Best food in the Seattle school district?

Dori, the Denny Middle School Lunch Lady, says that’s what she serves every day, and she invited the architects and school administrators overseeing the Denny-Sealth construction project to come have lunch. She was one of about 35 people who came to tonight’s overview of the latest plans for the Denny-Sealth shared-campus project with some serious concerns over the initial plans. The plan presented showed one kitchen which would serve both schools, to be located between the gym and the common areas. As Dori said – a kitchen with no windows or adequate ventilation is not a good idea. What she wants is for the planners and architects to see the existing Denny lunch room and kitchen, which she calls a “kitchen done right.”

Her comments shifted the topic away from the lack of public notice for these meetings (an issue at the last one, called by the Westwood Neighborhood Council in June). The school district’s Eleanor Trainer started the meeting by saying that the normal process for the district’s construction projects has been accelerated because the district is facing the possibility of rising construction costs long before work actually begins. The Westwood Neighborhood Council’s Steve Fischer began and ended the meeting by saying that he could appreciate that consideration, but he did not feel it still justified the meeting being called on such short notice. Ms. Trainer countered that the next meeting would be on October 25th at Sealth, but several in the crowd still felt that this again was too short a lead time to get word out.

Trainer said that several other means of getting word about the meetings are in the works. A web site that covers the project should be up by next week. Also, a mailing will go out to homes that are within a certain radius of both the Denny and Sealth campuses.

Architects Donald King and Nancy Calleri rolled out the plans, took questions, and talked about how work will begin, some as early as this summer. While the new Denny building is under construction, Sealth will receive a seismic upgrade, fire sprinklers will be installed, and the old steam boiler will be swapped out for a new water boiler.

Mr. King also read back what he heard as the major concerns and he said that those concerns will be part of the agenda on the 25th. The primary concern that came from the meeting revolves around traffic and parking. Staff from both Denny and Sealth who were in the audience wondered if enough had been done to address where they will park and if the new lots will be able to handle the load for both school. Other related traffic topics included bus dropoff and pick-up zones, traffic flow during construction, and whether both schools will have the same arrival and dismissal times. Also, the subject of Denny kids having to go back across Thistle to use their old gym brought up the need for increased pedestrian lights and better crossing areas.

The next meeting will also look at sustainability issues that might have an impact on Longfellow Creek. Tonight’s meeting briefly touched on such things as green roofs, cisterns, and rain water vaults.

At the very end of the meeting Steve Fischer announced that the Westwood Neighborhood Council has applied to the city for a grant to study what can be done with the existing Denny property after the school moves across the street.

5 Replies to "Best food in the Seattle school district?"

  • GenHillOne October 9, 2007 (10:01 pm)

    I’d love for them to come for lunch! Denny does have excellent food. However, the mechanics aren’t all that great there either. In three years, I can count on my hands how many times my kid has bought a hot lunch. We’re BOTH tired of brown bags at this point, but (I’m told) students spend most of their lunch break standing in line. “It’s not worth it, Mom.”

  • y from westwood October 9, 2007 (11:43 pm)

    During the meeting tonight Eleanor mentioned a website that will be up “soon” which will have “current” status of the project. Did someone capture the URL?

  • WSB October 9, 2007 (11:57 pm)

    We’ll add it to the writeup – it’s the one we mentioned in preview postings, as it seemed a little bizarre the district would put the URL on flyers before the site is up. … we’ll keep an eye out to see when it goes live.

  • Radley October 10, 2007 (8:37 am)

    Actually, it makes a lot of sense if you look at what the URL is. Looks like the URL was registered to cover all of the work that will be done on this series of levys, which are called the “Building Excellence” levys.

    Given that there are much more pressing – or at least pressing things in the minds of a lot of parents – information that the district is processing now (WASL scores), it is not surprising that academics got first use of the technology staff over operations. Academics getting priority over operations is something that many SPS followers have been demanding for a long time.

  • Eleanor Trainor October 10, 2007 (10:28 am)

    Thanks for the interest in SPS’s projects in West Seattle. The website should be up by the end of the week. I hoped to have it up last week but, as Radley surmised, we did have some technical issues. I’m glad you’re talking about it because I really want to get the word out that this will be a very comprehensive site.

    It’s true that we are accelerating the projects to avoid construction inflation. Although we made very conservative predictions about escalation, reality is still exceeding anybody’s imagination. On the low end, costs increase about 1% a month. Had we waited another year to do the Sealth-Denny campus, we would have lost $15m in buying power.

    We’ve accelerated projects throughout the BEX III program which has required us to take a good look at the way we communicate. With six major projects happening all at once (instead of an average of two at a time) and no additional communications staff, I had to stop and figure out a way to get really organized in the way we will communicate on these projects. We’ve got a good plan in place and I’m rolling it out without delay.

    Our next meeting will be Thursday, October 25 at 6:30p at Sealth. This meeting is a little different from the two general meetings we’ve held for the public. This meeting will be your chance to tell us how you use the Sealth campus. Do you use it as a walking path? Would you like to see paths and trails down to the creek? Having this type of advisement from the community will help us make the campus a greater neighborhood asset.

    We’ll also be holding a general public meeting sometime before Thanksgiving. I should have a date for that shortly.

    I’ll send WSB a note as soon as the website is live, in addition to sending them the flyer for the October 25 meeting.

    You can email me with questions and comments any time at

    I think there are good opportunities to work together and now that I’ve got all my ducks in a row we should have smooth sailing.

    Eleanor Trainor
    Capital Projects Community Liaison

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