day : 02/10/2014 8 results

West Seattle scenes: Two Three memorable views

Two beautiful views to share tonight: Above, James Bratsanos‘ photo of tonight’s colorful sunset; below, Long Bach Nguyen‘s view of West Seattle after dark, photographed last night:

Thank you to both for allowing us to share these images!

ADDED: Moksha shared a panoramic view of the sunset that we just have to add:

West Seattle schools: Fairmount Park, Gatewood teacher swap sparks parent concern

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The start of October – one month into the new school year – is when Seattle Public Schools traditionally has to make adjustments for unexpected circumstances at some of its campuses.

One such circumstance is about to affect two elementary schools in West Seattle, and we’ve been hearing all day from parents who are unhappy about it. At least one of the schools involved called a last-minute after-school meeting today to talk with families about it, and the district says other communications tools are being used.

In short, the newly reopened Fairmount Park Elementary School has more students than planned for – 367 in K-5 – and needs another teacher. Gatewood Elementary (with 405 total students), meantime, has fewer first-graders than expected – they had projected and staffed for four classes, but only need three. So, explains SPS spokesperson Lesley Rogers in response to our request for information, “In order to be fiscally responsible and assure our funding was being used where the greatest student need existed, at this time the district identified the opportunity to reduce Gatewood’s teaching staff by one teacher and increase Fairmount Park’s teaching staff by one teacher. This required no additional funding, and put the teacher where the need was greatest.”

It’s not entirely that simple, according to what parents have been sending us today. One Gatewood parent says the swap would involve sending the no-longer-needed-in-first-grade Gatewood teacher to a fourth-grade team-teaching class, and one teacher from that team, in its third year, would in turn be sent to Fairmount Park. Another letter circulating among parents also points out that 20 Gatewood first-graders will be going to new classrooms after a month.

Some parents are reported to be talking about raising money to keep an extra teacher at Gatewood. They tell us there is urgency to this, because apparently the decisions involving the teacher moves have to be finalized within a few days.

One Gatewood parent’s letter to this region’s Executive Director of Schools Israel Vela and School Board director Marty McLaren was forwarded to us. In part, it lists the concerns as:

This will disrupt teachers and students in harmful ways, including:

* Time and energy that teachers put toward creating a classroom environment and
bonding with students will be totally lost.

* Students will be abandoned by the teacher that they now know and thrown into a
new learning environment, including different classmates more than a month into the
school year.

* The size of 1st grade classes at Gatewood will go up.

* Teacher morale will go down.

* The parent groups that have risen up and come together to support each classroom will be divided.

* The relationship between Gatewood and Fairmount jeopardized.

Students will feel all of this. My child will be hurt by this plan. I ask you to take immediate action to prevent this plan.

This isn’t the only school that’s had to make changes, says district spokesperson Rogers: “The district made a commitment to our school leaders, teachers and families to quickly resolve over-crowding issues as close to our Oct. 1 enrollment count as possible. Earlier in September we were able to respond to overcrowding concerns at Alki and Arbor Heights with additional kindergarten teachers. We had been communicating with principals for the past several weeks regarding changes coming and this was one.”

In case you’re confused by the description of “overcrowding” at Fairmount Park, with fewer than 400 in a school expanded to 500 capacity, we were too; Rogers explains that it has to do with the contractual maximum number of students that can be in a class. Thanks again to everyone who tipped us on this; we’ll be following up.

ADDED 10:30 PM THURSDAY: Two notes – First, JTD looked up contact information for key district personnel; find it here. Second, several parents shared word that the Gatewood PTA has called a meeting related to this for 6:30 pm October 14th (bylaws require 10 days’ notice) in the school library.

ADDED 11:32 AM FRIDAY: A parent has forwarded a message from Gatewood principal Connie Aleman, who says the district has reached this decision and notified her of it:

Unless a teacher volunteers by October 7, the least senior teacher at Gatewood will be transferred to Fairmount Park. She/he is expected to report to duty at Fairmount Park on Friday October 10th. Gatewood’s four first grade classrooms will be consolidated into three and students will begin learning in that configuration on Monday October 13. This decision is based upon the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is a contract agreed upon by both the district and the teachers’ union. It is also based on the Weighted Staffing Standards, which are established by the Seattle School District.

If we want to keep Gatewood’s staffing and class configurations as they are now, the district will allow us to raise the money to pay for a full time certified teaching position. Unfortunately, we must raise the money to fund that 1.0 FTE by October 8th. If it is not possible to raise the money by then, we can continue efforts to raise the money but the reduction in a teacher will occur October 10th and we will have to hire a different teacher when the money is raised.

If a specific fundraising campaign is under way, we hope to receive details so we can publish a new story about it – – thanks!

Congratulations! Emergency Communication Hubs honored with King County Executive’s Community Preparedness Award

Because of its pioneering Emergency Communication Hubs, West Seattle is a regional leader in neighborhood-based emergency preparedness – and that was affirmed by an award presentation this afternoon at Fauntleroy Church. On behalf of the Community Hubs citywide, Cindi Barker from West Seattle Be Prepared accepted the King County Executive’s Award for Community Preparedness, presented by KCE Dow Constantine. Those on hand got a demonstration of scenarios that the all-volunteer Hubs are meant to handle, and the kinds of information and resources they would coordinate:

The award honors the Hubs for “going beyond the basics, to promote disaster survivability and build community resiliency.” Also there, a city rep with whom they have worked closely, Debbie Goetz:

And we can’t talk about the hubs without again showing you the map of where West Seattle has them:

View West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs in a larger map

They’re explained here – locations chosen by neighborhood groups, designed to be set up in case of catastrophe that interrupts regular ways to communicate. You need to know the closest one to your neighborhood, so that you know where to go for information and help in case of disaster. If there’s not one anywhere near you – that’s because no one has stepped up to get it organized – contact WSBP if you’re interested in making one happen!

P.S. We’ll add video of today’s award presentation once it’s uploaded back at HQ. (Added – here it is:)

Golden Ticket time! Buy yours at Log House Museum

October 2, 2014 1:44 pm
|    Comments Off on Golden Ticket time! Buy yours at Log House Museum
 |   How to help | West Seattle history | West Seattle news

As part of its fall fundraising, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is now selling Golden Tickets in its drawing for an Alaskan cruise. One hundred tickets are on sale, at $100 each, for that grand prize – described as:

… a cruise for two with an ocean-view cabin aboard the ms Westerdam of the Holland America Line, sailing from Seattle on Sept. 19, 2015, to Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C., returning on Sept. 26, 2015. Programs on Pacific Northwest totem poles will be featured. (The prize does not include government or port taxes, shore excursions or airfare.)

The drawing will happen during the SWSHS Champagne Gala Brunch, 11 am Saturday, November 8th at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). You don’t have to be at the brunch to win – but you do have to buy your Golden Ticket in person at the Log House Museum (or AT the brunch), which is open Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm, 61st/Stevens. Questions about the Golden Ticket drawing? If you have questions about the Golden Ticket drawing, please call the museum at 206-938-5293 or contact SWSHS executive director Clay Eals at 206-484-8008 or

P.S. The discounted Early Bird ticket rate for the brunch has less than a week to go – more on that here.

P.P.S. The next edition of the SWSHS-presented “Words, Writers, West Seattle” series is tomorrow, 5-7 pm at Barnes and Noble/Westwood Village, featuring Susan Rich.

Tower crane coming down at Spruce after 16 months

By midmorning, the tower crane at Madison Development‘s Spruce project (3922 SW Alaska, once known as “The Hole”) was a shadow of its former self. Sixteen months after it went up, it’s coming down, as previewed here on Wednesday. This has been arguably the most-visible tower crane in West Seattle this year, not just because of the sharper angle at which its jib has been raised, but because the holiday lights installed last year have stayed up, a prominent feature on West Seattle’s nighttime skyline. Now, though, the apartments-and-health-club project is a few months from completion, and it’s time for the crane to go.

Thanks again to Steve for the tip about the alert notice distributed to nearby residents, which suggested this will be a two-day job. Once this is gone, West Seattle will have two working tower cranes for now – at California/Alaska/42nd and 40th/Edmunds – but the one for 4435 35th SW is likely not far away. (If you’re interested – here’s an explanation of how tower cranes work.)

ADDED THURSDAY EVENING: Thanks to David for sharing this photo taken as he passed the crane-removal operation late in the day:

Show off your art! And other suggestions for the rest of your West Seattle Thursday

Instead of real birds, today, our featured photo shows papier-mache birds, courtesy of Southwest Branch Library, which invites you to register for a three-session art class starting this Saturday (2-4 pm) – contact the library to sign up. AND, whether you’re taking a class or not, you’re invited to bring work to the SW branch for its annual Community Artist Showcase, starting now! That leads off our calendar highlights:

DROP OFF YOUR ART! From Jane Gibson:

People can drop off up to 3 pieces of art for inclusion [in the Community Artist Showcase], Thursday, October 2nd from
10 am-8 pm, Friday, October 3rd, from 10 am-6 pm, and Saturday, October 4th, from 10 am-6 pm.

The library is at 35th/Henderson.

ENJOY A BEAUTIFUL EVENING … with the weekly work party/tour, 5-7 pm, at Community Orchard of West Seattle on the north side of the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) campus. (6000 16th SW)

CURRICULUM NIGHT AT WSHS: West Seattle High School families get to find out more about what’ll be happening with their students this year. 6:30 pm. (3000 Caifornia SW)

DO YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND? First Lutheran Church of West Seattle pastor Rev. Ron Marshall launches another of his four-week “Read the Koran in Four Weeks” sessions tonight, explained in our calendar listing, which has info on how to pre-register. Classes at 7 pm Thursdays. (4105 California SW)

FINAL DAYS OF ‘THE MOUNTAINTOP’: Just a few more chances to see “The Mountaintop,” the acclaimed play now onstage at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor). Curtaintime tonight: 7:30. (4711 California SW)

NIGHTLIFE … Listings include live music at Salty’s, The Cask, Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsors), and the Benbow Room, plus karaoke at OutWest and Yen Wor. See the listings here!

Of height, parking, bus stops, and FAR: Day 2 of 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing

(Aerial showing 3078 Avalon project site, from project materials distributed in fall 2013)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Hearings often yield information beyond their immediate subjects.

During day two of the Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) appeal hearing regarding a planned ~100-apartment building at 3078 SW Avalon, we learned about a lawsuit involving the project site. We also learned about a lawsuit involving the site next door that once was slated for a “twin” building. Neither is directly related to this appeal, yet both are relevant, in looking at the big picture of development in that area.

And we heard a lot more about how the city’s Design Review process works, and doesn’t. We also heard Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, who is presiding over the hearing and will rule on the appeal, say that her office hasn’t traditionally had “broad jurisdiction” over the process.

The Design Review approval of the project is one of two city decisions that NERD, based in the single-family-home neighborhood north of the west stretch of Avalon, is appealing. The other is the Department of Planning and Development‘s “determination of non-significance” (DNS) saying the project did not require a full environmental-impact report.

It’s an uphill fight, with the hearing examiner required to give the most weight to the city’s decision unless the appellant proves it was in error and should be overturned.

Today is the third and final day scheduled for the hearing, though some testimony already has been scheduled for a spillover date in two weeks. We have been at the hearing examiner’s Municipal Tower hearing room for both days so far and are expecting to be back again today. Here is our report from day 1; below, the toplines from Day 2:

Read More

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday updates and road reminders

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
None of the trouble spots so far this morning are in our area. So while we keep watch on the commute ahead, here’s what else you should know:

SCHOOL-ZONE CAMERAS START TICKETING: After a month of issuing “warning” citations, the two new speed cameras on Roxbury start issuing “real” tickets today. Here’s our report from Monday.

OVERNIGHT HIGHWAY 99 CLOSURE: With the rain past, WSDOT is back on track with its overnight partial Highway 99 closures for road-surface work. Tonight, it’s scheduled to close northbound 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and the stadium zone, 10 pm-5 am, which means bus reroutes, as well as the closure of the exit from the eastbound bridge.

JUNCTION/TRIANGLE NOTE: As mentioned here Wednesday, the tower crane for Spruce (the former “Hole” site at Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th) is coming down today, which might have some effects – if only the lookie-loo factor – at that busy intersection.

TRANSPORTATION NEWS: Our partners at The Seattle Times take a closer look at the new monorail proposal you’ll see on the November ballot.

8:41 AM: Headed downtown again, for Day 3 of the development-appeal hearing we’ve been covering. (Our report on Day 2 goes live in a few minutes.) Two traffic notes as we head north: There’s a broken-down semi-truck on W. Marginal Way S. just before the exit to the northbound 1st Avenue S. Bridge. Could get dicey. Also, the low-hanging cables over Trenton at 25th – just east of Westwood Village – are still a hazard:

Neighbors say this was reported last night; police came out and put the streamers on, but the cable is still dangerously low. We’re going to try to find out if repairs are planned; this would seem like the kind of hazard that could and should be reported via 206-684-ROAD.