.

The school is at 2600 SW Thistle.

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High-school football: Chief Sealth Seahawks’ first win of the season http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-chief-sealth-seahawks-first-win-of-the-season/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-chief-sealth-seahawks-first-win-of-the-season/#comments Sun, 04 Oct 2015 06:23:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324903 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.

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High-school football: West Seattle HS vs. Roosevelt at SWAC http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-west-seattle-hs-vs-roosevelt-at-swac/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/high-school-football-west-seattle-hs-vs-roosevelt-at-swac/#comments Sat, 03 Oct 2015 14:33:04 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324782

(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.

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Celebrate the opening of Pathfinder K-8′s new playground http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/celebrate-the-opening-of-pathfinder-k-8s-new-playground/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/celebrate-the-opening-of-pathfinder-k-8s-new-playground/#comments Sat, 03 Oct 2015 03:50:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324770

(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: pathfinderplayground2014@gmail.com

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.

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West Seattle schools: Reopened, expanded E.C. Hughes might be Roxhill Elementary’s new home http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-schools-reopened-expanded-e-c-hughes-might-be-roxhill-elementarys-new-home/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-schools-reopened-expanded-e-c-hughes-might-be-roxhill-elementarys-new-home/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:06:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324542

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, tlredman@seattleschools.gov. We’ll be following up on all this in the days ahead.

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Big changes for Seattle schools’ bell times? Big concerns voiced at tonight’s district discussion http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/big-changes-for-seattle-schools-bell-times-big-concerns-voiced-at-tonights-district-discussion/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/big-changes-for-seattle-schools-bell-times-big-concerns-voiced-at-tonights-district-discussion/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 06:25:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324473 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 arrivaltimes@seattleschools.org. 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.

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