Denny-Sealth: Too late to turn back now?


What we heard from Seattle Public Schools administration at the end of the school board’s Denny-Sealth shared-campus project work session tonight boiled down to something a lot like what we heard at a meeting about it that we covered here in West Seattle last summer — Yes, we know, we didn’t get a whole lot of public input before roaring forward with this plan, but really, we’re in it too deep now to pull back, though we’ll get you a little more information on what it would cost to change course, if you really, really want it. The majority of the board members, of course, have been elected since the project was approved last year — 4 of the 7 school board members are brand new — and even though board president Cheryl Chow warned them not to get bowled over by the “freshman rush” of project opponents hitting them up, they asked for a chance to reconsider anyway.

The work session centered around a detailed Power Point presentation on where the project is now, how it got there, what it’s supposed to achieve, and what could happen next, with myriad questions and side discussions along the way.

The presentation included a new term, “span school,” meant to describe the concept of a grades 6-12 shared campus. The early screens of the presentation, in fact, included so much talk about the shared campus and its expected benefits, that board member Harium Martin-Morris finally asked, “Are you talking about 2 principals and 2 schools, or a merger?” Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson quickly clarified, “Two principals and two schools,” although she acknowledged that the reputed benefits of a shared campus were reported from research that could have included merged schools as well as schools that just share campuses.

Chief academic officer Carla Santorno said, “Strong academic research backs the (shared campus) model,” and talked about working with a 6-12 campus during her days in the Denver area. The district contends that the potential benefits of a shared 6-12 campus, which would be a first for Seattle Public Schools, include a lower dropout rate and a reduced level of “structural barriers to success related to the effects of school transitions [when changing campuses between middle and high school].”

After all the setup about potential benefits of going forward with a combined Denny-Sealth campus, project manager Don Gilmore went on to recap the timeline between talk of asking voters to approve money for this project in the BEX III levy earlier this year, through various public and district meetings, on to the present.

This was an area that board members were particularly interested in dissecting, as a major bone of contention for more than half a year has been the claim from some that voters weren’t clear that they were voting for this. “What exactly did the voters vote for?” asked Martin-Morris. Gilmore presented language from what he described as a pre-BEX III vote pamphlet that he said was mailed to 45,000 homes, and that language described a combined campus; however, district leaders also acknowledged that what voters actually saw on their ballots at voting time mentioned only renovations to Sealth and replacement of Denny.

Information presented tonight also did not clearly show how many of the meetings that happened before and after the BEX III vote actually offered opportunities for public input. This is a point that the two schools’ principals spoke to at the Westwood meeting last June, and tonight’s mea culpa focused on the fact that the School Board was focused on the closure plan at the time, and did not spend nearly as much time communicating with the public regarding BEX III.

Though public concerns have been expressed repeatedly and passionately in the months since, district staff has continued working on the campus consolidation plan, and said at tonight’s work session that dramatically deviating from it could lead to a 2-year delay. (West Seattle board member Steve Sundquist asked why so long; district administrators say it takes a year to make drawings, and a year to get city permits.) Right now, they are moving toward sending the project out to bid in two months and starting construction this summer; as they have said before, they say now that delays could escalate the construction costs.

But there is added cost with what appears to be a compromise proposal that surfaced tonight — known as Option 2. It would involve adding $5 million-$10 million more in renovations to the current list of what is to be done to Chief Sealth while its students move out for the Denny construction work on their campus. Those additional renovations would include exterior cladding, a new gym floor, new bleachers, auditorium lighting, new doors and windows, exterior wall insulation, and a new roof. That would apparently be on top of the $125 million currently budgeted for the project, and there was no discussion of where that money might come from.

Two Chief Sealth staffers who attended the work session and spoke at the School Board’s regular meeting an hour later, Delfino Munoz and Alison Enochs, suggested that additional spending on Sealth’s renovation doesn’t speak to the heart of their concerns. Enochs, who also spoke as a parent of a Sanislo Elementary student, told the board about a community survey she launched last month on her own time, which she mentioned in a comment on this WSB post; she told the board tonight, “One very large concern (about the project), I did not hear addressed — the fact that as parents (of future Denny/Sealth students), we were not included in input — none of those public meetings were held before (the Denny-Sealth project) decision was made.”

Before the work session, Munoz also circulated a proposal he is hoping to convince the board to consider, showing how Denny could be rebuilt on its current site, with the design the district is using for the shared-campus version, while also incorporating some nearby park features for the community.

But by the time the work session got close to its end, it was a push for board members even to agree to look at the possibility of not combining the campuses; superintendent Goodloe-Johnson appeared to imply she would prefer they only look at the status quo or the “Option 2” extra renovations, and she suggested it would be dangerous for the board to look at rough estimates on what “Option 3” would cost, lest reality be different from the rough estimates. Nonethless, board member Peter Maier pushed for some information to be prepared on Option 3, and so it apparently will be. At that point, district finance/operations leader Don Kennedy said, “Are we still authorized to keep working on the current plan?” and was told yes — so it is clear the district administration will proceed as if the project will go out to bid in two months in its current form, unless the board orders them at some point to do otherwise.

Goodloe-Johnson also recommended various meetings with staff at both Denny and Sealth — no word on what form those might take aside from her description of “internal conversations” — and some sort of public engagement, though she repeated that time is short and “money is a huge impact.”

Time is also short for getting your opinion to board members if you want to say anything about this project, pro or con or otherwise, before it truly reaches a point of no return; contact info for board members is on this page. ADDED THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The unofficial Seattle Public Schools blog has a great, detailed recap here.

43 Replies to "Denny-Sealth: Too late to turn back now?"

  • GenHillOne January 9, 2008 (8:34 pm)

    Delfino Munoz and Alison Enochs – husband and wife? Am I understanding correctly that there were no other staff members there speaking in opposition to the plan?

  • credmond January 9, 2008 (8:38 pm)

    I hope the School Board and the Administration understand that their performance on this issue of interest to those of us who live in the Sealth and Denny neighborhoods is going to gauge our participation and accession to any subsequent school levies. I believe we were had on this one and if the best they can do is cite national studies (after the fact) and throw in a few million bones to improve the conditions at Sealth, I, for one, will NOT be voting yes on any subsequent school levy simply because I will not be able to believe what the ballot states and will automatically vote NO.

    I do hope they understand that the fiscal future of the school district is in their hands now. It’s the old “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” gig. I was under the impression that Denny would be rebuilt and Sealth would be significantly enhanced – a la West Seattle High School.

    I don’t even want to bring up the old rubrick of the south end getting nothing. I’m also hoping Sundquist understands he was voted in precisely to fight this kind of back-handed treatment to those who live near and/or go to Sealth and Denny.

    Where’s the fine, fully-equipped auditorium, for instance? Where’s the adjacent grounds integrated with a city park? Everytime I walk down Thistle I feel like West Seattle High is in another city simply because of the infrastructure investment disparity and the equal disparity in the integrated neighborhood (or lack thereof). By the way, where’s the controlled intersection crossing at Thistle?

  • GenHillOne January 9, 2008 (8:52 pm)

    Chas, let’s definitely learn from this, but perhaps not at the students’ (future levy/bond money) expense. While I feel like I’m getting exactly what I voted for, most likely because of the information I received as a Denny parent and the subsequent questions I asked, there clearly are those who don’t. Instead of saying I won’t vote yes in the years ahead, I’d rather learn what questions to ask and what information needs to be put out there to be sure intent is VERY clear to those who feel like they’ve been burned. I have to say that I’m still in favor of the project, but would like to see the process improve. I absolutely agree with the controlled crossings though. Once you do away with crossing guards…bring on the ped lights!

  • Delfino January 9, 2008 (9:42 pm)


    I can assure you that Alison and I are not husband and wife. Even if we were, does that mean you can discount our opinions and respond to the issues raised? 93% of the Chief Sealth staff voted against this plan. 2 supported it.

    The so-called public meetings that Facilities lists as part of the “open process” come in three categories:

    1. Initial meetings in which a limited amount of publicity was performed, “The Plan” was presented, mostly staff attended, and no concerns or opposition was addressed. (The first meeting at Sealth had some 26 attendees and 17 were ZDistrict Staff. Director Stewart left right after Facilities presetned, and most of the questions, and comments were negative and never responded to.) Did any body attend the second “public” meeting in fall of 06?

    2. Meetings of Staff where we were told that the decision was already made, and it was in our best interest. Again concerns and criticisms ignored.

    3. Meetings called by the West Wood Neighborhood Council, the best attended, where the plan was presented, apologies were made for the poor job of community engagement, and again, concerns and criticisms ignored.

    This is not public engagement. What options were discussed? What were the pros and cons? Only now, a year later, can the District speak to the academic benefits to our community. Further the benefits they can list in no way cannot be accomplished in two separate state of the art facilities.

    While I’m glad that GenHillOne was aware of what he/she voted for, I know the vast majority did not. (of some 31 Gatewood parents informally polled this week, 31 were aainst the plan and 20 had never heard of it) Neither the ballot language nor the Voters Pamphlet, nor the School Board Resolution authorizing the levy said a thing about combined campuses. look it up.

    What do people have against looking at the options and having a community wide discussion as to which is best for our whole community. Why the distrust of those of us asking questions? I love my job and believe that Seattle Schools has come a long way and is improving, but I still ask questions.

    Our community deserves the best option! We won’t get that if we don’t have the discussion. We cannot allow the “sky is falling” fear that construction escalation of costs means we have to act without thinking. We are told over and over again that if we don’t accept this plan, Chief Sealth will get nothing. (It was actually in todays Power Point)

    I believe there are many different options and am appalled we are not being presented with them. I brought one forward tonight that answers many concerns brought forward to date, that potentially mitigates some of the extra costs associated with changing the timelines, provides a safer separation of the age groups, still provides for increased collaboration and facility sharing, and incorporates community desire to have park and recreation space.

    Some would have this option not even discussed because we could lose money during the time we take to figure out the feasibility. I will ask the same question I asked at the beginning of this process, the same question I asked in June and the start of this year; What will it cost when we figure out that this was a bad plan to begin with, and have to start over? This decision is ours for the next 50 or more years.

    Please call or email the Board and ask them to have facilities cost out Option3 and then give all of us a voice .

  • WSB January 9, 2008 (9:54 pm)

    GHO – it wasn’t a public hearing – the work session had no opportunity for public comment, though the public was allowed to observe. The public remarks that were made came before the board meeting that followed at 6 pm, which as you probably know is a time when anyone can sign up to speak about anything. There also was a student speaking in opposition to the project but I didn’t get his name – I watched the public remarks on live TV at home after attending the work session in person at Stanford Center and then rushing home to write the article before going to another meeting.

  • GenHillOne January 9, 2008 (10:25 pm)

    I’ll keep this brief. Delfino – it was totally my mistake then, as I remember you mentioning your wife before in the same sentence as the elementary school survey being put out, so that stuck with me. The first sentence didn’t really have to do with second, but since you asked, yeah, maybe it would make a difference to me. I would hope that more than one family would be represented. Choice Night next Tuesday will be interesting.

  • Cori R January 10, 2008 (9:29 am)

    I feel the time for opposition to this was at the polls. If the school board backs down and spends the money given them by the voters in way that differs from what the voters were told (and I feel that it was indeed made clear that the vote was for a plan that included some shared facilities), then what happens next time we go to the voters with a request for money? Voters in this city are tired of going to the effort of voting, only to have their decisions thrown back in their faces becausee of the political pressure brought by the vocal few. My children are future Denny/Sealth students and I support this plan. That being said, I also support additional funds going to a more substantial remodel of Sealth – one on par with other schools that happen to be located further North.

  • Michael January 10, 2008 (11:10 am)

    I see things like “What will it cost when we figure out that this was a bad plan to begin with” and wonder:

    How is it a bad plan?

    So far, the arguments are only that it isn’t the BEST plan (and even then, only in the opinion of the individual) or even more unimportantly, that someone simply doesn’t “like” it, for whatever reason. I’ve yet to see “bad.”

    I think that’s why the plan is moving forward: no one can demonstrate “bad,” while “good” has actually been reinforced by research.

    When thinking people make a decision, that’s exactly what they look for.

  • Delfino January 10, 2008 (5:58 pm)


    At every meeting, so-called public and school staff, there have been multiple reasons for why this is a bad idea. None have been addressed, let alone refuted.

    Along the way, from day one that this came to the attention of the high school staff, we have asked for the rationale that led to the decision and for someone to articulate the academic benefits. We were told to work with Facilities, and this never happened. At last night’s work session, after a couple of questions Carla Santorno admitted that there is no academic benefit to a combined campus (see todays Seattle Times article) That is about the only thing the Times got right, however.

    I tried to to find “the research” and couldn’t find anything. There is a ton on middle school versus Jr High, but little to none on the combined campuses or 6-12 programs. Try and search for it, please help me understand.

    What are the benefits that can’t be accomplished on two separate state-of-the-art campuses? For that matter, what are the benefits that can’t be accomplished with two cooperative staffs, sound educational leadership and adequate planning time in run down shack? Maybe Michael or some other supporter of this plan can help caring, professional educators and concerned parents understand this, since no one at the District level seems to be able to.

    I, along with my colleagues, students and families that have been involved, have many reasons for why this is a bad idea. I will post some later, but have a wrestling match to go to now.

  • Charlie Mas January 10, 2008 (7:18 pm)

    There are two problems here, one chronic and one acute. The chronic problem is the District’s repeated failure to do any public engagement. The acute problem is public opposition to the Denny-Sealth design.

    The District staff get an idea and then perform a sham community meeting. There is nothing that could happen in that community meeting that could alter their decision in any way. While they project the illusion that the decision has not yet been made, in fact it has. If drawings and permits take two years and they already have them, then they must have committed to this plan two years ago. That is long before the vote and long before any public meetings of any kind.

    The District uses a number of tricks to suppress public involvement. The “We’ve come too far to change plans now” line is only one of them.

    As for the design, it offers no academic advantage that isn’t already available. All of their stories are fake. The real benefit, for the district, is the ability to surplus the Denny property.

  • Marlene Allbright January 10, 2008 (8:33 pm)

    Thank you credmond, delfino, and charlie. What I don’t think the rest of you get, is that the staff members that are in opposition to this merger care deeply about our students. Every staff member that has taken the time to attend a board meeting, has taken that time away from our families and loved ones out of commitment and love for our school and our students.

    The “vocal few” as described above are 93% of our staff. And that is just the Sealth staff. There are many more parents, students, and community members who are also opposed to this project.

    To Cori R., the actual levy language stated that Sealth would get a renovation, and Denny would be replaced. There was nothing in the language about a shared campus. My point is, that as long as Denny gets a new school, and Sealth gets for example a new boiler, that conforms to what you voted for. So, Denny can still be rebuilt at their current location and would not be in conflict with the vote.

    The District sent out its own pamphlet, but only to 45,000 people. That pamphlet said “shared campus.” Why didn’t the District send that pamphlet to every voter in Seattle? Don Gillmore tried to get away with that last night, and thank God Peter Maier called him on it.

    Looks like the Distict took a little artistic license in revising what most voters saw at the ballot box.

    We live with our students for seven hours a day. For many of those students we aren’t just their teachers; we are their mothers, their fathers, their friends, and their mentors. Who would know better what kind of an environment would be the best for them? An architect? A superintendent without any professional experience?

    The tone of the board at the work session was
    that we felt that we weren’t getting enough. We cannot be bought off for another 5-10 million dollars. We only want to keep what we have. With this project, that won’t be possible.

  • Delfino January 10, 2008 (8:49 pm)


    The District did send out a Levy informational brochure to 45,000 households (parents) and Schools First did both said a combined campus and some shared facilities. However as you can see below the Voters Guide, Board resolution and Ballot did not say anything about “combined campus”

    Voters voted for a rebuilt Denny and modernized Sealth period.

    From the voters Pamphlet:
    … 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…

    From the School District resolution authorizing the Levy:
    RESOLUTION NO.2006/07-3

    A RESOLUTION of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Washington, providing for the submission to the qualified electors of the district at a special election to be held therein on February 6, 2007, of a proposition approving a program to renovate or replace four high schools, two middle schools and one K-8 school, and make other capital improvements….
    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….

    From the Official Ballot:

    CAPITAL PROGRAM- $490,000,000

    The Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1 adopted Resolution #2006/07-3 concerning this proposition for bonds. This proposition approves a program to renovate or replace four high schools, two middle schools and one K-8 school and make other capital improvements, to issue $490,000,000 in general obligation bonds with a maximum term of seven years; and to levy additional property taxes to repay the bonds and to replace the expiring capital levy, not to exceed $81,666,667 annually for six years. Should this proposition be:


  • Suzanne January 11, 2008 (1:16 pm)

    I am a parent of 2 children who will both be at Denny next year and I am a strong supporter of this plan – specifically option #2 that gives Sealth some additional upgrades.

    I have heard that “93%” of the Sealth staff are opposed to this plan and I would like to know their reasons. I am somewhat skeptical of surveys since they can provide vastly different results depending on how they are administered – just look at how wrong the polls were in New Hampshire. I am curious about this survey with regards to how it was administered and by whom and what the specific questions were. If it was unbiased, and 93% of the staff are opposed to it , than that is a huge problem. I understand that people are upset about not being included in the decision making process, and I can understand their frustration. However, right now I am more interested in learning the specific reasons why the staff is opposed to this plan. If the majority of the staff is opposed to a shared campus, it may be very hard to get it to succeed.

    Also, what does the Denny staff feel about this plan?

    I love the idea of a shared campus and really hope that the plan moves forward, but I am concerned if the staff is not buying into it.

  • Indaknow January 11, 2008 (1:22 pm)

    Ever since I started hearing about this plan I have had a strong suspicion that the district is going to sell the Denny property to Seattle Parks and Rec dept (or some other entity) to develop. As someone who lives across the street from it, I would like sure like the district to be honest and open about this. I find it interesting that the district will allow some properties to sit for long periods of time but they sure seem anxious to move Denny. It is a real shame that parts of Sealth (tennis courts and baseball field)that were just constructed in the last “remodel” will be demolished. As a parent of a Chief Sealth student I do not like this plan. Our school has great teachers and for 93% of them to disapprove of this plan sends a very strong message to me (if not the district). I wrote to all of the school board members again after the Wednesday meeting and surprisingly (just kidding here) have not heard back from one of them. When I wrote them a month ago, several responded back within hours… In regards to how the district informed voters; I do not read ANY political advertisments I get in the mail (even from Schools First). Any glossy-sheen, posed picture campaign ad goes directly to my recycle bin. I do read my Voter’s Pamphlet, editorials and ballot very carefully before voting and that is where this kind of information should be.

  • GenHillOne January 11, 2008 (5:40 pm)

    “Who would know better what kind of an environment would be the best for them? An architect? A superintendent without any professional experience?” Um, parents by chance? I’m really tired of the implication that we’re just too stupid to know what was being planned and that we don’t have any idea what is best for our own kids. As I said before, sounds like we need to fix the process for next time, but I haven’t seen evidence that this is a “bad” plan either and don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Between our two area high schools, there’s an awful lot of Chicken Little going on.

  • The House January 11, 2008 (8:51 pm)

    Hey, I hate to interject reason into everyones comments but if voters actually read the levy, then they would have known that this was planned from the start. You {the public} had your chance to vote no and you didn’t.

    Secondly, the public educational system is flawed and inefficient as is. Check this out.

    The data is a bit old, but still very relevant. Sealth ranked 302 out of 368 high schools in the state. Denny ranked 359 out of 421 middle schools. That means that these are two of the worst schools in the state. You should be glad that the state wants to spend OUR tax dollars to improve both of them and I don’t see how any of you could argue that a combined campus would make matters worse.

    I also find it humourous that the majority of the “Westwood Neighborhood Council” folks that are making a ruckus about this don’t even have kids going to the schools. If the combined campus improves the facilities and is less expensive then building two facilities, then I’m in favor of it.

    But guess what, I voted NO against the school levy!

  • Delfino January 12, 2008 (8:00 am)

    The house,

    “Hey, I hate to interject reason into everyones comments but if voters actually read the levy…”

    Don’t worry, you didn’t. If you read the information in the link below, you will see it wasn’t stated in the official materials.

    As for the rest of your arguments, you don’t seem to be a supporter of our public schools and community anyway, so I don’t see how you can be helpful.

    The people who care about our schools, even if we disagree on this issue, need the help and support of each other to counter the challenges we face. We may have had the chance to vote in February, but we have a chance right now to make sure our community gets the best we can.

    Thank you all for caring enough to look at this with critical eyes and to let our collective voice be heard. Please let the School Board know how you feel.

    If the majority really believe that I am wrong, so be it. At least I will know that we all spoke up; and, what I believe to be the real reason for this plan, simply to save money at this community’s expense, will not have gone unchallenged.

  • GenHillOne January 12, 2008 (9:45 am)

    But Delfino, it was stated here:
    I went to the SPS site and read before going to the polls. Help me understand why the shared campus idea is taking staff by surprise, or what has changed, since this was out there more than a year ago.

  • Ms. R January 12, 2008 (11:36 am)

    As a staff member at Sealth, I feel I need to weigh in on some of the reasons I am opposed to the plan. While I have only been at Sealth for one year, I have been teaching for 11 years and hold a PhD.

    I have taught in 7-12 combined campuses in the south, and I like them when they are done well. In schools where I taught, much thought was given as to shared classes, facilities and security of the students and staff. The staff was given time to create shared classes and align curriculum within and between grades. The students were hand selected and signed a school contract for learning, along with their parents or guardians.(The students were selected based on a lottery and represented the same racial percentages as the city) A community was built around shared learning goals. It wasn’t just thrown together by a budget based on a need to save money.

    There is no academic “theme” to the Sealth-Denny merger, there is no academic plan or benefit that has been stated publicly. There is no evidence that any time will be given to the staff of the two schools to collaborate or build a community of shared learners. Any academic research on combined schools states “shared and common” academic goals must be in place before the students enter the campus. All of the “model” schools on the east coast which the committee visited not only had shared academic goals, they also hand selected their students.

    To think that a shared learning community can just be generated by conjoining two separate schools on the same plot of land seems to be either naive or cruel.

    Additionally, the Sealth staff has never been given clear answers on building space utilization. At the last meeting I attended, we were shown a building design that contained no computer labs ( a loss of three labs). We were told the committee realized this and any class could be set up for a computer lab. The main computer lab currently in use at the school is the size of two classrooms and the loss of this space to classrooms for Denny impacts the academics of Sealth students. Currently the computer ratio of students to open scheduled computers is ~ 20:1. We have no clear idea of what this ratio will be after the remodel.

    The students at Sealth need greater access to computers, not less. While Seattle Schools in general suffer from a lack of access to modern technology, the students on the south side have little to no access. While the district is offering the incentive of a technology class space to be shared with Denny (much like the program currently at Madison), the space involved will serve many less students than the computer lab it will replace.

    There are a myriad of reasons while individual teachers oppose the merge, to speak with us is to gain a broad understanding the intricacy of combining schools. As a research scientist, I understand the complexity of such a merger, educational research warns of the complex factors and planning involved, and yet all the school board can focus on is the cost of the building. One has to ask about the cost to academics.

    Thanks for hosting this forum

  • Delfino January 12, 2008 (11:40 am)


    You are correct. I also saw that information. One bullet point, 20 or so words in 7 pages. I thought Schools First did a slightly better job of describing the idea, but even they said “…shared facilities may include…”

    I had already been asking questions, and was being told that no firm decisions had been made. That there would be many opportunities for the public and staff to weigh in and help form the final decision that could include separating the campuses, if thats what we decided.

    I am also Co-Chair of a Latino Organization, Campana Quetzal, and we called a special meeting to discuss the project. We were very close to voting against endorsing the levy because of this. In the end, a compromise motion made by me, was passed to reluctantly support the levy, but wrote a letter to Schools First and the School Board requesting an active commuity engagement process.

    School staff critical of the project at that time were being told that we could still decide against the co-location, up until mid April or so.

    The Latino community has known for some time that Capital Levies are not set in stone. In BEX1, 14 million dollars was set aside for the construction of a new Bilingual Orientation Center. It was never built, and this past year the money was reallocated to cover cost over runs at Garfield.

    In any event, according to the facilities presentation at the School Board work session this past Wednesday, the District has been working on the Denny plans for the past 18 months. If I am not mistaken, that means they started working on these plans before even that pamphlet was distributed. This is why they say Option3, of which I distributed a very rough conceptual design to Board members, rebuilding Denny at Denny is not feasible because it would require another 18 month delay and “cost escalation” would eat up another 25 million dollars.

    Since this decision IS being made now, the real question should be, is this really the best thing for our community?

  • GenHillOne January 12, 2008 (1:29 pm)

    Now we’re getting somewhere! So what is the biggest stumbling block for Sealth staff right now (setting aside theories of deception and/or mismanagement of the process by SPS – another issue to resolve)? Is it having Denny next door? Not getting a new building? Academic planning? I’m still not convinced that this is a “merger” of the two programs at this point as Ms. R suggests. Maybe someday, and over time, especially having faculty together (I’m assuming it’s ok if they share a lounge!), some programs could grow over time. Are you getting other information? I wonder if opponents have priorities established in this, well, negotiation. Someone made a comment about “best” vs. “bad” and that makes sense to me. It feels like both sides are so far apart, we will end up doing a further disservice to the students caught in the middle.

  • Suzanne January 13, 2008 (10:13 am)

    I appreciate Ms R’s explanation of why she is opposed to this plan. Thus far it is the only reason I’ve heard from the opposition that resonates with me. As GenHillOne points out, this is not supposed to be a merger but rather a shared campus. My hope is that, over the years, there would be more opportunities for staff to share resources just as the music department is already doing. I sincerely hope that staff would be given the time and resources to make this work effectively.
    Also, regarding the “shared and common” academic goals, I was under the assumption that some of this was already happening between Denny and Sealth as part of the flight school program. I had been told that the schools were trying to align their curriculums to help ease the transition between middle school and high school. This was going to be even more important with Sealth having the IB program. Can any staff tell me if this has actually been happening?

  • Mike January 13, 2008 (11:01 am)

    Let’s get to the real issue here, people feel as if they didn’t get enough of a say. It’s hard to tell whether or not the outcome would have been different if the process was more inclusive (my guess is that it probably would not have been).

    All of the discussions about the academic benefit, the lives of teachers, children, etc. are used to mask the fact that people, whether because of a lack awareness of their own doing (don’t we have an obligation to do research of our own when voting rather than having everything spoon fed to us?) or the district’s inadequate community relations process, feel put off by not getting a say. That’s it, bottom line.

    Buildings/structures are a distant second, in terms of impact on the quality of a school, to the people and processes (i.e. quality teaching) in the school. There are many benefits to having a combined campus that make it a far better alternative to separate campuses, if, and only if, the people in the school and district take advantage of them.

    Now, if we could focus the conversation on these advantages and get away from the selfish debate over our feelings getting hurt by not having a say in the design, maybe the schools would be a whole lot better than they currently are. That in my mind is the real issue. Compare the performance of these two schools (not even 1/3 of Denny’s students met standard on the 8th grade math WASL) to others throughout the state with similar demographics and you’ll see that it would serve students much better for the staff to spend some time working on improving learning rather than debating building configuration.

  • Mr. Z January 13, 2008 (10:26 pm)

    I am a teacher at Chief Sealth and I have served on the School Design Team for the past year. I also traveled to New York and Boston last year to look at existing 6-12 schools.
    Like Ms. R, I am not opposed to the concept of a 6-12 campus. However, there is a big difference between a school that is built from scratch as a 6-12 model with shared goals and systems in place from the start and the Sealth/Denny project, which simply combines the campuses of 2 preexisting schools. In last week’s work session, Carla Santorno cited research derived from studies on shared campuses, but none of those schools reflected our situation. She freely admitted that there would not be any academic benefits from a Denny/Sealth shared campus.
    Yes, there is some collaboration currently between Denny and Sealth staff, but it is fairly limited. Time is definitely a factor. In the New York schools that we visited, students had 7 periods a day (like Bellevue does) and teachers taught 5 periods. This allowed teachers to have one planning period and one period for collaboration (meetings with other staff to discuss student work, align curriculum, get feedback from academic coaches, etc.) Today, as a separate high school, we barely have the time to allign our own curriculum, let alone meet with Denny staff. If we do not have more structured time built into our schedules to collaborate, we will NOT see increased communication between the two staffs. And I am not very optimistic that more time will be given. The State of Washington currently only funds 5 periods a day for high schools. To get to the 7-period model with 2 non-teaching periods, we would need a huge infusion of FTE (more teachers).
    On another note, the biggest advice from the schools that we visited was to keep the middle school and high school students separated. There was absolutely no mixing of students in classes and minimal or no mixing of students in the hallways. I worry when I see more and more shared facilities with each draft of the Denny/Sealth plan. With more shared facilities, we will undoubtedly have more mixing in the hallways. We currently struggle to shield our 9th graders from the sometimes negative behavior of our 11th and 12th graders. Helping 6th graders navigate through the high school hallways to their classes will be another story. Yes, music classes currently combine middle school and high school students, but it is a relatively small number compared to ALL of the middle school students who would potentially walk through Sealth to get to class. Furthermore, right now they walk into the school through the auditorium entrance without having to walk through the main hallways.
    I and others are not saying “We don’t want Denny on our campus period.” It is not an Us against Them situation. That would not make sense. Denny students are our students too. More resources for Denny will result in 9th graders entering Chief Sealth more prepared for high school. We are concerned about a shared campus for very concrete reasons. It is true that the process has been flawed and that a band-aid job on Sealth is inequitable. But people need to pay attention to our concerns that will be most visible as soon as we reopen as a shared campus: zero academic benefits and a reduction in safety for students.

  • John Wright January 13, 2008 (11:55 pm)


    As a Sealth teacher I have to disagree about whether or not us getting a say in and of itself is the issue. From the start there were significant academic and security concerns the idea did not hold merit, whether asked or not. If this was just another flavor-of-the-year September-surprise initiative from downtown we would just roll our eyes and wait it out. However, this is a $125 million initiative that a significant portion of the Sealth staff feels is dangerously dubious and had downtown paid any respect to their oft-quoted “you’re the front lines” speeches and asked they would have heard that loud and clear.

    For comparison, I’d like to note that I left the private sector some 6 years ago. I was involved in discussions about selecting new accounting software and operational concerns and did not always win, but upper management knew to at least ask and get input. Sometimes the inquiry was thin, but they asked. My point is that regardless of hurt feelings or not, it just makes sense to at least bounce critical ideas off key stakeholders be it public or private sector.

    I have a book prepared by Facilities of school’s they are using as models of combined campuses. I specifically requested it to see what possibilities there are. Unfortunately the benefits at the school’s listed are totally incomparable to what we are considering. They are mostly magnet schools with admissions processes, etc. With one exception they are nothing like Denny and Sealth. The only research that was done by the district has been on the physical facilities models and not the academic models, which are clearly so few that the review team had to fly to Boston and New York. I do not believe there are academic benefits if there apparently isn’t even a West Coast model to visit. Despite your concern that academics is a smokescreen for hurt feelings, academics truly is the primary concern, with security concerns a close second.

    Finally, I’d like to provide just one example of a concern I have regarding security and school climate. Teens are teens and some occasionally get rude in the hallways. When I call a student on their behavior if they know me (or who I am) there’s generally an “Oh my bad” or “Sorry Mr. Wright” type of response. Usually students who do not know the me or adult calling them on the appropriateness of their behavior are the ones who dig their hole deeper with additional inappropriate comments like “Who the ?*#?#% are you?” With a significant amount of more students milling around from a combined campus I’m worried about the security and climate issues this may create. There are benefits to knowing our students and yet in an era of “small schools” this appears to be going in the opposite direction.

    Under most any circumstance I’d agree with you that buildings are secondary, but unfortunately combining the campuses as being discussed is making them primary and in such an expensive way that even when proven to ultimately be a big mistake, well, there’s obviously no delete button to undo this one.

  • Suzanne January 14, 2008 (8:45 am)

    Mr. Z,
    Thanks for your response. I feel like I’m learning more all the time about this whole situation, but I’m also hoping you can clarify a couple things.
    Regarding the 6-12 campuses you visited, I was surprised to hear that there was no mixing of students in classes and minimal mixing in the hallways. Do you know what their purpose was for having a 6-12 campus if the middle school and high school students were kept completely separate? One of the reasons I am in favor of the plan is because I like the idea of some shared classes like what is currently happening with music. I also envisioned positive ways the kids could interact in a supervised environment where the older kids could act as mentors. There are a lot of great kids out there who could be great role models for the younger students. However, I also realize there are some who could be negative role models…
    Secondly, I have heard frequently that there are no academic benefits to a shared campus, but could it be academically detrimental?
    Thirdly, I do realize that security could be a problem, but I feel that appropriate safeguards could be put into place.
    I guess I would like to see the plan go forward even though it appears that the district did a poor job soliciting input from staff members. I am hopeful that the district learned from this experience and that from here on out, there would be more opportunities for people to make the proposed plan work by giving staff the time and resources to put in place appropriate safeguards especially around security. (I hope I’m not being completely naive in believing this). I am very fearful that we may have to wait another 10 years for any upgrade to these 2 schools if this plan is scrapped.

  • GenHillOne January 14, 2008 (9:09 am)

    This is a helpful discussion, thank you for the staff input. For me, and the parents I’ve spoken to, it is the most important information I can receive. I fear that the larger, IMHO separate problem, of the dysfunctional process will be talked-to-death by “activists” and we’ll be taken down with the ship. I will say that I am especially comforted by the open dialogue with CS staff here. NOT what I see going on with the 4-period debate over at WSHS. Perhaps I’m too detached from the climate on campus, but I don’t get the contentious, venomous taste in my mouth here.

  • Ms. R January 14, 2008 (10:16 am)

    I do not understand those who claim to know what the “real issue” is. Who are you and who do you represent that you can make such claims? What would make you think this is about “hurt” feelings and “building” issues? How can you claim to speak for what I myself have written? Have we spoken at some time?
    There seems to be some disconnect or disinformation campaign being propagated around this project. This is not about the building for many of us, it is not about “buying” off staff by giving Sealth enhancements, for many of us, it is about academics. I have read the prevailing research on combined campuses, I have taught at combined 7-12 high schools, I work with students every day and scramble to find ways to provide them with the tools and knowledge that they need to achieve success in a technological future.
    The collaboration that currently exists between the two schools is small and has primarily been initiated by individual teachers or departments. As staff, we are not given enough time to align the curriculum within our departments, much less between schools. The district has not taken the lead on this issue. While curriculum alignment is integral to Flight goals, there has been little time, incentives or monies made available to the schools in question to support alignment. Until the district is truly committed to academics, we may get lovely buildings, but the equity gap for our students will remain the same. Since when do buildings drive academics?

  • Ms. R January 14, 2008 (11:07 am)


    I will address a few of the questions that you posted. The 7-12 school I taught at in New Orleans was an academic magnet school. The students were selected by a lottery to reflect the racial make-up of the city. All students had baseline reading and math scores that had to be obtained to apply to the school. The students and parents signed a contract for learning, and had a behavior and conduct code.A majority of our students received full scholarships to universities in the top 25. Despite this, the school still chose to keep most of the students separated from each other, and these were GOOD students. While we were in the same building, the lower classes were on different halls. Each grade had their own hallway that they used up until 10th grade, and the student ID’s were color coded by grade and were required to be worn so that you could immediately see if a student was off their hallway. There were some combined classes, but only for upper class (10-12) and lower class (7-9), most notably the gifted classes.
    Research shows that young students may be unduly influenced by contact with older students and are more likely to engage in “risky” behavior at an earlier age. There are academic benefits to combining some of the programs, but this takes time and planning to accomplish.
    Mentoring between the two schools would be a wonderful thing, but again this takes careful planning. I conduct after school science programs in some area middle schools and when I bring older students I make sure they are students that I trust around children.
    I understand when some Sealth staff talk about the “building” as an example of the equity gap in the Seattle School district. Many feel as if the building is an excuse for the district to tout an academic equity that does not exist with or without a new building.

    Thanks again for the forum.

  • Cori R January 14, 2008 (11:29 am)

    I get that Sealth needs (and deserves) more than just a coat of paint when other high schools are getting state of the art performance halls. And I get that some parents might be concerned about the influence of high school students on middle school students (or perhaps the reverse, the scariest bullies I’ve ever seen are 8th grade girls) but I honestly can’t see any accademic downside to having two schools share a campus. I can see the financial benefits and it seems that both schools end up with “better” facilities when the facilitites that are not in constant use –art, music, sports … are shared.

    I understand also that people want to be heard, they want their thoughts and reactions taken into consideration, they want their opinions treated as valid contributions to the decision making process. At some point, however, a decision has to be made. There will never be one exactly right choice that will make everyone happy. At what point does that talking stop and the action start? I hear that people feel they were misled and that this is coming out of left field, but (with very little investigative effort on my part) I have been aware of this combined campus for two years — although I was under the impression that Sealth was to be rebuilt as well, so there clearly has been room for misinterpretation.
    I have heard from the principals in the flight program that effort is going into aligning curriculum between elementary, middle and high school so that as students progress, they progress together, no matter their previous school/teacher. The obvious benefit is that no time is needed to help some students play catch up. The principal at Denny also seems to be actively working toward graduating his students to high school prepared to enter the IB program at Sealth.
    Looking at all this it apprears to me that the two schools will be coming closer together over the next few years and in the end, the shared campus will be a huge draw for serious students in the Seattle school district.

    p.s. I hope you took that “who the &^%$ are you” student to the office by the ear!

  • Mz. C January 14, 2008 (6:02 pm)

    I have been teaching Health and PE at Chief Sealth High School for seven years. My teaching experience spans both middle and high school levels dating back to the…well, awhile back. Rather than reiterate many of the concerns I have that are already on the blog, I will mention that I am aligned with my colleages Ms. R., Mr. Z., Delfino, Marlene Allbright and John Wright in their thinking and rationale (security issues being the single most important reason to stop this potentially disasterous plan). I do have a couple of other personal comments to add however. I have been opposed to this BEX III combined campus concept from the day John Boyd introduced us to the Irene Stewart plan to “get more for Chief Sealth” (at the first staff meeting of the year two Septembers ago). Nevertheless, I obliged my principal’s request to be on the BEX combined school committee as significant improvements were reported to be planned for the gym. The BEX facilities folks told us repeatedly that the process was there to serve us and our students (and in fact, if we decided not to combine campuses, that could/would be the end result) if we just participated in the process. Therefore, I attended the combined meetings until it was apparent that even though our staff was opposed in significant growing numbers, our voices were landing on deaf ears and we were being manipulated by the BEX staff from facilities. So, in response to GenHillOne (Jan. 12), the shared campus idea has not at all taken us by surprise. I think we truly believed that Don Gilmore would honor their words and provide an HONEST process. Many of us perceive the reality is however, that it’s been “rigged” in many ways from the start. To Suzanne (Jan.11): there is truth in your statement “if the majority of staff is opposed to a shared campus, it may be very hard to get it to succeed”. Understanding this fact is the reason our PTSA president Mary Claire Duncan, a previous avid supporter and committee member, stood before the Board last month and pleaded with the members to NOT go forward with the combined campus concept. Ms. R has eloqently delineated the conditions under which a combined campus will work..those pre-requisites and conditions are not found in this plan. As PE and Health department chairperson, the fact that the proposed Denny building will be built on the softball field and tennis courts that we use on a regular basis in our PE classes and after school by our softball and tennis teams is appalling. We lose valuable teaching space and at what cost were those facilities built only eight years ago??? I don’t think taxpayers would find that concept very appealing. In conclusion, I am frustrated and disheartened that the driving force of this combined campus concept is money….not what is good for our kids.

  • Delfino January 14, 2008 (6:32 pm)

    As GenHillOne said “now we are getting somewhere.”

    I want to thank all of you who are participating in this dialogue. My firm belief is that our best decisions are made when we put our heads together. Is that not the only reason to have a process? Mike’s comments about the “real” issue struck a chord with me, as did Suzanne’s and GHO’s regarding whether this is a question of “process”, or “best vs bad.”

    While the District did not set up an authentic engagement process that valued or utilized the input of either staff, parents or community, that does not mean that the dedicated professional educators at Chief Sealth did not take an in-depth look at this. I think anyone who went on the trip to New York and Boston will tell you that Mr Z and I, who along with Mr Botley from Denny represented core academic classroom instruction, asked academic questions at every opportunity. We reported back to our colleagues what we saw. We have tried hard to support this plan; but in the end, when it all adds up, can’t. The overwhelming majority of staff cannot either because it is not good for our students and staff, so it’s not good for our school. When we weigh the positives vs the negatives, it is “bad.”

    There have been 3 official votes at Chief Sealth. The first was after initial facilities presentations and a staff meeting discussion of the plan after the Levy vote and the first couple of Site Design Team meetings. The second was after a report to the staff by the group that went to see the “model programs” in NY and Boston and a joint meeting of Sealth and Denny staff. The third was this year after recent Facilities presentation to Sealth staff.

    March 28, 2007 53 against, 9 for, 25 undecided (All staff including custodial, lunchroom , security and administration (60.9%, 10.3%, 28.7%)

    June 5, 2007 44 against, 13 for, 2 undecided (75%, 22%, 3%)
    Notes available

    December 17, 2007 50 against, 2 for, 2 undecided (93%, 4%, 4%) (SEA represented staff only)

    I have more than 20 pages of single spaced pro and con arguments from the staff. I obviously can’t post them all here, and have asked if there is a way for WS Blog to host some of the documents as links for those interested in reviewing them. (WSB note: 1st link is here, 2nd link is here) There are 12 main areas of concern. Taken alone, none is probably enough to oppose this plan, though issues of safety/security and academic benefits should do it in my book, but put all together, is why our staff can’t support this.

    If I believed that there was no alternative, and Suzanne’s fear that we would not get any updates for 10 or more years if we change directions were true, I might be willing to say we will have to work together to make the best of this. After all, as public school educators, that’s what we have always been doing. It has been pointed out, however, that the data says it hasn’t been very effective. 125 million dollars is a substantial investment, and it is my opinion that there are probably many options that have merit.

    Because of where we are in this process, and the valid concern of the wise use of taxpayer money, I would like us to consider Option3, rebuilding Denny at Denny. I provided the Board with a very rough conceptual design. (link here) This option utilizes the same floor plan designed by the Site Design Team. The work done to maximize the academic benefits of a new facility for our Middle School is not wasted. None of the “sharing” of academic value that is in the plan cannot be accomplished with a separate state of art Denny facility one block away. It has the additional benefits of mitigating most of the concerns raised by Chief Sealth, incorporating park like recreational features desired by participants in the West Wood Neighborhood Council meetings, and provides for growth at Sealth in the future, perhaps the addition of vocational offerings.

    It has long been my view, also shared by many of my Sealth colleagues, that what happens at Denny affects Sealth. We are feeling the positive work of the last few years now. These are our same families and students. A real effective investment at Denny is good for the whole community. Let’s build Denny right! If it takes the whole 125 million, so be it. Sealth is not in real bad shape. We do need some maintenance, and deserve the same treatment of othe high schools, but it’s far nicer than any of the buildings we visited in New York. We have also done some good improvements in the recent past. I would much rather have modern technology, adequate course offerings and materials, and time and support to work with my colleagues to design a well rounded educational program, than one nice new building, some paint and a heater in the other and the benign neglect and multitude of problems that will come with the short sighted combining of campuses that only saves money.

    As to the very real issue of the cost to look at another option, Facilities is very good at what they do. If the Board directed them to expedite the cost analysis of Option3, I have confidence they could get it done quickly. We would not have to start over from the beginning of the whole process. Obviously, I am not an expert, but I question that it would take 18 months. We could engage the community with two options, pros and cons of each, really listen and the Board could make an informed decision.

    Denny’s physical condition warrants immediate action, this is a question of social justice and equity to me. This is my community, our community. I grew up here, attended both schools and have a son at Sealth. I have invested more than 20 years of my life trying to serve the educational need of our kids. We should not be short changed in any way. Equity doesn’t necessarily mean equal. When we take into consideration the diversity and demographics of our community, we need more investment of resources not less as this plan provides. When it’s our turn, we’ll be back, hopefully with your support, to make sure that Chief Sealth is not denied either.

  • John Wright January 14, 2008 (11:25 pm)

    Quick timeframe clarification – the idea originated during the summer of 2006. We Sealth staff did not hear about any such plan when leaving for summer at the end of school in late June 2006. We heard about the combined campus plan when we returned the last week of August 2006 at our initial staff meeting. It has been out there for 18 months (a bit less than 2 years). We were told from Day 1 the “merger” or “combined campus” concept was non-negotiable because it was on the levy ballot.

    Academically I hoped there was some benefit, and although the mostly private schools (and a few public magnets) do show benefits they are radically unlike anything Seattle has experience with or appears likely to permit. Entrance exams, for example, would be completely contrary to ours and the district’s stated goal of eliminating the achievement gap.

    The one academic aspect that kept me curiosly interested in the idea for a few weeks was the potential to increase our minority participation and success rate in the IB program because of the potential preparation at Denny. Unfortunately the Denny principal has specifically said he will not pursue the pre-IB program called the Middle Years Programme (MYP). Recently I’ve even been presenting the MYP textbooks to our math department as a possible textbook to build our IB program via the MYP as Denny reportedly will not support pre-IB.

    There is one combined school in Florida which does a 6-12 IB. However, Florida heavily legislates for IB and any student who passes an IB exam receives college credit for any Florida state college. The academics was central prior to that school’s creation and there are numerous supports already in place for IB students via state funding which we simply do not have. Also, the Florida school is more exclusive than would ever be allowed at Sealth/Denny.

  • mike January 14, 2008 (11:31 pm)

    I’d be interested in seeing the research on how combined campuses have any kind of significant impact on student achievement that can be isolated from the work of the staff in these schools. There is plenty of research, on the other hand, that strongly ties factors such as quality of curriculum, access to curriculum, feedback and assessment, parent involvement, and a safe and orderly environment (which deals with factors such as rules, teaching self-discipline, etc.)to student achievement (notice all of these can be building-independent). See some of Robert Marzano’s research, it’s good stuff.

    Ms. R – I was a high school teacher in two states for 14 years at 2500 student campus, a 1500 student campus and an 1100 student campus – two with similar demographics to Sealth. I’ve taught in buildings where the roof leaked, the walls were crumbling and I had to use hot plates to heat my room in the winter. I’ve taught in portables, and I’ve taught in new, state-of the art buildings – in one case, in a brand new building that was constructed while I was a department head and I where I got to be a part of the planning. My teaching didn’t change radically in any of these buildings. Sure, it was more pleasant in the newer buildings, and I do believe that we send a message to students about how much we value them when they have clean and pleasant spaces to learn. Of course, this can be done whether campuses are combined or not.
    I have also been a middle school principal for five years and have been on a building design team in this role. On top of all of this, I have two children in Seattle schools, so I think I can speak credibly on this topic.

    It is my opinion that the energy and emotions being put into this particular issue, like so many others in Seattle schools, keep school and district staff from doing what is the most important thing, and that is teaching students well. This is not to say that we must ignore safety, but I’m just not seeing how the combined campuses are impacting this. I also have to say that I sure would love to have an SRO close by as a middle school administrator. I would also be all over the opportunity to use the proximity of middle and high school buildings to enrich both the middle school and high school programs and to improve the transition from middle school to high school. All of the arguments about the impact of the combined campuses on student learning listed so far have nothing, in my opinion, to do with buildings and everything to do with the actions of the people in those buildings, and all of this fuss over the process is definitely not helping the people in these buildings to do the truly important work of a school.

  • Suzanne January 15, 2008 (10:09 am)

    I appreciate this discussion and especially the input from teachers. I find it interesting that I have yet to hear anything from Denny staff. I still get the sense that it is mainly Sealth staff opposed to this plan, but I don’t know for sure. If the main reasons to oppose this plan are for security and academic reasons, I would think that Denny staff would be weighing in on this as well and expressing their concerns. After all, as middle school teachers, I imagine they would be even more protective of their students since they are the ones that could be “negatively” influenced by some of the older kids who may not be model citizens.
    Any Denny staff out there who care to comment???

  • Delfino January 15, 2008 (11:25 am)


    You have some helpful insight into some of the real issues to discuss here. In your role as a middle school principal, how much of your time was spent on discipline issues? Were any of those issues things that seemed to detract from your role as an educational leader helping to focus the passion of educators on teaching and learning? I remember debates about chewing gum and baseball hats and building slogans while trying to teach multiplication facts and esl readers the difference between verbs and adjectives.

    Much of your post sounds like the arguments I have felt justified our staffs opposition to a combined campus. “…how (can a) combined campuses have any kind of significant impact on student achievement that can be isolated from the work of the staff in these schools….” Remember, I was first one of the 25 undecided. Only becoming firmly against after visiting NY and Boston and participating in building conversations.

    What in your experience is gained with a combined campus as opposed to two separate campuses one small block away? As in this option?

  • GenHillOne January 15, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    1. Thank you for the continued dialogue, as has been mentioned, it is appreciated. 2. Circumstances have kept me from getting caught up on all of this information (I will though!), but it is a huge service to have these links provided, WSB, you’re invaluable as usual.

  • Ms. R January 17, 2008 (10:34 am)


    In New Orleans, my building was over one hundred years old, my classroom had paint peeling off the walls, that we couldn’t remove or paint over, owing to the lead in the paint. We still had standards, and still graduated some of the top students in the city with over 85% of our students receiving free and reduced lunch. So I would say, I am with you on understanding that schools are about staff and the quality education they deliver. Upon reflection, my objection isn’t the building so much, I could care less where they decide to plunk down Denny. I do however care that they are putting a school on the same property without think at ALL, about the academic impact, a shared vision for the campus and the time and support systems for teachers to plan for this.
    This is precisely why we need to have a debate about the academic merits and the academic supports that will be put into place for this combined campus. If it is indeed all about academics and teaching, why aren’t we having this discussion?
    In most districts this would have been done before putting forth a proposal to the voters to build a combined campus. The district would have already worked with the schools involved to create shared visions, goals and programs. Staff, students and parents would have identified programs that could be combined and then the building design would come out of that input. There would have already been a discussion of safety issues, and spaces that could be shared space.
    This was the way it was done at the 6-12 model that Mr. Wright mentioned in Florida. This was the way it was done at the 7-12 schools that the committee visited on the east coast. Only here in Seattle have I ever seen a facility that came before the pedagogy.
    This is not to say that it cannot work, but it puts a great burden on the staff of both schools to do this without support from the district. The mentality of “build it and they will come”, works only in the movies.
    I am not against a combined campus, I think it would be wonderful to be involved with a model that would work to close the equity gap for our students and create a seamless design for learning from 6-12. I am not naive enough to believe that this will happen easily without support and direction from a district that seems to willing to allow the division that currently exists over this project to fester. The district has yet to bring up the “academic” word in relation to this project. Academics and safety are issues that should be addressed, and should have been addressed before this project was brought before the voters. This is the real fault of the project as I see it.
    There is a way to make this project successful and use this combined campus as a shining example of how a community and a district can enhance the academic experience of our children. A pretty building may make them feel valued, but a building is the shell. Academics and how it is delivered is the foundation that must be built before we put up walls.

  • Ms. K January 17, 2008 (2:27 pm)

    The 6-12 combined campuses in the Denver area that Carla Santorno referred to do not apply to the Denny/Sealth merge.
    I invite people to take a look at these sites, they are beautiful campuses that share many of the attributes discussed on the blog previously in that they were carefully planned and serve only a subset of the general student population. Denver School of the Arts, is a magnet school for the performing arts.
    Lakewood (a suburb of Denver) boasts Sobesky Academy Day treatment, is a 7-12 special education school. Perhaps we can look at Escula Tlateloco and amazing 7-12 charter school with a Latino focus.
    With few exceptions, all of the 6-12 or 7-12 schools in the Denver area are charter or academic focused schools with a specific criteria for admission.

  • John Wright January 17, 2008 (9:16 pm)

    Along the lines of Ms. K’s link’s to the very interesting Denver area schools I realize I should provide links to the Florida school with the IB 6-12 program. The application process is explained on one link.
    One positive lesson learned by looking at this site and many others with the pre-IB Middle Years Program (MYP) is that we should be considering MYP at Denny regardless of whether we’re on the same campus or just down the street. It could be the best way to enhance equitable participation in Sealth’s IB program. That’s a discussion Sealth and Denny need regardless of the construction outcome.

  • WS resident January 20, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    new 6-12 school?
    Remember during the recent school closurers, SPS actually announced at a School Board meeting, that Pathfinder School would be changed from a K-8 into a K-21 for the next year, in order to “fill” the Boren building!
    There was absolutely NO input from the community, no academic research to support this change. Pathfinder School was totally blindsided by this announcement. Just an interesting piece of history.

  • Delfino January 20, 2008 (1:30 pm)

    It really makes you wonder whose “public school system” they think this is.

  • Delfino January 25, 2008 (3:55 pm)


    Where did you go? Did the question about how much time a vice principal spends on discipline scare you away?

Sorry, comment time is over.