day : 09/12/2008 10 results

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights meeting tonight

That’s Arbor Heights Elementary PTSA president Suzette Riley, telling WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand that they’re not taking anything for granted, even though AH is off the closure list – for now.

We first posted that news here just after 5 pm tonight, when Seattle Public Schools released the revised list online, even before Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson formally announced it during a 4 1/2-hour School Board “work session” at district HQ. This new list, described as “potential final recommendations” — as opposed to “preliminary recommendations” in the preceding list — proposes “discontinuing” the Cooper Elementary program, rather than the Arbor Heights Elementary program, to create a new home for Pathfinder K-8, which has been in the subpar Genesee Hill Elementary building for 15 years — starting five years after the district “closed” that building the first time.

The new list came out less than an hour before Arbor Heights’ scheduled meeting tonight with a district official. School parents and staffers went ahead during that meeting to make their cases for why AH shouldn’t be a closure target:

As Suzette Riley mentioned in our first video clip, those on hand for tonight’s meeting didn’t get all the information they were hoping for; the district official who was there, Patrick Johnson, wouldn’t answer questions about the newly unveiled list, even though it had gone public almost an hour before the meeting started. As we mentioned in our earlier coverage, Johnson also asked WSB not to take video of the meeting, a request which we declined, a stance supported by AH’s acting principal.

We spoke with SPS communications staff at district HQ after the meeting there; they apologized and explained that some of these meetings are intended to be school-community-only sessions, if the principal so chooses, but shouldn’t be treated that way if they’ve been publicly advertised, as this one was, so we shouldn’t have had to deal with that “request.” (As it was, we rolled video on Johnson’s presentation, but it contained nothing newsworthy, just a district overview powerpoint that’s been used at the last several meetings, recapping the budget woes, etc.)

Next scheduled meetings: Cooper has one Thursday night; next Tuesday, you can expect to hear from Cooper, Pathfinder, and likely Arbor Heights parents at the public hearing at Genesee Hill; the night after that, it’ll be the next official School Board meeting, which also will start with public comment. Here’s the official district chart, screencapped from tonight’s news release:

From right below that part of the news release:

To sign up to testify at a public hearing on Dec. 15, 16, or 18, call the public hearing phone line at (206) 252-0042 or e-mail Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker, and should focus on the school building about which the hearing is being held. Note: To sign-up to testify at School Board meetings on Dec. 17, Jan. 7, 21 or 29; call (206) 252-0040 or e-mail beginning at 8 a.m. on the Monday prior to the meeting.

Additional information is available at Comments or questions on the recommendation can be emailed to or to, or mailed to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165. School Board office: (206) 252-0040.

West Seattle Christmas lights, 12/9/2008

December 9, 2008 10:18 pm
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 |   Holidays | West Seattle Christmas lights

Heading home from the School Board work session in Sodo (one more report to come, including video from the concurrent Arbor Heights Elementary meeting), we spotted two nicely lit homes along 35th (two of many, actually), so since we’ve slacked a little on lights lately, here’s a double dose. The one above is on the west side of 35th just south of Findlay (map); the one below is on the west side of 35th just south of Edmunds (map):

Got memorable lights (and quality certainly counts as much as quantity)? Seen some? E-mail us the address, and pix if available: … and remember, holiday fun with and without lights is listed on the WSB Holidays page!

Live updates: School Board workshop on school closures/changes

(meeting ended 8:40 pm – below, our updates as it happened, newest to oldest)

8:49 PM UPDATE: The superintendent is giving TV interviews inches from where we’re sitting. She acknowledged “the list could change again.” (As it has in previous closure processes; the last proposal involving Pathfinder and Cooper evolved in fall 2006 to what was to be a “merger” of the two programs in the Cooper building, a “merger” that both school communities opposed, as you can see in this transcript from the October 2006 public hearing at the Genesee Hill building; not long after that, the proposal was indefinitely tabled.)

8:27 PM UPDATE: Still discussing the dilemma over how to save some money in the high-school category. So let’s take this moment to look at some of what’s unique about Cooper, which is now proposed for program “discontinuance”; school-community members held a hastily called meeting last Friday night (WSB coverage here), shortly after finding out the district was seriously considering this possibility, and in addition to voicing anger and concern, they also pointed out many of their school’s unique aspects: The Earth Project at Cooper, for one, on which we have reported here previously – it’s a unique environmental-education program (here’s its website). That’s not all; more later – this meeting is wrapping up (8:37 pm) – final recommendations still due out January 6th, final public hearing here at district HQ on January 22, vote on final recommendations January 29. Cheryl Chow says she wants to thank “the staff” for their work and responding to clear direction from the superintendent regarding listening, taking notes, coming back with information, answering questions. She’s also thanking “the audience and the participants” for coming to these meetings, acknowledging there are so many meeting. Looks like others are joining in the chorus of thanks, starting with new board president DeBell, and he says any ideas can still be sent in. (Reminder, the e-mail address for that is

8:10 PM UPDATE: Just too complicated to close any “comprehensive high school,” says another district manager. Meeting in fifth hour now. Back to the reaction to the latest West Seattle proposals — checking the Cooper Elementary website, the home page is a big red link, “SAVE COOPER FROM CLOSING INFORMATION,” which points to this page that simply lists three dates: There is a meeting listed at Cooper at 6:30 Thursday night, and the page also lists the Genesee Hill district public hearing next Tuesday, as well as the School Board’s regular meeting a week from tomorrow (12/17). Back to the high-school discussion: board president DeBell says the district has a “structural challenge” re: “full and rich” academic offerings – and has also been grappling with the need for high schools to grow to get more money – he says the underfunding of education in this state is a big problem with all this.

7:31 PM UPDATE: The new list of “potential final recommendations” is still being presented here at district HQ. Once the list has been presented, “next steps” are promised. We know one of them is the Genesee Hill public hearing at 6:30 pm next Tuesday (12/16), since that building is still proposed for closure. Background on previous Pathfinder-to-Cooper proposals (dating back to spring 2005), by the way, can be read in the online Pathfinder history recently posted here. A recap is coming up in a bit; from the superintendent’s presentation PPT, Cooper is not described as a “program” closure or discontinuance, but rather:

*Cooper (students) reassigned based on home address & transportation standards

Currently (7:55) they are discussing high-school proposals to deal with too many empty seats, particularly in south/center – either move the Center School (which is located upstairs at the Center House at Seattle Center) and repurpose its building, or move Aki Kurose in with Rainier Beach to create a performing-arts-focused 6-12 (board member Cheryl Chow just asked, “Wouldn’t that work like Denny-Sealth … as a combined campus, 6-12?” The superintendent said, “No, they’re going to be co-located … this (Aki/Rainier) would be a combined 6 through 12.” Sundquist asks about suggestions to close Rainier Beach; superintendent says it’s very “complicated” to close a “comprehensive high school” and combining two (as was suggested for RB and Franklin) would not be an easy issue and there is “not time to do it right” — she says there would be an issue of “safety and security,” gang activity, violence in the community, which might create problems if that happened.

7:15 PM UPDATE: WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand is at the Arbor Heights building meeting and sends this report: District manager Patrick Johnson, who is there to meet with the school community, asked WSB not to videotape the meeting. We refused – it’s a public meeting on public property, publicized by the district. Arbor Heights leadership “and crowd” supported the meeting being recorded. Johnson is declining to answer parents’ questions about the new “potential recommendations” which have been unveiled here at Stanford Center (where we will be asking district communications staff to clear up this issue of not videotaping), apparently taking Arbor Heights “program” closure OUT of the mix of possibilities (that was a “preliminary recommendation”; Cooper program “discontinuance” is now listed, in its place, as a “potential final recommendation” and nobody challenged it in board discussion so far tonight).


Junction holiday updates: Art Walk; Santa & open mike Sunday

Updates on Hometown Holidays in The Junction – First, looking to next Sunday, not only will you get another chance to get Santa photos at Cupcake Royale – the photos (provided by the West Seattle Junction Association [WSB sponsor] but with donation requested, proceeds to WestSide Baby, West Seattle Food Bank, and West Seattle Helpline – last Sunday brought in $500!) come in these two looks, full color and “classic aged,” taken by pro photographer Donna Ryan. And there’s a special feature at Hometown Holidays HQ (in front of Key Bank at California/Alaska) next Sunday – there’ll be an open holiday mike for musicians, coordinated by Patrick Small (of Patrick and Danny, who played at last Saturday night’s Tree Lighting) — Susan Melrose of WSJA says, “West Seattle musicians of all genres are invited to play holiday tunes, lead a sing-along, or come up with a holiday act that’s all their own. Musicians must coordinate with Patrick in advance at” One more Junction note – this Thursday is the Holiday Art Walk, 6-9 pm – of course, it stretches beyond Junction borders (for example, in the Admiral District, WSB sponsor Click! Design That Fits is having a late-night shopping event in connection with the Art Walk) – but if you want to get in on the free child care in The Junction, you need to sign up now – call Dan at West Seattle Christian Church, which is providing the service in connection with this month’s Art Walk only – 206-932-2098 x. 102. This Art Walk isn’t to be missed – how about tacky sweaters at Twilight? and more – read all about it here.

From White Center Now: Open house today; annexation update

December 9, 2008 2:11 pm
|    Comments Off on From White Center Now: Open house today; annexation update
 |   How to help | White Center

whitecentericon.jpgTwo items of interest if you haven’t already seen them on our partner site White Center Now: First, one of White Center’s newest nonprofits — actually on the Seattle side of WC, so it’s West Seattle too — invites you to an open house 3-7 pm today; read the WCN story to see why New Traditions is one-of-a-kind. Second, a followup on the annexation-process deal reported last night: The full document is now online.

West Seattle Crime Watch: Homes hit by bullets

This has been on the Crime Watch page since Seattle Police posted it on their SPD Blotter site (which feeds the CW page instantly as soon as SPD posts something) – but we wanted to call attention to it here too: Two homes on 32nd SW were hit by bullets last night, nobody hurt, nobody arrested. A High Point resident sent us a Twitter message last night about that time saying he’d heard what sounded like gunfire – we listened to the scanner for quite some time and monitored 911 but nothing obvious. In several separate Twitter messages, Ryan reported:

I live in High Point and am pretty sure I just heard gunshots. a lot of em, sounded like two different guns … I’m at 32nd and Juneau, it sounded less than a block away, and afterwards a car drove really fast down my dead end street … and then turned around and drove away …

We get “thought I heard gunshots” reports fairly frequently, and they don’t all pan out, but this one obviously did. We’re checking with the Southwest Precinct for any additional information about who’s been sought and potential motives. ADDED 2:02 PM: Lt. Steve Paulsen provides additional details: 5900 block of 32nd SW (map); no description of the suspect/vehicle. They haven’t quite zeroed in on the motive yet but are investigating the possibility it involved a relationship dispute of some sort. No relation to the “house hit by bullets” incident from 20th/Henderson last month.

School-closure fight: Where it stands (before tonight’s meetings)

We’re now hours away from the next significant release of school closure/change-related information from Seattle Public Schools, during a School Board work session this afternoon/evening (we will be there to post live updates; it’s not expected to be televised and it starts too early — 4 pm — for everyone who’s interested to be there from the beginning). Here’s a quick recap on where things stand:

*The official proposal on the table remains the one announced by Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson on November 25th (original coverage here): Close the Arbor Heights Elementary “program,” move Pathfinder K-8 into the Arbor Heights building, close the Genesee Hill Elementary building where Pathfinder’s been located since 1994 (five years after GH Elementary was closed as a school of its own), in addition to recommendations involving other schools around the city (full proposal here).

*That same night, after hearing the proposals, School Board members made various requests to district staff for additional research. One such request: Look into whether Cooper could become Pathfinder’s new home instead of Arbor Heights. As a result of those requests, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson presented an “update” at last Wednesday’s board meeting (see the full presentation here), and that update included this:

At the work session on November 25 the School Board indicated that the option of altering the Student Assignment Plan to permit the location of Pathfinder at Cooper should be evaluated. Staff are evaluating this option.

*As part of that 12/3 presentation, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson proposed tonight’s work session to discuss new data (for example, district staffers have been touring schools to determine “functional capacity” – how many students can really be served under current conditions, as opposed to the “planning capacity” – optimal theoretical conditions – that’s been discussed in district documents) and “potential final recommendations.” This, although the superintendent’s “final recommendation” is still not supposed to be announced until January 6th.

*Many schools caught up in this have already had meetings of their own to discuss strategy and status; the district has had two official “public workshops” in the past week (here’s our coverage of the first one Thursday night); and many more meetings are coming up, including an official meeting tonight at Arbor Heights (6 pm) with a district rep and an official public hearing 12/16 at the Genesee Hill building (6:30 pm – the full School Board won’t be there as there are other hearings that same night elsewhere in the city; West Seattle rep Steve Sundquist said at his 11/26 coffee gathering that he and fellow board members were working to decide who would go to which hearing).

Needless to say – more later! Meanwhile, WSB coverage of this round of school closure/change talk is all archived here; all the official district info related to what SPS calls “capacity management” is linked here.

Holiday help: Pegasus “college kid” seeks food-drive donations

Got this note from a Pegasus Pizza employee – who wants to be sure you bring something along when headed there for your next pizza this holiday season:

Hi, my name is Laura, I am trying to organize a big Christmas food drive down at
Pegasus Pizza on Alki. There is already a big box down there all ready and waiting for donations! But Pegasus isn’t exactly like Safeway where you can get something inside while shopping to drop off on your way back out the door so I’m having a much harder time getting the word out than I expected. I was hoping that it could go onto the events page of the blog just so that people will see it and know to bring stuff down with them when they come for lunch/dinner.

Basic info: We are collecting any/all non-perishable food items; all donations going to the West Seattle Food Bank for christmas. If customers bring in 5 or more items of food, we are giving them a coupon for $2.00 off any size pizza.

We’ve listed this with other business drives on the Holidays page, of course, but wanted to give an extra shoutout to Laura, who concluded her note by describing herself as “just a … college kid trying to make a tiny little difference.” Pegasus is at 62nd/Alki (map), online at

Viaduct project economic-analysis report: 1 West Seattle mention

SCENIC_Alaskan_Way_AWV1.jpgJust combed through the latest report released as part of the ongoing drive to settle on a Central Waterfront Viaduct replacement by year’s end: the draft version of the Economic Analysis of Viaduct Scenarios. The only major West Seattle-specific mention is this look at how the project might affect Nucor in North Delridge:

Nucor, a major steel company, operates Seattle’s steel mill. The Nucor plant is located south of the West Seattle Bridge. It is a 660,000 square foot plant with 291 workers that can make about 800,000 tons of steel a year. The plant recently got new air quality permits that would allow it to make up to 1.1 million tons per year.

In theory, viaduct removal and construction could pose problems for the mill. Because of its location, Nucor has few options but to deal with traffic on I-5, and will be concerned that capacity reductions, both temporary and long-run in the SR 99 corridor, will affect I-5. Its customers are primarily construction projects located around the region where steel has to be delivered by truck during daylight hours. Because there are limited options for stockpiling steel mill products outside of the affected area, the company’s ability to deliver products to customers could be impaired during construction. Permanent closure, however, seems doubtful because permits for steel mills are difficult to obtain and the Seattle plant has no local competition for steel production. Nucor does not provide all of the steel needed for construction in the Seattle area; a major portion of it is imported or comes from steel from mills in Oregon. Construction impacts would also affect imported steel, however, leaving Nucor with no net competitive disadvantage. Indeed, the viaduct project itself could be a major customer for steel and may even help Nucor.

Overall, the report reached no clarion conclusion, with this among its final bulletpoints:

No single scenario emerges as the best or worst from an economic impact perspective. On the many dimensions we evaluated, we found no option that was consistently at the top or consistently at the bottom. That makes decisionmaking harder. For example, the bored bypass tunnel (F) probably reduces business impacts during construction, but it will likely cost more, take longer to build (so that the impacts it does have last longer), and have an unquantified but important cost of exposing Seattle to several additional years of risk of a catastrophic collapse in an earthquake if the viaduct remains until the bored tunnel opens to traffic.

Before the next Stakeholders Advisory Committee meeting this Thursday (4:30-8 pm, City Hall downtown), state, county, and city reps are scheduled to reveal the finalists — two or three “hybrid” scenarios ostensibly to be cobbled together from elements of the 8 original ‘scenarios’ (all shown here). One committee member has already come up with a hybrid of sorts, according to citywide newspaper reports today. Then, whatever emerges later this week as the list of finalists, you’re invited to speak out about them at a public meeting next Monday night (12/15), 5-7:30 pm, Town Hall downtown – 1119 8th Ave (map).