West Seattle, Washington
-The latest incarnation of the school-closure hearing roadshow is in West Seattle this week. As I write, the Roxhill hearing is under way; tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be surprised to see fireworks at the Pathfinder/Cooper hearing. You can track the developments more closely at the Save Seattle Public Schools blog (run by a Pathfinder mom).
-Speaking of closures, the viaduct will be out of commission 6 am-6 pm both days this weekend for its twice-yearly “is it REALLY still safe to drive on this thing?” checkup. And in The Junction, a closure related to the Cali Ave repaving is scheduled to continue for a few more days.
-Now, an opening: Sometime in the past few days, the GRAND OPENING banner went up at Kokoras Greek Grill in Morgan Junction, on the east side of Cali Ave, just north of Fauntleroy. We’ll run by in person as soon as we get a chance and report back on the menu offerings.
Today’s WS Herald editorial takes a sensible tack on one of the other hot issues Seattle Public Schools bosses are wrestling, school choice. (Although taking a detour early in the editorial accusing the Pathfinder K-8 community of having “huge egos” is a cheap shot; their only sin is that they care A LOT about what happens to their program, and if they didn’t fight ferociously for it, they would have been roadkill long ago. This page says they’re planning a show of force at tonight’s school board meeting, by the way.) Anyway, on school choice, the Herald suggests it stay just the way it is, with one big exception: Make parents who want their kids to go to non-neighborhood schools figure out how to get them there. Here in WS, we know a few families already traveling that path — driving their own kids from their home on the north end to their chosen school in the south end, or vice versa. They consider it their responsibility, and arrange their schedules to make it work.
–The Mars Hill-West Seattle blog puts turnout for Official WS Debut at 600 people, 90% adults, 10% kids. Can’t help but wonder how this will affect other evangelical Christian churches in WS, such as Calvary. And is everyone from the taken-over Doxa turning out for MH-WS? (Some interesting past posts from other bloggers with some sort of firsthand involvement: here, and here, and here.) UPDATE (10:17 pm): Tomorrow’s P-I covers the service and includes a mention of about 50 ex-Doxa people present.
–Speaking of assimilation … the Save Seattle Public Schools blog has been trying to unravel new confusion over what will really happen if and when, pending school-board approval, Pathfinder moves into Cooper. Maybe some light will be shone when the next round of public hearings starts this week. Or not.
Guess a billboard right over a school will naturally lend itself to more placement problems. Last time we mentioned the billboard over WS Montessori School, it was about a double-entendre; this time, it’s a business conflict … the billboard right over this private school is currently rotating an ad for a rival WS private school. Heh. (P.S. If you ever feel the need to know who owns a certain billboard, here’s another one of the city’s cool search tools.)
What’s with the disrespect for West Seattle in Times articles these days — particularly with regard to our high schools? First, the tale of the disgruntled house-hunters … now, the tale of the ferry-riding school-district jumpers, which begins with this passage:
West Seattle High School seemed too violent, and private school seemed too elitist, so Barbara Tippett looked across the water to find the right school for her son, Sky.
Too violent? What have I missed? Has something gone horribly wrong since this report showing two weapons expulsions in a school year? (Even one is too many, of course, but sadly I suspect a completely clean campus is impossible to find.) Exactly the same number as Vashon High that same year, by the way.
The howls of protest are echoing across West Seattle (and other city neighborhoods) tonight … for tomorrow is the first day of school. (Yeah, yeah, I know, some kids are excited to be going back. Very long ago and very far away, I was one of those odd ducks.) If this does not affect you for parental (or school employment) reasons, it still will affect you on the road … remember the school buses and school zones, and please keep your feet heavier on the brake pedal and lighter on the gas pedal.
If you’re not entirely sure where the WS public schools are, check out the maps of the “north cluster” and the “south cluster.” And think tender thoughts for the folks at Fairmount Park Elementary, which shuts down after this year.
In honor of the impending new school year … a shoutout to Arbor Heights Elementary teacher Mark Ahlness. I bumped into his “edtechblog” just now, after a few hops from the Arbor Heights PTSA blog, which I (in turn) happened onto while continuing the search for West Seattle-based blogs to link to. But I’d “heard” about him before — discovering some years back that because of him, Arbor Heights was something of a Web pioneer. (I’ve got a soft spot for 1994 too … that’s when West Seattle Blog World HQ got online, with a good old fashioned 14.4-if-you-were-lucky dial-up account that used the Lynx text browser to “surf” the early Web … oh, stop me before I get geekier.)
The two most powerful West Seattleites in city government — the mayor and city attorney — have just won a round in their perplexing fight to keep citizens from taxing themselves to give more money to Seattle Public Schools.
I really don’t get it. Yeah, sure, I agree with Hizzoner’s contention that state legislators should allot more $ for education. But will they? Not in my lifetime, I’m afraid. So if they won’t do it, why can’t we? How come these guys want to hold our kids hostage? Let’s see if we can come up with some tortured analogy here. So there’s a starving kid on a streetcorner, and I want to give the poor kid some food. Oh no no, says Hizzoner, you can’t do that, it’s the parents’ responsibility to feed their kid. And while he saunters off to try to find said parents and make them feed the kid – the waif collapses from malnutrition. Listen, mal-education may be less visible than malnutrition, but it’s just as dangerous. And don’t give me the ol’ “Seattle Public Schools mismanages the $ it has now” song and dance … that’s no reason to say we’re going to starve the district and therefore our kids.
If you don’t have kids in local public schools, drop into one someday soon, and get a reality check. If you happen to see new desks or new books, chances are that came from a PTA fundraiser, not tax dollars. $ may not be the solution but it’s a hell of a start. What’s the real agenda behind the mayor’s push here? Does he want things to get worse so he can pull a stunt like LA’s mayor and ride in to try to “save” the district once it’s in flames?
Anyway, the I-87/88 folks say they won’t give up the fight. We gotta go figure out where to send them a check.
-Not only is West Seattle home to the mayor, we’re also now home to Miss Seafair! (Official coverage and photo on the Seafair home page, here.) So now if you’re joining us at the Torchlight Parade downtown on Saturday night, you can cheer crazily for her as well as for the fine folks on the Hi-Yu float.
-Haven’t heard a lot of noise on the school-closure issue lately, but the final School Board vote is set for tonight. There’s been a lot of excellent, thought-provoking discussion for the past few months — including issues beyond the closures/consolidations — on the “Saving Seattle Public Schools” blog, whose main contributor will be a Pathfinder parent next year.
-Lost/found dog/cat notices are sadly common on poles and windows — but last night while out and about, we spotted a “found rabbit” notice. It’s in the window of Pet Elements on the south end of Morgan Junction, and pretty vague, mentioning only that a “small domestic rabbit” was found “on California Avenue” and suggesting a call to the Seattle Animal Shelter if it might be yours.
With the next Big Announcement in the Seattle school-closure scuffle coming up on Wednesday, it’s always interesting to dredge this up. Funny thing is that the Times did a very similar story (different writer) last year — and that one pointed out that Jefferson Square here in West Seattle is one of the district properties bringing in pathetically low returns. Why not just dare to sell whatever they close? Here in WS, Genesee Hill and Fairmount Park, both slated for shutdown (pending Superintendent Raj’s recommendations Wednesday), are in residential areas where I’m sure developers will be thrilled to pay big bucks to get their hands on some land.
As noted in the Times on Friday, looks like the NO BOREN FOR PATHFINDER crowd may get some action. They’ve certainly roused a lot of rabble for a relatively small school … just hours before that article posted, we even spotted a car with a NBFP sign in its back window, parked not far from Lincoln Park’s southernmost playground.
We’re noting this as an excuse to remind you that the next round of school-closure hearings is about to begin — this time, with a hearing at each school building on the latest list. One of the first hearings is tomorrow (Monday) at Fairmount Park, 6:30 pm in the cafeteria. Pathfinder gets its hearing on Wednesday, also 6:30 pm, also in the cafeteria.
This first day of summer is also the last day of school for Seattle Public Schools kids.
Congrats to all for making it through another school year!
(No holiday for the school-closure hearings, though; the next round is next week, including two stops on our side of the bay, at Fairmount Park and Pathfinder/Genesee; then the final recommendations come out just in time to ignite their own round of pre-4th fireworks.)
We were briefly puzzled on Saturday afternoon when the RFTC shirts on “Walking with Logs” were replaced with dark green shirts and a huge banner, “CONGRATULATIONS VHS PIRATES.”
Chief Sealth … no V … WSHS … no V … aha — Vashon! Seems Saturday was graduation day.
Meantime, if school zones are on your regular route through WS, it’s worth noting that the school year is almost over — Wednesday’s the last day, at least for SPS.
-Looks like the Pathfinder advocates now comprise one of just two groups most loudly protesting the latest version of the school-closure/consolidation plan. This is the only story resembling a thorough article in today’s papers. (Looking in from outside, I’d suggest they focus their arguments on the condition of the Boren building — the complaint about Delridge won’t hold water; for example, what is arguably WS’s most successful elementary school, Lafayette, is right on Cali Ave in the Admiral Junction bizdist, across from a busy supermarket.)
-While the school district dithers over the shutdowns and shifts to save a few $, how much is it going to waste on this fight? (Side note — if you want to spend $ on something related more to body than mind, how about playground improvements? Lafayette has a project going and so does Gatewood, which plans a meeting about its playground-reno project tonight.)
-If this goes through, will our beloved, scenic WS become home to more B-and-B’s? The only one I’ve ever noticed is down by the Fauntleroy ferry dock (and political signs I’ve seen in its windows would keep me, on principle, from ever recommending any visiting relatives stay there, but that’s just me).
-Guess this means I’ll get to see those nice little old precinct workers a few more times.
The Pathfinder K-8 folks are planning rallies before and after school today as the next step in their fight against the proposal to move them to the former Boren JHS on Delridge. Then tonight, it’s the next public hearing on the citywide plan.
By the way, minutes from the last Pathfinder PTSA meeting (click the link at upper right on this page to download the Word doc) include interesting comments from our West Seattle rep on the school board — not just apropos to Pathfinder and its plight.
Looks like the folks at Pathfinder K-8 are not taking their new proposed home lightly. A big banner’s draped over the north side of the Fauntleroy pedestrian overpass, for drivers coming back into WS up off the bridge — SAVE PATHFINDER/NO BOREN/PTSA MEETING TUES. 6:30. Related: Found an interesting blog from a future Pathfinder parent, tackling the entire school-closure mess citywide.
The new school-closure plan is out, and HP Elementary got cut from the list (PDF document; West Seattle’s moment in the sun starts around page 16). Fairmount Park still has the Grim Reaper hanging around, though. Meantime, since High Point’s not closing, Pathfinder’s looking at a NEW new home — Boren (the current temporary home of Cleveland High, the past temporary home of Madison Middle). If the district manages its assets wisely, I see some lovely new view homes coming to Genesee Hill … they could at least honor the to-be-relocated school by calling the mini-subdivision Pathfinder Pointe, perhaps. Or — will Genesee Hill go the way of its current students’ “new” home, which according to this district info-sheet has been “closed” longer than it’s been open (yet lives on with rotating occupants)?
The semi-final list of proposed Seattle Public Schools closures is due to change hands today from the ciitizens’ committee to the superintendent. This morning, the Times spotlights the one West Seattle proposal that seems to make no sense — “closing” High Point Elementary (but not the building, which Pathfinder K-8 would take over) even as hundreds of brand-new housing units pop up all around it. And this morning’s P-I asks the other tough question — will this plan really save much money? I can’t see how it will unless the closed buildings are sold, period. Pathfinder’s Genesee Hill land alone would make dandy townhouse turf, if zoning allowed.
… but Alki Elementary, which was on the last list, is not one of them. That surprises me, as I’d guess the district would make a mint from selling that land to condo developers.
The ones that did make the list just made public tonight are Fairmount Park and High Point. However, that fancy new-ish building at High Point won’t close — the district wants to move Pathfinder over there.
Maybe the district figured that Genesee Hill real estate is worth more than the Alki land? Better views. More later when the official district docs are out …
From the WS Herald: WSHS cancels 9th-grade honors program.
Seattle Public Schools leaders wonder why enrollment keeps dropping. That’s because they offer nothing for the people who have the resources to make a choice. Check out the 12th paragraph here — what in the world could an educator possibly have against spending some time working with bright kids? Practically right across the street from WSHS, the district’s “Spectrum” program manages to hang on, despite outright hostility and neglect from district leaders. You can bet the parents of those kids are trying mightily to save for private school in later years, now that the district has flown the “we’re not even going to try to keep your kids challenged in high school” flag.
In this case, it doesn’t even sound like a case of money trouble for the district. Just flat-out indifference to the very real needs of gifted kids, and other high achievers. Getting off my soapbox now, but my blood’s still a-boil …
All the nice folks at Alki Elementary have to go through it all again — the folks who run Seattle Public Schools insisting the only way to save $ is to close school. We doubt they will escape the ax this time. Bummer.