More Denny/Sealth updates from school board meeting

Meeting’s in a 10-minute break right now. Since the previously mentioned public comment against the project (no one spoke in favor):

-District superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson and West Seattle school-board rep Steve Sundquist both reiterated (as he had told us would happen) that the scheduled votes later tonight would not commit the board to the Denny/Sealth project as it now stands. It also was announced that the board DOES have the authority — last week, Sundquist said they were awaiting a legal answer on this — to “modify the project if we see the need.”

-Board president Cheryl Chow asked members to clear time on their calendar the afternoon of January 9, before the next board meeting, for a work session on the Denny/Sealth project.

Susan Harmon from the Westwood Neighborhood Council, speaking during the public-comment period, asked the board to delay Denny-Sealth votes until after a meeting WNC is working to organize for late January or early February to examine both the potential impacts of the shared high school/middle school campus concept, and the future of the current Denny land if the project proceeds as currently planned.

More details as they happen, plus a full all-in-one wrapup by night’s end in the morning (we have a followup question out). 8:46 PM UPDATE: The meeting is adjourned. The matching-funds item involving the Denny-Sealth project passed unanimously, after yet another reiteration that it does not commit the board to the project as it now stands. One other note of interest, Sundquist will chair the board’s Finance Committee next year.

13 Replies to "More Denny/Sealth updates from school board meeting"

  • GenHillOne December 19, 2007 (10:01 pm)

    Does Susan Harmon have high school-aged kids in WS? Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse here, but the registration period ends in February. There is a lot of anxiety among the parents I’ve spoken with around our school and it’s not about traffic patterns and parking. It’s about where Sealth will be, how many classrooms will be available, and how class offerings will be impacted – in 2008, not just after a remodel.

  • Bonnie December 20, 2007 (9:19 am)

    I have preschool and grade school age kids but when they go to middle school I would NOT want my son or daughter to share the halls with high schoolers.

  • Susan Harmon December 20, 2007 (7:06 pm)

    Although I do have a grandson attending Sealth HS, and a granddaughter also in Seattle Public Schools, that is most definitely not (and should not be) the reason I am qualified to address any issue in my community and any issue of the Seattle Public Schools. I am qualified simply because I am a citizen.

    Not only do the issues of rebuilding and or moving Denny and whether Sealth gets more than a new boiler impact all of us, it is the tax dollars of ALL of us that finance Seattle Public Schools. I did mention last night that is why it is called Seattle PUBLIC schools and not a private institution.

    All of us have a stake in what does and does not happen with and within all our schools from whether our youth get textbooks and an education that qualifies them to work in this city to how the building and tearing down of schools hurts or helps a neighborhood.

    As to school registration, most parents I speak with are more interested in the programs and the curriculum the school offers that best suit the needs of their children then where that school might be located. Unless, of course, they have concerns about mixing age groups.

    While traffic patterns and parking are issues that impact the neighbors immediately adjacent to Sealth they also play a role in the safety of our children.

    I know it is difficult for many of us to look at the big picture and how decisions made today will have an impact 10 or 20 years from now, but it is necessary to have all the possible input on these issues from all the stakeholders.

    That is why it is so important to have authentic community input on what will or won’t happen to Denny and Sealth.

    WNC is putting together another meeting with a panel that will address as many of the issues that seem to be important to the entire community.

    The stakeholders should include parents of elementary school children as well as families who presently attend Denny and Sealth, staff from all the schools, businesses, parks department, homeowners, renters, churches, and whoever else cares about the future of our city and our schools.

  • westello December 20, 2007 (7:48 pm)

    Just in case you didn’t know, Board work sessions are open to the public but there is no public comment allowed. It is a time where the Board receives in-depth presentations from staff and tries to work out kinks.

    Also, the Facilities staff has said they would renovate all the high schools but looking at the list, it seems that Ingraham, Sealth and Rainier Beach are unlike to get any major renovation (a la West Seattle, Roosevelt or Ballard) in the next 20-25 years given the improvements they have had.

    Also, here’s something to give you an idea of the mindset of Facilities. I was looking at the BEX II and III meeting minutes and found this when they were talking about Hamilton and the problems with the neighbors”

    “The District may engage in mediation with Parks and the activists as long as it’s crafted in a way that doesn’t require consensus. Steve suggests calling it a “facilitated conversation”. The term “mediation” sets up expectations and rules.”

    Steve is Steve Goldblatt a member of BEX II committee(not a staff member) but a staff member agreed.

  • GenHillOne December 20, 2007 (9:31 pm)

    I agree that the public has a voice – it was the levy and it passed. I would hope that the stakeholders voted.

  • GenHillOne December 20, 2007 (10:05 pm)

    Oh, and Melissa, thanks for the work session info!

  • Susan Harmon December 21, 2007 (9:24 am)

    I’m really glad GenHillOne brought up the subject of the levy and the election. When I first heard about combining Denny and Sealth on one campus and was told we’d voted for that, I went back and looked at what exactly was on the ballot. Guess what? That was NOT what we voted for. We voted for improvements to Sealth and a new school for Denny.

    Additionally, SPS is mandated to have public input in the process. That has not happened in any genuine way in this project as it has not happened in other projects.

    I continue to wonder why public input in what the public pays for seems to be so frightening to certain folks.

    I also wonder why the concept of equity escapes those who appear to think that some people and some schools are more worthy, more important, and more valuable than others.

    This does not have to be contentious. It just has to be transparent, open, and honest.

  • Delfino Munoz December 22, 2007 (1:35 pm)

    I find it interesting that those that support this plan to merge Denny and Sealth still bring up the misconception that this merger is what the voters approved. I have copied a link to King County Elections voters pamphlet and related language below. I, also, point out that the last two levies have been change considerably from the original designs (witness cost overruns at Garfield and the dropping of the promised Bilingual Orientation Center.

    I have been involved in this issue from the first time it was brought to Sealth Staff’s attention. Not only did the voters not vote for a merger, they don’t know about it. I have been all over this issue, from curiosity, to cautious support to absolute opposition. I have talked many many people about this as I have tried hard to find reasons to support it. I have not had one person not from the Schools design team that has supported it (incidentally only 2 of the 10 on the Chief Sealth design team now support it) Do what I did. Ask your neighbors, the person in the checkout line at the grocery store, and everywhere you go. Not only will you find out that they don’t know, you will find they are either completely against the idea or or significantly concerned.

    This decision was made by 1 person, rubber stamped by the Board, and then forced upon everyone else. Only the principal at Denny can put a positive academic spin on it, and nothing that is purported to be a benefit can’t be accomplished a couple of hundred feet apart like we are now.

    This is a misguided attempt to get more money for West Seattle in this levy in the short term, and inequitable cost savings measure in the long term. Our community deserves to be presented with the full range of options, the academic and community benefits of each and an authentic input process. I have no question which way our families, neighbors and colleagues will vote.

    ” The bonds will provide funds to be used to meet the current and future educational program needs of its students, to fund the renovation or replacement of four high schools, two middle schools, and one K-8 school and make other capital improvements throughout the District. Levy proceeds may only be used to support the construction, modernization, remodeling of school facilities, or technology improvements and training.”

    Section 2. Authorization of Construction and Modernization Improvements. The District shall modernize and expand its school facilities through the following programs:
    (1) Middle /K-8 school improvements including full renovation of Hamilton, and replacement of South Shore and Denny.
    (2) High School improvements including renovation of Chief Sealth and Nathan Hale, addition at Ingraham and modernization of Rainier Beach Career and Technology facilities.

  • GenHillOne December 22, 2007 (7:19 pm)

    I knew what I was voting for; page 4 –

  • Marlene Allbright December 23, 2007 (9:15 am)

    It appears that the District spin worked on GenHillOne. What you voted for was spin. The new 1000 seat auditorium will not happen. The separate cafeterias will not happen. The cafeteria will be one room with little noise abatement except for a 7 foot moveable partition.
    Sealth is not getting a major renovation as was promised in the voters’ brochure. Sealth is getting seismic upgrades, a shared electrical system, and the new boiler system is questionable.
    None of these improvements will facilitate academic success.

    The newly removated library will be cut up into pieces to add classrooms with no natural lighting. (Which, by the way was mentioned in the voters’ brochure as an enhancement to student learning.) Sealth will also be losing millions of dollars in improvements such as the tennis courts, softball fields, part of the new student commons, new parking lot and other improvements.
    When Chief Sealth is beginning to make great gains in student achievement, family involvement, a successful IB program, it deserves to have its own identity….not Sealthdenny or Dennysealth School.

  • GenHillOne December 23, 2007 (9:53 am)

    My point Marlene was that I knew from the get-go that there would be some shared facilities, as did the other parents who received the same materials sent home with our students (fall of 2006), and I’m getting tired of the suggestion that NO ONE knew the plan. The link I provided does not say there will be separate cafeterias, and as far as the auditorium comment, yours is the first I’ve heard of it, but it may not be a deal-breaker for me if it’s true. Major renovation is a relevant term. Perhaps you were expecting more, but if I replaced my home’s heating and electrical system and made seismic upgrades, I’d call it major. Combining some areas like music and foreign language will allow capable younger students to perform at a higher level. And instead of projecting doom and gloom, how about we look at the potential for building mentors, tutors, and leaders among the older students.

  • Marlene Allbright December 24, 2007 (9:00 am)

    Hi GenHill, I didn’t for a minute mean to imply that you are not an uninformed voter, you clearly are. But the District misinformed voters by promising improvements that will not happen like the auditorium, and I forgot to mention the gym.
    Don Gillmore, the District architect went to Toronto in October and discussed details with conference participants that the Sealth community didn’t know until late November. The whole process was mishandled. Have you seen the Sealth library since its renovation two years ago? It’s really quite beautiful and is utilitarian as well. Many classrooms use it, and there is a tutoring program there 4 days a week to help students with math and reading. To lose half of that space when we don’t have to doesn’t make sense. I respect your comments and hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  • westello January 3, 2008 (7:28 pm)

    Just to be clear; seismic upgrades are NOT the same as being up-to-date with current seismic building codes. Only new buildings would be current. Sealth is not being rebuilt (as Hale isn’t as well) so the upgrades are just a betterment but not necessarily the optimum.

    Also, just to be clear, the upgrades at Sealth are 25-year upgrades while Denny (being rebuilt) will be a 50-year building. Again, a rebuild lasts longer than a renovation.

    I think the confusion over what the District said/didn’t say on the levy/bond measure (the capital measure is a bond, not a levy this time) should point to the fact that the District tries to be necessarily vague in the voters’ pamphlet in order to cover whatever changes they want to make.

    They did this with the New School/South Shore project. This project, South Shore, was originally on the BEX II levy to redo the inside of the building from an open plan to a more traditional walled plan. New School did not exist at the time this measure was passed. Fast forward to BEX III when New School does exist and wants a new building and the plan morphs from a redo to a rebuild without waiting for the City (who co-owns and uses the building for the Rainier Beach Community Center) to rebuild (thus saving money as they claim will happen on the Denny/Sealth project).

    So the District will have two new K-8 buildings (African-American Academy built in the early ’90s and the New School), Dunlap Elementary (also rebuilt), South Lake re-entry high school (also brand-new) and Rainier Beach High School. All these buildings cover just over a mile area.

    The District has some interesting ways to spend taxpayer money.

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