West Seattle, Washington
(Meeting video added Tuesday)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Seattle Public Schools plans to stake its future on “well-resourced schools” – but hasn’t settled yet on what exactly they are.
That’s one of the takeaways from what turned out to be a relatively short online community meeting about the district’s budget woes. Four district executives sat at a table, presenting information and answering questions for about 40 minutes before turning the rest of the hour over to other district staffers for Q/A in a Zoom chat window.
They reiterated that no decisions on school closures/consolidations would be made until spring of next year. One attendee, via onscreen Q/A, complained that’s too late, as enrollment decisions need to be made earlier in the year.
Assistant superintendent Bev Redmond warned attendees at the start of the meeting a
Chief operations officer Fred Podesta then rolled out the numbers: The current year has a $1.14 billion district general-fund budget, and money from the levy-generated capital fund can’t be transferred to it.
The district has to show the state a balanced budget by August. To cover the $131 million gap, he said they’ll throw in almost half that much from district reserved, and will also make some notable cuts – including $33 million from the “central office.” But, he added, this is not a “one-time problem” – he said state funding covers only about half the price tag of special education and transportation, and barely a third of multilingual education.
Meantime, on the enrollment front, low estimates show the district could be down to 43,000 students in 10 years. (Three trajectories of enrollment estimates were shown but not explained.)
Then that phrase “well-resourced schools” took centerstage again. Associate superintendent Dr. Concie Pedroza listed some attributes:
From there, the four at the table answered a few questions:
Why now? They’ve been covering budget gaps for years with various forms of one-time funding, so the underlying problem is not new.
Will my student’s teacher lose their jobs? The executives said they expected minimal job losses because hundreds of educators leave the district every year, and so even if a specific job is cut at a specific school, that teacher should be able to be placed somewhere else.
Why are you building/expanding schools if enrollment is dropping? Podesta said rebuilds are more efficient than modernizations for older buildings, and that they’ll improve safety. Plus, he said, the city continues to grow and the district must “take the long view.”
How are budget-cut decisions being made? Podesta reiterated that the district is trying to minimize cuts at schools by cutting more from the central office.
Why is enrollment declining? The contributing factors that were listed did not include any potential dissatisfaction with the district; the number of households with children isn’t rising at the same rate as the city population in general, they noted, also citing the housing crunch, lower birth rates, and changes wrought by the pandemic. Overall, Dr. Jones suggested, “we’re doing a pretty good job … I don’t think we’ve been telling our story.” The district plans to start doing that via an “enrollment campaign.”
After the four executives signed off and invited attendees to keep asking questions in Zoom (written) chat, several brought up the issue of the district lacking solid data on why families have left the district – or declined to choose it in the first place. One suggested a “simple exit survey” would be in order.
The only answer we found of note in the onscreen chat: “School consolidation does not typically affect class size,” said SPS budget director Linda Sebring.
WHAT’S NEXT? “Engagement” will begin in earnest in fall, said Redmond. Here’s the rest of the timeline:
As noted in our previous coverage, West Seattle was part of a wave of school closures in the late ’00s.
The sun made a partial appearance for Alice Enevoldsen‘s equinox-sunset watch tonight, just under five hours after the official arrival of spring. The West Seattle educator/expert skywatcher, a NASA Solar System Ambassador, has led gatherings like this at Fauntleroy’s Solstice Park four times a year since 2009, missing just a few, even hosting some remotely during the peak of the pandemic.
Attendees leave with a better understanding of what exactly happens at the equinox – in short, the day and night are of equal length, though there’s more to it. Bonus attraction for visiting Solstice Park on these days – there are paths and markers that line up with th setting sun on the equinoxes and solstices, and you can see for yourself.
Missed it? Just three months until the summer-solstice gathering – Wednesday, June 21st. (The solstice moment will be 7:57 am; sunset will be around 9 pm.
Spring is here, and so is spring-cleaning season. You might just find enough stuff to sell on West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day 2023 – so we will be reminding you about the approach of registration. As always, WSCGSD will be on the second Saturday in May – this year, Saturday, May 13th, 9 am-3 pm (though sellers are welcome to start earlier and/or end later).WSCGSD is not one big sale – it’s one big day, with many sales of many sizes and types (plant sales, art sales, bake sales, tool sales …), all around West Seattle. We release the map/list with locations and descriptions a week in advance so you can plan what you want to do – even something as simple as walking over to the nearest sale and mingling with neighbors. Registration will open two weeks from today, on Monday, April 3rd – we’ll publish the announcement and link here on WSB as soon as we’re ready to go. After that, registration will remain open for about three weeks until we lock it down to build the map/list of sales. Aside from the 2020-2021 pandemic break, WSB has presented West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day every year since 2008; it was founded in 2005 and presented through 2007 by a nonprofit called Megawatt, inspired by similar events in other parts of the city.
Parenting is a tough job. Especially considering the rules keep changing – for the kids as well as the parents. In hopes of helping a bit, the Westside Family Association is inviting all parents/guardians, West Seattle-wide, to this free event on Thursday:
Consent Etc…. with Jo Langford from beheroes.net.
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Westside Theater @ Westside School
10404 34th Ave. SW
We are now in 2023, and with our evolution both culturally and technologically, a new awareness about why and how we as parents need to speak to our kids about consent is emerging. It is our job to help ensure that we are providing the children we are raising communication and affirmative consent skills that are age-appropriate and that take into consideration the kinds of opportunities and obstacles they may face in today’s world – ‘cuz it’s not the nineties anymore…
This talk will help parents understand the ways that the concept of consent has changed and how variables such as LGBTQ+ identities and the use of technology impact affirmative consent. Attendees will also participate in a handful of fun, thought-provoking exercises and have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers around this important concept.
FREE. Please RSVP at this link. (so we know how many seats to put out)
Find out more about Jo Langford here.
Questions? Email email@example.com
Four and a half years after Roxbury Auto Parts was forced to close, the site has just been listed for sale. In 2018, the building at 2839 SW Roxbury was “red-tagged” by King County (it’s just south of the city limits), declaring the building was unsafe and that its back wall was in danger of collapse. The store’s third-generation owners – who leased the site – had to close, and never reopened. The building has sat vacant and vandalized ever since. It’s on a half-acre site described in the listing as “Perfect development site with 155 feet of frontage on SW Roxbury. … Great location for chain restaurant or other commercial/mixed use applications.” Asking price: $1,375,000.
2:50 PM: Just before 11 am this morning, police say, an attempted carjacking happened in the 3800 block of 36th SW. The initial dispatch was that someone “pepper-sprayed an employee and attempted to steal their car”; that’s a residential area so we’re not clear what “employee” referred to, possibly a work crew in the area. The would-be carjacker left without the car, walking westbound on Charlestown. The description wasn’t in the report summary; we’re following up to try to get it. SFD was called to treat the person who had been pepper-sprayed.
3:12 PM: SPD says the description in the report is: “White male, 5’10, slim build, gray hoodie, gray pants.”
Both of these closures later this week are for staff training:
SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY: Its facilities will be closed Wednesday (March 22nd), but branch book drops will be open. Details here.
SEATTLE PARKS AND RECREATION: Many of its facilities will be closed Thursday (March 23rd), including community centers and indoor pools. Details here.
Streets are blocked off around the area beneath the south end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge, as the encampment cleanup begins. We reported last week that the long-planned cleanup was scheduled for this week, so we went down this morning to see if it had begun. We couldn’t get close because of the closures, but heavy equipment and hauling trucks were in view:
So were State Patrol vehicles (much of the area is WSDOT land):
As for the people who had been living at the encampment, we reported last week that outreach workers said 30 had been connected with shelter/housing. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold had a few more details on this in her weekend newsletter, quoting the Regional Homelessness Authority, which told her:
I’m pleased to share with you that KCRHA and our partners at PDA, WSDOT, and the City have completed the work with individuals at the encampment located at SW Michigan and the 1st Avenue bridge.
As of today, 30 individuals moved into shelter or emergency housing placements. Three individuals who have a shelter match have not been at the location for several days and their whereabouts are unknown. One individual declined services. One individual encountered issues when arriving at their referred shelter location, and that person is not at the program or the encampment.
If you traveled through the Delridge/Oregon intersection in the past hour, you would have seen that protest on the foot/bike overpass. The protesters are middle-schoolers from Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point. One organizer emailed us to explain:
We are protesting against The Willow Project. The Willow Project is a massive oil-drilling project that will cause 239 million metric tons of carbon emissions to be added to our Earth’s atmosphere in the next 30 years. It is endangering our future and we are protesting to stop it. Please make it known to the public that this is not okay and we need to save our future.
Willow is a ConocoPhillips oil-drilling plan on Alaska’s North Slope that got the federal go-ahead a week ago. As for logistics of the protest, Pathfinder principal Britney Holmes sent families a note that read in part:
This is not a school or district-sponsored event. Students have a First Amendment right to assemble and express their rights. However, district policy does not allow for an excused absence for participation in a walkout unless prior approval from a student’s family is received.
Holmes’ note also said school administrators had talked with student organizers and that they would follow along to ensure safety.
Big day – winter turns to spring. Here’s what’s happening, mostly from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
SPRING PLANT SWAP: All week. “Bring plants to swap or repot, pots to fill or trade, seeds to share,” noon-3 pm daily at Nepenthe (9447 35th SW) – details in our calendar listing.
MONDAY MOVIE: 1 pm at Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon), “Terry’s Greatest Movies You’ve Never Heard Of,” today featuring “The Half Naked Truth.” Free popcorn! Contact SCWS to register in advance.
CITY COUNCIL BRIEFING MEETING: 2 pm, councilmembers preview the week ahead (here’s the agenda) and get another briefing on the ongoing State Legislature session. You can watch online or on cable via Seattle Channel.
FREE INDOOR PLAYSPACE: Free Toddler Gym weekday afternoons at the Salvation Army Center (9050 16th SW), ages 2-6, 3:30-5 pm.
SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUDGET: The district’s money crunch is the topic of a community briefing online tonight at 6 pm. (The link also has connection info. A YouTube stream is also planned.) Send questions in advance by going here.
CRAFTING AND CREATIVITY NIGHT: 6-10 pm at The Missing Piece (9456 35th SW), info here.
EQUINOX SUNSET WATCH: Spring officially arrives at 2:24 pm, and four hours later, you’re invited to join educator/expert skywatcher Alice Enevoldsen for a West Seattle change-of-seasons tradition – sunset watch at Solstice Park (uphill from the tennis courts at 7400 Fauntleroy Way SW). 6:30-7:30 pm, rain or shine (Alice says only “dangerous weather” cancels), all ages.
D&D: Open D&D starts at 6:30 pm at Meeples Games (3727 California SW), all welcome, even first-time players. $5.
PLAY TRIVIA! Three scheduled options tonight for trivia players – 7 and 8 pm Sporcle Pub Quiz at Three 9 Lounge (4505 39th SW); 7 pm at The Good Society (California/Lander), 7:30 pm at The Skylark (3803 Delridge Way SW)
Have a West Seattle/White Center event for our calendar ? Please send info to firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!
One simple way to help orcas and other marine life – join in the one-day, twice-yearly work parties that comprise Duwamish Alive! Registration has begun for some of the sites where volunteers will be working during this spring edition. Here’s the announcement from Sharon Leishman of the Duwamish Alive! Coalition:
Duwamish Alive! Celebrating Earth Month
Sat. April 15 10:00 – 2:00 at Multiple Volunteer Sites
Duwamish Alive! is a collaborative effort in improving the health of our river and its watershed. Starting at 10:00 am volunteers will be restoring native habitat in multiple urban parks and open spaces in the ongoing effort to keep our river alive and healthy for our communities, salmon and the Puget Sound. Proving that many individuals working together can make a substantial difference in improving the health of our region.
Volunteers’ efforts include a river cleanup by kayak, shoreline salmon habitat restoration, and native forest revitalization. To volunteer, visit DuwamishAlive.org to see the different volunteer opportunities and register for the site of your choice, or email email@example.com
7:59 AM: Kersti Muul tells us orcas are in the area again – in Elliott Bay. Transients this time, currently by the central downtown waterfront.
10:50 AM: See updates in comments – J-Pod residents are back in the area too.
12:50 PM: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail just called to say the whales are now southbound in the Bainbridge/Seattle ferry lanes, visible from here.
6:03 AM: Good morning! It’s Monday, March 20th, and spring starts at 2:24 pm.
WEATHER & TIME
The forecast for today: Rain at times, high in the low-to-mid-50s. Sunrise 7:12 am, sunset 7:22 pm.
Water Taxi – Regular schedule.
SPOTLIGHT TRAFFIC CAMERAS
High Bridge – the camera at the top:
High Bridge – the view from its southwest end (when SDOT points the 35th/Avalon/Fauntleroy camera that way):
Low Bridge – looking east to west (unless SDOT turns the camera):
1st Ave. S. Bridge – another route across the river:
Highway 99: – the northbound side at Lander.
BRIDGE INFO: Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed to see if the city’s movable bridges are opening for vessel traffic.
If you see a problem on the bridges/streets/paths/bay, please text or call us (when you can do it safely, and after you’ve reported to authorities if needed) – 206-293-6302.