Fixing West Seattle school overcrowding: 2 possible reopenings

At tonight’s community meeting in West Seattle about Seattle Public Schools “capacity management” – mostly dealing with overcrowded schools – you are likely to hear about the possibilities that the district is already circulating, to deal with overflowing elementaries on the peninsula. And they include this tentative proposal for West Seattle: Reopen Boren on Delridge (originally a junior high) and “possibly reopen” Hughes in Sunrise Heights (originally an elementary), to handle a projected surplus of up to 1,100 elementary-age students in the next several years.

That might be something of a surprise to those who thought the former Fairmount Park Elementary, closed four years ago, was the most likely building to be reopened. Boren is in its second year of emptiness, after most recently serving as Chief Sealth International High School‘s temporary home for two years, through June 2010; Hughes is in its second year as the leased, renovated home of independent Westside School (WSB sponsor). We contacted West Seattle’s school board rep (and board president) Steve Sundquist for some context, and have also just spoken with administrators at Westside – read on:

From the district’s presentation of proposals, here are the two outlining West Seattle needs/possibilities (earlier in the presentation, there are maps looking at the capacity challenges school by school):

First: Sundquist tells WSB the Fairmount option has fallen out of favor because bringing it up to standards to reopen would cost an estimated $11 million, according to information shared at a briefing in which he participated yesterday, while only creating room for 250 more students.

According to the presentation now in circulation (see it here), room for up to 1,100 more elementary students may be needed in West Seattle.

Regarding Hughes already being in use, he told us, “I understand there has been a preliminary conversation with Westside School, with a more substantive conversation scheduled next week.”
We had asked Westside administration earlier this year about the possibility that a Hughes reopening might be on the table for the district at some point. At that time, spokesperson David Bergler told us that the district’s lease with Westside “outlines the terms for cancellation only if the District determines it needs to open the school for its own students. These terms include an adequate timeline for notification to Westside which the District would follow. Westside School’s Board of Trustees meets annually with the District to review their growth projection for West Seattle.”

This morning, we have just spoken with Westside’s head of school Jo Ann Yockey and communications director Jana Barber. They say the proposal to “possibly reopen” Hughes has caught them somewhat by surprise, since – as Bergler had told us months ago – they have regularly met with SPS, and at the most recent meeting in April, Yockey says, no such possibility or need was mentioned.

Nonetheless, it’s out there now, and they say they’re sending a letter home to families, and they do indeed plan to meet with the district soon to find out what changed and why. Since that last meeting with SPS, they point out, Westside – with district approval – had moved portables onto the Hughes grounds as part of their expansion into offering middle school, and that was not an inexpensive process.

In addition to Hughes, Boren, and Fairmount Park, the district has a fourth closed school in West Seattle, Genesee Hill, originally an elementary, but home to Pathfinder K-8 for many years until that school moved into the new Cooper on Pigeon Point.

Meantime, Sundquist stressed that none of the proposals are “set in stone.” You can hear more about them at the district’s capacity-management community meeting tonight, 6:30 pm at Madison (45th/Spokane), the second of three meetings around the city, the only one scheduled in West Seattle.

70 Replies to "Fixing West Seattle school overcrowding: 2 possible reopenings"

  • Star 55 October 6, 2011 (11:38 am)

    Why not Genessee Hill? Why not Fairmount? If it cost to much to re-open them why not sell them and use that money instead of letting them become community eyesores?

  • Momof3 October 6, 2011 (11:47 am)

    I totally agree, Star 55. I’m a firm supporter of public education but SPS is making it difficult.

  • WSRes October 6, 2011 (11:51 am)

    I’m not impressed with Sundquist or the rest of the board’s ability to manage this process and decision making. Why did they sign that lease with Westside then? This entire thing is turning into a mess and making the board look like petulant teenagers rather than professional educators looking out for the best interest of the students.

    There is still further information that is missing: Is this going to happen for Fall 2012 as Sundquist said? How will the assignment boundaries change? Will these be regular assignment schools or specialty option schools?

    School open houses are happening soon, so we would like some answers NOW.

  • Been There October 6, 2011 (11:58 am)

    Please bring Boren back to life. It has been either an interim and or empty school for way to many years and the North Delridge area needs additional injection of energy and activity that a functioning school would provide.

  • WS Mom October 6, 2011 (11:58 am)

    I’d like to know who the genius was that planned the only West Seattle capacity management meeting on the same night as Schmitz Park Elementary and Lafayette Elementary school’s curriculum night.

  • coffee October 6, 2011 (12:04 pm)

    How nice of the SPS to basically jilt Westside. Thats just not good business.

  • raincity October 6, 2011 (12:16 pm)

    Who would choose for their kids to go to Boren as elementary school?
    So they close schools to “save money” but it costs exponentially more to reopen them?

    I think to reopen Viewlands elementary the cost was about $10 millionand is accomodating 179 children.
    Why doesn’t West Seattle get the same funds to solve the capacity issue? Sounds like we’d have more than 179 kids to accomodate.

  • Susan October 6, 2011 (12:23 pm)

    The West Side school did a huge amount of work to renovate and move into Hughes. I can’t believe the school board would harm them like that. That is completely unfair. For full disclosure, my child attends Seattle Public Schools, not West Side.

  • NKB October 6, 2011 (12:35 pm)

    It appears Seattle Schools continues its pattern of not dealing in good faith…
    Monday, June 6, 2011
    Education / City State Auditor’s Office Investigates Sale of Seattle Schools Property to Church

  • gina October 6, 2011 (12:50 pm)

    Completly puzzled why Genessee Hill and Fairmount Park elementaries are not the chosen schools. The price to repair them for reopening will only get higher in the funture.

  • StringCheese October 6, 2011 (12:56 pm)

    WS Mom, it is Pathfinder’s K-3 curriculum night as well. Hmmm, kinda seems accidentally on purpose doesn’t it?

  • bwilson October 6, 2011 (1:04 pm)

    Why did SPS just tear Denny down? Do I hear this correctly that SPS has several viable options for a “short term” over-crowding need and they single out one of their few income generating properties?!!
    Is this the same team that created the Bush School / First African Methodist Church debacle?
    The continued incompetence of the SPS administration continues to astound me.

  • Nulu October 6, 2011 (1:07 pm)

    WS Mom need only to look at the the same genius who scheduled both Schmitz Park Elementary and Lafayette Elementary school’s curriculum night at the same time.

  • Martha October 6, 2011 (1:09 pm)

    Wasn’t there a community notice about a year ago when the public schools were looking for tenants for some of their properties. How could they not have predicted this?!

  • A Neighbor October 6, 2011 (1:16 pm)

    No – don’t kick West Side school out! After years of neglect by the public schools we finally have good neighbors in that building. SPS would take it over for a year or two, then it would go back to the rats, weeds and other trouble makers that vacant buildings attract.

  • Cheryl October 6, 2011 (1:29 pm)

    @WSMom Roxhill has our Open House tonight too!
    I emailed the board & meeting coordinator(s) last week and admonished them for such piss poor planning, and they merely directed me to the other two meetings OUTSIDE of West Seattle in the weeks to come as an option.
    As if THAT makes me feel better, or even fixes the problem of having a meeting on the same night as our Open House.
    What if I were one of the many families in West Seattle with only one family car, or without a car at all? As it is, I already work full time in downtown Seattle, my daughter is going to an after-school program that is only available until 6pm and I am an active member of our PTA without babysitting backup for my 5 year old to attend a meeting outside of West Seattle, I can barely manage the PTA meetings… but hey, thanks for the patronizing suggestion, jerks!

  • rudy October 6, 2011 (1:34 pm)

    It’s interesting to me to look at the small print under the headings. This is the first time I’ve seen mention of a capacity short fall in the southern end of West Seattle. I always hear that Gatewood, Schmitz, and Lafayette are so crowded – hence Fairmount Park/Genessee seemed most reasonable. With the southern schools having a greater projected shortfall I guess that’s why Hughes would come into play. I’ll be interested in knowing the timelines on these decisions (I’ll look at the attached document a bit closer for that info.) I have two daughters entering K next fall and we live smack dab in between West Seattle and Hughes. And yes, this is potentially VERY uncool for the good people at Westside. Being their neighbor, they have done an awesome job cleaning that place up and making it their home. They have been a welcome addition to our area.

  • NCD October 6, 2011 (1:41 pm)

    Do the SPS and parents know that located within a block of the Boren school will be built a 75-unit permanent homeless apartment building? Whether you are for or against (or somewhere in the middle) this building being built, it is something to be aware of.

    “The apartments will house 75 formerly homeless individuals living with serious mental/addictive illnesses and supported by full-time staff. The proposed four-story building will be located on the east side of the 5400 block of Delridge Way, across from the Delridge Library.”

    To learn more about this issue go to:

    • WSB October 6, 2011 (1:45 pm)

      We’ve reported on that extensively. Also, as you’ll see at the link NCD provided, the community forum on that project is coming up next Tuesday (October 11). – TR

  • Public School Advocate October 6, 2011 (1:51 pm)

    After reviewing the Intermediate Term Capacity Management Plan 2012-2016 October 5, 2011 – Board Work Session a few things surface that most likely prompted the “unfavor” of Fairmount Park.

    The estimated capacity shortfall within the Denny Service Area is between 750-850 and only 150-250 in the Madison Service Area. Therefore given the locations of Boren and Hughes they are probably better located to meet the needs within the community. It’s certainly unfortunate that Westside could be outed earlier than expected, yet their agreement left a pretty open door for SPS to reclaim the property. Maybe Westside could make an agreement with SPS to outright purchase Genesee Hill or Fairmount Park to build their own campus?

  • R.C. October 6, 2011 (2:08 pm)

    Taking back the EC Hughes building from Westside would be tragic! Of course the SPS wants to take it back now, after Westside School beared the painstaking expense of renovation of the building. Westside is an independent school run on funds from hard working parents paying tuition and fundraising efforts. Having this loss would not only hurt the families and children attending Westside, but it would be a great loss to our community. FIND ANOTHER BUILDING.

  • blt October 6, 2011 (2:09 pm)

    We (the West Seattle Community) need to put pressure (or flat out demand) on the school district (or school board)to hold another capacity-management community meeting that is not “conveniently” scheduled the same night as many curriculum nights. It is an embarrassment that the leaders of our schools are incompetent, disingenuous, and unethical. They closed a disproportionate number of seattle schools in low-income neighborhoods. Goodloe-Johnson was fired and still received one years severance, her “hand picked” Chief Financial and Operations Officer, also fired, received 6 months severance pay – costing the school district over $366,000.. plus the $280,000 of $ spent and considered to be a loss..and another 1.5 million in questionable spending. Over $2 million wasted – that money could have been used in the classroom. It was on Goodloe-Johnson’s watch that the MLK debacle happened. Okay.. she is gone – I had hoped for better. We should now look at the School Board – they have a responsibility to manage the leaders of our schools. How can we trust them to make the right decisions concerning educating our children when they don’t appear to be capable of doing their jobs.

  • dhd October 6, 2011 (2:13 pm)

    @ Bwilson – good point!

    “Do I hear this correctly that SPS has several viable options for a “short term” over-crowding need and they single out one of their few income generating properties?!!
    Is this the same team that created the Bush School / First African Methodist Church debacle?”

  • Highland Park Parent October 6, 2011 (2:18 pm)

    Remember the school board has renewal contracts and new candidates in the November Election…

    Vote to show your disgust and tell others in the other school board districts to do the same…

    It’s time to speak out and show the school board that the public does care about improving SPS for all our kids!

  • Findlay October 6, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    Escape the hassles of overcrowding!

    You should check out Hope Lutheran and Seattle Lutheran. Small class sizes, great education, and your child can participate in any after school program that they desire.

    There’s an open house at Seattle Lutheran coming up soon!

  • patrick pavey October 6, 2011 (2:44 pm)

    I probably should not be commenting on this issue as I don’t have a dog in this fight, my youngest being 31 now. However, this is just too juicy to pass. Some really tough decisions need to be made at this point and I’m very certain that little thought has gone into any decisions up to this point. SPS is notorious for their lack of transparency, lack of community involvement, lack of clear decision-making. This debacle is going to come back and bite them in the butt if they don’t get their act together. And us taxpayers are going to be carrying the burden.

  • J October 6, 2011 (2:52 pm)

    I’m pretty new to the area – do magnet/charter schools exist in Seattle?

  • J October 6, 2011 (2:59 pm)

    Any organization wanting to lease SPS property needs to keep firmly in mind the history. The public schools have been problematic landlords forever. The worthiness of the leasing organization is not an issue; the administration must manage its assets in the best interests of the public schools (which they don’t always do very well); the best interests of the community are not a primary consideration.

    If I were in charge of finding long-term space for any organization, the public schools would be my last choice.

    • WSB October 6, 2011 (3:09 pm)

      I didn’t note this in the story – there is so much background, which I hopefully will get into coverage of whatever happens tonight (we will also roll video on the meeting, knowing there are many who have conflicting school meetings), including what was said at the time of the last couple rounds of school closures – but: We have reported that the Denny site was projected to be a future elementary school – that’s why the footprint of the just-torn-down building is being used mostly as a casual, grassy field. So it will be interesting to hear if anything is mentioned regarding the cost of building a new (theoretically large) elementary school vs. renovating and reopening two older ones. – TR

  • Take2 October 6, 2011 (3:26 pm)

    I too am completely irritated that they planned the meeting when almost ALL of the feeder schools to Madison are having their Open Houses. I really don’t think they want public input.

    I emailed them and expressed my frustration with this little details and got the following message back:

    I know that October 6th is a busy night in West Seattle and I am sorry this conflict occurred: please note that this meeting is only the first step in the process to address and solve intermediate term capacity management plan issues and each of our meetings will include the same presentation. Please note that our address for comments is I am also including the link below to the Capital Projects web page that has the Community Meeting presentation materials.
    My sincere apology

  • Momof3 October 6, 2011 (3:34 pm)

    I think we are aware that private schools exist. I looked at Hope Lutheran for my daughter and attended one service to check out the parish where she would worship. While I was initially impressed with the school, the church was freaky. No thanks.

    Seattle needs to get it’s public schools together for the future of the children and, heck, even for property values. I honestly don’t think the private schools are anything to write home about either.

  • abc October 6, 2011 (3:36 pm)

    There must be some major flaws in how SPS determines expected enrollment.. a couple years ago they closed several schools in WS … and now they are expecting 1,100 more students in elementary??? How does this even make sense?
    Shame on SPS for their lack of transparency and for leading Westside to believe that they had no intention of reopening Hughes.

  • plf October 6, 2011 (4:02 pm)

    My daughter went to Holy Rosary, Holy Names Academy and received a rigerous quality education.
    Subsquently for college several offers that included sizable financial support.
    Principals were accountable,small class sizes and expectations of parent involvement. As the product of public schools I wanted to support my daughter going to her local school..lots to be said for it…15 years ago the leadership of Seattle schools was poor as was the measurable outcomes..middle classes families, I as a single mom made the investment and the sacrifice…clear that outcomes and leadership is still horrible…Seattle school leadership should be ashamed of themselves..wonder why so many of us choose to not send our kids…all of you have clearly outlined it….

  • B October 6, 2011 (4:20 pm)

    Uh…WSMom, Schmitz Park and Lafayette are not the only schools that are important. I know for a fact that both Pathfinder and Arbor Heights have their curriculum night tonight too. (and Roxhill too I just read!)

  • mdm October 6, 2011 (4:52 pm)

    Really? The school board reminds me of a fickle teenager changing their mind every few months at the expense of our kids. Guess it might be time to check and and see who Steve Sundquist’s opponent is in the up-coming election.

  • Mn October 6, 2011 (4:57 pm)

    What’s going to happen to westsides middle school Plans if they have to move?
    We need more options in west Seattle
    Public schools are so overcrowded

  • Delridge Denizen October 6, 2011 (4:59 pm)

    Re-open Boren!

  • Momof3 October 6, 2011 (5:20 pm)

    J- SPS operates an option school in each school area, which they call a “cluster”. The option school for West Seattle is Pathfinder. I’m completely biased but it’s an awesome school with an amazing staff who always go the extra mile (or 10 if hiking is involved). It was founded by a group of local parents who weren’t happy with the more traditional offerings in WS. Experiential Learning is at the heart of everything they do and they always aim to nurture and educate the whole child. There are lots of field
    trips, camping, etc. and just a lot of outside,
    hands-on learning time.
    Despite it’s amazing principal, vice principal and teaching staff, it is still managed by SPS so there are larger than ideal class sizes, crazy bus schedules, gobs of standardized tests and weird things like early dismissals.
    Having said that, it’s by far and away my favorite WS school after spending time in lots of them both public and private.

  • sarah October 6, 2011 (5:31 pm)


  • Take2 October 6, 2011 (5:39 pm)

    My note to the Public Relations department of the SS District:

    I was surprised to hear that in addition to Schmitz Park and Lafayette — Pathfinder, Arbor Heights, and Roxhill are ALSO having Open Houses tonight. Was this on purpose? The three largest feeder schools into Madison and most of the parents will not be able to attend tonight’s Capacity meeting unless they want to miss their children’s Open House.

    You really, really should have scheduled the Madison meeting on a different evening.

    How frustrating!!

  • CandrewB October 6, 2011 (6:00 pm)

    $11 million to bring Fairmount up to standards? That’s ridiculous using Defense Department standards. That property can’t be worth a tenth of that. Sensing snow job, won’t be voting for any SB incumbents this year.

  • GateMom October 6, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    I’m unhappy that the SPS would sign a 10-year lease for the Hughes building (which sat empty for years) with Westside, allow them to spend many volunteer hours to move thier school facilities and clean up the mess left behind when the school was closed, and then, after just over a year, think that it’s OK to cancel the lease. If you sign a 10-year lease on a building for your business or your home, you expect to be able to use that building for 10 years, as long as you pay the terms. From all accounts Westside has kept their end of the bargain, and then some—turning an eyesore into a vibrant, happy neighborhood school. There are at least three other empty school buildings in WS that could be cleaned up and made ready for the predicted “overflow.” Use the schools that are vacant, spend the money to renovate them (and $11 million sounds like a ridiculously high amount for one school) and consider it an investment in the neighborhood schools concept that our last superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, championed before she was shown the door. I didn’t vote for Sundquist in the recent election and was disappointed to see that he was re-elected. If you want change, folks, stop electing the same people. That’s the opposite of change.

  • StringCheese October 6, 2011 (7:18 pm)

    If you look at their own numbers, the difference between the greatest enrollment and the lowest enrollment is only 2154 and that is DISTRICT WIDE. This is only a drop of between 4-5%. The largest 1 year drop was only 2.5%. Again, across the entire district. One would think that this would easily fall within acceptable, expected, periodic shifts in population. Why the rush to close schools? The numbers simply don’t support the decisions they have always stated are based on the numbers. I’m sure we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on experts to irresponsibly interpret this data as well.
    Year Students
    2010 47,735
    2009 46,523
    2008 45,698
    2007 45,581
    2006 46,097
    2005 46,070
    2004 46,331
    2003 47,546
    2002 47,853
    2001 47,449
    2000 47,575

  • madashell October 6, 2011 (7:55 pm)

    Sundquist opponent? Marty McLaren, retired teacher and Puget Ridge Co-housing resident. Excellent listener who knows the realities of budgets and conditions in buildings (other than John Stanford Center downtown). Look her up at

  • SpeakLoud October 6, 2011 (8:09 pm)

    THIS IS WRONG-just wrong. PLEASE can we march in the streets now?

  • Stephanie October 6, 2011 (8:11 pm)

    If past dealings with the District are predictions of future actions…scheduling the capacity meeting on the same night as curriculum night at so many schools is intentional.

    It’s just easier that way. Face it. They don’t want to look, talk, or see you mere parents.

  • SpeakLoud October 6, 2011 (8:39 pm)

    I just read through some of the considerations document linked in the article-it looks like serious consideration would be given to boundries-as in changing them! And adding portables but they clearly state they are looking for no-cost options. And why no attention to High Schools? Chief Sealth already has more than 200 additional students above capacity-yet it says nothing about that. On the upside if they did reopen a school they would have to decide if it was a boundry school or an OPTION school-since Pathfinder has one of the higest wait lists in WS AND you wouldn’t have to re-draw boundries it would seem to be the lowest cost. I would be in strong support of another OPTION school-especially if it was one started by parents…..then you could use Fairmount park or Genesse because an option school is not dictated by boundries-PROBLEM SOLVED! West side is happy and supported and so are the families of West Seattle who want better choices. So WS parents do you think we could do it? Do you think we could band together and start another CHOICE school in WS??? A kind of non-charter, charter school?

  • Past parent at Westside School October 6, 2011 (8:50 pm)

    As a past parent at Westside School, my heart breaks to learn of this deveopment. My kids thrived in that environment and it would be a tragedy if Seattle Public took it back. Indian giver…shame on you.

  • So over WS October 6, 2011 (9:16 pm)

    Past Parent- I can’t believe you just used that phrase. How insensitive and totally inappropriate. I hope Westside taught your children better.

  • J October 6, 2011 (9:26 pm)

    In the short year we’ve been with SPS we have encountered MANY issues. Enrollment lost our paperwork, delaying enrollment/placement. SPS informed us in August of this year they had NO record of our daughters immunizations but still let her attend last year. We started with half day Kindergarten, but due to bad record keeping the district kept sending us bills for full day kindergarten. In April, finally everything was corrected – only to receive a bill in May along with a collections notice. And finally, my daughter has a life threatening condition – her teacher and principal were totally negligent with her care. I had to contact lawyers for the district to comply with their OWN POLICIES (not to mention state & federal laws). This problem won’t be fixed overnight but I encourage everyone to fight for how are tax dollars are spent because I don’t think we are getting our moneys worth!

  • SpeakLoud October 6, 2011 (9:26 pm)

    Past Westside parent you may want to rethink your racial slur-I think you meant to support Westside but this is not doing it for you.

  • West Seattle Resident October 6, 2011 (9:27 pm)

    Past parent at Westside,
    Please control the racism. “Indian giver” is not OK…shame on you.

  • bc October 6, 2011 (9:36 pm)

    All of the feeder schools for Denny are FAILING schools. Why can’t they look at how many people want to go to Pathfinder and make more Option schools?
    The Pathfinder lottery really is a “golden ticket” and the only Public way out of our South West Seattle schools. So wrong to end Westside School’s lease. Not cool at all.

  • dd October 6, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    Nifty trick. Lease EC Hughes to Westside. Let them pay to fix it up, and then kick them out.

    Aren’t the West Side parents also tax payers who are providing funds for SPS and not using the spots and providing lease income?

  • Mark October 6, 2011 (9:55 pm)

    We are one of two states in America that prohibits charter schools. Absent affordability, everyone would flee Seattle public schools. And now the school district wants to attack the most successful private school in West Seattle and go back on their promises. If they were for kids first they would give every parent a cash voucher for the tax $ for their child’s education.

  • s-mom October 6, 2011 (10:21 pm)

    Why kick Westside out of Hughes instead of reopening one of the closed schools? Because we just fixed it up, that’s why! My son just started school there and I love that school. Put the money into the closed buildings instead of kicking us out only after a year of being there.

  • madashell October 6, 2011 (10:38 pm)

    Wrong. my child is getting an excellent education in wS. The vast majority of charters (83%) do no better or WORSE than traditional schools. They’re just an unregulated money drain with high turnover staff that work for peanuts then quit.

    I DO want ALL schools in WS, in SE Seattle to be of equal or higher caliber than the best schools in the system. We ain’t getting that with the current admin and Board. Vote the bums out!

  • Olliesdad October 7, 2011 (12:27 am)

    First of all, let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room – had Sundquist not orchestrated the unethical closure of that Cooper Elementary School, West Seattle would not have these capacity nightmares. Secondly, apparently, the Genessee Hill building was soooo terrible for Pathfinder that they had to.close the building “oooohhh, our building is awful and we have no heat….” The District had even allotted them at lwast $400,000 tk renovats that building, but they weren’t having it. The wanted the Cooper building or nothing. Now Pathfinder is in step four of failing AYP, and probably will be failing to step 5 this year. Can we then shut them down, just as the district shut down African American Academy, when they were in step 5? Give Delridge back its neighborhood school and restore some sanity to North West Seattle. Oh, and Pathfinder has a waitlist because of all of those nice yuppie families who are trying to flee west seattle elementary. Sorry to be so blunt, but someone had to ne.

  • sks October 7, 2011 (8:40 am)

    re-open Boren! It would be a much needed, very welcome addition to the Delridge community. And the district could then help us with this pesky DESC issue.

  • WSeaparent October 7, 2011 (9:20 am)

    Make sure to vote Sundquist & friends out next time – what has he every done for us? (see all the comments) And Westside’s lease requires at least 15 months notice to vacate, which they clearly cannot meet for Fall 2012. So I hope Westside sues the pants off the school district if they make the dumb decision to break their lease for 2012. That will cost the SD even more money – legal fees, reimburse WS costs they incurred to move portables, etc. They might as well spend that money to fix up vacant bldgs instead – something that would actually improve our neighborhoods.

    This is the same SD with the 3rd worst performing elementary school in Washington state located in our neighborhood, West Seattle Elementary (see Seattle Times article last year).

  • Melissa Westbrook October 7, 2011 (9:38 am)

    I write for the education blog, Save Seattle Schools. (Can I just give a shout out to Tracy and all the WS blog staff? Great work. And, as well,to all these commenters who care enough to speak up.)

    You all bring up great points. To whit:
    – yes, parents from ALL parts of the city tried to tell the district from about 2008 on that there were many children coming up. The district chose not to listen because it was all hearsay. But it was true and, of course, you all saw it in your neighborhoods.

    – the district was told that closing Cooper was going to create chaos. Parents tried,district again did not listen.

    – Yes, it costs a lot to reopen buildings. Part of it is if a building is closed more than (I think it is) 2 years, you have to make sure it is up to a certain standard (whether or not it was when it closed). To reopen the 5 buildings over the last two years (Rainier View, MacDonald, Viewlands, Sandpoint and the fifth one escapes me now), it cost $50M. That’s just to fix up the building and not the “opening” costs like libraries, staff, etc.

    Understand that this means taking capital funds from schools that are already open (and waiting for their repairs)and moving them. So those waiting schools get to wait longer for repairs.

    Also, discussions for BEX IV (the capital building program that rebuilt Denny/Sealth, WSHS, etc.) are coming up this winter. Be sure to pay attention so that those funds go to the schools that need repair AND expansion to fit all these students.

    – in answer to J’s question, no, WA state does not have charters. They have been voted down 3 times and yet are probably going to come up again. WA state is one of 9 (not 2) states that does not have charters. Overall, over 20+ years, charters have not proven they do any better (and sometimes worse) than regular public schools.

    What’s the answer? Working with our labor partners for more innovative ideas like a longer school day/year for some schools, allowing schools to use different curriculum that may give better academic outcomes (Schmitz Park has a waiver to use a different math curriculum than the rest of the district and is doing very well).

    And J, we have innovative schools that other states need charters for. We already have foreign language immersion schools, environment focus (yay, Pathfinder), social justice (TOPS), etc.

    I urge you all to consider Marty McLaren to replace Steve Sundquist. Steve has been out in your community and has many community meetings. I know this and appreciate his efforts. But how often does he act on your words and concerns? How many times did he say no to MGJ (none) and, in fact, when her evaluation came up, even though she only came through on something like 3 out of 15 goals, she got a contract renewal AND a bonus?

    – On the issue of buildings and money, I want to remind you that under BTA II, the tennis courts and baseball field at Denny were rebuilt. But, about 18 months later, the district, under BEX III, decided to co-join Denny/Sealth and promptly tore them out. And then rebuilt them.

    That a waste of tax dollars that should not happen.

    – Lastly, the district tends towards siloing. I doubt if there is a master calendar with all the different major events at our schools. So I doubt if anyone even thought to check if other events were going on that night (even though it is that time of year).

    And,why are these meetings always clustered in one week? It would make it a lot easier if there were one a week over 3 weeks.

    check in at the Save Seattle Schools blog for more up-to-the -minute info. We cover all the Board meetings, committee meeting and community meetings.

  • Sarah October 7, 2011 (10:23 am)

    Olliesdad-clearly you were hurt by the Cooper decision-many people and children were. It was disgusting. WHy then would you suggest to do that to a whole other group of families and children? Pathfinder has been building it’s reputation on the culture of the school not test scores-some of us refuse to even take the stupid tests and many of us put no weight in them at all-it’s a choice school-we choose to put our values and lifestyles ahead of the districts ridgid ‘standardized test results mean everything’ BS. People are running from West Seattle Elem because they don’t see how their child will be served there-that dosn’t mean West Seattle is not serving the population it has-because from what I can see it does and it is doing it very well-much like Cooper did.
    Look-the whole thing is a shame-I think we can agree on that. Bashing the parents that choose a ‘choice’ school gets us no where and really-you think Pathfinder had ANY control over what the SPS administration does-look at this thread-if a school had any authority or control over anything that SPS decides to do don’t you think they would have made different decisions? It’s the SPS administration we should be screaming at-not each other.

  • madashell October 7, 2011 (3:01 pm)

    “But how often does he act on your words and concerns? How many times did he say no to MGJ (none)” Amen to that about Sundquist. Talking to him is like yodeling in an echo chamber. He doesn’t say no to our photogenic (but equally venal) interim superintendent. In fact, the other night he once again was head cheerleader for placing inexperienced Teach for America temps in our most vulnerable schools. He doesn’t need facts when he has anecdotes to back him up.

  • Sarah October 7, 2011 (5:28 pm)

    $11,000,000 to fix Fairmount? Seems like it’d be cheaper and thus wiser (a quality SPS sorely lacks) to just demo it and build a new building!

    Curiosity question:

    Does SPS have any long term strategic planning ability? Why did they lease EC Hughes and then two years later come back with this?

    Sounds like a seriously flawed business plan to me. The parents of WS knew that student numbers were going up and told the SPS so in meeting after meeting. There’s really no excuse.

  • Mn October 7, 2011 (6:20 pm)

    I hope Westside is looking for alternate locations just in case

  • ttt October 7, 2011 (10:07 pm)

    sps is too big to manage itself. they should be broken up into several smaller districts. the west seattle peninsula would be a nice district….

  • mmms October 7, 2011 (10:22 pm)

    How large is Fairmount? If its 20K sq ft – the cost to do a full build out office building tenant improvement on the very high end is $100 sq ft – can’t imagine the cost being more than $50 sq ft including HVAC, heating etc, That’s closer to $1Million in costs for Fairmount.

    One census number shows the zip code 98126 4K family homes and 4K non family homes – Total 8,000 homes. If the average homes in a district $300K- that’s over $24million a year in property tax for just the zip code 98126. Please someone help if the math is wrong.

  • WSB October 7, 2011 (11:22 pm)

    Belated thanks to Melissa Westbrook for dropping by with lots of context, background, and info. While I can’t speak to her political recommendation, as WSB does not make endorsements or take sides, I absolutely agree that her site, staffed by passionate community advocates on a volunteer basis (the site’s founder BTW was a Pathfinder mom at the time), is the place to go for complete details on what the district is up to and how to be involved and informed. We tend to jump in on big issues affecting West Seattle (this is certainly one) as well as day to day school happenings, but there is so much more that goes on inbetween those two coverage areas! – TR

  • Fred October 15, 2011 (2:29 pm)

    Boren is way out of scale for elementary school children in an unattractive location, too far away from the most overcrowded school neighborhoods. The school board should reject the bad advice of their staff and stick with Fairmont. If they do decide on Boren, they should rename it Moron and then plan on getting voted out.

  • nmb October 16, 2011 (12:45 pm)

    how about Westside do a reverse boycott with SPS and all return the 200+ students to the public school system? Then you would really be scrambling…

    Also, if SPS wants to support the neighborhood school concept and the growth is in Schmitz Park and Lafayette. Why not walk the talk and open Genessee Hill!

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