2 days till Denny/Sealth meeting (but where’s the online info?)


In case you missed the first announcement Jan. 23 or the numerous mentions here since — if you have anything even resembling an opinion about, or a stake in, what is decided about rebuilding Denny Middle School and renovating Chief Sealth High School — the essential questions being whether or not they will share a campus, and how much of a renovation CSHS will get — Monday night is the first of two meetings whose importance cannot be overestimated. (Official flyer here.) In one sense, everyone in West Seattle has a stake in this — technically, if you look at where the $125-ish million is coming from, everyone in the city does (district documents describe this as “the most expensive project the District has attempted”). But if you can’t get motivated on that level: Is there a child of any age, high school or younger, in your family? Is there a chance you’ll become a parent someday? For the entire West Seattle peninsula, there are two public non-alternative middle schools and two public non-alternative high schools; what’s involved in this decisionmaking process comprises half of that. Think about it one more time before you conclude you don’t care much about how this turns out. The meeting is in the Chief Sealth Library on Monday night, starting with a “gallery walk” 6:30 pm where drawings can be viewed and one-on-one conversations can be had before the meeting starts at 7 (more here). After this meeting, the Westwood Neighborhood Council has its panel discussion on the project Feb. 12 (news release here) — also an important meeting — then on Feb. 13, the School Board will be presented with the recommended choice, prior to what is billed as the final vote Feb. 27. To get a sense of some of the discussion, check out the comments in just about everything posted here in the WSB Denny/Sealth archive (link here; find that link anytime from the WSB Categories list in the sidebar at right), but the comments that the district says will matter the most are the ones it gets at and after Monday’s presentation. (Board contact info here.)

SIDE NOTE – WHERE’S THE OFFICIAL WEB INFO? The drawing atop this post is from the Westwood Neighborhood Council site, posted last summer. This is because background info is difficult if not impossible to find on the Seattle Public Schools website; Denny-Sealth is not even on the “current issues” list on this resource page (though the West Seattle HS schedule issue is); the only project page we can find on the SPS site offers a couple of bullet points here, pointing to a “project update” page here that says “Updates coming soon.” In October, the district promised a special website at buildingexcellence.org (see the flyer at the bottom of this post and see the district rep’s comment here) … it’s still not up. We have messages out to the district to ask if there’s somewhere else we should be looking. (Just discovered that School Board member Harium Martin-Morris posted Jan. 24 in this thread on his blog that he was “working with district staff” to get the drawings up on the district site. That was nine days ago. We can upload a Power Point presentation or pretty much any other doc to this website in a matter of minutes.) 6:50 PM UPDATE: We did get same-day responses to the notes we sent today to the district’s communications leadership and to West Seattle’s school board rep Steve Sundquist. He says he’s not aware of anywhere that the latest schematics/info can be found now on the district website but expects it will be updated in tandem with Monday’s meeting and is calling the project manager to check; district communications manager Patti Spencer says, “The schematics absolutely should be up on the Web but don’t know if they are. I apologize on behalf of SPS. The BEX Websites are created and maintained by the BEX staff. I don’t think there is anything I can do to make that happen over the weekend, but will talk with Fred Stephens to see if we can get something posted on Monday – latest Tuesday. I know that Fred is totally committed to providing easy-to-access and timely information.”

19 Replies to "2 days till Denny/Sealth meeting (but where's the online info?)"

  • Delfino February 2, 2008 (8:18 pm)

    I have been asking for the details and pictures of the Denny at Denny Option long before it became an option due to Staff testimony, a Seattle Education Association resolution, and community opposition to the combined Campus. I sent emails this past week, and have never received a response. It’s clear that even though the Board asked for a costing of this Option, District Administration and Facilities really doesn’t want anyone to choose this option. How can anyone weigh the pros and cons of the Options and their impact on the education program without this information?

    As a staff person, perhaps I don’t have the right to question decisions made further up the chain of command (regardless of what my labor contract says), but as a parent, community member and tax payer, I cannot believe the way we are being treated.

    I hope we will see the option3 presented as w viable option at Monday’s meeting, including the conceptual option I presented to all the Board members at the Denny Sealth Merger work session. https://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/option3.doc

  • Ken February 2, 2008 (9:25 pm)

    This is one utterly incompetent website.

    Out tax dollars seem to be spent by the billions while open government lip service is paid.

    I propose the School board fire a few of the pdf makers and hire a few techs who can post relevant stuff before it is moot.


    Let’s ask Sundquist why it is so bad?

    And why isn’t this the contact who could tell for sure what it takes for info to be posted on the web site? If the wait is for facilities to release it then it is a fairly obvious political ploy associated with the Seattle Rail Road method of consensus building the school board is famous for..

    Web Development Team
    Fred LaCroix, Manager, phone: (206) 252-0312,
    e-mail: welacroix@seattleschools.org

  • Michael February 2, 2008 (10:33 pm)

    Ken, take your meds. We’re not the West Seattle Militia here. Save the personal phone/e-mail campaigns for something worth the trouble. The site just isn’t up to 2007 standards, that’s all.
    It’s kind of ironic in that the citizenry here has been so successful in fighting the “Seattle Rail Road method” that our mass transit is far more out-of-date than the SPS web site ever could be.
    Even funnier is that although we dump school board members almost on a whim, people talk like the current board has been sitting for 20 years. This bunch hasn’t been around long enough to be “famous” for anything.

  • westello February 2, 2008 (10:48 pm)

    Sorry, but if Fred Stephens were committed to timely information, it would be on the website. This is just a tactic that the district uses. They don’t have outreach done in a fair and timely fashion, then cry that we have to “hurry up” and then, when they do have a meeting, they do things at the last minute. There is no good excuse for this except that this is how staff wants it.

    It will be interesting if this Board, because this is one of their first real public challenges, will act in unison (as I believe they will by voting for the co-joining of the buildings thus allowing themselves to be bullied by President Chow) or will they listen to the people who elected them (and hold to values they stated during their campaigns like holding staff to communicate with the public and accountability of staff).

    There’s an awful lot here for a Board member to overlook and the decision could set the tone for how the Board is viewed for the next 4 years. The last time we had a Board who voted in lockstep, we had a fiscal debacle that almost ruined this district. We need people who want to work as a team but are willing to think as individuals.

  • Steve Taylor February 2, 2008 (11:50 pm)

    Half of the current Seattle School Board is not new, Cheryl Chow is an “old pro”. Cheryl Chow frequently informs the new School Board members of “policy” during public school board meetings. The “promises” that information will be posted on the Seattle School District Web Site regarding BEX 3 have gone on for months, with effectively no new, or even posted information. The Seattle School District is seemingly incapable of such a minimal task / fulfilling such promises, and we should believe their plans for BEX 3 are a good decision? They seemingly cannot effectively manage a Web Site, should we believe merging two schools on a joint campus is manageable by them? If BEX 3 is allowed to be constructed, very possibly (likely) in historical fashion only the students, teachers and staff will have to deal with such to make it work, because the Seattle School District will have moved on to future issues. There will very likely be little help from the Seattle School District. There has been a fair amount of expression opposing BEX. Where are all of the proponents of BEX? Students, Teachers, Parents? So far the only proponents have been various Seattle School District “administrators”, and the principals of the two schools. Why is it that Chief Sealth High School Staff that originally in concept supported the BEX plan/s now adamantly oppose the BEX plans except “option 3”? The 6:30pm 02-04-08 meeting could be enlightening, possibly entertaining, hopefully educational, ideally thought provoking. Time will tell. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • John Wright February 3, 2008 (12:00 am)

    The McKinsey report presentation to the Board noted that “community members want more openness in how decisions are made” and how “it often takes too long to respond to requests from the public” according to the PI ( http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/349461_schools31.html ). In fact, the presentation to the Board on “how SPS communicates: Stakeholders cite inconsistent feedback loop” stated that “91% of community members interviewed mentioned that they had no forum to give the District feedback” and that “87% felt communication was one sided”. If that was not enough, the “Section on how SPS makes decisions” states “97% of stakeholders asked for increased transparency into the process and decision-makers”.

    Ken, are you implying the Board is driving the deception railcar in this case or if there are district staff railroading the Board? In this case it has to be the latter, that there are district staffers manipulating the facts and sometimes just using fortuitous gaps in “genuine engagement” as means to cover their tracks of intentional under and mis-engagement (under engagement at first on this issue as everybody has since agreed, intentional mis-engagement of late as evidenced by the placement of Monday’s meeting the day before the Westwood Council’s and the failures to post online what has been promised for months as Delfino noted).

    As Michael said, most of the current Board hasn’t been around long enough to blame or take credit for anything yet. I agree with westello this is going to be a tough but telling first vote – will they recognize the McKinsey reports acknowledgment that feedback and communication was so one-sided and faked that 93% of Sealth staff voted against the co-location and even principal Boyd has openly questioned some of the latest options presented as they no longer reflect prior promises. Or will the Board buy into the type of propaganda that says this is a “significant upgrade for Chief Sealth” as espoused on the Denny website? http://www.seattleschools.org/schools/denny/dennysealth.html

    Will the Board go with the downtown district staff and thus inadvertently further encourage the one-sided non-transparent processes McKinsey & Co. accuses the SPS district staff of using to create an 87-97% distrust factor, or will the Board trust the instincts of the 93% front-line teaching professionals at Sealth who believe in Option 3.

  • Steve Taylor February 3, 2008 (12:19 am)

    John Wright, I appreciate what you state. I trust the numbers you offer are “facts”. It may be difficult to prove such, however what defines a fact as such? At one time the world was flat, and that was a fact of the time… Many “facts” later prove not to be fact. What is fact? Invite yourself to spend an entire day at each school (in “regular” classes, not the Honors or I.B. classes). I recently did such at Denny, though I was “sheltered” by attending mostly Honors classes, all except Spanish and Band. Such may gleam some light as what should be the course of action for Denny and Chief Sealth. You say you cannot spend such time? We will have a new Denny “somewhere” for many days (fifty years or so worth). Know what you are talking about when it comes to Denny and Chief Sealth before making a decision (or not) that will greatly affect each. Make the “right” decision, whatever decision is right for you. I know what my decision is, and will be for the benefit of my children, and so many children I know, and the even greater number of children I do not know. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Delfino February 3, 2008 (2:24 am)


    “The site just isn’t up to 2007 standards, that’s all…”

    It sounds to me like you have been getting your meds in the alley across the street from Sealth in the mornings and after school.
    The District web site is actually very good in most other ways. Spend some time looking at the wealth of information, and while your at it, look op the annual reports and demographics of these schools.

    PS I apologize to everyone for the unprofessional comment, I just couldn’t resist :)

  • Moonflower February 3, 2008 (8:28 am)

    This reminds me of the closure process. SPS would plan meetings to address an anticipated funding gap and the only option they would give the community was to close schools. The process was a disaster ending in the meeting that we’ll never forget and that will always be remembered as the “October 18” (2006) school board meeting. (Search “seattle school board” on youtube to catch the worst, if the community was listened to they wouldn’t have to shout.)

    West Seattle could hold the district accountable on this issue. The current school board must have the courage, compassion, and forethought to consider Option 3 (and igonore Chow’s poor advice) in all its merits. The community has been railroaded into Options 1 and 2 by I don’t know who (Maier and Schools First? Irene Stewart? Who? Why? What are the benefits of building Denny next to Sealth?). SPS did not do their homework and have been procrastinating (or draggingt their feet) for a year and a half. I think they are way over capacity trying to build 5 schools at one time–something they’ve never done before and appear to be doing badly.

    Sundquist said the school board was ‘an expression of the community’. He also promised ‘new effective leadership’. I want to see something new that’s effective and that will lead us into the future. Do what you say you are going to do.
    Review the options carefully, ask questions, verify facts or projections. Pour over the spreadsheets carefully. Ask Mary Bass to help you.

    See you all on Monday and on the 12th.

  • Steve Taylor February 3, 2008 (8:29 am)

    Delfino, I strongly believe you know better, regardless of your human inability to resist! This whole “issue” must be quite frustrating to you! Yes the very small percentage of “delinquent” children / young adults that typically “hang out” near all schools, in Chief Sealth High School’s case predominantly at the intersection of S.W. Thistle St. & 26th Ave. S.W., effectively Chief Sealth High School’s front door… Part of this particular problem is across the street from the high school – the S.E. corner of the intersection specifically (where the delinquents hang out) is not Seattle School District property, consequently no Seattle School District employee’s (security staff) etcetera are legally in a position to do anything but notice whom, and take notes of whom are “hanging out”. The “whom” are a relatively consistent group, the faces do not change to often. Do we need this particular group even closer to our middle school children who are still likely very impressionable? When the delinquents choose to be on Seattle School District Property; ie inside Chief Sealth High School, when they “grace” teachers with their presence, where proposed interaction is supposed to be good? With select groups (especially band kids for example) such is not much of an issue. However Band students typically do not represent the entire student body population of most any school. Band is in many ways a very difficult “class”. Only students willing to “work” ultimately continue in band. Chief Sealth High School’s band teacher is in the best of ways a very demanding music teacher! If not for shear lack of band student “numbers” Chief Sealth High School could have one of the best bands in the State! Denny Middle School’s Marcus Pimpleton is an incredibly gifted and talented music teacher, with the utmost passion for his gift. Band kids are in the best of ways “special”, and they have two phenomenal teachers at the two schools. The students who are what are referred to as “at risk” by the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle School District are the students most (for obvious reasons) at risk of picking up a bad habit from those that spend a portion of their day across the street from Chief Sealth High School in open defiance of authority. There are many great “things” going on at Chief Sealth High School and Denny Middle School (most all of which is in the classroom/s). The few blemishes that befall each school that seem to be right out in the forefront (often literally) may sometimes look (and be very bad), however they pale greatly compared to the positives of each school. I suggest we keep focusing on the positives, and not create any more negatives than our children already see and deal with. Putting the two schools closer together will, intended or not, serve to bring the problems that go on out in the street between the two schools into the halls and classrooms of the two schools. Much more difficult for the Seattle Police to monitor and or lend a hand. Something to think about. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • GenHillOne February 3, 2008 (9:53 am)

    With all due respect, if you want your opionion to be heard, might I suggest…shorter, more succinct posts and while we’re at it, fewer quotation marks. The length and tone (perpetrated by the punctuation) have become an easy way for me to skip particular comments altogether, dismissing them as single-minded rants. Dan Dempsey anyone? I’m interested in hearing all perspectives but can’t stand wading through the muck. I don’t imagine I’m alone in this thinking. I apologize for typing as much as I have here – won’t happen again!

  • Steve Taylor February 3, 2008 (10:21 am)

    GenHillOne, if your post is in reference to my own, such is your prerogative. Unfortunately I am not well spoken enough to get my point across with any meaningful expression in less words and remain polite. A short version could be that BEX 1 & 2 are bad ideas. Is such a helpful / informative expression? I doubt such. I cannot provide explanation of (respectfully for you) “bad ideas” in less words. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • WSB February 3, 2008 (10:33 am)

    Moonflower, I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since that meeting. We chronicled it a bit here too, including (days later) an olive branch to the school board across the Fauntleroy overpass (where now the banner vigilantes reign):
    and an in-progress post after seeing the rumble.

  • Steve February 3, 2008 (10:35 am)

    I can understand the concern that the WSB has expressed about the lack of information put forth about the Sealth Denny project from the School District. The District promised in September 2007 to have a web site up and running in a few weeks for this project where the public could check the status of the project and find out important information such as upcoming meetings. This web site did not get up until December 2007 and has never contained anything more than just the most basic general information….nothing specific to the project or updated to include meetings….no graphics or site plans…there is not even a mention about the District’s upcoming meeting this week. Check it out…this is the website for the Denny-Sealth project http://www.seattleschools.org/area/bex/chief_projectupdates.htm

  • westello February 3, 2008 (11:08 am)

    AS I was pondering this issue last night – yet again – something occurred to me that might bring some laser focus to the discussion.

    Sealth has had some modest upgrades via BEX II and BTA (library, Commons, tennis courts, etc.). The district says it has to replace Sealth’s boiler (it has allegedly outgrown its useful life – I’m cynical because Nova High School operates with a boiler that – no kidding – is over 100+ years old and the Meng facilities report was astonished that it works and the district continues to use it).

    So turn this issue on its head – if no work was needed to be done at Sealth, meaning if its boiler could last, (and the fire/seismic work which follows from replacing the boiler wouldn’t be done if the boiler wasn’t being replace – I went down to City zoning and asked) – would the district be trying to co-join these buildings? There isn’t an academic reason (because there is no plan).

    So if you didn’t need to do work at Sealth, would this the district still be co-joining the buildings? I submit the answer to be no.

    One last thing; people seem to be under the mistaken impression that the co-joining of buildings is to save money. It isn’t. Sealth will still need (and deserve) the same kind of renovations that all the other high schools are getting in 20-25 years. The work on Sealth under BEX III is just modest fixes. We will be paying to renovate Sealth in the future, co-joined or not. This is straight from staff at the BEX Oversight Committee meeting in January.

  • Delfino February 3, 2008 (11:50 am)


    You are right again. I do believe, however, that the argument would be that the District can’t afford to do any more work to Sealth and we will have to live with the new complex as it is completed after this BEX III phase is completed for the next 20-50 years.

    I have also been thinking that if cost escalation is really the biggest concern, perhaps it would make most sense to send Denny to Boren next year and complete that bigger, most needy project first.

    The head custodian at Chief Sealth tells me that in the 4 years that he has been at Sealth, there hasn’t been a single problem with the boiler. Much of the problems have had to do with other parts of the system including thermostats, registers, blowers etc. Obviously, I am no expert, and I got my hand slapped when I suggested that the boiler issue may be part of a half truth/misinformation problem that has plagued this project from the beginning.

  • Edwin Boyd February 3, 2008 (1:06 pm)

    Normaly I don’t read blogs but when a good freind called me and and said I needed to read this particular one, I did. After reading it I became very upset about what was wrote about John Boyd. When you attack someone’s character like Steve Taylor has done you loose credibilty with the issues. Steve you need to stick to the issues because you know nothing about John Boyd’s character. When you call someone names as you have done, in my mind it boarders on defamation of character. See I think I know more than you since I have seen first hand what he has done with his life helping others. Steve there are more people involved in the issues beside you particularly children like mine, one attends Denny and one attends Sealth, who are doing very well at both, and who happen to look up to John as the principle and their uncle. Also John’s children who admire their father very much. So you see Steve your not the only one here and you should aplogize to John and his family.

    Sincerly Alumni of Cheif Sealth,
    Edwin P. Boyd

    P.S. John has my 100% support as the Cheif Sealth Principle. Look what he has done for the school on the past four years.

  • GenHillOne February 3, 2008 (1:33 pm)

    Now that was easy, wasn’t it, Steve? “thanks.”

  • Steve Taylor February 3, 2008 (9:04 pm)

    Edwin Boyd, nice to “hear” from you old friend and class mate. So everyone knows, I have known you and your brother, John Boyd since we all attended Chief Sealth High School together. I obviously did not know John Boyd as well as yourself. I saw John Boyd later when at Arbor Heights elementary school, my nieces attended there at the time. As I stated previously I was ecstatic when I learned John Boyd was to be the principal of Chief Sealth High School. It has only been over time, with many “say one thing, do another” actions of John Boyd that I no longer appreciate John Boyd as a principal as much as I once did. I still believe John Boyd has the ability to do great things for Chief Sealth High School, until proving otherwise. However at this point I am no longer ecstatic over John Boyd as principal. As I have stated previously, and you yourself well know. I have a student at Denny and Chief Sealth who they themselves are doing exceptionally well. I do not fault you for supporting your brother, blood is thicker than water. I simply do not support your brother as much as I once did. I hope to see you at the meeting old friend! Thank you.

    Steve Taylor
    P.S. possibly I should share with you some of the E-mails John Boyd and I have exchanged over the years… even your brother is not perfect, as I know you know.

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