This editorial about the issue of Seattle School District and tree cutting on their property(ies) appeared in today's PI. It was very direct:
"The School Board should map a path for reversing course quickly, perhaps beginning at a closed-door Tuesday meeting. Neighbors have legitimately fought the district's plans to cut dozens of trees for a needed Ingraham High School expansion. A district review recently upheld the tree removal. But with city rules apparently blocking any cutting while a master-use permit was pending, the district sent a letter to neighbors saying it would withdraw its city permit applications for the construction plans, cut the trees and soon resubmit the project. Too clever by half, and even more cynical."
The closed door meeting is an Executive Session of the Board today (members only).
The PI suggests:
"We understand eagerness on the district's part to improve facilities, hold down costs and stay on schedule. If the tree removal is the best plan, however, the district has nothing to fear from a little patience with all the reviews that may be requested by people who support expansion but question the need for the tree removal and a full examination by the city government, which has, we might note, a record of being as generous as local voters in supporting education." (Italics mine.)
The majority of the comments after the editorial were against the district. One said:
"I will certainly remember its (the District's) activities when the next levy rolls around, and I will be reminding everyone I know as well. "
The danger here is that the next levy which is the BTA (which is like the workhorse maintenance levy that gets the big stuff like roofs, for example, done). We are way behind on maintenance and I'm sure many of you know this from your own schools. (Overall maintenance is generally spent as 4% of a district's general budget. Problem is because of budget problems overall for years now that has been reduced to 2% so you can imagine how we have fallen behind.) If people perceive that the district is behaving badly AND the next levy is not a capital levy or operating levy, then there just might be some payback from voters who don't see the BTA as a particularly big deal for the district to lose.
No one is telling the district they can't cut some trees. (But I would be interested in an independent contractor telling us why they HAVE go this route rather than build the addition in another direction.) But do they have to be so heavy-handed? Do they have to alienate the neighbors, the community and, for pete's sake, the Mayor (although people in the Maple Leaf neighborhood would tell you that the Mayor hasn't exactly been supportive of their issues with tree removal)?
Still waiting for someone to rein in the Facilities department. It will be interesting, by the Board meeting next week, to see what will happen.