West Seattle, Washington
One day to go till what will be the school district’s last public meeting in West Seattle about the Denny/Sealth proposals before the school board vote later this month … though it’s not THE final public meeting — the Westwood Neighborhood Council is presenting a panel discussion on Feb. 12 (announcement here). If you missed it yesterday, here’s our post about the meeting (including the official district flyer), with a side note about the dearth of online information about the proposal. Meantime, there’s another perspective of note: We received via e-mail and postal mail copies of the January student newspaper from Chief Sealth, with a front-page article about opposition to the original proposal (known in the current discussion as “Option 1”). You can read it here; the headline and photo from “above the fold” over the article can be seen here. (In fairness, we should note that we don’t have copies of prior months’ papers so if there was a pro-project article, we can’t currently point you to that, but would be happy to upload it if we received one.) Back to tomorrow’s meeting: 6:30 pm, drawings & one-on-one conversation opportunities; 7 pm, public meeting begins, Chief Sealth High School Library. WEDNESDAY MORNING 2/6/08 ADDENDUM: School district legal counsel has asked WSB to remove the links to the images of the student newspaper article because of “factual inaccuracies” in the article, until a correction for those inaccuracies can be written up. We are declining the request, since the newspaper was published and circulated and that fact alone is newsworthy, but did want to note here for the record that the school district has made this request; as our lawyer told theirs, we will be more than happy to publish the correction text (and/or any other clarifying information) as soon as possible after they provide it to us.
In case you missed the first announcement Jan. 23 or the numerous mentions here since — if you have anything even resembling an opinion about, or a stake in, what is decided about rebuilding Denny Middle School and renovating Chief Sealth High School — the essential questions being whether or not they will share a campus, and how much of a renovation CSHS will get — Monday night is the first of two meetings whose importance cannot be overestimated. (Official flyer here.) In one sense, everyone in West Seattle has a stake in this — technically, if you look at where the $125-ish million is coming from, everyone in the city does (district documents describe this as “the most expensive project the District has attempted”). But if you can’t get motivated on that level: Is there a child of any age, high school or younger, in your family? Is there a chance you’ll become a parent someday? For the entire West Seattle peninsula, there are two public non-alternative middle schools and two public non-alternative high schools; what’s involved in this decisionmaking process comprises half of that. Think about it one more time before you conclude you don’t care much about how this turns out. The meeting is in the Chief Sealth Library on Monday night, starting with a “gallery walk” 6:30 pm where drawings can be viewed and one-on-one conversations can be had before the meeting starts at 7 (more here). After this meeting, the Westwood Neighborhood Council has its panel discussion on the project Feb. 12 (news release here) — also an important meeting — then on Feb. 13, the School Board will be presented with the recommended choice, prior to what is billed as the final vote Feb. 27. To get a sense of some of the discussion, check out the comments in just about everything posted here in the WSB Denny/Sealth archive (link here; find that link anytime from the WSB Categories list in the sidebar at right), but the comments that the district says will matter the most are the ones it gets at and after Monday’s presentation. (Board contact info here.)
SIDE NOTE – WHERE’S THE OFFICIAL WEB INFO? The drawing atop this post is from the Westwood Neighborhood Council site, posted last summer. This is because background info is difficult if not impossible to find on the Seattle Public Schools website; Denny-Sealth is not even on the “current issues” list on this resource page (though the West Seattle HS schedule issue is); the only project page we can find on the SPS site offers a couple of bullet points here, pointing to a “project update” page here that says “Updates coming soon.” In October, the district promised a special website at buildingexcellence.org (see the flyer at the bottom of this post and see the district rep’s comment here) … it’s still not up. We have messages out to the district to ask if there’s somewhere else we should be looking. (Just discovered that School Board member Harium Martin-Morris posted Jan. 24 in this thread on his blog that he was “working with district staff” to get the drawings up on the district site. That was nine days ago. We can upload a Power Point presentation or pretty much any other doc to this website in a matter of minutes.) 6:50 PM UPDATE: We did get same-day responses to the notes we sent today to the district’s communications leadership and to West Seattle’s school board rep Steve Sundquist. He says he’s not aware of anywhere that the latest schematics/info can be found now on the district website but expects it will be updated in tandem with Monday’s meeting and is calling the project manager to check; district communications manager Patti Spencer says, “The schematics absolutely should be up on the Web but don’t know if they are. I apologize on behalf of SPS. The BEX Websites are created and maintained by the BEX staff. I don’t think there is anything I can do to make that happen over the weekend, but will talk with Fred Stephens to see if we can get something posted on Monday – latest Tuesday. I know that Fred is totally committed to providing easy-to-access and timely information.”
Now that the school district has set its Sealth-Denny community meeting for Monday 2/4 (flyer), the Westwood Neighborhood Council has moved its previously planned forum from 2/5 to 2/12 (the night before the School Board considers whatever becomes the district’s recommended option). Here’s the official news release just sent out by WNC president Steve Fischer:Read More
At least one community-group mailing list that we are on has just received a letter from the principal of Chief Sealth High School, John Boyd, in which he writes, “I feel like I cannot remain silent regarding my feelings about this issue any longer,” adding that he is “weighing the merits of options two and three” — two is the current project plus at least $5 million additional improvements to CSHS, three is a Denny rebuild on its existing site, with Sealth still getting some improvements. Here’s the letter as it was distributed; or if you have trouble with PDFs, here’s the text:Read More
As we reported last night, the school district has decided to hold an official public meeting on the Denny-Sealth proposals Feb. 4, the night before a meeting that the Westwood Neighborhood Council had already scheduled for Feb. 5. We e-mailed community liaison Eleanor Trainor from Seattle Public Schools today, asking for a few more details on the Feb. 4 meeting, and here’s what she just sent:
The meeting is scheduled for February 4, in the Sealth library. There will be a “gallery walk” at 630p during which folks can get a look at the latest drawings and ideas, in addition to chatting with district staff and leadership who will be on-hand. The meeting portion of the evening will begin at 7p.
If you missed last night’s update – the district also says the School Board will make its final decision on the Sealth-Denny project at its regular Feb. 27 meeting.
Bulletin from the Seattle School Board meeting under way right now (live on Channel 26, though no further Denny-Sealth discussion is expected tonight) — in her “superintendent’s updates,” Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson said there will be a community forum at Chief Sealth High School on Feb. 4 to present the 3 options under consideration (continue current plan, continue current plan but add some $ to Sealth renovations, rebuild Denny on its own site and renovate Sealth separately) — this apparently is separate from the Westwood Neighborhood Council‘s planned Feb. 5 meeting on the project (we will check with the Westwood folks to be sure). Then, she said, a resolution will be introduced at the Feb. 13 school board meeting recommending which option to pursue, and the board would vote on it at its next meeting after that, Feb. 27. More later, including highlights of the Denny-Sealth speakers in tonight’s public comment period (all opposed to the consolidation project — is there a reason no supporters ever seem to appear?). 11:30 PM UPDATE: Speaker recap ahead:Read More
The full agenda is now up for tonight’s Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors meeting — see it here — including the list of those who signed up to speak at the start of the meeting. 10 of the 17 people on the list are scheduled to talk about the Denny-Sealth project. The meeting’s at 6 pm — attend in person @ district HQ, or watch live on cable channel 26.
Quick headline (more to come) from tonight’s joint meeting of the Delridge and Southwest District Councils: The Westwood Neighborhood Council announced it’s set the date for its next community meeting on the Denny-Sealth project —
Feb. 6 Feb. 5, Southwest Community Center CSHS Commons. (THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: WNC says it had to change the date to Feb. 5 after getting word today that school board rep Steve Sundquist couldn’t make 2/6.)
This just in from Delfino Munoz, the Chief Sealth High School teacher who has been publicly voicing concerns about the current Denny Middle School-Sealth HS shared-campus plan:
The Seattle Education Association Representative Assembly just passed a resolution calling “…on the Seattle School Board and District Administration to direct BEX III/Facilities to provide an option for rebuilding Denny at the current Denny site…”
More details when we get them. ADDED 10:01 PM: Here’s the text of the final SEA resolution, from a doc forwarded by Munoz:Read More
So declares Seattle Public Schools parent/activist Melissa Westbrook in a brand-new update on the saveseattleschools.blogspot.com blog, following up beyond the School Board’s Denny/Sealth work session two days ago (WSB coverage here). Westbrook posted a thorough account of that meeting (find it here) and then attended a meeting today of the BEX III (the bond measure that included the Denny/Sealth money) Oversight Committee. That committee meeting is detailed in her new post (and e-mailed to School Board members and district leadership), including what she says were discrepancies between the Denny/Sealth presentation made to that committee today and the one made to school-board members on Wednesday, and what she describes as a bottom-line revelation that under current district plans, Sealth will eventually be the “only non-renovated high school in the district.” Anyway, her update seems like a must-read for those closely following the Denny/Sealth project controversy. Until more meeting dates are set, the major “next step” here is letting the school board know what you think should happen; their contact info is here.
What we heard from Seattle Public Schools administration at the end of the school board’s Denny-Sealth shared-campus project work session tonight boiled down to something a lot like what we heard at a meeting about it that we covered here in West Seattle last summer — Yes, we know, we didn’t get a whole lot of public input before roaring forward with this plan, but really, we’re in it too deep now to pull back, though we’ll get you a little more information on what it would cost to change course, if you really, really want it. The majority of the board members, of course, have been elected since the project was approved last year — 4 of the 7 school board members are brand new — and even though board president Cheryl Chow warned them not to get bowled over by the “freshman rush” of project opponents hitting them up, they asked for a chance to reconsider anyway.Read More
First top line from the school board’s just-concluded work session – maybe the Chief Sealth HS community’s concerns about the consolidation project would be alleviated if the district added at least $5 million to the Sealth renovations, for items such as a new roof and a new gym floor? District administration wants to focus on either that option or the current plan; the newer school board members want some more financial facts on the “rebuild Denny at Denny” third option too, before discarding it entirely. More details shortly; the work session wrapped up at 5:41, and the board is now about to launch into its regular session.
The main questions left for us after the Denny/Sealth discussion at last night’s Seattle School Board meeting (which we covered with in-progress reports here and here) were, what now, and when? We got some new info today from West Seattle’s school-board rep Steve Sundquist. But first – we wanted to let you know, if you want to watch the meeting, particularly the testimony on this project during the public-comment period near the start, the video is now available online at the Seattle Channel site. (Regardless of where you stand on the project, you have to agree it’s particularly heartening to see students show up and speak to the board.) Back to “what’s next” — Sundquist says the Denny/Sealth “work session” at 4 pm January 9th will be open to the public; he tells WSB its format and participants are not all set yet, but he’s expecting there to be “some element of presentation” as part of it. He thinks it’ll last an hour to an hour and a half, since it’s before the board’s regular meeting at 6 pm that same night. As for any sort of a deadline to decide whether the Denny/Sealth project will proceed, change, or be scrapped altogether, Sundquist acknowledges that West Seattle families’ enrollment decisions make this time-sensitive as well as the oft-cited construction-cost factor, so he hopes it will be settled “within the first couple months of the year.”
Meeting’s in a 10-minute break right now. Since the previously mentioned public comment against the project (no one spoke in favor):
-District superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson and West Seattle school-board rep Steve Sundquist both reiterated (as he had told us would happen) that the scheduled votes later tonight would not commit the board to the Denny/Sealth project as it now stands. It also was announced that the board DOES have the authority — last week, Sundquist said they were awaiting a legal answer on this — to “modify the project if we see the need.”
-Board president Cheryl Chow asked members to clear time on their calendar the afternoon of January 9, before the next board meeting, for a work session on the Denny/Sealth project.
–Susan Harmon from the Westwood Neighborhood Council, speaking during the public-comment period, asked the board to delay Denny-Sealth votes until after a meeting WNC is working to organize for late January or early February to examine both the potential impacts of the shared high school/middle school campus concept, and the future of the current Denny land if the project proceeds as currently planned.
More details as they happen, plus a full all-in-one wrapup
by night’s end in the morning (we have a followup question out). 8:46 PM UPDATE: The meeting is adjourned. The matching-funds item involving the Denny-Sealth project passed unanimously, after yet another reiteration that it does not commit the board to the project as it now stands. One other note of interest, Sundquist will chair the board’s Finance Committee next year.
You can watch it right now on channel 26 – public comment at the start of the school board meeting, and several people (including two students and two teachers) have spoken against the Denny/Sealth consolidation project. (It’s open public comment, for those who signed up ahead of time, so other topics are being discussed too; as mentioned last night, there’s a Denny/Sealth-related item later on the agenda.) More to come.
Thanks to Susan in Westwood for pointing out that tomorrow night’s Seattle School Board agenda includes an item regarding the controversial Denny-Sealth combined-campus proposal, updated and discussed at a Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting last week (our detailed report here). The item is explained on the agenda as, “Approval of this item will certify that the existing space to be replaced through new construction in lieu of modernization at Denny Middle School/Chief Sealth High School will not be used in the future for District instructional purposes or be eligible for future state financial assistance.” If you read the report linked from the agenda item, it sounds like a technicality, rather than any key vote regarding the project – but just to be sure, we checked with West Seattle’s new school board rep Steve Sundquist, who was at last week’s WNC meeting. He replied:
“… my understanding is that Action Item 4 is an administrative action concerning state matching funds, and passing it does not bind the board or district into a particular outcome regarding the Sealth/Denny project. Consequently, I do not consider it a major directional vote on the project. Having said that, I have asked the district to go on record publicly to that effect before we vote in our Legislative Meeting tomorrow evening, and Superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has agreed to ensure that it happens.”
We also asked if there was an update regarding Sundquist’s statement last week that the board needed legal counsel’s opinion on whether it would be potentially empowered to change or scrap the Denny-Sealth project; he said, “I am expecting to hear that announced publicly soon, possibly as early as tomorrow evening’s meeting.” That meeting starts at 6 pm Wednesday at school district HQ, the John Stanford Center in Sodo (map linked from this page).
So suggested Sealth teacher Delfino Munoz toward the end of tonight’s Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting to update the project status; he was followed by West Seattle’s new school-board rep Steve Sundquist saying the board’s trying to get a legal opinion on whether they do indeed have the power to cancel the plan – if they wanted to. Bottom line, now more than ever is your time to speak out, if you have a strong opinion on the proposal either way; WNC president Steve Fischer provided lots of resources tonight on how to do that. Here’s our detailed report (updated 11:59 pm):Read More
DENNY-SEALTH UPDATE: It’s been a few months since the last general update on what’s going on with this fast-track Seattle Public Schools project to consolidate the neighboring middle and high schools on one campus. Tonight, the Westwood Neighborhood Council sponsors a gathering to get out the latest info. Read more here, including the meeting agenda. It all starts at 7:30 pm @ Southwest Community Center.
HIAWATHA PLAYFIELD IMPROVEMENTS: The city will present details on improvements to the field, iighting, and more that have been years in the making; read more here. This meeting happens at 6:30 tonight @ Hiawatha Community Center. (Got the reminder about this last night at the monthly meeting of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, where the main topic was the California/Hanford/Hinds upzone proposal; our full writeup on that is coming up a little later this morning.)
Just back from the school district-organized Denny-Sealth project update meeting at CSHS. Sparks flew, especially on the issue of why this meeting was called with only days’ notice. Another one is set for later this month. Our full report will be posted here later tonight.
Just got word from the Westwood Neighborhood Council that Seattle Public Schools has scheduled a community update meeting next week about the impending Chief Sealth High School/Denny Middle School campus consolidation construction project. The neighborhood group itself called the last update meeting, in June, after learning details about the project that previously hadn’t gotten much public airing. (We covered that meeting in-depth; here’s the link.) The district’s flyer (which touts a weblink, buildingexcellence.org, that as of this writing goes only to a “parking page”) says the meeting at 6:30 pm next Tuesday (10/9) in the Chief Sealth HS theater will include updates on the schedule and design for the project, and take Q/A. Here’s the flyer:Read More
That’s what the current state of things boils down to, regarding the school district’s plan to build a new Denny Middle School on the Chief Sealth High School campus, with some shared facilities — or so it sounded when district reps made their case during a semi-contentious community meeting tonight (called by the Westwood Neighborhood Council). Click for more:Read More
Two schools here on the south side of WS may soon share a campus, and their neighbors want to hear more about what’s planned. So the Westwood Neighborhood Council is organizing a meeting about the Sealth HS/Denny Middle School project for this Wednesday, 6:30 pm @ Southwest Community Center.
Its immediate past — the 100-plus Class of ’07 grads who gathered at SW Athletic Complex across the street this afternoon to celebrate the successful end of their pre-college educational careers:
Present/future, change is ahead for Sealth and its neighborhood.Ã‚ As we have mentioned previously, it is working to boost its academic image (which may factor into its underenrollment) by offering the International Baccalaureate program, one of only two high schools in Seattle Public Schools — only 14 in the entire state — with IB. And its future holds a big construction project (page 4 in this doc; approved by voters last February), in tandem with nearby Denny Middle School, set to start immediately after next school year. The Westwood Neighborhood Council has questions and concerns (as do people at both schools; see page 3 of this) and is hosting a community meeting one week from Wednesday (June 27) to talk about the project.