West Seattle, Washington
10:11 PM: If you’re heading out – or back this way – via Highway 99, be aware the Battery Street Tunnel is closed both ways again. Haven’t heard yet if it’s the recurring sprinkler malfunction or something else.
11:42 PM: After about an hour and a half, the tunnel is open again. Still no explanation.
This Friday afternoon (October 16th), the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is teaming up with The Kenney (WSB sponsor) on a “pop-up museum” themed “School Daze.” You bring the items and stories to share – in this case, as SWSHS executive director Clay Eals explains it, “photos and other memorabilia from youthful times in school.” Bring it to The Kenney’s lobby (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW) 2-5 pm on Friday and see what happens from there – enjoy light refreshments, too. Everyone’s welcome – including community members who just want to hear and see what’s in the pop-up museum and don’t have stories or items to share (yet) – more info here.
5:07 PM: We’re at Seattle Public Schools headquarters, where the School Board is meeting as a “committee of the whole.” The parents involved with Kids Not Cuts – formed after word last week that teacher positions would be cut at more than two dozen schools around the city – came to demand a few minutes of the board’s time. We walked in a moment after the meeting started, and what ensued is what you see below:
If you can’t watch the video, the parents asked for 10 minutes to speak to the board before their agenda – with no related items – moved on. Board leadership refused, and eventually adjourned the meeting to a smaller room nearby. All but board member Sue Peters left. Several parents, including two from Schmitz Park, stayed to talk with her, as did most if not all of the media there (including us). When that conversation left and Peters headed to the other room, reporters and photographers were told it was at capacity and they could not go inside. That was being challenged vigorously when the board members decided to come back into the auditorium. Right now the meeting has resumed and at least two dozen parents remain; the agenda item under discussion involves the City of Seattle levy-funded Preschool Program, which is reported to include two “under-enrolled” SPS classrooms right now. One parent found that ironic, to say the least, and got up to again demand time with the board; president Sherry Carr said there will be a break during this meeting, at which time parents can talk with board members. More irony was pointed out by parents as Carr went on to explain procedure and how tonight’s agenda had to be published in advance; she invited parents to address the board next Wednesday, while the parents pointed out that’s too late, as the teacher moves/cuts have to be finalized before then.
5:33 PM: We have to get back to West Seattle; parents remain here, and citywide media too, so we’ll find out later what happens here. And if you missed it, here’s our earlier coverage, including the early-afternoon media briefing about the cuts/changes.
By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The first of this week’s three City Council candidate forums in West Seattle – the only one with all six of the council candidates who will be on your ballot – included one moment of drama: When one candidate asked her opponent a money question.
We’ll get to that shortly. First things first. More than 50 people were at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center to watch the forum, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and WS Transportation Coalition, moderated by Pete Spalding on behalf of the former and Michael Taylor-Judd for the latter. Each pair of candidates got their own section of the program, citywide Positions 8 and 9 followed by the longest section, for West Seattle/South Park District 1, which is where we begin. We recorded it all on video and are including each section below, just before our notes on the questions and answers. Please note that we’re paraphrasing/summarizing unless you see quotation marks. Also note that because of the sponsoring organizations, the questions were intended to focus on business and transportation issues. After each was given the chance to answer a question, there was also “rebuttal” time, which is why you see each question below followed by multiple responses.
Candidates Shannon Braddock, Lisa Herbold
Braddock: Stressed her experience volunteering with local organizations including the Lafayette Elementary PTA, West Seattle Food Bank, WestSide Baby, as well as her work as chief of staff for County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “I feel I have a very good overview of the issues affecting (this area).”
Herbold: Echoed moderator Spalding’s declaration that this is a historic election, with West Seattle/South Park electing their first District 1 councilmember. She stressed her experience working for City Councilmember Nick Licata and her career as a community organizer before that, a role in which she said you teach people how to be their own best advocates. She sees a parallel to that work and to what by-district elections are supposed to be about: “We will have more responsive government.”
First question – Do you support an employee head tax?
12:25 PM: Six days after word of teacher cuts and moves started getting around, Seattle Public Schools is
announcing (updated) working on its final decisions. We’re on our way to a 12:30 pm media briefing at district headquarters (announced on short notice), and we’ve just heard from a member of the STEM K-8 community that principal Ben Ostrom has sent an announcement. Excerpt:
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) October staffing adjustment has been finalized and unfortunately affects STEM K-8. District enrollment shortfalls necessitated the displacement of STEM’s K-8 class size reduction position. This position was assigned to reduce class sizes in our 3rd and 4th grades. Lower than projected district-wide enrollment, combined with higher than anticipated operating costs, resulted in SPS being unable to support positions below contracted class size ratios. Displaced staff are reassigned to support schools with enrollment above projections.
We’ll update live from the news conference when it begins. If you’ve heard anything from other schools – firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks.
12:33 PM: We’re awaiting the briefing. But the district reps who are here – including associate superintendent Flip Herndon and communications officer Jacque Coe – say they don’t have a list.
12:37 PM: If you have Periscope, we’re live there with this. Coe says they’re “moving less than 1 percent of teachers,” and that these are “not cuts,” no teachers are losing their jobs. Teachers will be “moved to positions of highest needs” – if one school has less enrollment, they’re being moved to one where “children have a need for a teacher because of class sizes … it’s a balancing act … it occurs in every district around the state.” She says this was “earlier notification” than in years past. She said there was a “significant number of students projected to show up … that didn’t … that we believe went to surrounding districts.” She says they can’t just add a teacher to a school – “it would be just as disruptive as pulling a teacher.” She says that they don’t want to slow down the process, because “waiting (longer) will be just as disruptive.”
“This is what inadequate state funding looks like at the local level,” Coe declared. “Because of (that), districts are constantly adjusting budgets. District have to live by their budgets, by law. Dipping into district reserves is not fiscally responsible.” She says almost every elementary school has “an extra teacher” at their building, “but that’s not enough.” Friday, she says, is when they “should know all the staff who are being moved … but it’s still a very fluid process.” The deadline for changes to be in place is October 26th.
12:47 PM: Herndon and Coe are answering questions based on regional reporters asking about Seattle policies compared to other districts. They basically contend this is something all districts are going through. We asked about Schmitz Park’s teacher loss (as discussed last week) leading to ratios of 28 or 29 students to one teacher in first-grade classrooms and Herndon said it was just a matter of how the state funding shook out. “When we’re talking about the overall class ratio .. there’s going to be some variation from school to school.”
12:54 PM: Coe says again, it’s not accurate to say “cuts,” no one is losing their job. Asked about reports of district unresponsiveness to parents’ concerns, she says one specific contact went awry. Asked “is there a better way to project?” Coe says that “we had a major event prior to the start of school” – apparently referring to the teacher strike – that could have had a significant effect. Last year, more than 300 students opted out to other districts, Herndon said, this year, more than 1,000. But, he says, they don’t know why those parents opted out. Coe says that “private funding” (like the Alki Elementary fundraiser, though it wasn’t mentioned by name) “lets the legislature off the hook” and they would “encourage parents to talk to their state legislators.” Asked about the letter that legislators sent to the district asking them to hold off on these changes, Coe says, “When last I checked, the Supreme Court was waiting” (for legislators to fully fund education). She reiterates that it’s not responsible to “dip into reserves.”
1:01 PM: Asked again why they don’t have a list of schools that are losing and gaining teachers, Herndon said, “Because we’re still working through the process.” He also said they’re trying to work toward “the least disruption.” Asked how these moves save money, Herndon says, because if they’re moving a teacher from one position to another, they wind up with one position instead of two. The number that’s been circulating, 25, they say, is accurate so far as they know. Coe says she’s hopeful we’re going to have a list “soon.”
1:07 PM: The briefing just ended. We recorded it on conventional video as well and will add that when it’s uploaded. You can watch the playback (really only worth listening, our visual angle was a bit janky) on our Periscope channel.
1:28 PM: The school district’s increase in central administration (“district office”) budget – 16.4% – has come up often. West Seattle/South Park school board rep Marty McLaren sent us this memo she had received from the administration spelling out where the increases were made, and it confirms the budget went up by that number:
Thanks to those who’ve sent photos of this morning’s car fire at 30th and Graham in High Point; these two are from Joe Moorman. Seattle Fire spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl says their fire investigator was not called out, but police impounded the car.
So we checked with SPD spokesperson Officer Lauren Lovanhill, who says the car was not stolen – it was registered to a West Seattle address – but it was illegally parked, and that’s apparently why it was impounded. The report’s not in the system yet, so there’s no official information on the cause. No one was hurt in the fire, which was reported around 5:20 am.
Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker tells WSB that the group has word from SDOT that work is about to start on the project – “long-needed sidewalk repair at the SW intersection of California Ave SW and Fauntleroy Way SW alongside three properties. Ginnie Hance, who manages the Ivy Court Apartments, was concerned about the hazardous sidewalk condition caused in part by tree roots, and submitted the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund application in 2014.” That’s a fund open to community applications for projects like this. SDOT says the work will start “as soon as October 20th,” but is weather-dependent. Once it starts, it’ll take three to four weeks, which means it should be finished by Thanksgiving; SDOT is working now on putting together flyers to send around – once we get a copy, we’ll publish it as an update.
P.S. MoCA’s next quarterly meeting is just a week away; it’s at 7 pm next Wednesday (October 21st), at The Kenney (WSB sponsor).
(Fall flowers – photo by Max)
Made it to the middle of the week! Here’s what’s ahead for today/tonight, from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
COWORKING/NETWORKING MEETUP: Noon-1:15 pm at coworking/meeting space West Seattle Office Junction (WSB sponsor):
Our informal brown bag lunches for freelancers, independent business professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs working from home or coffee shops. Please RSVP on our meetup page. We talk about business ideas, share skills, get feedback on projects, collaborate, and network.
All welcome. (6040 California SW)
‘PINK OUT’ VOLLEYBALL NIGHT AT WSHS: You’re invited! From West Seattle High School head volleyball coach Staci Stringer:
Tonight, the West Seattle Girls Volleyball team will be hosting Cleveland High School for our annual “Dig Pink” game. JVC Will host Kennedy and JV will play Cleveland at 5:45 PM.
Varsity plays at 7 PM and we would love to invite the community to grab their pink and come support a great cause and cheer on the Wildcats! For every Dig, the Varsity girls team will be donating money to support breast cancer research! Come join the Wildcats for our Pink Out!!
In the gym at WSHS. (3000 California SW)
MADISON CURRICULUM NIGHT: 5:45 pm, drop-in library help available, followed by 6:30 pm Curriculum Night for Madison Middle School families. (45th SW & SW Spokane)
HARBOR SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: 6:30 pm tonight, Harbor School (WSB sponsor) on Vashon Island, has an open house, with a special invitation to West Seattleites – a shuttle is offered, but you need to RSVP ASAP (see how in our calendar listing). Harbor is now a K-8 school. (15920 Vashon Highway SW)
CUB SCOUT ‘JOINING NIGHT’: Happening tonight:
Cub Scout Pack 799 of Arbor Heights invites you and your boy to our “Joining Night”!
When: 6:45 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Arbor Heights Elementary Cafeteria
For: Boys in grades 1-5
The boys will enjoy making and racing their own Stomp Rockets with current Cub Scouts, while parents and families will have the opportunity to learn about Pack 799. If you have any questions in advance, please contact our Cubmaster, Matt Andersen, at email@example.com or (206) 300-5100. Thanks, and hope to see you there!
That’s the interim Arbor Heights school at Boren. (5950 Delridge Way SW)
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1 CANDIDATES @ 34TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATS: 7 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy, during the 34th District Democrats‘ monthly meeting, an hourlong forum/debate with City Council District 1 candidates Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock. We’re on the question-asking panel, along with former Rep. Velma Veloria and Sustainable West Seattle‘s Stu Hennessey. Full details on the 34th DDs’ website. (9131 California SW)
FIXING SCHOOL FUNDING: 7 pm at Fairmount Park Elementary, you’re invited to a conversation about what’s happening, and not happening, with school funding – the situation that’s the underpinning of this past week’s uproar over teacher cuts, among many other things. Here’s our preview. (3800 SW Findlay)
(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:05 AM: No incidents on routes through/from West Seattle so far.
7:51 AM UPDATE: SDOT’s newest update on greenway construction in northeast West Seattle:
On Monday, October 12, crews began installing a new storm drain system north of where 22nd Ave SW merges with 21st Ave SW, necessitating temporary lane restrictions. Flaggers are stationed at either end of the work zone to direct traffic. This work is expected to be complete in a few days. Bus zones will not be affected. Click here to view construction notice.
Crews will return at the end of October to install curb ramps, sidewalk on the west side of 21st Ave SW, and a new crosswalk just south of where 22nd Ave SW merges with 21st Ave SW.
The intersection of 21st Ave SW and SW Genesee St continues to be closed to southbound traffic while crews install new sidewalk and curb ramps. A signed detour is in effect to direct southbound traffic around the work:
· From 21st Ave SW travel east on SW Charlestown St to 20th Ave SW
· Then travel south on 20th Ave SW to SW Genesee St
Click here to view construction notice. Work hours at this intersection are 7 AM to 5 PM.
8:29 AM: Need an ORCA LIFT card? Today, your first chance to use a new weekly West Seattle drop-in spot to get one – info here.