Denny-Sealth bulletin: District sets decision timetable

Bulletin from the Seattle School Board meeting under way right now (live on Channel 26, though no further Denny-Sealth discussion is expected tonight) — in her “superintendent’s updates,” Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson said there will be a community forum at Chief Sealth High School on Feb. 4 to present the 3 options under consideration (continue current plan, continue current plan but add some $ to Sealth renovations, rebuild Denny on its own site and renovate Sealth separately) — this apparently is separate from the Westwood Neighborhood Council‘s planned Feb. 5 meeting on the project (we will check with the Westwood folks to be sure). Then, she said, a resolution will be introduced at the Feb. 13 school board meeting recommending which option to pursue, and the board would vote on it at its next meeting after that, Feb. 27. More later, including highlights of the Denny-Sealth speakers in tonight’s public comment period (all opposed to the consolidation project — is there a reason no supporters ever seem to appear?). 11:30 PM UPDATE: Speaker recap ahead:

Everyone who spoke about Denny-Sealth tonight spoke against it. Notes from each (spelling of names is taken from board agenda, so please let us know if anything needs to be corrected):

Marlene Allbright, CSHS teacher: Took exception to comments she says she heard at the board work session on Denny-Sealth on Jan. 9 (WSB coverage here), suggesting school staffers weren’t paying close enough attention when the consolidation idea first came up in 2006. She contends that they were “blindsided” because they were first told that a state-of-the-art renovation would be included for Sealth. She also took exception to the description of the Design Review Team as “volunteer”; she contends members were “hand-picked” to be “design-friendly.” She calls the consolidation plan “disastrous.”

DeRon Jones, CSHS student: Offering $ (the new “Option 2”) is a “slap in the face.” Says his main concern is safety, and says combining Denny and Sealth is a threat to that. Warns direly that if the result is the combined school winding up on the news because of the death of a child, “you can’t say you didn’t see it coming.”

Noah Zeichner, CSHS teacher and design team member: Says he tried hard to support the project and figure out how it would be academically beneficial, but just couldn’t. Says info has been hard to come by. Says Sealth staffers want to work closely with Denny teachers and build stronger connections, and a state-of-the-art new Denny building will be great for Sealth too – but there’s no reason they can’t develop those closer ties while remaining a few blocks apart.

Female CSHS student whose name we didn’t get: Warns direly of middle-school girls being prey for high-school boys, resulting in everything from heartache to pregnancy: “Can you turn a blind eye when an 11- to 13-year-old girl gets used like a tissue?”

Nancy Conyers from CSHS PE: Implores board directly to “stop the co-location.” Second speaker to mention that relatively new tennis courts and fields at Sealth will be lost in this project, a waste not only of facilities but also of taxpayers’ money. Regarding “Option 2,” she says, “No amount of money you can offer us would make this plan palatable.”

Roberta Lindeman, teachers’ union “building rep” at Sealth: Talks about the Seattle Education Association resolution passed last week (WSB coverage, including full text of resolution, here). Says board members should all have received copies of it.

Debbie Taylor: Says trying to stay informed about the project has been extremely difficult; says some meetings even changed locations at the last minute, and there was no way to find them unless she literally followed someone who knew where they were going. Says she was told early last year that the best way to be heard was to contact the school board; says she did that at the time, got no replies.

Carol Strohm, CSHS teacher: “I tell my students to make wise choices, because there are always consequences.” Says there’s no shame in changing your mind — and implores the board to change its mind about Denny-Sealth. Says Option 3, with Denny rebuilt on its current site, is a good option.

Nan Johnson: Talks about running a high-school shop program on the Denny campus now, and the strict rules her students have to follow to be on the middle-school campus.

Laura Robb, Sealth IB coordinator: Talks about how much work it’s taken to get the IB program off the ground at Sealth. Wonders, “has anyone identified what a 6-12 school does better than a 9-12 school?”

One P.S. – this may be SOP but in the copy of the agenda we obtained and linked to just this morning, “Superintendent’s Updates” did not list a Denny-Sealth item. Probably no rule it would have to, but it was almost sheer accident we caught the info, because we’d tuned in to the meeting to check out the heralded speakers. A lesson, we suppose, that you want to pay as close attention as possible to all of your public officials and their meetings, because you just never know when something regarding your items of interest will come up. We expect plenty more Denny-Sealth followup info tomorrow, so stay tuned.

11 Replies to "Denny-Sealth bulletin: District sets decision timetable"

  • Delfino January 23, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    Thank you for your continued coverage of this issue.
    I find it very interesting that the School District chose to have a community meeting the day before the West Wood Neighborhood Council meeting at the same location.

    Steve Sundquist was aware of the meeting and is on the WNC panel for the 5th.

    I’ll be there both days, but I wonder how our community feels about two meetings back to back. Maybe it’s just a mistake?

  • Debbie January 24, 2008 (6:52 am)

    At the meeting last night, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said “community input will be accepted between the February 4 forum and the February 27 board meeting.” Apparently last year when I was endeavoring to give them my input, I should have found out when they were “accepting input”. As anyone involved in this issue already knows, the only input that has been accepted is that which is in agreement with their consolidation plan.

  • Debbie January 24, 2008 (6:57 am)

    I must amend my last sentence to read, As anyone involved in this issue already knows, prior to the addition of “Option 3”, the only input that has been accepted is that which is in agreement with their consolidation plan.

  • Ken January 24, 2008 (7:56 am)

    In my little informal survey of parents in my neighborhood, They all seem a bit horrified that anyone in the school district is insane enough to think that combining middle schoolers and high school students in the same campus is a good idea.

    Are the current school district admins all from one room schoolhouse flyover states?

    No matter how old I get I cannot forget the casual cruelty and unthinking torment high school students apply to those embarassing weenies whose ranks they have only just escaped themselves.

    And what the hell is Sundquist up to? I don’t care how well crafted his resume is, he always says thing that make me think of Reagan and the well meaning destruction of the republic he brought about.

  • Susan January 24, 2008 (8:51 am)

    I had not planned to attend last night’s school board meeting until I did an e-mail check shortly before 6:00PM while getting dinner on the table and saw the one that said denny sealth was on the agenda and the district was going to hold a “community” meeting the night before the already scheduled WNC meeting. Both to be held at Sealth HS.

    Was this a mistake? Did they just have the wrong date? Since they were asked to be part of the panel, I knew they were aware of The Tuesday February 5th meeting. Once again, I found that my sense of ethics and fair play was not shared by SPS because it was confirmed at the school board meeting that Schools had decided to hold a meeting the night before the community’s meeting. Perhaps the thinking was that they could use the work of WNC to get people to the Monday meeting and they would then need not go to a Tuesday meeting where Schools could control neither the format nor the outcome.

    Heaven knows that having authentic input from those who OWN the schools would just be way too painful for people who appear to believe the schools are a private business that the money fairy drops dollars on in the form of levies and bonds periodically then goes away and leaves them alone.

    I awoke several times during the night with the question flitting through my mind: Did Seattle Public schools commit an ethics code violation? Since Seattle Public Schools had planned in 2006 to combine Denny and Sealth, but did not put that planned use of dollars needed from voters on the 02/06/07 ballot and in the voter’s pamphlet for that special election is that an ethics code violation?

    Any lawyers out there want to comment on that?

    Not to worry about my interrupted dinner plans. While my family got a hot meal, I ate mine after returning from a very frustrating experience at the school board.

  • Michael January 24, 2008 (10:09 am)

    Sounds like the teachers’ union is pulling out all the stops now.
    Yet no one has given one solid, researched reason why this is a bad idea.
    This is why Seattle never gets anything done, and when it IS done, it’s always half-baked.

  • Susan January 24, 2008 (10:56 am)

    The REAL question is why hasn’t anyone given any solid researched reason why this is a GOOD idea?

    As to your question and comments here’s a few reasons:
    1. Seattle Schools decided to combine 2 buildings w/o having an academic plan to go with the physical buildings
    2. They started planning the combination of both school buildings in 2006
    3. That wasn’t mentioned on the ballot or voter’s pamphlet in the 02/06/07 special election
    4. Seattle d/n get anything done because certain people in power do not trust the citizens so there is no authentic community input AT THE BEGINNING.
    5. When citizens speak up about being left out of the process, these same misusers of power are sometimes forced to do what they were mandated to do in the first place which delays the process which wouldn’t have been delayed if the’d done what they were supposed to do initially.
    6. As to this particular issue, to use the excuse of the lie that we voted for it to support the rush to create physical structures we will be stuck with through the 21st century without an education program to back this up and dump it on a student population that needs our support not more burdens is unAmerican and undemocratic.
    7. Do it right in the first place and it wouldn’t be half-baked.

  • Debbie January 24, 2008 (12:13 pm)

    Here is one solid reason why the consolidation is a bad idea…

    Seattle Public Schools are famous for giving life to models that they do not properly fund.

    Do you honestly think that because the “merger” would be a new model of 6-12 schools that it would gain any additional funding to help support this experiment? If you are not apprised of the convoluted formula the schools have to go through to get their money, you should educate yourself in that area.

  • Delfino January 24, 2008 (4:14 pm)


    You wrote “Yet no one has given one solid, researched reason why this is a bad idea.”

    While one can find a study or two to prove just about anything in the “research, “I challenge you to find and post the research based reasons for why and how a 6-12 model is good. Then I cahallenge you to find a population like ours where this has been proven sucessful.

    The widest body of research out there clearly states that middle schools (6-8)are best solution to the transition from elementary schools to high school. Thats why the whole country has moved from jr highs of the past. Thats also why other than small alternative schools, no other community in the city, or area for that matter, has a comprehensive combined 6-12 program with 1600 + students.

    The professional educators who have taken a position against this plan have a combined experience of several hundred years. Doesn’t that real life “research based experience” count for anything to you?

    We are not actively opposing this because we are bored. In our professional opinion, based on our real life experience with these students, tells us this is bad for our students, period.

  • westello January 26, 2008 (10:43 am)

    1- no academic plan. EVERYTHING done in the district needs to follow from academic outcomes.
    2-no buy-in from the Sealth staff
    3- not asking parents in the area if THEY want a 6-12 school
    4-security nightmare (the district has NOT built other high schools with good security measures and now they want to have a community of 2100 students and staffs?)
    5-They did NOT fully disclose this plan to the majority of the voters.

    Need anymore reasons? How about if you fool the voters once, they will remember both in Board elections and the next capital measure. And, if they choose to go via a bond measure (they normally do a levy but did a bond measure this time in order to get all the money upfront), they need to get 60% of the vote because the recently passed Simple Majority only covers levies.

  • Delfino February 3, 2008 (1:34 am)


    I see you have decided not to take my challenge. You seem to ask for facts, but are unwilling or unable to find any to back up your position.

    I’ll give you a couple more “facts” why I and many others oppose the plan to merge these two campuses:

    Many parents who do not feel comfortable sending their children to a combined campus will be forced to because the the new assignment process will reduce choice, and other more commonly accepted school configurations will fill up quick.

    Transportation options will be much more limited in the future, again making other options less feasible for most families.

    A safe learning environment is necessary for students to learn. Younger wanna-bes Middle schoolers will feel the need to prove themselves to the older students and high school students will be (OGs) and feel the meed to not be out done by the Denny students. Even if only the students who are at risk of gang involvement are affected, the net increase in gang growth will make the campus more unsafe. Did anyone notice the police presence the last two weeks at Sealth?

Sorry, comment time is over.