FOLLOWUP: Comment time for land-use application at Arbor Heights charter-school site

(WSB photo from last week)

Last week, we brought you an update on the plans for remodeling and addition work at the ex-church/ex-supermarket at 9601 35th SW that is set to become charter school Summit Atlas this fall. As mentioned in our update, the formal land-use-permit application is now on file with the city, and that meant a new public-comment period would soon begin. Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin brought the official notice – see it here. If you’re interested in commenting, here’s how. The permit is required for the second phase of the project, involving a two-story addition to make more space for the school; work is expected to start soon on the first phase, which mostly involves interior remodeling of the existing building. (Our report from last August included a look at a building elsewhere in the city that the charter company already has remodeled, telling us the plan for use of the Arbor Heights space is similar.) Deadline for comments, meantime, is January 18th.

20 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Comment time for land-use application at Arbor Heights charter-school site"

  • Hillary Shaw January 5, 2017 (11:38 am)

    Hope to add more when I’m not mobile, but I recommend anyone reading this thread familiarize themselves with the history if charters in Washington state:

    Inextricably linked, unconstitutional underfunding of our public schools (McCleary):

    Next year, Seattle Public Schools anticipates a $74 million shortfall due to 30 years of underfunding public education:

    Please consider volunteering at your local public school. Teachers, principals, counselors, paras, support staff, and parents go above and beyond to support all students in our community every day, and are nothing short of miracle workers, spinning gold from straw. The vibrant, diverse, innovative programs in West Seattle public schools are a testament to the commitment of it’s citizenry to educating all children; Imagine what’s possible when schools are properly funded.

    • WSMom January 5, 2017 (12:06 pm)

      Thank you for posting the article Hillary.  Very interesting.  I find it appalling that the state will allow charter schools but at the same time not funding our public schools.  Our public schools are not failing, the state is failing our schools.  From what I understand (or maybe I am wrong) the lottery money was supposed to go to our PUBLIC SCHOOLS, not private schools trying to pass themselves off at public charters.  Now less money is diverted to our schools.  This makes me very angry that the state will not support our public schools but they seem to support a few choice schools.  Appalling.  

  • Hillary Shaw January 5, 2017 (11:47 am)

    Sorry, Tracy, meant to post the previous comment here:

    Still relevant!

    Thank you,


  • anonyme January 5, 2017 (12:55 pm)

    Does anyone know what kind of comments it would take to halt construction?  Traffic issues?  Saturation?

    Hillary brought up an excellent point that seems like a good basis for a new lawsuit: why build any new school until our public schools are funded?  This is not a remodel or rebuild, it is the establishment of an entirely new entity. 

    As far as I’m concerned, anything and everything should be done to stop this.

  • D Del Rio January 5, 2017 (1:23 pm)

    What is this area zoned for? Is it multifamily, mixed use? I was told that before Safeway built a store there, it was single family homes. I think this would be a perfect place for much needed housing and businesses that could serve the Arbor Heights community.

  • anonyme January 5, 2017 (1:23 pm)

    Sorry, it was WSMom who suggested that public schools should be funded first.  Excellent comments from both Hillary & WSMom.

    The attack on public schools will only get worse in the next 4 years.  Thinking ahead to a voucher system (horrible idea, and unconstitutional – but possible) I think that anyone who pays taxes should have the choice to decide to which system their money goes- public or private.  As a taxpayer I should not be forced to pay for private school, especially those with a religious bent.

  • AH Rez January 5, 2017 (1:36 pm)

    Can’t pull my kid from SPS soon enough!  Our 9th grader will be attending  Summit Atlas next year.  What I find appalling is what passes for education and prudent management  in EVERY SPS school he’s attended since 1st grade.  Not to say he hasn’t had great teachers along the way who did a fantastic job.  But the fact that the abysmal ones are allowed to keep their jobs is tragically  laughable.

    Our son has an IEP for a learning disability, but NONE of the mandates have ever been followed  (SPS just sees it as extra state funding $$).  In fact, his IEP administrator last year had no clue who our son WAS when we called the school out on it.  Also last year, his Advisory teacher demanded that he put away his homework from another class and “read” instead, so he spent the rest of the week reading comic books, which apparently WAS acceptable.  Or his WA state history teacher, who used vocabulary words like “savages” in their Native American history section (fyi, it’s the N-word to Native people, which my son is), and when he said he wasn’t comfortable with that, she ridiculed him in front of his entire class.  When the principal and the teacher were confronted about it, was she disciplined or removed?  Nope.  She refused to apologize because SHE didn’t find it offensive, so they just moved him to a different class so he wouldn’t be a “problem”.   I’ve got a million of them, really.

    Until educators are held accountable for their performance and the bottom 10% are no longer allowed to hide behind the Teachers Union to keep jobs they are clearly not qualified for, charter school demand will only go up, starving the antiquated education model that serves SPS employees at the detriment of the kids.

    Soap box speech over.

  • Peter January 5, 2017 (4:14 pm)

    This is so incredibly frustrating. We have to sit here and watch these con artists stealing our tax money that should be going to our schools, and we can’t do anything about it. It was a huge blunder to legalize charter operations, all they do is steal our tax money and defund and degrade real education, which is what they are designed to do.

  • HelperMonkey January 5, 2017 (4:26 pm)

    for-profit schools and for-profit prisons.  ‘Merica! 

  • anonyme January 5, 2017 (4:49 pm)

    Let’s not forget for-profit health care, or the new for-profit presidency.

  • New Thinking Needed January 5, 2017 (7:58 pm)

    Please educate yourselves about charter schools in WA state – they are not allowed to be for profit.

    FAQ 23.  Can a charter school board contract with a for-profit organization for management and operation of the school?

    No. RCW 28A.710.030 provides a charter school board may enter into contracts with any school district, educational service district or other public or private entity the provision of real property, equipment, goods, supplies and services, but stipulates that “management operation” of the school may only be with nonprofit organizations.

    • Scott January 6, 2017 (8:27 am)

      Good point.   And to close that loop, Summit Public Schools is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    • Now is the time January 9, 2017 (12:43 pm)

      Thank you New Thinking Needed!  The historical failure of the State to fully fund basic education has caused us to underfund basic education and over-rely on our property tax revenues to make up the difference to pay for teacher salaries.  This failure has also caused PTAs and other groups to have to fundraise for much needed programs and para-professionals needed to help our children learn.  The non-profit, public charter schools that have opened in the last two years, are not the cause of the partisan politics and local gridlock that has kept our schools terribly underfunded.  The fact that parents now have a choice for a high-quality tuition-free – middle school/high school option in our neighborhood should be perceived as a plus not a minus for Arbor Heights.  I ask more of my neighbors to please educate yourselves about how K-12 funding really works in Washington State, learn about the Charter Law that passed, visit a school, volunteer at any school, district or charter, and support more high-quality options for educating our kids, not less.    The fight between district advocates and charter advocates is a distraction that keeps us from putting pressure where it is most sorely needed; on a legislature that needs to work together to deliver critical funding and by fulfilling its paramount duty to provide for an education system for all of our kids.

  • WS since '66 January 6, 2017 (8:30 am)

    New thinking needed: blah, blah, blah. It takes taxpayer money from public schools. What don’t you understand about that?

    • Scott January 6, 2017 (8:57 am)

      WSS66:  Respectfully, Summit Sierra is and Summit Atlas will be a public charter school.  

      If your issue is with funding, it should be with the state’s historic failure to budget for and fully fund public education with your tax dollars.

  • WS since '66 January 6, 2017 (9:59 am)

    Scott, I agree the state needs to step up and fund public schools. No question it is in our State’s Constitution. However, underfunding education for decades has dumbed down our fellow citizens to the point where, well just look at the last election. There are only so many dollars and siphoning off money for charter schools is wrong.   The issue is tax dollars going to charter schools when our public schools aren’t funded.  

  • Melissa Westbrook January 9, 2017 (1:00 pm)

    1) Charters do not have a good record of serving Sped, ELL and homeless students so anyone can certainly move their child to one but don’t think that it necessarily will serve those needs better.

    2) The law requires that the charter be granted to a non-profit but the law then allows the charter to farm out management of the school to a for-profit.  You can check the law; it’s true.

    3) To the question of why fund charters – it’s baffling to have underfunded public education in WA state for decades and then people decry the outcomes.  Fully-fund education in our existing schools and watch what happens.

    4) Last legislative session, charter supporters (and their paid lobbyists) came to advocate for a new charter law after the last one was overturned.  All those hundreds of people and yet not a single one of them raised their voice there to support McCleary.  Not a single person. 

    Meanwhile, the WAPTSA and its units were out there, begging legislators to get that work done.  Work that will benefit charter schools.

    That is a very sad thing.

  • Sarah in Seattle January 9, 2017 (2:43 pm)

    The Washington State Supreme court struck down I 1240 due to lack of local and elected oversight.

    The new charter school law- SB 6194- lacks local and elected oversight .  What are these people thinking?!  Charter schools should not be enrolling or building schools until the court weighs in on this issue.

    Charter schools have the capacity to cap enrollment.  Public schools accept all children.  Seattle Public Schools are experiencing increased enrollment and crowded classrooms.

  • Sarah in Seattle January 9, 2017 (2:44 pm)

    Data supports the notion that special education students are now well served in charter schools.

    • Melissa Westbrook January 10, 2017 (8:58 am)

      You’d have to give a citation.  They are doing marginally better but still underserve as compared to regular public schools.

Sorry, comment time is over.