West Seattle, Washington
Not the most spectacular Christmas lights in West Seattle, but these make us smile every year because they’re decorations with a mission – the green and gold lights in the 5200 block of Beach Drive (map), and the accompanying “God Bless the Oregon Ducks” banner. Once again this year — now that Christmas is just a month away — we’ll be showing West Seattle holiday lights every night, but we may not find the best and the brightest without your help — send us the location of noteworthy lights you’ve seen (or put up!) – photos welcome too; just e-mail us at the usual mailbox: email@example.com. And remember, the latest Holiday Happenings from around West Seattle (including the Thanksgiving roundup, from free dinners to holiday hours for coffeehouses and grocery stores) are all listed here.
(keep refreshing to see latest updates, as we report “live” from school district HQ – toplines are now available on this district document … also, as of 10:15 pm, an overview is now posted on the district website – see it here)
10:30 PM NOTE: If you want to read the full rationale for the “close Arbor Heights program, close Genesee Hill building, move Pathfinder K-8 to Arbor Heights building” proposal, it starts on page 40 of this document. Interesting side note on that document – Alki Elementary is the only building in the West Seattle area in worse condition than Genesee Hill, but the district says it would be tough to consider closing that program/building for a variety of reasons including the fact its boiler supplies heat to the adjacent Alki Community Center, so even if the program was closed, the building couldn’t be taken out of commission.
10:19 PM: After 4 1/3 hours, the meeting is over. Checking for additional links to share before we pack up and head back to HQ and assemble for later a more concise “where things stand, what next” post. *There are a ton of additional links now – go to this page and scroll down to the list under the November 25th, Preliminary Recommendation Presented, heading. This one in particular, Preliminary Recommendation Report and Appendices, likely has the full details on the decisionmaking behind suggesting moving Pathfinder to Arbor Heights – we’ll read it to check. Reminder that Steve Sundquist has his monthly “coffee hour” tomorrow morning, 9 am, Coffee to a Tea in The Junction – we’ll be there and we’re sure a lot of Arbor Heights, Pathfinder, and West Seattle APP elementary students’ parents will be there as well.
10:05 PM: Summarizing the recommendations now (see the link above for the list). Next step, School Board meeting Wednesday 12/3 (public testimony that night no doubt will be dominated by the closure proposals). Crowd starting to clear out. Some more board remarks even though Q/A was taken throughout the presentation. Hard copy of the recommendations (same doc as linked above) being handed out – though it’s clear that the board members have a BIG sheaf of additional info. Will advise as soon as the date for West Seattle-specific hearing is set. DeBell is saying, it’s tough to have an all-city-draw program that’s not centrally located, and adds, nobody’s being done any favors by keeping half-full buildings. “This is not fun,” Dr. Goodloe-Johnson summarizes, “(but) the hard choices will only get harder. We know people don’t want schools to close, we don’t either, but the fact is, we don’t have a choice.” She says some of the notes and the questions asked tonight will lead to data shared at the next board meeting. Board president Cheryl Chow points out that several board members went through the last school-closure round: “Our job now is to look at the data, ask more questions, listen to our constituents and their ideas, and share those with the staff, look at the data again … I would like to encourage all of us to remember, it’s human nature to want to solve everything ‘right now’ but I caution us, too, the most important job we have as elected officials now is to listen openmindedly but not promise things because we need to have this process be vetted fully … The final decision isn’t until January 29th, and as hard as it is for the seven of us to sit here and just listen and take notes, I think it’s very important, because there’s lots of people that want us to hear their viewpoint, and we need to honor that.” (10:17 pm, in addition to the list on the FAQ document posted earlier, here is an “overview” document that appears to have some more details)
9:51 PM: Finally getting to West Seattle. Enrollment projected steady for next five years, says superintendent. Close Genesee Hill, one of the worst buildings in the district. Arbor Heights building much better, 70.74. Arbor Heights smaller than Genesee Hill but no portables, unlike GH, still big enough to house 391 Pathfinder students. Enough room in nearby schools to house all AH students. They would be reassigned to other elementaries in WS South cluster. Board questions now. West Seattle school board rep Sundquist: Please explain how did you get to the point of putting Pathfinder in either AH or Cooper. They’re reading from documentation. Really intricate reasoning for why they could not consider any building but Cooper or Arbor Heights for Pathfinder relocation (we were videotaping that part). Apparently had a lot to do with the fact there are a lot of West Seattle North cluster kids at Cooper but no place for them to go in the north cluster schools. Pathfinder to Arbor Heights – AH has planning capacity of 428, it’s big enough, plus there is excess capacity at other WS South (368 open seats) schools, plus 68 open seats at WS elementary, more than enough for AH students to be reassigned. 277 AH students live in WS South cluster, more than 400 open seats in other schools of that cluster, so there’s room for them, the superintendent says. Sundquist: Despite great temptation in the face of all this to not want to take the pain of closures, I still believe our financial condition is sufficiently dire that taking closures is better than the alternative of guaranteeing pain through more staff cuts and budget cuts so I am for the fact we need to do some more closures and I do believe WS has some excess capacity. I’m A-OK. But I debate in my mind whether AH or Cooper is the better of the two alternatives for us to think about as the receiving school for Pathfinder program. He continues, looking ahead to more of a neighborhood orientation in forthcoming Student Assignment Plan, I am more concerned about the ability of Cooper to be a successful neighborhood school. The enrollment in that reference area has declined and looks to decline further, so I worry about its viability under a plan we are going to be writing a couple months hence. Arbor Heights is very clearly a neighborhood school (BIG CROWD IN CORNER APPLAUDS). Sundquist says he’s concerned about putting so much weight on concern that the north WS cluster kids would be assigned out of cluster, in deciding that Cooper should not be PF home. Now, board member Maier echoes that Cooper reference area does not have so many students, in comparison with Arbor Heights reference area, so he is worried about it being a successful neighborhood school. He wonders if this can be held off a year to see what happens. (10:04 pm) Maier also notes Pathfinder students tend to be from WS north. Nobody else has questions about the West Seattle proposals.
9:42 PM: Southeast discussion continues. Meantime, as we get closer to the West Seattle discussion and why Arbor Heights Elementary’s “program” was chosen to close, with Pathfinder K-8 proposed to move there (from the ex-Genesee Hill Elementary building the district’s been trying to get it out of for years), here’s the district history of Arbor Heights, which first opened almost 60 years ago. Ironically, the Genesee Hill building opened right about the same time – 1949 (here’s its history doc) – but was closed in 1989, and has served as a temporary site (or, for Pathfinder, sort of temporary) ever since.
9:15 PM: Southeast cluster: Excess seats in elementary and K-8. Close Van Asselt building (poor condition), relocate its K-5 program to African American Academy building (good condition but the school itself was not doing well), repurpose that building as K-5, reassign AAA students to schools in the clusters where they live, co-locate Summit to Rainier Beach HS. (9:29 pm, board questioning continues – one focus includes, won’t there be issues with two high-school programs sharing a building, the 9-12 section of Summit K-12 in its proposed new home co-located with RBHS; further questioning on high-school capacity issues draws a district staffer who says the HS population has generally migrated north and the “Southeast Initiative” is meant to try to encourage students to attend schools closer to home, and maybe move some people out of overcrowded North End schools. DeBell says he’d like to see a school-by-school analysis because he wonders why no high schools are proposed for closure, but that’s where the biggest potential savings are, and the district is in a “desperate” financial situation. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson notes that “demographics tell us, in 2012 the high-school population will go up” and they don’t want to be without wiggle room for placement of future students. Superintendent says they may yet have to look again at the high-school capacity issue but they “think they have another year.”)
9:10 PM: Board president Cheryl Chow says she’s starting to feel uncomfortable and troubled (as the APP-splitting discussion continues) because there are gifted kids “throughout the Seattle School District” – “equity has not been around the district – we are beginning to address it.” So, Bass asks, are we trying to get geographic equity now with these APP moves, or are we trying to reduce costs? (If you don’t know much about APP, read the district explanation here.) Dr. Goodloe-Johnson reiterates, the Lowell building needs to be closed.
8:47 PM: They’re still discussing the concerns related to splitting up APP elementary (which has been self-contained, with all APP elementary students from around the city, at Lowell for a long time). Board member Mary Bass points out that the clusters with overcapacity problems are just southeast and southwest (West Seattle), and it would be important to figure out why, in addition to just shuffling kids around the city to those empty seats. The APP-splitting recommendation so far is getting as many questions as the “move Summit K-12 to Rainier Beach” recommendation from earlier. Board member Peter Maier wonders how this all plays into the new student assignment plan; district staff says they’re “liking what they’re seeing” because all this seems to play into what they’ve been working on. (8:59 pm) District staff says Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne will have a “schoolhouse model” because they both have special-ed students as well as general-ed students, and now the added APP students will mean a more diverse student population. Board member DeBell says Hawthorne will be overfilled by 60 students with the move, so how will APP grow there, “without displacing the neighborhood students?” and notes that T-Marshall also will be slightly “overfilled” by moving half the APP kids there. Vaughan says 200 kids identified for APP are not using the program – they’re being “accommodated” at Spectrum and ALOs, “it’s not essential that every highly gifted student has to go into a radically accelerated program.” He says it’s more important to attract kids to Spectrum (the second-level gifted program), which is located in more schools around the city. DeBell points out there’s a waitlist for many of the Spectrum schools (crowd applauds). DeBell asks, was a north end site considered for APP? District staff says “we looked at that” but couldn’t find a building where they could move half the APP kids into, because there wasn’t one with that much room on that side of town.
*Editor’s note: Liveblogging up to this point is now on a separate page – if you are just coming into this and aren’t refreshing the post itself, click ahead to catch up on what we chronicled earlier – just trying to clear room on the home page*Read More
Two updates tonight in the proposal for a $150 million redevelopment of The Kenney, the retirement-care complex in Fauntleroy: First, the time and place are finalized for the community meeting (first reported here) that’s being organized by Morgan Community Association and Fauntleroy Community Association: 7 pm Thursday, December 4th, fellowship hall at Fauntleroy Church (WSB sponsor). The groups want to bring together everyone who is interested in the project, to get a briefing on next steps in the process from a city planner, and to discuss points such as “what are your concerns?” “what do we wish would happen?” and “what would it take to make this work in our community?” (per the MoCA bulletin) Also, The Kenney has finalized a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding the project and sent it to us (and others) to share with the community — you can see it here. If you have questions that aren’t answered by the FAQ – please post comments here and bring them to the December 4th meeting.
It’s up on the P-I’s site now: A photo of 21-year-old Barry Saunders, the man wanted for murder and other charges in the Saturday mall shooting (WSB coverage here) that left 16-year-old Daiquan Jones dead, and another teenage boy wounded. He is said to have ties to Kent as well as Tukwila.
Looking ahead to the official announcement of the school-closure (and probably, consolidation, moving, etc.) plan at 6 pm tonight (district HQ in Sodo), some background: It’s been two years since the previous closure process hit its low point, an ugly ruckus during a board meeting in October 2006. Before that, the most controversial West Seattle aspect of the fall 2006 proposal was a plan for Pathfinder K-8 to move out of the ex-Genesee Hill Elementary and “merge” into the Cooper Elementary building in Pigeon Point; Roxhill Elementary was also proposed for closure; earlier in the process, there had been an even-more controversial proposal to move Pathfinder to Boren (where Chief Sealth is temporarily headquartered now). When all was said and done some weeks later, Pathfinder and Cooper kept their status quos — even though all agree the Genesee Hill building is in sorry shape — and ultimately, the Fairmount Park Elementary building was closed, with that school’s “program” merging into the underenrolled then-High Point Elementary, since renamed West Seattle Elementary. We’re heading out shortly to district HQ and will start up the “live” post once we’re settled in there. Another place to watch in addition to WSB is the always-excellent Seattle Public Schools Community blog (which started up during the 2006 closures process, at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com).
According to various online discussions we are monitoring, Arbor Heights Elementary is on the closure list that the school district will unveil at 6 pm tonight. There is already a Save Arbor Heights blog. More to come. WSB will report live from the meeting tonight (public is welcome; it’s at district HQ in Sodo) – both with frequent updates here on the home page, and also via Twitter (twitter.com/westseattleblog). Arbor Heights, by the way, was one of the first schools NATIONWIDE to have a website – dating back to 1994. As per the comments below this note (including one that says it will be proposed that Pathfinder’s program move to Arbor Heights’ building) – the presentation the district will make tonight will be a complicated list of “program” closures as well as “building” closures and moves, so the full picture of who’s supposed to go where won’t emerge till the announcements are done. Also, in advance of this, the district announced this afternoon that the “open enrollment” period for next year is being pushed back to March 2-31, 2009 (more than a month later than the original plan; here’s the full news release).
Thanks to Cami for forwarding that clip (’80s nostalgia, anyone?) of the winner of the $1,000 “Alki Idol” multiweek talent contest at Bamboo – that’s Lynda; 2nd through 6th place went to, in order, Meeka, Brett, Julie, Amy, and Tara – and you can see them all at alkiidol.blogspot.com – Meantime, if you want a few moments in the limelight without singing, tonight’s the night at Skylark Cafe and Club (WSB sponsor):
It’s “Turntable Night” again tonight – and that’s a selection of the records (yes, real-live oldschool vinyl) from which WSB co-publisher Patrick may or may not be choosing, when he signs up for a turn. You too can bring your records down and spin on pro equipment – as explained on the Skylark schedule:
We’ve got the Technics, bring your own vinyl! Sign up for your 1/2 hour of fame at 9 pm, when DJ Create kicks it all off with his vintage soul collection. All genres, all styles welcome. Bring friends in to enjoy late night happy hour prices from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am.
See you there?!
The November 4th King County election results are now finalized and certified. Find the official numbers here (among them: 70% for Obama and 64% for Gregoire). Turnout was 84%, up 1% from November 2004. Statewide results aren’t final yet but the Secretary of State’s office “tweeted” earlier today that turnout is now 84.5%.
Today we’re welcoming not one but three new sponsors who are joining forces to let you know what they’re all about – the health and fitness providers at 4546 California SW in The Junction – West Seattle Wellness, Fitness Together and 8 Limbs Yoga.
(West Seattle Wellness, Fitness Together, 8 Limbs Yoga team members: Front, L to R, Michelle Browning, Michele Mortenson, Jada Wood, Joe Bielling, Duncan Sailors; center, Joanna Bond; back, Deena Raven, Bonnie Katz, Jody Thomas O’Brien)
West Seattle Wellness offers alternative health-care options including acupuncture, massage therapy, skin care, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and more. Joe Bielling, owner and massage therapist, believes his strength comes from his strong listening skills. He says that his practitioners agree that the key to care is paying close attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues to determine the best course of action for their clients.
Bonnie Katz at Fitness Together says her fitness programs work because she can focus on her clients. Her individual trainers work with her to create a coordinated effort tailored to each client’s needs. She believes her attention to detail is what sets her apart from the “big box gyms.” Bonnie says great results come from personalized service.
8 Limbs Yoga manager Joanna Bond is proud of the community that’s grown up around her classes. She says 8 Limbs offers yoga in a safe and friendly environment. Also, 8 Limbs offers a variety of classes at different times of day. Whether you’re a beginner, a mom with a small child, or anyone else looking to get in better shape, Joanna says she has a class for you.
We’re pleased to welcome West Seattle Wellness, Fitness Together, and 8 Limbs Yoga (over Jak’s Grill; here’s a map) as the newest members of the WSB sponsor team; find the full list on this page along with information on how to join them!
Didn’t notice this Tacoma News-Tribune story till the P-I published a short version: Maersk Line will switch its container-shipping calls from Tacoma to Seattle next spring. Doesn’t say which terminal will be used – but Seattle’s been freeing more spring/summer freighter space by clearing cruise ships out of Terminal 30 and moving them to the Magnolia side (91).
Just got this note from the victim, who wants to anonymously share this warning:
Just wanted to alert anyone that parks at this park & ride (9000 Olson Pl SW; map). Yesterday the catalytic converter was “cut” out from under my 1999 Toyota 4-Runner. It must have happened during broad daylight. I was parked there from 8:30 to 5:00 pm.
Hope you never need it – but if you do, a reminder that WSB has the only West Seattle-specific lost/found pets page (now with a year of lost/found pets, plus pix at the end from our West Seattle Blog Pet Photos Flickr group). Our latest case: Leo the kitten, who was posted on the page as found; his owner says Leo didn’t stay with the original finder, and may now be wandering again. If you’ve seen Leo (whose home is on 44th SW between Hinds and Hanford), please call Scott, 206-755-3852. And if you lose/find a pet in West Seattle, send us the info and photo – firstname.lastname@example.org – and be sure to check the Pets page.
LAFAYETTE ELEMENTARY: No heat today, according to a note sent to parents, after an apparent boiler breakdown. They were planning to bring in 30 space heaters “for the coldest areas.” School’s out early today for parent/teacher conferences (1:05 pm). We’ll check later on how repairs are going.
CHIEF SEALTH HIGH SCHOOL: The music program is raising money with a poinsettia sale. $15 for a 12-inch plant, to be delivered Dec. 8th; call 206-243-4081 to order one (or more!).
WEST SEATTLE MONTESSORI SCHOOL: It’s still looking for donations for its December 5th fundraising auction, which is particularly crucial this year because WSMS is renovating its new White Center space (its landlord sold the site to Harbor Properties, which is building Link on that parcel and the ex-Huling site to the east) in hopes of making the move during winter break – read on to see what Sandra Kutz-Russell tells us they are looking for (including help with some of the move – they even need to move a special tree!):Read More
We reported back in March that the Alki Homestead restaurant was on the market – the restaurant, not the building. Now, there’s word from owner Tom Lin that he’s found a buyer:
I believe we have found the right buyer for Alki Homestead Restaurant. It is a husband and wife team who live near Fauntleroy Ferry in West Seattle. They were voted as one of the up and coming chefs in Seattle by Seattle Magazine. If the deal goes through, they will take over the restaurant early next year and close it down for few months during the remodeling.
The name will still be Alki Homestead Restaurant and the tradition will be kept alive. It has been very challenging for me the past few years as I am not a restaurateur. My general manager Chris Long has done a tremendous job at maintaining the family-style dining at Alki Homestead.
The potential new owners are now working on the architectural drawing. Alki Homestead will be getting a facelift next year. I truly believe it will be a better place after all (is) said and done.
Lin posted that to the Alki Beach Community Yahoo! Group earlier this morning, and since his note to that group ended with a question about how to post it here, we have taken the liberty of going ahead and re-posting. We also have a followup question out to him, seeking more information about the prospective buyers – online research shows one Seattle chef couple getting a lot of media attention as up-and-comers, but so far we haven’t found any indication of West Seattle residency, so it may not be them. The other followup question – whether the sale is indeed for the business and not the century-old building, which is how it was originally listed (the building itself is an official Seattle city landmark; Lin bought it two and a half years ago, a year and a half after longtime owner Doris Nelson died. Back in April, the Homestead sold off some of its art, crystal, and other items (WSB coverage here). 9:54 AM UPDATE: Just got a note back from Tom Lin – he explains he wants to “keep the buyer’s name anonymous as the deal is not totally sealed yet,” but he wanted to get the word of an impending deal out so that people could enjoy the Homestead for the holidays, before the aforementioned temporary closure next year, and he reiterates the prospective buyer “intend(s) to keep the name and style of food.”
Because we publish in “blog format,” always the newest item on top, breaking news sometimes pushes other important stories down the page (a lot like our former work in TV news, where a certain story may be an upcoming newscast’s planned “lead” till something big happens just before news time, and suddenly that former “lead” doesn’t see air till five minutes in). This happened on Saturday – we had just published this item about the Southwest Healthy Youth Partnership and the survey it’s hoping all West Seattle parents will take, when we found out – via a Twitter message from a West Seattleite – about the Southcenter shooting, which dominated the news here and elsewhere the rest of the night. So we want to remind you about that survey again (take it here, right now) — part of a unique effort to fight childhood/teen drinking — and reiterate the invitation to a meeting tonight: The Southwest Healthy Youth Partnership needs more people power to help West Seattle kids stay booze-free; bring your ideas and interest to the Southwest Library branch tonight (Tuesday), 6-8 pm (or if you can’t go but would like to find out more, e-mail Renae Gaines, email@example.com).