35th/Roxbury charter-school updates: Site sale finalized; new development plan; local forum scheduled

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Four updates today on the planned charter middle/high school at what’s now the Freedom Church/Jesus Center on the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury, almost six months after we discovered the proposal:

DEAL CLOSED: The nonprofit that’s developing the school for California-based charter operator Summit Public Schools, Washington Charter School Development, has closed the deal to buy the property. King County records show the purchase price was $4,750,000, almost $2 million more than the site’s 2008 sale price.

TWO-PHASE SITE DEVELOPMENT: Once we found the records of the purchase, we started checking on the status of the plan to remodel and add onto the former supermarket building at the site, and discovered a change in the plan: It’s now going to be developed in two phases, confirms a spokesperson for WCSD, which is affiliated with Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development. First, they’ll remodel the existing building, and they’ve applied for a building permit to do that. The proposed additions (shown here a month ago) would be in a second phase. The school itself would be phased in anyway – Summit says it would start with 6th and 9th grades and add middle/high grades each year until fully enrolled as 6th through 12th.

CHURCH STAYING TFN: Summit Public Schools is still more than a year away from its proposed opening (and awaiting state approval, required because charter schools operate with public funding). So in the meantime, WCSD says, Freedom Church/Jesus Center is “renting back the building for the near future to allow the Church to continue providing its outstanding and award-winning community service in West Seattle while plans for the school are being finalized.” In addition to the church, the center also works with a variety of community programs and partners, including the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.

PUBLIC FORUM NEXT MONTH: According to the calendar for the Washington Charter School Commission – which will have to approve Summit’s application (linked here) before it can open the school – a public forum is planned at the site as part of the process (as mentioned in our previous update), 6 pm July 21st.

37 Replies to "35th/Roxbury charter-school updates: Site sale finalized; new development plan; local forum scheduled"

  • End of West Seattle June 22, 2015 (4:45 pm)

    This is great, so on top of all the other problems now we have to deal with another school on this spot and more growth and more people coming in. The city needs to totally freeze all growth and order a full shut down of the Department of Planning approving anything in West Seattle until we can afford mitigation of this. Let other parts of the city absorb their fair share instead of continually dumping their urban problems on our land.

  • Linda June 22, 2015 (5:23 pm)

    This is very good news! The middle and high schools are overcrowded and we badly need an alternative situation. The location is ideal as well! Hopefully this will also provide jobs for locals as well. I’ve lived in West Seattle my whole life(50 years now)and growth has been steady. It’s not bad, it’s inevitable. Embrace it.

  • Liz June 22, 2015 (5:38 pm)

    Yes. Great news. :/. Charters have been doing great, and have not mismanaged funds at all. I wish any media outlet would cover what a racket charge schools are… Do some research. How is the other charter in Seattle faring right now? How well do charters do compared to public schools (hint: great when allowed to indiscriminately get rid of poor/brown/learning disabled kids, and the same if not worse when slightly more account able). This is horrible news.

    • WSB June 22, 2015 (6:07 pm)

      Hi, Liz. I think the Times has reported repeatedly on the one charter school that’s been open so far. Meantime, this isn’t intended as reportage about or analysis of the charter-school concept, but yes, we *do* research, every day and every night. Took me a fair amount of research time to find this information and everything else we’ve reported about this proposal since we first found a hint of it in January, none of which has been delivered as official announcements (those came long after we dug up the initial information and pursued details). The forum I mention above wasn’t announced either … don’t know when and whether they would have gotten out some public notice, but I happened onto it on the Charter School Commission website, while looking for the official application, a 472-page tome I hope to wade through later tonight. I hope the early alerts are of value to somebody. – TR

  • G June 22, 2015 (5:54 pm)


    Admirable attitude. I would have been been a grouchy West Seattle ‘lifer’ if my circumstances hadn’t changed and was forced to else half of the year elsewhere. As it turns out, though, it was the best thing that every happened to me. Change is good.

  • Nora June 22, 2015 (6:37 pm)

    End of West Seattle: cities are either growing or decaying. If we stop growing, it won’t take long for us to turn into a little Detroit.

  • SHC June 22, 2015 (8:37 pm)

    I live near this corner and it currently lacks energy. A school could be a lovely addition to our south end area. West Seattlites love school choices, and with Madison and Denny being so high in enrollment, it’s a necessary addition to our community. The jury is still out as far as it’s ability to deliver quality education in an equitable way to our diverse community, so as an educator and a parent, I am curious and will be attending any informational meetings going forward. I encourage parents to attend and put pressure on the administrators to be transparent about their mission and plans, and ask hard and direct questions. Charter schools are not private schools. My expectation would be that they strive to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners who are an accurate representation of our community.

  • liz June 22, 2015 (8:50 pm)

    TR, thank you for the thoughtful reply. The Times has indeed talked about First Place, but seemingly within the context of it being a one-off, singular fluke of a failed experiment rather than a deep investigation of corporate education reform/deform. That being said, I suppose that’s not their job in some ways, but as an educator, I get so frustrated by blind allegiance to failed experiments (kids are not guinea pigs). I look forward to your take on your light reading. :)

  • What was here? June 22, 2015 (9:44 pm)

    Was it a Safeway of a Fred Meyer about 15 years ago? I forgot. I think the Safeway on Rox was a Fred Meyer and Safeway was where this school is going in?

    • WSB June 22, 2015 (9:45 pm)


  • Kimmy June 22, 2015 (9:54 pm)

    Perfect place for a school, charter, private or public. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • Sbone June 22, 2015 (10:28 pm)

    The more the merrier!

  • Lynn June 23, 2015 (12:38 am)

    Yes – more online education and weeks of electives (no core courses) taught by instructors without teaching certificates. That’s exactly what our diverse population needs.

    If we’re going to have a charter middle/high school, won’t we need an elementary school too?

    I believe there’s still a lawsuit challenging the legality of public funding for charter schools in this state.

  • Perusa June 23, 2015 (1:03 am)

    I am curious to know the potential size/enrollment of the school? I drive through that intersection a lot, & it is a very busy/fast intersection. I hope they manage the buses south of Roxbury. Just hoping a lot of good planning goes into the traffic flow…

    • WSB June 23, 2015 (1:55 am)

      The 472-page application document, linked above, has enrollment projections on page 4. Projects it will max out around 700, 100 or so per grade.

  • WS ERO June 23, 2015 (6:16 am)

    So,,, if a pot shop can’t move into an area a certain distance from a school. It’s ok for a school to move into an area with multiple pot shops across the street. Oh,, the hypocrisy. Wouldn’t that be putting students in danger of drug use????

  • enid June 23, 2015 (7:10 am)

    This is a nightmare. Hundreds more vehicles will be entering and exiting at that busy corner at rush hours. It’s also the only entrance/exit to and from Arbor Heights, so this corner will be a cluster u-know-what. When Arbor Heights Elementary opens, it has been determined that 700 additional vehicles per day will be visiting that school at the same time – and how many others at Westside? So, we’re talking (modestly) several thousand more vehicles at that intersection during peak hours. That doesn’t even begin to address the parking issue.

    The buses are not the problem south of Roxbury. Arbor Heights already has bare bones bus service.

    One of the most ridiculous comments I’ve ever read is that “cities are either growing or decaying”. Growth, worldwide, is unsustainable, as is the uncontrolled breeding that fuels it. Stabilization is essential, although it’s probably too late even for that. Based on some of these “yippee” comments, what we really need is some adult education.

  • Brian June 23, 2015 (8:12 am)

    @WS ERO: Those aren’t pot shops. Those are medical dispensaries that are not open to the general public.

  • Peggie June 23, 2015 (9:07 am)

    TR, thanks for the info. I frequently walk by that corner and have been wondering if Freedom Church was already gone, and what the plan would be. It’s always good to have more information.

  • Joe Szilagyi June 23, 2015 (9:20 am)

    @Perusa “I hope they manage the buses south of Roxbury. Just hoping a lot of good planning goes into the traffic flow…”
    The bus action there is perfectly fine, and the upcoming 35th & Roxbury safety improvements will all be finished and online well before this school opens.
    Speaking of, another great spot for a speed camera.

    • WSB June 23, 2015 (9:44 am)

      One thing to note re: the medical-marijuana storefronts – one new (northwest side of the intersection) and one not (northeast side) – the city is currently working on new rules and enforcement that will require all MMJ enterprises to either get state licenses or close – some sooner rather than later. This comes before the council again soon. West Seattle, you may recall, has yet to have a state-licensed (“recreational”) store, though there’s a mini-cluster in SODO right by the bridge and there’s also one in White Center now about a block south of the city limits. – TR

  • Joe Szilagyi June 23, 2015 (9:21 am)

    @enid where exactly should we put all these kids and schools then? What neighborhood should absorb them? Or should we restrict the number of kids in schools? Or just stop breeding? How about a solution?

    You cannot equate required and needed school facilities to other types of growth, regardless of where you stand on the whole ‘urbanization’ thing (and we still do live in one of the largest cities in North America, which cannot be ignored either).

  • Joe Szilagyi June 23, 2015 (9:22 am)

    @WS EURO “Wouldn’t that be putting students in danger of drug use????”
    Does having Safeway sell liquor two aisles away from ice cream and toys put my kid in danger of alcoholism? Of course not.

  • Arbor Haven June 23, 2015 (10:02 am)

    Oh NO– NOT A SCHOOL! What is the neighborhood coming to!?!?!

    Seriously, are people still ‘clutching their pearls” (thanks Joe S.) about schools in the neighborhood? Schools are direly needed (especially upper level) in West Seattle which has always been, and looks to remain, a family oriented area that manages to also serve the needs of (and welcome) ALL residents. And for the record, given the amount of schools that have closed in the past decade in West Seattle (or even south West Seattle if you want to get nitpicky), adding two new ones (Westside and the Charter School) is literally a wash (especially considering that the AH school is a remodel without a huge increase in attendance that might have fallen outside of previous and absorb-able norms for that part of the neighborhood.) If you REALLY REALLY want to reduce traffic and traffic incidents in that area (which seems to be the primary hew and cry) then here’s a better plan than being angry those darn kids need to be educated:

    1) Help fund SPS by voting for it and its bevy action so it can increase transportation
    2) Vote for expansion of public transportation of all kinds- bus service, light rail, commuter connectors. Considering both Westside and this new charter school will serve older kids and teens better options for transportation would definitely help to minimize traffic to and from these schools.

  • WS ERO June 23, 2015 (10:16 am)

    Re: Joe. Have you ever heard of sarcasm? Guess not.

  • Joe Szilagyi June 23, 2015 (10:30 am)

    @ERO sorry, sometimes it’s hard to tell on these comments!

  • Joe Szilagyi June 23, 2015 (10:31 am)

    @WSB “est Seattle, you may recall, has yet to have a state-licensed (“recreational”) store”
    What happened to that one that was supposed to open just north of the Delridge Uptown Espresso? Or am I misremembering?

  • Evergreen June 23, 2015 (10:40 am)

    Agree with Arbor Haven!

  • Eric1 June 23, 2015 (2:49 pm)

    I say give somebody other than SPS a chance to run a school. Think outside the union box with actual experts in the elective field. Core subjects need accredited teachers but the pool of trained experts in Seattle is really large and some of them can teach from real life experiences even if they are not formally trained.
    As a parent that has dealt with the mammoth school district, it is time for a more local solution. Charter schools might not be the cure-all but it would be difficult to do worse than SPS.

  • letshaveachoice June 23, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    “more online education and weeks of electives (no core courses) taught by instructors without teaching certificates.”- Lynn …
    THIS IS JUST NOT TRUE. It would be illegal for the charter school to employ teachers who are not properly credentialed per the State of Washington as it will be a public school.
    Also, if you step into a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grade class at any one of the public elementary schools you would see our kids on the computer constantly for math, reading and science. Then they are assigned computer work for homework. I think another alternative and a choice for our kids at the middle school/ high school level is not only needed but a must have!

  • Melissa Westbrook June 24, 2015 (8:36 am)

    End of West Seattle, you sort of got your wish to shut down DPD work. The Mayor announced yesterday that he is splitting DPD and effectively changing the nature of growth and planning.

    Tracy, I hadn’t seen Summit’s application. The Commission had wanted to try to pare them down as the volume of them seems to get larger and larger.

    Let’s have a choice, yes, it IS true that you can have “blended learning” where students are on a computer and NOT have a teacher but rather a “facilitator” who is not an educator. Rockship Charters operates on this model.

    It saves charters money not to have to hire real teachers for this purpose.

    Also, Teach for America “teachers” are used a lot by charters and they’re not really qualified teachers.

    Also to note, Seattle Schools has two levies coming up in Feb. 2016 – Operations and BTA (which is for buildings, technology and academics/athletics). Any charter that is open when the levies come get to have a share of both levies.

    That will include First Place Scholars (if they survive) and Summit Sierra which opens this fall.

    Eventually this second Summit charter will also get a share.

    • WSB June 24, 2015 (8:40 am)

      Mel, I’m about halfway through it. After the first 130 or so pages, it goes to all the attachments, including curriculum/philosophy details. And the reader they use is a system hog so paging through it is slow going. But once through, I’m going to write about some things that jumped out, operationally, who they expect will attend, who they’ve hired to be the principal (“executive director”), etc.

  • MOVE Seattle June 24, 2015 (9:20 pm)

    So if Seattle Public Schools opens a new school, I am sure they would receive additional funding to open a new school. What is the difference if SPS opens a school with added/extra funding provided for a new school, or if a charter schools gets the funding to open a new school? Just maybe that the charter won’t be union run? By law I am sure they must meet the same educational outcome as public schools – so who cares how they manage to achieve the same educational outcome? Not every student learns in the same way. I am not into the details but seems like if SPS needed to open a new school that added expense would not just be squeezed out of their current budget but they would get additional funds for a new school….so I don’t buy into the train of thought that charters are taking away funding from public schools.

  • Voted NO 1240 June 26, 2015 (9:59 pm)

    Charter schools offer promises, but rarely deliver. Here is a must read:


  • Modern Sound June 30, 2015 (9:25 am)

    I hope this is not a coincidence, but I am wondering whether getting rid of the Middle College program in West Seattle is a way to support this new charter school. If not, I don’t understand why SPS is eliminating an alternative that works!

    Nyland needs to overturn his decision.

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