Denny-Sealth update: Teachers’ union resolution

This just in from Delfino Munoz, the Chief Sealth High School teacher who has been publicly voicing concerns about the current Denny Middle School-Sealth HS shared-campus plan:

The Seattle Education Association Representative Assembly just passed a resolution calling “…on the Seattle School Board and District Administration to direct BEX III/Facilities to provide an option for rebuilding Denny at the current Denny site…”

More details when we get them. ADDED 10:01 PM: Here’s the text of the final SEA resolution, from a doc forwarded by Munoz:

Whereas the spirit and letter of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) spelled out in Paragraphs A, C, D, and E of the Preamble commit the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to “building a collaborative partnership…” of all stakeholders based on “mutual respect and trust…”; and the decision to combine the Chief Sealth and Denny campuses, which was made by the Seattle School Board and announced at the Sealth Staff meeting in August of 2006 without prior discussion with staff, students, parents, or community, is therefore in violation of the CBA, and,

Whereas the plan that followed for combining the two schools on one campus has also never included an authentic open process for all the stakeholders to become informed and to provide input, even though Paragraph F of the Preamble of the CBA states that success for our children depends on a “strong parent/guardian and community engagement process…” and;

Whereas Paragraph F of the Preamble further states, “We will provide a safe and healthy environment where discrimination, intimidation and harassment are not tolerated…” yet concerns of parents and Staff regarding the safety of mixing the age groups have not been adequately addressed, and;

Whereas the represented staff of Chief Sealth requested several times for the SPS to address the academic benefits for our students in the decision to co-locate the campuses and received no adequate response, and;

Whereas the staff of Chief Sealth has voted three times in overwhelming opposition to this plan, and;

Whereas the students of Chief Sealth have polled over half the student body and found 90 per cent opposed to this plan, and;

Whereas the current design plan results in considerable loss of classrooms to Chief Sealth that could drastically affect the way we deliver services such as IEP and ESL, again without affected stakeholder input, and:

Whereas there are significant issues of equity in the proposed plan, and;

Whereas a decision to not co-locate Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth would not require any diversion of funds from other schools currently in the BEX III plan, and;

Whereas the Sealth staff supports the Denny community’s right to a first class state of-the-art educational facility, and;

Whereas the Sealth staff is willing to accept only those building upgrades deemed essential under the BEX III and postpone further renovations, and;

Whereas the Seattle School Board has the authority to rescind the decision to combine the two schools on the Sealth campus, and;

Whereas this decision has long lasting affects on the staffs and community of both schools;

Be it therefore resolved that the Seattle Education Representative Assembly call on the Seattle School Board and District Administration to direct BEX III/Facilities to provide an option for rebuilding Denny at the current Denny site and completing the required upgrades in order to meet code for Chief Sealth;

Be it further resolved that the SPS establish a genuine process, consistent with our CBA, for community and staff input for the construction and renovation project.

Roberta Lindeman, one of Sealth’s SEA building representatives, who presented the resolution at tonight’s districtwide reps’ meeting, tells WSB there were three “no” votes but did not have a count of “yes” votes; she says the Denny rep voted yes. We will add more details from our conversation shortly. ADDED 11:30 PM: Lindeman says this resolution hs been in the works since last month. She says tonight’s meeting included “open mike” discussion about the resolution in addition to the vote, and she says most of the comments were supportive, agreeing with the contention that it is “a violation of (the teachers’) contract,” which, she says, “clearly indicates major decisions that affect an entire learning community need to have a collaborative process where the staff and students and community and parents all have an opportunity to provide input into a decision before it is made and of course in this case that never happened.”

She says those who voiced concerns about the resolution tended to be worried about the point district administration has frequently made, regarding construction-cost inflation adding significantly to the price tag for rebuilding Denny and bringing Sealth up to code if the work is delayed. “One member brought out, that’s happened in a number of (the district’s) construction projects,” she said. “This might in fact cost the district some money in the short term, but the long-term consequences (of proceeding with the current plan) would be far greater …” Lindeman observed that overall, this is “such a difficult time” for Chief Sealth, as it works to grow new programs such as the International Baccalaureate curriculum while facing the prospect of “having to pack” if the current construction plan is not changed, thereby requiring Sealth to move to temporary quarters at the ex-Boren site on Delridge starting this fall. “Someone didn’t think this through completely,” she said flatly. Regarding what happens next with the resolution passed tonight, she will be checking tomorrow on the process/timetable for it to be formally presented to district leadership.

16 Replies to "Denny-Sealth update: Teachers' union resolution"

  • westello January 14, 2008 (9:18 pm)

    It seems like there are really only two choices for the Denny/Sealth BEX III money. One, rebuild Denny, on its site, and fix Sealth’s boiler/seismic. The district is renovating Hamilton for about $75M and building New School preK-8 for about $67M. It seems like they could rebuild Denny for $75 and have $50M for Sealth. (They were not planning to renovate Sealth entirely nor is it in the plans for at least 25 years.)

    Or two, they could renovate Sealth and wait till the next BEX for Denny.

    Denny is in worse shape and probably should get the rebuild.

    The original plan seems doomed given:

    -no academic basis or plan for it (build and then plan? That seems backward.)
    -no buy-in from the Sealth teachers/students
    -an admitted – from staff – lack of community notification and process
    -the plan would alter or destroy work already done at Sealth under BEX II and BTA (what a waste of money that would be)
    -worries over student interaction
    -creating a huge campus without a plan how to handle it.

    Denny and Sealth are about a block apart if their administrations want to create a unified curriculum and smooth transition from middle to high school. Not being in one building is not standing in the way of that being done.

  • Michael January 14, 2008 (9:22 pm)

    Yes, I’m guessing the dual school might mean fewer teachers.
    That’s probably what the resolution is about.
    Glad I could help.

  • WSB January 14, 2008 (9:36 pm)

    I have just talked with the Sealth SEA rep who presented the resolution tonight and also received its text. Will be posting more details a little later.

  • GenHillOne January 14, 2008 (9:42 pm)

    Melissa, do you have information that hasn’t been presented here yet? I’m guessing not since it’s not on your blog yet. I think we should hear the details before you go speculating. There very well could be more options.

  • Radley January 14, 2008 (9:48 pm)

    The idea that the cost of the Hamilton rebuild (which was bid out awhile ago) is going to be the same as the Denny rebuid is naive. Also, the last statement equally speaks against the preceptions that it is dangerous to have these two student groups mixing … they already do. They share a music program, a wood shop (did you know that there is a high school program at Denny for Sealth and Franklin students?), and mingle at Westwood Village every day. Being a block apart or sharing space isn’t the real issue. I think Michael nailed it, to some extent it is about perceptions of power and control by staff.

  • Jack Loblaw January 15, 2008 (6:47 am)

    I seem to remember voting on a specific plan for the additional tax dollars to build a joint Denny-Sealth. Am I incorrect that this was specifically spelled out on the ballot ? If anything is done that is not what we voted for I suggest that we vote again on any new proposal. This reminds me of the vote for Safeco Field: we, as voters, rejected it and it was built anyway. Voting for any City of Seattle project ( either way ) means nothing since the city will do whatever it wants no matter how we vote. I would hate to see the money be wasted or worse yet nothing be built because a vocal minority with an agenda started complaining after it was approved by voters. Where were these opinions on voting day ? Apparently these opinions are indeed in the minority or the levy would have failed. I do not have to vote “yes” for school levies. I do so because I believe that our schools are in poor shape and need help. Let’s actually build something and quit bickering after the fact ( for once ).

  • westello January 15, 2008 (8:33 am)

    Okay, the district sent out a mailing to 45,000 households that described a joint campus. The Voters’ Pamphlet, which is what the majority of voters received, did not. So some did know but the majority did not.

    Two, we voted for a pot of money, not projects. However, if the District goes about not doing what they said, voters could get suspicious in the future so it is a good idea to do what you say you’ll be doing.

    A dual school will not mean fewer teachers; Denny will have 900 students and Sealth 1200.

    I note that no one has a problem with renovations on Sealth via Bex II and BTA wil now, about 5 years later, be altered or torn out to accomodate this new project. I’d like to think that taxpayer money isn’t squandered in this manner. (Again, I operate on facts. Go and look at the maps if you don’t believe it.)

  • Delfino January 15, 2008 (8:56 am)


    It might be educational to talk to the instructor of the ACE program about Denny administration concerns about her high school students “mixing” with Denny Middle school students.
    Sharing isn’t the issue, nor is power and control by staff. The issue is what’s best for the education of kids and our community given our particular situation.

  • Delfino January 15, 2008 (9:29 am)


    You must have missed the comments on the post linked below
    Denny-Sealth: Too late to turn back now?

    The actual language of the ballot was quoted. I will provide that link to King County Elections Commission also.

    You are not altogether wrong, however. You seem to be in the apparent minority (~10% of people) I have talked to that did see the informational flyer from the District and Schools First.
    We voted to construct a new Denny and make “improvements” to Sealth. There was not a “specific plan”

    The alternative many are asking for us to “consider” still gives us both.
    link here

    As an educator and someone very concerned about the education of our community, I thank you for supporting public schools.

    I invite you to work together to ensure that the haphazard way Seattle School District has put this plan together does not result in us “building something” that doesn’t support our needs.

    BTW I still won’t go to Safeco field because of that mess.

  • Alison Enochs January 15, 2008 (10:12 am)

    The exact language of what was passed in February 2007 (excerpt of the parts pertaining to Denny and Sealth):

    “(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.”

  • Indaknow January 15, 2008 (12:18 pm)

    I have seen several references over the last few weeks about how the Sealth and Denny kids already mix at Westwood Village. How? Denny is closed campus (they don’t get to leave for lunch) and even the Freshman at Sealth are not allowed to leave campus (although they might…). It is true that the music students have some shared classes, but honestly, when was the last time anyone heard about “trouble-making” band students (I know that is an overgeneralization)? I think that the concerns about mixing students of such different ages is valid. The Denny and Sealth students are not “screened” in any way (as any other public school). There are trouble-makers just like at any other school. There are great kids just like at any other school. For the same reasons I would not let my 12 year-old daughter hang-out at Gameworks alone I would not want her walking the halls of Chief Sealth (and her older brother goes there). It is scary enough having her in middle school. By the way, do any of you remember how scary the older teenagers were when YOU went to school, or was that just me (I graduated from Rainier Beach in 1984)?

  • Delfino January 15, 2008 (3:29 pm)

    Interesting, I though there might be more interest in the wording and issues the resolution raises.

    Other than Michael H who thinks that the staff are just looking out for our own selfish interests, nothing.
    I have had my problems with my union over the years, but I have to say I’m kind of proud. This resolution says just the opposite. We value our “parent/guardian and community engagement” and are willing to take a stand on it. Thank you all again for participating in this dialogue

    PS Indaknow, you are in the know. They were scary to me too( Denny ’74)

  • Susan January 16, 2008 (9:26 am)

    Let’s be very clear. It is a fiction to say we, the citizens of this city, voted to combine these 2 schools. We voted to build Denny a new school. We voted for unspecified improvements on Sealth HS. It appears that means a new boiler.

    It will NOT be 25 years before Sealth HS gets a new school. This threat of take it or get nothing which is what a facilities representative actually said to Sealth students at a meeting I attended last fall creates distrust and suspicion.

    Does it seem fair that Sealth students will leave their school to return to basically the same but smaller school with the addition of a new boiler, which they’d get anyway, while other high schools in Seattle return to beautiful new schools after a makeover?

    If that seems fair to you, you need to look at how the word equity is defined.

    Equity. It’s not just a word. It must be a necessary part of how we treat each other.

    There seems to be a segment of our population that thinks they know what’s best for everyone else without having those who are impacted by these decisions involved in the process.

    There has been no vision or authentic planning regarding what appears to have been conceived as a money saving move that, once again, leaves equity and involvement of the stakeholders out of the equation.

    Involvement of the community is mandated in any process of Seattle Schools since it is our money that finances these projects.

    Westwood Neighborhood Council has been very cooperative with Seattle Schools on this issue. We’ve had several public meetings and have offered time and again to assist Schools in having authentic public meetings to get the community input.

    There will be a public meeting with a panel discussion the first week of February on the Denny Sealth issue. I hope all of you will come and bring others. All voices should be heard.

  • westello January 16, 2008 (10:04 am)

    Looking for some info on school construction costs, I found this blurb on the Heery International site (a multi-national construction management company that the District uses frequently). The blurb is about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s former district in Charleston:

    “Charleston County School District
    Building Success for Children
    Charleston, South Carolina

    The Charleston County School District engaged more than 13,000 community members at over 450 meetings and open houses to assess building conditions and to develop a plan for the expansion and renovations of their schools. This community-driven assessment, known locally as Building Success for Children, involved six steps: orientation meetings, community surveys, technical surveys, community meetings to review results and determine critical needs, planning sessions to design each school’s future campus plan, and a final round of public meetings to examine improvement plans.

    The final plan was presented and approved by the Charleston County Board of Education. Local voters later passed a $175 million bond referendum. Results from the assessments were used to determine fund allocations and construction and renovation needs.”

    Naturally, this looks like it was an overall district-wide look at capital projects but if Charleston can have 450 meetings, isn’t it fair for West Seattle to have a couple? This is in light of the fact that staff and the Board admit they did not have as much community engagement on this project as they normally would have due to the distractions of school closure (this was admitted at the work session on Denny/Sealth a couple of weeks ago). Director de Bell seems very uneasy about forcing something on Sealth staff without some sort of majority buy-in. I haven’t heard Sealth staff say unilaterally no, just that they have deep concerns and confusion over what the academic plan is (Carla Santorno, CAO, also at the work session, admitted there is no real academic plan behind the co-joining).

  • Delfino January 16, 2008 (7:20 pm)

    I don’t understand how Charleston can afford to ask their community what they think and want, and we apparently don’t have the time or money.

    It would be one thing if we were just rebuilding these two schools, and we have to move quick to maximize our investment. However, This decision isn’t just where to place the math class or whether we should have rugs or vinyl floors.
    Neighbors, we are making at least two extremely significant programmatic, long-term decisions.
    First we are talking about creating the city’s only 6-12 comprehensive combination MS and HS. Why aren’t the rest of these communities clamoring for this “opportunity?” These will not ultimately be “separate” schools. Costs will make it prudent to combine them little by little. As in the alternative schools that exist now where these ages and programs are mixed, this model will serve some kids and families well and others not. We are making the choice for those who won’t be served well by default.

    Second we are saying that while every other community in the city is being served by two rebuilt or renovated MS and HSs, it’s OK with us to not have that investment in “South West Seattle.” It sounds to me that we are saying West Seattle’s “good schools” already have their remodel and rebuild, so we can experiment here.

    Even if our HS educators didn’t overwhelmingly agree that this is a bad thing for many reasons, I can’t believe we can all be OK with short changing this community in this way. We are being ripped off anywhere from 25 to 200 million dollars depending on whose figures you use and the timeline for rebuilding Chief Sealth, and being told “sorry” we didn’t ask your opinon, but trust us it will work.
    We have an option! Don’t we owe it to our future children to at least discuss it?

  • Equity for our West Seattle students January 17, 2008 (11:25 am)

    With a new assignment plan, choices for enrollment will be limited. I thought that was the whole rationalization from the district about changing WSHS to a 6 period day, just like all of the other schools in Seattle.
    The district said you could not force a family to go to a school that was substantially different than the other Seattle schools. Certainly, being the only 4 period schedule in the district, or being the only 6-12 merged school in the district, would not fit the standard model (see the District’s Oct. 1st PowerPoint on the WSHS website).

Sorry, comment time is over.