Middle College High School’s new location: Portables at Boren

(4:41 PM UPDATE: New info added at end of story, from West Seattle’s school-board rep and from the district)

9:38 AM, FIRST REPORT: According to an announcement just made by Seattle Public Schools, the new elementary school will not be the only program housed on the Louisa Boren Building campus at 5950 Delridge Way SW this fall. We reported earlier this week on the impending departure of the alternative Middle College High School – with 70 students enrolled this year – from the South Seattle Community College campus. Now the district has just announced its new location will be portables at Boren, where it hopes the MCHS students may help “mentor” students at the new K-5 STEM at Boren. Here’s the letter that the district’s executive director of West Seattle schools, Aurora Lora, has just sent to Middle College students’ families:

I am writing to let you know about changes being planned for our Middle College program for the 2012-13 school year.

The first announcement concerns the Middle College High School program at South Seattle Community College. We have been located on the South Seattle CC campus for more than 20 years and have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the faculty and staff there. However, the college recently informed us that they have received two large grants and need to re-occupy the space currently used by Middle College students.

We have been looking for a new South Seattle location, and on June 22 we will be relocating the program to portables in the Louisa Boren building, located at 5950 Delridge Way S.W. in West Seattle. We anticipate no changes to our curriculum as a result of our move to the Boren site, although we do know that it will mean a longer commute for some of our Running Start students.

Seattle Public Schools will be opening a new K-5 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) elementary school in the Boren building this fall. Our hope is that we will be able to establish a mentoring relationship between our Middle College and K-5 STEM elementary students, similar to the tutoring program that has been created – in conjunction with Seattle University — between students at our Northgate Mall Middle College and nearby Northgate Elementary School.

Our second announcement involves the Indian Heritage Program. I want you to know that we are transitioning most of students in that program, currently located in the Wilson Pacific Building, to the Northgate Mall Middle College site. The Wilson Pacific building is in very poor condition and we are looking forward to having a more suitable learning environment for our Indian Heritage students at Northgate.

Finally, we will be opening a new Middle College program at Seattle University this fall. This new location will primarily serve students living within the boundaries of Garfield High School but will also have additional room for students from both our South Seattle and Northgate Middle College programs.

We appreciate the support of our Middle College families and, as always, we welcome your questions and suggestions.

We have some followup questions out – for one, since Boren’s main mission has continued to be described by the district as that of a temporary campus, is this a permanent or temporary home for the MCHS program? Plus, we are renewing a request for comment from SSCC on the grants mentioned by SPS as a reason for the move. Earlier this week, the 34th District Democrats passed a resolution that urged the two school systems to work out an agreement for MCHS to stay at the college, since a hallmark of the program has been college readiness, and being in that atmosphere was considered one of its key points.

ADDED 4:05 PM: Reaction in the comments includes a statement on behalf of the K-5 STEM PTSA’s steering committee, which is expressing concern and asking for an “emergency meeting” – read it here.

Also, we have just heard back from West Seattle’s elected school-board rep, director Marty McLaren, answering our e-mail request for comment on the planned MCHS move to Boren:

From what I know about Middle College, (I’ve visited the program at SSCC), and from having taught students of similar backgrounds at South Lake HS in the Rainier Valley, I believe having MCHS occupy portables at the Boren site can only benefit students in both Boren STEM and MCHS. After I left South Lake HS in 2002, The New School (which started with pre-K and is now a complete pre-K-8 program, renamed South Shore K8) was opened in the same building, and the high school and elementary were co-located for several years before each school’s new building was completed. Although the schools were separate, there was a very positive relationship between the two communities. My close neighbor taught at the New School for its first few years, and I recall her telling some delightful stories about occasional shared activities, mentoring, and so on. My former teaching colleagues at SLHS were also upbeat about the situation.

From the standpoint of Middle College: I have been aware of Middle College HS’s expected move for about the last two months; my understanding is that it was precipitated by space constraints looming at SSCC. It’s a big loss to have Middle College leave the SSCC campus, and I had hoped that space might be found at the college after all. Due to the leadership transition that’s in progress at SPS, with several senior staff members leaving, as well as a new Superintendent due to arrive in two weeks , I didn’t get a clear picture of the efforts to resolve the question of a home for Middle College until recently. I’ve been extremely busy, as has virtually everyone in SPS, and until the last few days, had not been in close touch with senior staff about this issue.

Although I haven’t had a chance to discuss this option with Middle College representatives, Principal McKinney of STEM, or with families of either school, my “first blush” personal reaction is favorable. If Middle College must be uprooted, Boren seems to me to be a good destination; I think the two schools would be good neighbors.

ADDED 4:41 PM: Two things from SPS spokesperson Teresa Wippel, in response to a followup question we asked after receiving the “letter to Middle College families” this morning – First, she says “the location of Middle College at Boren is indeed temporary but we still need to work through the details of a permanent location and that has not happened yet.” Second, “there will be a letter coming soon … from Aurora Lora to Boren K-5 families about how the campus will be arranged to ensure that the two programs remain separated.”

75 Replies to "Middle College High School's new location: Portables at Boren"

  • Camp Fellow June 15, 2012 (9:56 am)

    Boren should become a permanent school and hopefully for STEM. I think in its hogwash that Boren has been deemed a temporary campus and this should be correct asap.

  • seattlesouth June 15, 2012 (12:01 pm)

    I can’t imagine who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea.

  • spsparent June 15, 2012 (12:04 pm)

    Where is the letter to STEM families?

  • WSMama3 June 15, 2012 (12:06 pm)

    Group home page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/K5STEM

    Working on a STEM community response if anyone would like to join us.

    Robin Graham

  • StringCheese June 15, 2012 (12:06 pm)

    Wow. Just wow. You gotta hand it to SPS try to gloss over co-housing a high school with an elementary school by calling forth images of “tutoring” and “mentoring”. They need to call it what it is. CO-HOUSING of 18 year olds with 5 yr. olds. Oh, wait! There is a developmental preschool as well! 3 yr. olds!
    Teenagers are not evil. BUT they are teenagers and basic teenager behavior has no place in an elementary school. Language? PDA?
    If they are interested in having a mentoring project with the STEM kids, great. Let them be housed elsewhere and come to the school with this particular task in mind for a couple of hours a week. What SPS is proposing is nothing like this.
    Do you remember the concerns raised by the community with the Denny/Sealth campus share? We’re talking preschoolers and young adults. No way.

  • spsparent June 15, 2012 (12:13 pm)

    I think there should be a meeting or venue for families to respond to this decision and the uniform decision. I thought things were supposed to be transparent- that’s why the design team meetings are public. I don’t understand why the school is requiring uniforms. I heard Ms. McKinney had a vision, but I don’t know what that vision is. Now, I don’t know who was involved in the co-housing decision and why they thought it was a good idea. Families made a leap of faith to sign their kids up for STEM and I don’t feel that they are being respected. I am not happy about this decision or the uniform decision.

  • StringCheese June 15, 2012 (12:38 pm)

    Update! Middle College is actually a program for 16-20 year olds! 20 year olds!!!!

  • Oliver June 15, 2012 (12:44 pm)

    “The mission of Middle College High School is to help formerly unsuccessful high school students ages 16 to 20…” (SSCC website). Brilliant, SPS, let’s make an overnight decision without community input to house struggling young adults with kids as young as 3. Don’t they recall how long the Denny/Sealth co-location was debated? And that wasn’t a proposal that included an age range of age 3 to age 20.

    Now where did that rug go that I was standing on while excitedly investing in my son’s new school?

  • Deb June 15, 2012 (1:05 pm)

    What!!! I have been so excited to prepare my son for this great new STEM school, now I am sick to my stomach. What are they thinking? Are there bathrooms in the Portables? Cafeteria? Are they going to have a smoking section outside near our new playground? Why not move the portables to a different property that houses a middle school or high school?

  • MamaLama June 15, 2012 (1:49 pm)

    Boren is a fairly big place – any idea how space between these two programs might intersect? Sounds like they will be in the portables – will they use the cafeteria? The play spaces? The restrooms?

    Not keen on having these kids mixing with the little ones but I wonder what the plan is on sharing space – or not.

  • Norman June 15, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    My wife and I transferred our son to the stem program. If we had known that they were going to have these kids in the portables. We would not have transferred him there. This is very upsetting to say the least.

  • CSWS June 15, 2012 (2:33 pm)

    All it takes is for SPS to make one stupid decision to ruin a perfectly ‘good’ plan-it’s like they self sabotage. WHY??????

  • wssm June 15, 2012 (2:47 pm)

    I feel completely betrayed by the district. We put a lot of trust into the district by placing our kids
    in this new program. How could they just spring this on us after we all enrolled without any warning or consideration? We need a strong sense of community for a new school in it’s first year. This will be very confusing to the children, and how can you hold the k-5 accountable for uniforms and not the high school students? SPS is going to have a huge enrollment problem again when parents start pulling their kids out of this school. Also how can a full time elementary P.E. teacher share the gym with a high school gym program? Bathrooms with kinders and high schoolers? Different Admin. offices? I’m so confused!

    • WSB June 15, 2012 (3:01 pm)

      We are working to get comment this afternoon from school-board director Marty McLaren, and we also are still working on more info from SSCC on the need for the move (asking what the “two large grants” are, for example); will add to body of story any additional comment we get today – TR

  • StringCheese June 15, 2012 (3:44 pm)

    You can leave a polite message for Marty McLaren on this issue at 206-252-0040 and at martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

  • WSMama3 June 15, 2012 (3:45 pm)

    Sent today –

    To the Seattle School Board, Dr. Shannon McKinney, and Ms. Aurora Lora:

    On behalf of the K-5STEM community, we respectfully request an emergency meeting to address today’s announcement that Middle College High school will be co-located on our elementary school campus. This decision was apparently made without any community input as we have been actively involved in developing the K-5 STEM school. As the parents of incoming elementary school students, we have serious concerns about the safety of our children and the impact the decision will have on their learning environment. There is a strong feeling in the community that the decision to co-locate a high school at our school will compromise the safety of our youngest and most vulnerable students, decrease enrollment, and have other negative consequences.
    K-5 STEM PTA Steering Committee and Incoming Families

  • Slider June 15, 2012 (4:07 pm)

    Doesn’t Rainier Beach have room to house 70 students?

  • neighbor June 15, 2012 (4:15 pm)

    Sounds like another outgoing Enfield “bimbo explosion”. Seriously. Don’t expect that Marty McLaren can insert herself into the multiple explosions by her lonesome. I would focus your energies on the politically incorrect and incompetent Aurora Lora, who makes the big bucks and has no clue WTF she is doing.

    BTW, the Middle College students are not to blame here. I have tremendous respect for their commitment to get a complete, high-quality secondary education. I’m sure they would prefer to stay at SSCC.

    Too bad SPS tore down Denny to put up a rather lame temporary park. Too bad SPS admin has, heretofore, been driven by detached, privileged, reformer-types who know what’s best for you and me.

  • westello June 15, 2012 (4:23 pm)

    I will point out that the district often waits for the end of the school year to make major announcements (as parents are walking out the door) because they know you won’t rise up and summer will go by and then school starts. As for your concerns, details, details.

    I’m being silly, naturally. Yes, this is something they probably knew about months ago and yet said nothing about the possibility. But their hope is that it will all muddle through and – cross your fingers – turn out okay.

    It’s just not good decision-making and I’m surprised Director McLaren is okay with it.

    • WSB June 15, 2012 (4:26 pm)

      I have a couple more things to add shortly – the district answered some followup questions (and says K-5 STEM families will be getting an explanatory letter from Aurora Lora, Monday if not today), and so has SSCC. Adding to the main body of the story in a few mins – TR

  • neighbor June 15, 2012 (4:40 pm)

    We haven’t heard whether McLaren is okay with it. Unfortunately, she is likely trying to follow the dictum “e minimus impedio” or “stand back and let the (in)experts manage”!

    Heads up Highline. (Interim) superintendents in Seattle are responsible for program placement decisions, and inform board members only when expediant.

  • bsmomma June 15, 2012 (4:44 pm)

    I absolutely do not like how this is being communicated. I hear about it via a Tweet? Really? I was really excited about our daughter going to STEM. I don’t like how these things are being handled. Uniforms, apparently there was a poll, that I just heard about and now this. I am quickly losing my warm fuzzies to a fresh new start and seriously getting nervous about this new school.

  • spsparent June 15, 2012 (5:03 pm)

    Any response from Dr. McKinney? Did she know and does she see it as a good thing? I am also wondering if this is one of the reasons she wants uniforms- safety and able to more easily recognize intruders

  • seattlesouth June 15, 2012 (5:10 pm)

    They so can’t get their stories straight. Is it going to be a warm fuzzy holding-hands mentoring relationship, or is it this separate secure, no overlap business.

    I’m disgusted. We went to the STEM meet and greet on Wednesday, after this letter was probably printed, and there wasn’t the slightest hint this could happen.

    Again, I ask, who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea housing 20 year old high school dropouts with an elementary school that’s predominantly kindergartners?

  • Joe June 15, 2012 (5:20 pm)

    How about the high schoolers. Struggling to stay in school already. Then show up and theres a bunch of 6 year olds dressed business casual. That would sure suck.

  • tk June 15, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    This sounds like a “Boren rerun” from the 2nd round of closing schools about 7 years ago, when the district announced it was moving Pathfinder to Boren (without any community input), and suddenly announced at a School Board meeting (again, without any communiuty input), Oh, by the way, since Pathfinder has a Native American focus, we will be relocating the Native American program at Boren and the building will become a “K-20”! (it’s not a joke- this actually happened, and the district used the term, “K-20”!).

    Parents from both programs pushed back & finally the district had to admit the mistake & retreated.

  • neighbor June 15, 2012 (5:27 pm)

    Again, I would ask that you respect the students of Middle College, who have no effin’ say in the matter.

  • Christy June 15, 2012 (5:31 pm)

    – Parent of a current SPS kindergartener who will be attending STEM once this decision is thoughtfully looked at by all sides.

  • Co-housing June 15, 2012 (5:32 pm)

    Interesting comment spsparent, I hadn’t thought of the uniform push in regard to identifying STEM students due to co-housing. But now that you mention it, since there has also been talk about moving Arbor Heights Elem to Boren if/when the new school is constructed and co-housing 2 elementary schools at Boren…I am wondering if the uniform plan was encouraged in part to also differentiate STEM from another co-housed SPS elementary in the near future? I hope SPS gets whichever schools re-opened/built/moved as soon as possible so all WS students can have a school to call there own. This interim site business is frustrating.

  • evergreen June 15, 2012 (5:38 pm)

    I am furious. This jeopardizes the safety of our kids. There is no way to keep the programs separate when the kids share hallways, bathrooms, the cafeteria, labs, the playground and parking lot. This district is managed by idiots.

  • bsmomma June 15, 2012 (5:40 pm)

    Are they going to background checks on them? That said in regards ti the recent news about child molesters/sex offenders (students) being in a high school and no parents being notified.

  • techiews June 15, 2012 (5:55 pm)

    The Middle College students deserve a good learning environment – just like all kids in our district. But if co-housing elementary students with middle and high schoolers was a good idea, it would be standard practice across the district….and it’s not.

    I’m so disappointed that the District would undermine the great parent and teacher energy that’s been put behind the K-5 STEM design process with a decision like this.

    I think a good litmus test is to think what the response would be if this decision was made for other schools. How would it be received by families at John Hay or Lafayette? Not so well? Then don’t try to slip it by a parent community that is just starting to work together just because you think they’re not together enough yet to object.

    We’re on the wait list for K-5 STEM and I didn’t think much of our kids’ chances of getting in. But once word gets out about this decision I expect to get a phone call in a couple of weeks.

  • bsmomma June 15, 2012 (6:12 pm)

    I am not trying to be accusing but when you have kids that age around minors, it is a concern.

  • silverback June 15, 2012 (6:28 pm)

    Not to worry I spent some time in the Northgate Program and saw the students there. For most of them MCHS is their last chance, some of them may have outside counselors and their attendance is terrible so there should not be too much interaction

  • Joe June 15, 2012 (6:49 pm)

    Yo neighbor what’s a “bimbo explosion” ?
    if you’re taking the high road here I hope that’s not in any way derogatory.

  • wssm June 15, 2012 (7:27 pm)

    Middle College Highschool students, How do you feel about this decision? if any of you are reading this Blog, we would like to hear from you also…..

  • joeMama June 15, 2012 (8:19 pm)

    Like many parents we took a leap of faith by giving up a spot at a perfectly good neighborhood school to give STEM a chance. Now we find out our young child will share a school with 16-20 year olds. I’m shocked that this would even be considered, let alone foisted on us with no prior notice. Of course this was announced after our school choice became irrevocable. Thanks SPS, for the bait and switch. You’ve created another lifelong supporter of school vouchers.

  • K8 June 15, 2012 (8:38 pm)

    We are pretty high up on the wait list for our first choice school, but got into the STEM program. I was going to turn down the eventual offer from that other school in favor of STEM because of all the awesome parent support that is going into that school.

    This new turn of events makes me glad that I will _hopefully_ have a way out for my kindergartner. She will not be going to school with 20 yr olds.

  • WSMama3 June 15, 2012 (8:43 pm)

    I am on the Design Team – just to clear up some previous posts – this WSB post was the first time I had ever heard of this happening and I’ve been to every meet & greet, STEM meeting, and Design Team meeting. Not once was this ever discussed or even mentioned. We’ve had no official word on how SPS is planning to ensure kids safety or how shared spaces could be used. This was not one of the considerations when deciding about uniforms.

    I’d encourage anyone who is not happy with this decision to write Aurora Lora, Mr. Boesche (Interim superintendent through July 1) and Superintendent Jose Banda once he is on board.

    We might be a new PTA but we will not stand for decisions that are not putting kids first. With no disrespect to the kids who are working hard at Middle College – they need a good place to land – but an Elementary School yard with portables is not the best option.

    I agree 100% that the litmus test is portables at Gatewood, Schmitz Park, Alki, Roxhill – ANY other West Seattle school there would be an outcry. Expect the same from us.

  • STEMparent June 15, 2012 (8:45 pm)

    Let’s hold off on the freaking out. Let’s get more information, and make our concerns known. I am still excited about STEM. The Boren space is large, and there are surely a number of ways to give each of these schools and students what they need and deserve. I’m *almost* more concerned about the rabid tone of the reactions than the announcement itself.

  • Brontosaurus June 15, 2012 (9:15 pm)

    I’ve spent the last 3 months on tenterhooks hoping my kid would get in off the wait list. Now, I honestly don’t know what my answer would be if I got that call from SPS.

    Maybe I’ll just stick with my neighborhood school. I mean ….I’ll take Every Day Math over this!

    A wonderful community of parents and teachers have come together to help form K5 STEM. These parents gave up their children’s places at neighborhood schools because they were excited by what SPS was trying to do….because they wanted to be part of building a new school.

    I cannot believe that SPS would do this to the K5 STEM parents and teachers. A fully-supervised mentoring program is a good idea, but not sharing a campus! How is this even considered feasible when the idea of having Denny and Sealth together caused so much outcry from the community?

    I have nothing against the Middle College students, but it is not appropriate for them to share Boren with elementary aged kids.

    I’m just speechless. I cannot believe anyone at SPS would make such a ridiculous decision.

  • neighbor June 15, 2012 (10:35 pm)

    Oops, sorry, I meant bimbo eruption! Remember Clinton’s first campaign for Prez?

    The person to blame for this apparent lapse in judgement and lack of transparency is our former interim superintendent, who’s been on a six-month vacation on our dime. Do not blame the kids working towards their HS graduation.

  • Old School Music June 15, 2012 (11:01 pm)

    The District had rent – free space at South Seattle Community College for MCHS – South for twenty years. MCHS-South students ate their lunch in the SSCC cafeteria until this year, thus showing some sort of financial contribution to the community college.

    No more. In these hard economic times the writing was on the wall; it is understandable that the SSCC would want to use the space where MCHS-South was located for programs that would bring in revenue.
    The current situation could have been prevented several months ago. It is not the fault of the students at MCHS – South .

  • wssm June 15, 2012 (11:23 pm)

    Found this on the boren forum tonight
    Maybe this would be good for Middle college families who want to voice their opinions also?





    Details Of:
    District I Community Meeting (Peaslee)
    Event belongs to:

    School Board
    Date:6/16/2012 (1:00 PM – 2:30 PM)
    Seattle Public Schools (School Board)
    Informal, drop-in opportunity to meet with School Board Director Sharon Peaslee.

    Location: Northgate Library, 10548 Fifth Ave NE

  • huhwhatwait! June 16, 2012 (4:01 am)

    From the District (above): “Our hope is that we will be able to establish a mentoring relationship between our Middle College and K-5 STEM elementary students.”
    Who would mentor the mentors? No teacher working to establish a new STEM program is going to have the time to train a high school dropout to become a mentor to elementary students focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Our teachers will be too busy designing curriculum and dealing with day-to-day business to set aside countless hours training already-struggling teens and young adults to be more than mere classroom distractions.
    Singapore Math requires specialized training. You cannot just stick anybody into a Singapore Math lesson to tutor a student. Remember, the entire staff is going to be trained for a week in Nevada this summer. Is the District going to fly these high school “mentors” to Las Vegas as well?
    Where will these 16-20 year old students eat? In the cafeteria? Who will monitor their behavior? Where will they park their cars? Do any have criminal records?
    Director Marty McLaren’s suggestion that a mentoring relationship is somehow the natural by-product of collocating a high school and an elementary school appears to be a distraction to cover an unpopular decision she knew about in advance, but of which she failed to inform her constituents (sugar coating the bitter pill). Just what type of mentoring relationship are McLaren and the District trying to define for a STEM staff that has yet to even meet for the purpose of curriculum planning. You can’t foist this boondoggle on new STEM parents and teachers. They did not signup to mentor struggling high school students. There is definitely a hidden agenda under this mess – we just haven’t heard it yet. This initial announcement is the trial balloon.
    Why was this not reported at the Meet and Greet on Wednesday, June 13th? This decision did not happen in a vacuum on Thursday in time for a Friday (June 15th) announcement. STEM parents were intentionally kept in the dark. Why? One answer is that we would not have signed up if we knew our kids would be sharing a campus with an alternative high school program – particularly one that serves adults.

  • w. sea interested June 16, 2012 (5:20 am)

    I am very dismayed an how this decision was just made. I don’t think it’s fair to the STEM parents or the Middle College students and parents. I have a child set to attend STEM and I am not happy about the idea of her being around 16-20 year olds! I plan on writing letters to SPS members.

    I think we were all hoodwinked!
    Very poor communication Aurora Lora!

  • again? June 16, 2012 (6:06 am)

    Here we go again. Is this only going to happen in the South side? Does anybody think they would really do this in the North? Many of us voted for McLaren due to her predecessors refusal to recognize the concern of 6th graders and 12th graders (some whom are 20) being on the same campus and now we’re talking about K – 20? Understood the interaction is generally minimal, but geez. And no offense, but many of the Middle College students are there trying to turn it around because they weren’t making it on the regular path – it’s an incredible opportunity for struggling students to turn it around but let’s be real, many of them are in Middle College for not being role models. Very bad cohousing idea.

  • Mary June 16, 2012 (8:35 am)

    I agree completely that this is a terrible idea. But it has nothing to do with north vs. south. They chose Boren because it physically has room, not because it’s in the south! The district has made a horrible decision, but please don’t turn this into another issue with school geography. Focus on getting SPS to reverse this decision.

  • tk June 16, 2012 (9:30 am)

    I know several of the students who attended Middle College HS this year. Apparently the funding for teachers has been cut so much that a lot of student’s time is spent with online classes. One of the classes for freshman online is their science (with only online simulated lab work). Not exactly ideal instruction.
    Funding for teachers is also complicated by a state level funding cut for FTE’s in high schools with less than 300 students. Adding mentoring would further draw down on their limited resources.

  • concerned for all June 16, 2012 (9:56 am)

    Can someone from STEM please answer the following questions:

    Is Boren a temporay locacation for the school?

    Is the plan to move the STEM school to Fairmount Park, Genesee Hill or Hughes school still in place?

    • WSB June 16, 2012 (10:16 am)

      Concerned, I added that to the story yesterday. Yes, Boren is a temporary location for MCHS, according to district spokesperson Teresa Wippel – we specifically asked that followup question. Can’t speak to the other one because it seems the decision on a permanent location is still a ways down the road – TR

  • WS_dad_in_delridge June 16, 2012 (10:10 am)

    This is typical of the school district dumping on Boren. I live two blocks from the school and it is an eyesore and not a source of neighborhood pride at all. I agree with the first comment, make Boren a school to be desired, not dumped upon.

    Marty McLaren needs our support, but she should get on board with the FACT that all the new hopeful STEM families think this is a really bad idea. Marty “from what you know” will not cut it.

    As always the smaller your PTSA voice the more you get dumped on, by the school board.

    I also agree Aurora Lora does not have the best interests of the STEM program. Or she is trying to deal with compromising budget. Seattle schools don’t make exceptional schools, the make mediocre ones.


  • Wil June 16, 2012 (10:28 am)

    What amount of stupidity thinks that having 3 – 11 year olds cohabiting a space with 16 – 20 year olds makes sense? Neither set of students will benefit from this.


    The request is unfair to the young adult students. It imposes a responsibility and overhead that can easily become a point of dissension and distraction. Requiring adults (18-20 year olds) to tailor their attitudes and natural growth patterns to fit the needs of elementary school children is naive.


    The request is unfair to the elementary school children who need a stable, un-distracted, and controlled environment in which to develop. Observing the natural outcomes of typical teenage and young adult hormonal and transitional stresses cannot possibly contribute to the fundamental needs of children this age.


    The request is unfair to the teachers and administrators of the both school populations because it burdens them with policing the potential sources of conflict and disruption. It divides their attention and resources between two fundamentally different sets of needs and requirements and limits their capacity to address either one fully.


    The request is unfair to the support staff who maintain, secure, and facilitate the use of school grounds as they will undoubtedly be required to uphold a much more stringent set of policies. Striking the right balance between understaffed and overstaffed in this situation is problematic at best.


    The request is unfair to the city of Seattle and the community of West Seattle who will, undoubtedly, spend time, money, and resources in “ensuring” a constant vigilence surrounding the school, its policies, and the interaction between the children, young adults, and adults.


    The request is unfair to the parents of these students because it imposes a set of variables that isn’t normal and has clear negative implications on the quality of the education their children are to receive. As with everyone else above, this diverts their time and energy towards issues that are not typical nor productive.


    Last, but not least, it is unfair because of its form of delivery. The last day mandate from Susan Enfield is both arrogant, deceptive, and smacks of moral corruption. Just last week, STEM school participants were arguing about an issue that, in hindsight, is small and trivial when compared to this new challenge set before them. Now, a real problem has surfaced and truly threatens to derail all of the momentum and positive energy that has been generated towards the development of the new program.


    Solving large-scale issues like overpopulation and worn-out visitation by painting a glossy sheen on a stupendously ignorant and thoughtless mandate is arrogant, foolish, and wasteful.


    West Seattle, Unite!

  • WSMama3 June 16, 2012 (10:29 am)

    Do your part to come up with a better solution for all the kids involved.
    Contact information for decision makers:

    Marty McLauren, Seattle School Board Director –
    (206) 252-0040

    Bob Boesche, Interim Deputy Superintendent
    (Susan Enfield’s last day was Friday and Mr. Banda officially starts on July 2)
    (206) 252-0180

    Executive Director of Schools – West Seattle Region
    Aurora Lora – aalora@seattleschools.org
    (206) 252-0396

    Principal –
    Shannon McKinney – shmckinney@seattleschools.org

  • wssm June 16, 2012 (11:15 am)

    It’s probably really insulting to these high school students also to have this really rich science environment around them that they can’t access,(the science labs have been converted to k-2 size everything and 3-5th grade size everything) a previous post states that they have to take their sciences online with no lab or physical hands on experiences. They should be at a high school with resources that cater to that age group, not sequestered in portables only!

  • Marcus Pimpleton June 16, 2012 (3:01 pm)

    Couldn’t they perhaps co-locate the Middle College Program with West Seattle High School?

  • Dee June 16, 2012 (3:37 pm)

    Couldn’t they perhaps co-locate the Middle College Program with Denny/Sealth?

  • LE June 16, 2012 (3:49 pm)

    I agree with others that at the very least, the way this was rolled out was very flawed.
    Nonetheless, a few points to consider:
    About the age of the MCHS students – OF COURSE the age is 16-20. EVERY public high school extends to age 20. Free highschool goes until a student either graduates or turns 21. And the lower age of 16 is so the kids can mix with adults at the community college.
    I don’t know what the district is thinking of as “mentoring”, but note that South has an EXCELLENT education degree – Running Start students who are in that program, studying to become qualified teachers’s aids or move on to a 4-year teaching program might actually be a good match for helping in the classrooms. (I do not know how many students are taking those studies, however)
    Some posts wondered why not co-house MCHS at Rainier or West Seattle. Well – I do know that the Boren location was a good spot to do Running Start from when Sealth was at Boren, because the distance was walkable.
    IMO, what this story is missing is information on how much rent SSCC was asking SPS to pay. I am surprised that portables are more affordable. Is there a sub-story about SSCC wanting them to move out for other reasons? Is their presence disruptive or something?
    And how much dedicated space at the college is needed? Someone above mentioned that the program lacks a science lab. I would have thought that the ideal situation is that the student has sufficient math and reading competency to take a college course such as Geology, so the program shouldn’t really need it’s own science lab.

    • WSB June 16, 2012 (4:36 pm)

      LE – neither “side,” SPS or SSCC, is citing rent as a factor in this at the moment, fwiw. I have quoted the district; at the end of the day yesterday, I got a response from SSCC that focused more on what else the college does for high schoolers, than answering the question directly, but I was promised the chance to follow up further with college leadership on Monday, which I will. These were represented as notes in response to my question about the “large grants” cited by SPS as SSCC’s reason to say MCHS had to go. There are several grants mentioned in this – but I will have to wait till the followup opportunity on Monday to find out which are the “two” and where exactly the space conflict arose:

      This is a major space issue for the college. We are short on classrooms and faculty offices.

      However, now is a great opportunity to make the public aware of how we serve our area high school students through numerous successful programs. We encourage students and families to contact us for more information about participating in these programs:

      • Our 13th Year Scholarship program serving Chief Sealth and Cleveland High Schools has quadrupled the number of students who attend South from those schools, and we are working hard to expand the program to other high schools, including West Seattle. This year 246 students have applied for fall quarter 2012.

      • Our TRiO Upward Bound year-round program service about 60 high school students annually. We received notification that the five-year, $1.5 million grant application was refunded. And even better news – after a rigorous application process and extensive review of the program’s 15-years of documented outcomes, an additional five-year, $1.25 million grant was awarded, bringing the total grant award to $1.75 million.
      Earlier this year Upward Bound hosted the Multicultural Kick Off and Family Gathering. The event offered students and their parents the opportunity to learn more about college life and available resources.

      • Educational Talent Search, another TRiO program, serves about 600 middle and high school students annually, providing college planning assistance, including financial aid information.

      • Award-winning Career Link program, established in 1994, is a partnership with the Highline School District. It is a high school completion program for students ages 16-21 who no longer attend traditional high school. Approximately 50 students graduated this year and 70% of them already have some college credit. Many will continue at South.

      • Our AANAPISI grant has resulted in numerous events and initiatives directed to families with high school students, including Pacific Islander Access to College Night, and Family Actions for College Success (FACS). Earlier this year we received notification that South was awarded a five-year, $2 million federal grant to support student retention and success, with special focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander students. First-year funding of the Title III-Part F, AANAPISI grant (October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2012) is nearly $400,000, with subsequent years to be determined, up to a total of nearly $2 million.

      • Running Start – An average of 250 high school students attend South tuition-free through the Running Start program.

  • Marcus Pimpleton June 16, 2012 (4:55 pm)

    I think the fact that both Denny and Sealth have waiting lists, and the co-located cDenny-Sealth campus already serves over 2000 students that the Denny-Sealth idea is probably not an ideal. (Sealth is already having to bring in portables just for the kids who want to go there). But West Seattle H.S., with just over 900 students seems like it would be a much more logical temporary location for a high school aged program than putting them in portables at an elementary school. Clearly there are no easy permanent solutions right now but this at least seems the most sensible to me until the district is able to finally do the long term planning necessary to figure out what works best for the region.

  • L June 16, 2012 (6:19 pm)

    So Career Link is staying at SSCC. It has always looked like there is a lot of duplication of services between Career Link and Middle College. Are both programs open? In what situations would a student be better served by Middle College than by Career Link?

  • LE June 16, 2012 (6:21 pm)

    Oops, I accidentally broke the rule of one name per discussion thread. On a different electronic device, got a different auto-fill name.

  • Fiverson June 16, 2012 (9:13 pm)

    I am posting below what I posted on the K5STEM Yahoo Group earlier today in hopes of getting some information and feedback from the Middle College community, SW Teen Life Center and other interested parties who know more than I do about the needs and spaces I am brainstorming about. I included Director Peaslee because K5STEM parents were planning to visit her community meeting today:

    Hi Everyone,

    I am very much in favor of offering officials ideas to solve this situation…call it being for something as well as opposing something. For what
    it’s worth, my child attended Co-op preschool at SSCC and other than exposure to smoking and second-hand smoke walking through the campus (hopefully not a problem at public schools) I did not find having young students at the same
    location as young adults to be a problem if properly separated and supervised (preschoolers had their own private playground, classrooms, bathrooms, etc.). I found the college-aged students there had absolutely no interest in interacting with the young children other than to smile at them while passing. I know this
    is not the same ages or situation and students could be more vulnerable not always watched by parents or teachers, but I wanted to share my experience in this other atypical combination.

    Others are correct that we were told that relocating the portables was not possible, but perhaps this new development could change that. FYI, here is the letter I just sent to the relevant contacts in an effort to resolve or mitigate this situation:

    Dear Director McLaren, Director Peaslee, Superintendent Boesche,Director Lora, Dr. McKinney, Ms. Nash, & Ms. Ogden,

    As a community member on the K5STEM Design Team, I am following with deep concern the emerging confusion, dismay, and anger within the
    K5STEM community about the proposed relocation of Middle College High School into portables at Boren. I imagine that similar feelings are
    present within the MCHS community. I know all of you are being inundated with calls for action, and I wanted to give you my best ideas for some constructive solutions to this situation.

    Although I am not familiar with the needs of Middle College, I do know much of what the SSCC and Boren campuses offer. First and foremost, I
    strongly support all efforts to allow MCHS to remain at SSCC. If that is impossible, I am wondering if SPS has thoroughly explored the
    possibility of another location that I think could be a win/win solution for MCHS and K5STEM: the newly-opened Southwest Teen Center which is part of the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department and is located not far from SSCC and Boren.

    The SW Teen Life Center is not open during school hours; it opens at 2:30PM most weekdays. Seattle Parks and Rec describes part of their mission as providing a “place where students who are struggling find hope and opportunity. Support to students is provided through academic, enrichment, and recreation offerings that create a passion for learning and a desire to explore new experiences.” It appears that having the MCHS program there as a tenant during normal school hours would be an wonderfully efficient use of a space designed for teenagers, and an alignment of city and school district goals to serve at-risk youth.

    If the building could supply the needed classroom space, the SW Teen Center would provide much better facilities than portable buildings on
    an elementary school playground. There is a computer lab, gym and rooms that previously housed classroom spaces. SW Teen Center also has
    a kitchen, vending machines, and eating areas, and there are many inexpensive restaurants nearby that could serve students off-campus lunches. Unlike Boren, SW Teen Life Center would provide a safe, supportive environment for MCHS students to hang out after school. In the afternoons and evenings, it is an ideal welcoming space for
    teenagers to socialize, do homework, get involved in the many free teen programs and be surrounded by positive adult and teen role-models. I am not sure how the building has been reconfigured in
    its conversion from community center to teen life center, but I am optimistic that given the overlapping goals, reciprocal schedules, and
    dire need of MCHS for such a space that an affordable rental agreement could be negotiated. It might take some creativity to make the space
    serve MCHS needs, but surely this space designed for teenagers could work as well or better than Boren’s portables. Other parts of the
    building are open during school hours which should also make the logistics of renting space there easy and affordable. I urge you to
    explore this possibility and/or any others that could better serve the disparate needs of students at MCHS and K5STEM.

    If neither this solution nor any others are feasible and co-location of the two programs is irrevocable, there needs to be immediate
    communication to explain how the most objectionable overlaps will be avoided and/or planning work involving all affected parties in finding tolerable solutions. Having teenagers and elementary students using the same bathrooms, mingling in hallways and other common areas, and
    having high school classrooms next to a noisy elementary recess area is completely unacceptable for both student populations. These conditions are being assumed by K5STEM parents due to lack of
    information other than the campus blueprints shown at the recent K5STEM Meet and Greet. Does this alternative high school program plan
    to use the gym, cafeteria, computer labs or other parts of the main Boren building? This seems to be a large source of concern for K5STEM parents. Is this being addressed in the letter to them? Could MCHS have an off-campus lunch? Did MCHS use a gym for classes at SSCC? Will they have access to computers inside the portables?

    If the schools must be co-located, I also urge you to immediately move K5STEM’s start time and dismissal time much earlier so the elementary
    students are entering and leaving campus well before the high school students are arriving or leaving. I don’t see Middle College at SSCC
    listed on the recently approved 2012-13 school times, but see the current schedule from http://www.southseattle.edu/mchs/

    Start Time:
    10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
    Electives Classes:
    9:00 AM – 10:00 AM / 3:00 – 4:00 PM
    Lunch Time:
    12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM

    K5STEM’s announced 9:25 AM start time and 3:35 PM end time puts elementary and high school students converging onto and departing from the campus at the same times producing issues that could be minimized with an earlier start time for K5STEM. In my estimation the expense and trouble of making this adjustment, pales in comparison to the
    problems caused by having this overlap in start and dismissal times.

    Thank you for making all possible efforts to resolve this unfortunate situation and to provide accurate responsive information to both
    school communities. Please let me know if I can assist in any way.

    Faith Iverson
    K5STEM Design Team Member

  • Fiverson June 16, 2012 (9:20 pm)

    Also posted by me to the K5STEM Yahoo Group, but I am posting here in hopes of reaching others with more knowledge of these facilities and the Middle College’s needs:

    I am also thinking if there’s not enough classroom space within the SW Teen
    Center or they just can’t figure out a way to share the space a second-best
    solution could be to move some portables to the adjacent ex-Denny site owned by
    the school district for MCHS. As much as everyone hates portables, the neighbors
    have just gotten a (6 million dollar according to West Seattle Blog) beautiful
    public park courtesy of SPS so it seems to me a small compromise for SPS to put
    a few portables on some remaining open space. At the SPS’s facilities management
    public meetings earlier this spring the plan announced was to budget for
    installing portables at elementary schools all over the city as needed. I feel
    sure the work we have done on K5STEM has averted some of those costs. Why can’t
    MCHS get some of the new portables K5STEM is saving the district? Certainly the
    ex-Denny site is a better location for portables than the noisy K5STEM
    playground. This appears to be an unanticipated emergency for Middle College and
    SPS owns this large piece of land next door to the SW Teen Life Center. It is my
    understanding that parts of the site have been left bare in anticipation of
    future school buildings and the West Seattle Blog mentions there is a lot of
    pavement…do portables need that? Groups located in the SW Community Center
    (now SW Teen Life Center) have been able to use the school district’s land
    according to the West Seattle Blog article linked below so maybe they would not
    complain about SPS students having access to the public bathrooms in their
    building. Or does this SPS park already have bathrooms? The Blog says the Parks
    Department is handling bookings for the facilities at this park so couldn’t this
    SPS/Parks & Rec partnership extend to letting MCHS use parts of the Teen Center
    at a very affordable rate especially since it will be at their non-peak hours
    when the Teen Center is closed and is in close alignment with their mission.
    Maybe MCHS could rent time in the SW Center’s gym, computer lab, and/or kitchen
    as needed during school hours. Could portables be hooked up to the same power
    supplies that serve the park’s lighting? Is anyone familiar with this park space
    or the needs of portables or the SW Teen Center’s space now that the city’s SW
    Neighborhood Service Center is also in the same building?

    I am hopeful that this could be a win/win/win/win solution for SPS/City of
    Seattle/MCHS/K5STEM. It seems to me that money will have to be spent one way or
    another to make this work no matter where MCHS relocates (unless SSCC will
    reverse their decision). I’d rather SPS spend it on a more appropriate location
    for MCHS at the SW Teen Life Center or in portables at the adjacent old Denny
    site, or co-locating it with another high school than at Boren where it makes no
    sense for either school community.


    I have many questions and I feel like I need more information on the sites involved to make
    a well-thought-out proposal.

    Faith Iverson
    K5STEM Design Team Member

  • C June 17, 2012 (9:57 pm)

    This is very much a typical SPS district admin action, and Aurora Lora was hoping this one would slide on past the excited STEM parents. Don’t expect any good info from her, and any info you do get won’t be reliable. Our dealings with her have been frustrating and unhelpful, but it does shed some light on why the district admin is as dysfunctional as it is when they hire people clearly not qualified for these positions like Bree Dusseault and Aurora Lora.
    With parent input, I’m sure better solutions can be found for the displaced MCHS students – most of the parents I know have a much better idea of what is going on in the district than the admins who are supposed to be running things. Hopefully the district will opt to listen. For once.

  • Teacher June 18, 2012 (10:33 am)

    Wow! I’m not even sure where to begin. Just a couple of thoughts:

    -The ANGER and HURTFUL words directed at MC Students is incredible. MC students are not drop outs. Many are simply students who don’t “fit” into the big, impersonal high schools. Has anyone even talked to their staff to find out more about the program?

    -MC staff would’ve liked to stay on the college campus. Their second choice (& suggestion to the district) was a community center. MC excels at creating community and a community center seemed a good fit.

    -The small MC program really is a minor issue given the other concerns in the area: Drug use on roofs, drug use/”adult activities” in the private courtyards, vandalism and theft – ALL FROM THE COMMUNITY not MC students.

    -MC students would have their own bathrooms in a separate building and no, they won’t use the cafeteria.

    Finally, as a parent, community memeber and educator, I understand the frustration on all sides. I support advocating for our children and quality education; however, I don’t think beating up one program is the way to do it. It’s the DECISION MAKERS – not the students.

    West Seattle is an amazing community and ALL of our students (aged 3 to 20) deserve representation, a quality education and advocacy.

  • Jen June 18, 2012 (10:53 am)

    MCHS students – are teenagers/adults who are trying to find their way. They are a nice bunch of students I am sure but not the best fit for a K/5 program. I think the West Seattle High School location since the district has downsized that population would be the best fit for now. It is unfortunate that after 20 years at SSCC the space is no longer available. I think that was the best learning environment for the MCHS students. Putting them in portables at the back of an elementray school is not a great solution. Young adults tend to use inappropriate language, dress and displays of affection.

    K-5 stem is a new school with lots of very active parents that are concerned about their kids learning environment. I took a leap of faith and signed my student up for the K/5 Boren site. It is not a great location or a great building to say the least. I thought the vision of the school was grand though. I am willing to overlook many things but this is not one or them. Get your S*** together Seattle School District. I beleive you have the power and knowledge to make better decisions.

  • StringCheese June 18, 2012 (11:43 am)

    @Teacher, I’m not sure what “ANGER and HURTFUL words directed at MC students” you are referring to. I just went back and reread this entire thread. Over and over again I see people going out of their way to state that the MCHS students are not to blame. In fact, there are many concerns about how this move is detrimental to their education as well.
    The anger and concern is about the issues of co-locating young adults with young children. Teenagers are simply teenagers. They will do what teenagers do and to require or expect otherwise is foolhardy. This is what everyone expects to see on high school campuses. This is NOT what anyone wants to see on an elementary school campus.
    I do not harbor any negative feelings toward the students at MCHS or any other high school. Do I want to limit my young child’s interaction with teenage culture? You bet.
    There are (at this moment) 67 posts regarding this. An inflammatory post or two is to be expected. But “ANGER and HATRED toward MC students”? It is simply not true.

  • StringCheese June 18, 2012 (11:52 am)

    Also, many requests have been made to hear from MCHS students/families regarding this. Please add your voice! I can’t imagine that this proposal is acceptable on your end either…

  • Oliver June 18, 2012 (12:50 pm)

    “Has anyone even talked to their staff to find out more about the program?”

    Teacher – the K-5 STEM parents found out about this decision on Friday, through this blog. The district has not provided us with any information or formal communication, so we are acting as concerned parents on a very short time line and with limited information. All I had time to find out is on the MCHS website, which states that it is a program for “previously unsuccessful” students.

    Where did you get the information that they will have separate bathrooms? We have raised that and no one has said that will be the case. Typically, SPS does not plumb portables.

    In any event, I don’t think anyone is objecting to MCHS in particular. We are objecting to any students ages 16-20 being co-located with a preschool and elementary school and the lack of transparency/information in this sudden decision. We all took a leap of faith to join a new school and the district said “trust us.”

    Clearly, our trust has been destroyed because a co-located program was not the school we were promised. This is a game-changer; the rug has been pulled out from under us. We are indeed ANGRY about that, but not at the MCHS students. I also fail to see how this is a good idea for the MCHS students.

  • LE June 18, 2012 (12:58 pm)

    I am not against having the teens in portables on the Boren campus. The Boren property is huge, there’s plenty of room for portables serving an entirely separate population of students, and it keeps the students in walking distance of the community college.
    I am VERY taken aback by district staff (Aurora Lora) using the word “mentoring” to describe the teen/elementary student relationship. Look up the word. It has an actual meaning, and there is absolutely no way that the relationship it describes is the least bit appropriate.
    UNLESS the district is perhaps planning on assigning to STEM, say,4th and 5th graders who need to change schools because of certain kinds of troubling issues or situations?There are some scenarios where some MCHS students really might be qualified mentors, but there has so far been ZERO indications that the District is viewing the STEM school as housing that sort of troubled-youth classroom.
    If the district really means that teens may sometimes provide general help, then they should call it that, not mentoring.

  • Brontosaurus June 18, 2012 (1:20 pm)

    LE, the Boren campus may be “huge” but the portables are located right next to the K5 STEM classrooms and in the middle of the playground.

    Since moving the portables is cost-prohibitive, the size of the campus becomes a moot point. Besides, a lot of the land is playfields.

    There is absolutely no way that SPS should follow through with this insane idea!

  • Brontosaurus June 18, 2012 (1:32 pm)

    @Teacher. Did you actually read the posts on this thread? No one has blamed the MCHS students or stereotyped them in any way. Nearly everyone has been very clear that it’s not the MCHS students in particular that we object to…it’s sharing the campus with a high school, ANY HIGH SCHOOL.

    For goodness sake, stop being so over-protective and actually read the posts before you weigh in. I take it that you are a MCHS teacher? If that’s the case, then you have a big advantage over us STEM parents – you actually have information about this. WE WERE TOLD NOTHING!

    • WSB June 18, 2012 (1:42 pm)

      Hi all – We have been working today on a followup and will be publishing the first take shortly as we have just received a copy of the letter the district has sent to K-5 STEM families, and we also have spoken with SSCC’s president, one of several people we had planned to reach out to today – TR

  • Noturmomma June 18, 2012 (10:43 pm)

    My youngest child attended Summit K 12 from 3rd through 8th grade. While for the most part the middle & high school courses were upstairs, the elementary school kids did come into regular contact with the middle & high schoolers.
    My daughter was a mentee when she was in 3rd grade & she was a mentor in middle school.
    A mentor in this situation was a big sister type relationship. She had lunch with her mentee and her friends on occasion( which just thrilled them to no end), she helped her with reading and she made a special point to attend performances that the little girl was in.
    It was a nice opportunity for both of them.
    It is a shame Summit is no longer around, but I agree with Marty that this is agreeable opportunity.
    Incidentally, my oldest who just earned her MIT degree, is working at a public K12 school in Portland, that has been around for 35+ years.

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