Merge Arbor Heights and Roxhill? Community meeting Tuesday

Out of the WSB inbox, from Rosslyn:

Arbor Heights Community Meeting on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at 7:00 pm at Arbor Heights Elementary School Cafeteria.

Purpose: To talk about the district’s proposal to combine Arbor Heights Elementary and Roxhill.

As reported here yesterday, that proposal is part of what’s being circulated for possible inclusion in the Seattle Public Schools Building Excellence (BEX) IV levy next year – but had not been brought up for community discussion prior to turning up in a district PowerPoint at a School Board work session this past Wednesday.

ADDED EARLY SATURDAY: We had sent School Board director Marty McLaren a request for comment on this and other possible BEX IV proposals for this area, and she replied regarding this one that district-headquarters staff “is supportive because it solves the problem of two deteriorated buildings at once and results in a school with significantly reduced operating costs than two schools.” She also has the caveat regarding everything proposed so far, “none of this is set in stone.”

26 Replies to "Merge Arbor Heights and Roxhill? Community meeting Tuesday"

  • HPMom March 30, 2012 (6:17 pm)

    Is this for Roxhill families too?

  • Bonnie March 30, 2012 (11:22 pm)

    I would think it would be for Roxhill families too.

  • Rod Clark March 30, 2012 (11:55 pm)

    Marty McLaren has added another community meeting next week, so there are now five meetings scheduled in West Seattle to talk about BEX IV planning – the district’s presentation at Denny, and four more local meetings.

    Marty McLaren’s Web site

    The newest meeting will be at High Point Community Center on Friday, April 6 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., during their Family Night.

    There are also some audio clips from Wednesday’s K-5 STEM design meeting, as well as audio of the entire 2+ hour School Board discussion of the BEX IV proposals.

    • WSB March 31, 2012 (12:03 am)

      Thanks, I subscribed to the mailing list after discovering it last night but haven’t received word of that. Would be nice to get a media alert about things like this so that we can get it out to the readership as soon as possible; the previous school-board rep had a volunteer who sent the local media (including us) updates on meeting plans, but I haven’t gotten any such updates since the very early going after last fall’s election. And still have not received a response to the note I sent yesterday. Will add the HP meeting – I have a flyer about that event from the HP folks but it does not say a word about school issues, much less Marty being there – TR

  • Rod Clark March 31, 2012 (12:50 am)

    Tracy, I think the addition of the High Point meeting just happened this evening, shortly before I mentioned it here on the Blog. The flyers must have been prepared earlier, before it got to be so much of a late Friday here in Mudville.

    Everyone who subscribes to the mailing list gets an e-mailed response confirmimg that the subscription request was successful (or an error message explanation, if not). Check your spam folder and some other nooks and crannies – it’ll be there somewhere.

    The relative lack of outreach to the media is true enough. Marty doesn’t have a well oiled PR machine at all. But she’s spent a lot of time being accessible to parents and others who have concerns. The number of people at the West Seattle community meetings is much more than it was before she was elected, and that’s for a reason. She has to be spending a lot more than normal working hours on all of that, but I think you’re right that she hasn’t been paying much attention to some of the normal politician things like keeping the newspapers happy. Those tradeoffs could be better in terms of the media communications that you’re used to and ideally should have.

    Boy, I’m glad I’m not in the PR business. Did you hear the district flack on KUOW today? Damn, I think I’m going to go for a moonlit walk in the rain.

    • WSB March 31, 2012 (1:13 am)

      Thanks, Rod. We don’t ask to be “kept happy” – it’s a matter of reaching out to the most people possible. We have a comparatively huge reach in the West Seattle area (more than 35,000 homes/businesses check in at least once a week, more than a third of that number checks in daily) and we just want to make sure they all have the opportunity to know what’s going on. Meantime, I did get confirmation that the subscription message was received but if anything was sent out today/tonight, it didn’t go through. – TR

  • Rod Clark March 31, 2012 (12:59 am)

    Oh, something else that just turned up this evening is that translators from (I think) Neighborhood House will be available at the Denny and High Point meetings. That’s the kind of thing that’s always kept up to date on the calendar page on her Web site.

  • Rod Clark March 31, 2012 (1:42 am)

    Tracy, well I think Marty’s a bit afraid of the mailing list because with all those subscribers, a controversial topic could rise up and drown her in endless waterfalls of instant, emotionally charged e-mail responses. But the most recent message was in fact the one you posted, so all’s quiet on the e-mail front.

    You’re right about volunteers. Volunteers would be welcome to help keep up with all of this kind of thing.

    • WSB March 31, 2012 (5:07 am)

      CORRECTION (of myself) – Just cleaning out the mailbox early early this morning and discovered that Marty DID reply, and relatively quickly too, but the mailbox didn’t show it. Apologies. Adding the relevant info to this story and the previous one, and see you all at the meetings … TR

  • WSBEX March 31, 2012 (11:33 am)

    Thanks to MM, Clark, and WSB for making this info on meeting times available.

  • D-mom March 31, 2012 (3:01 pm)

    I’m really at a loss to understand why we would combine 2 schools while we are facing capacity issues that threaten good schools like Westside. Seems like the best plan is to fix both schools up and add a third. I know money is tight, but our kids deserve it.

  • mamaof2 March 31, 2012 (4:51 pm)

    Both Arbor Heights and Roxhill deserve to get new buildings. It seems like the same old district nonsense of preferential treatment for the north-end schools while those of us in the south-end get the short end of the stick.

  • bertha March 31, 2012 (5:50 pm)

    HPMom – The meeting is open to all community members. Roxhill families are welcome to attend.

  • Lisa Y. April 1, 2012 (3:13 pm)

    So if Roxhill and Arbor Heights are combined what happens to the Roxhill School building? This past summer Roxhill elementary went through many moderizations including electrical, roofing, new windows throughout, new window blinds, new stage curtains, new flooring throughout, etc…

    I hope it does not go through.

    If it does SPS will be providng transportation for most of Roxhill students.

    Arbor Heights just made improvements to their playground.

    If anything both schools should stay put and have improvements to Arbor Heights.

  • Melissa Westbrook April 1, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    So much to do, so little money.

    It will be quite ironic if they combine Roxhill and Arbor Heights (which is #1 along with Meany as the two worst buildings in the district) and then, in a couple of years decide they need to reopen Roxhill.

    It is very hard on communities to be turned upside down. Ask Nova or the World School or APP Lowell.

    One thing – there is $32M in the preliminary BEX for a new elementary for South Lake Union. Do we have a capacity issue there? No.

    But the powers that be in this town (read Vulcan and Amazon and whoever else is there) want this for their employees. I’m sure they have been pressuring the Mayor, the City Council and the Board about this.

    We have too many capacity issues and too many buildings in poor condition to build a new elementary in an area that does not need it.

    That $32M could renovate an entire elementary somewhere in this district. Maybe in West Seattle.

    Tell the Board NO.

  • Rod Clark April 2, 2012 (11:20 am)

    A correction to the location of Friday’s meeting – it’s at the High Point Neighborhood Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW), not the community center a few blocks from there.
    There will be Vietnamese translation available at the meeting, something that wasn’t certain on Friday.

    • WSB April 2, 2012 (11:36 am)

      Sorry, we should have mentioned that the other night, since we already had the correct location in our calendar because of the original listing regarding the High Point family night. See you there! – TR

  • Rod Clark April 2, 2012 (12:52 pm)

    Tracy, I think Marty might be at the Arbor Heights meeting too, but if so, to listen to what parents have to say and not to lead or direct the discussion.
    Many people were surprised at some of the capital planning staff recommendations in the initial BEX IV proposal, and the review process of that proposal has just started.
    Personally, I think any sensible plan would get rid of all of the homeroom portables within ten years, instead of leaving most of them in place as in the 2A option that many board members seemed to favor at Wednesday’s work session.
    That’s because in the long run, the cost of portables can equal or exceed the cost of normal classrooms. For overcrowded buildings that are in otherwise acceptable condition (not Arbor Heights, which needs a rebuild), it should be financially better to add economical additions, of a common design, using inexpensive and long-lasting low maintenance materials. I’m still just amazed at the cost per square foot of many of the district’s one-off construction projects.

  • Cheryl April 2, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    As a Roxhill parent, all I can say is, DISLIKE.
    Oh, and a resounding NO!
    I’m sure Arbor Heights is in poor condition, but Roxhill students do not deserve to be “absorbed” into the AH campus, letting them get a new building, while our entire community of students and their families gets displaced. Totally different demographics, and I honestly cannot see this being a good mashup. Additionally, we LOVE our principal at Roxhill. Who replaces her if/when this happens? What about our teachers? Our nurse? Our librarian? The pre-K and K programs for Special Ed kids?
    Ugh. This just stinks. I have even less faith in SPS and the Board to do right by West Seattle than I ever have. Really hope the word gets out and parents show up. Even more, I hope that SPS hears us. Unlikely, I’m sure, but…
    Le sigh.

  • Nick Esparza April 2, 2012 (5:11 pm)

    First of all I would like to hear Marty McLaren answer on this blog personally and not by proxy of Rod Clark. I know Marty personally and I am sure there is more to this than meets the eye as those comments do not really seem like her. This is bigger than Math and APP, and STEM, because again it involves the District disrupting actual people’s lives. With no advanced warning. Without REALLY using community input. In the end the District will do what it wants. Instead of righting the previous wrongs, they continue to throw more bad, disruptive, hurtful ideas at the wall in hopes that something will stick.

    Second, This whole mess started with the closure of Cooper. Now with the advent of a STEM elementary, does West Seattle really need two options schools, which will increase transportation costs for the District? Do we need to continue to support the option school, Pathfinder which is in step 5 of failing AYP? If we must insist upon keeping that program on life support, move it to the Boren building and call it an option hub, give Delridge its school, and stop trying to tweak with every other successful West Seattle program in order to prop up a failing one.

    Three, this community has spent too much time and energy exalting APP at the expense of General Education. The majority of students don’t even get into APP or STEM, so resources are not fairly allocated in this regard. General Ed students are not second class citizens. The classism in this community astounds me. So much for so few at the expense of many

    Oh yeah, it’s not their money…

  • Rod Clark April 2, 2012 (7:41 pm)

    Nick, I posted that info based on some bits and pieces of information that I had because of putting together a calendar update, but some of it is clearly labeled as personal opinion. As for the rest of it and my way of expressing myself, yes, it’s clearly different and probably lacking by comparison. Yes, it’s not as good as hearing everything directly.
    By the way, APP costs no more per kid than general ed.
    Personally, I think that supporting all of the kids and schools in West Seattle is the best answer, as long as there are enough parents who want to send their kids to those schools.
    Yes, there ought to be a better answer for the Cooper School neighborhood. Returning Cooper itself to a neighborhood school would be a good answer, as soon as other new buildings make that possible. My personal opinion is that eventually, and preferably as part of BEX IV, a site that becomes redundant as a neighborhood school should be used for West Seattle’s alternative school. This is the same problem that people have with TOPS in Eastlake.
    It might be the old Schmitz Park building once a new, much larger building is built on the big Genesee Hill site. It might be some other building, but that part of what you advocate makes sense. I’d enjoy seeing some effective, diplomatic efforts from you to help make that happen.

  • Coffee Brewster April 3, 2012 (10:25 am)

    Wait, YOU HAVE A NURSE?!?!

    AH does not have an FT nurse.

    WTF Public Schools.
    2 Schools are better than 1. More teachers with smaller class sizes are better than over-crowded classrooms. Less kids equals a better chance for dietary needs to be met in the cafeteria. Less kids also allow for specialized help; translators, parent resources etc.

    Combing schools would save money but so would feeding the kids gruel and stop programing like art, music and recess. Do we really want to do all that? No, let’s find another solution where we all have equal resources deserved to our kids.

  • Cheryl April 3, 2012 (1:32 pm)

    @Coffee Brewster – Roxhill is a TITLE 1 school. More than 60% of our families live below the poverty line AND are non-English speaking. I think a nurse, librarian, etc. is par for the course given our demographic. As for art, music, etc. we don’t get a whole lot of THAT. And recess? Well, let’s just say if the weather is crappy, the kids are INSIDE, and I don’t agree with that at all, no matter what school the kids go to (rain will NOT kill kids, but it might make adult teachers “uncomfortable”, boo hoo). Anyway… don’t feel like you’re missing out on something at AH wrt a FT nurse. I think most of the more affluent WS schools (ie non-title one) are without one as well.
    P.S. I could not agree with Nick Esparza more. Well said sir!

  • Lisa Y. April 4, 2012 (7:59 am)

    Roxhill is one of few schools who have a full time nurse. I so agree with Cheryl, it is just not fair to displace the students and families of Roxhill. Roxhill does have an indoor recess policy for rainy and snowy days, and this was explained to me by former principal Cathy Thompson because many kids come to school without coats.

    Not that rain or snow would kill a kid, but it was nice to have the choice of indoor recess which at Roxhill is divided into grades going to different locations on the Roxhill campus being it in the library, in the gym or the covered playcourt for the 5th grade students.

    The library at Roxhill is more twice the size of the one at AH and Roxhill has a full time librarian, and if I remember the librarian is part time at AH. Even the computer labs are bigger at Roxhill.

    • WSB April 4, 2012 (8:15 am)

      FYI for anyone else stopping by this thread Wednesday morning, I am about two-thirds through with a detailed report of last night’s meeting at AH, and it’ll be up by 9:30 unless some giant breaking news happens … TR

  • vs April 4, 2012 (9:05 am)

    Nick et al. You’re creating a destructive false dichotomy to the extreme. Children with high cognitive abilities who don’t get the educational challenges they need are *extremely high risk.* The children who are most undeserved are those in low income neighborhoods. I say this as a parent of an APP eligible student who wanted to stay in our Title 1 school, but was more or less told that they didn’t want to serve these learners. But I’m also a person who grew up on food stamps and ended up dropping out of MIDDLE SCHOOL and getting a GED, because general ed was pure torture for me. APP would have been a godsend. Children all deserve appropriate education for their abilities. To pit the needs of “poor” kids against the needs of “smart” kids is corrosive–and who does it hurt most? Poor smart kids. Smart rich kids will get what they need because their families can bankroll it all and because they attend schools in privileged areas, regardless of program labels. Smart poor kids need their public schools to meet their educational needs, or they may very well never reach their potential, and may sometimes have pretty tragic outcomes.

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