Wednesday, February 26, 2014

District Puts Forth What is Likely Final Position on Cascade/NW Center

I attended a meeting today at the Cascade Parent Partnership school at Wilson-Pacific.  The meeting was called by Superintendent Banda who was in attendance as was Facilities chief Flip Herdon and NE Ex. Director Kim Whitworth.  The school had just finished a spelling bee and there were plenty of parents and students in attendance. 

I hadn't been to Wilson-Pacific in awhile.  What a pit.  There is no other way to describe it and yet you walk into Cascade and it is warm and inviting and inclusive.  I was personally welcomed by Principal Sterk. 

Superintendent Banda opened with talking about what the district had been doing on this issue.  He said there had been a lot of conversations about the two programs.

He said that he wanted Cascade to know that they are a valued school and not just a program.  He said they do a good job of serving a student population that SPS doesn't do a good job of serving in other schools.

He then got very serious and said that the Cascade had not been given the same amount of attention in the media that NW Center had.  He said the district HAD been trying to get this message out to the media about the importance of Cascade but that the media was being selective in what they report.

He said that he had sat down with the Seattle Times editorial staff to talk about what was at stake on this situation.  He said he left thinking they had heard how the district saw it and was quite surprised at what the Times decided to write about in their editorial.  (Reminder: the Times saw fit to completely leave Cascade out of the editorial.)

He also said that the district HAD gone to the City and asked for help and City officials offered no solutions or facilities for either program.  He said he felt kind of frustrated with the community at large and the City Council and legislators.  He said that in this case, with such high emotions and children with special needs, that he had hoped it could be a shared responsibility.

He was clearly unhappy with what had occurred with City officials and legislators.

He said the district had given NW Center an option of Van Asselt which NW Center said they didn't believe could be ready in six months (and was too far away for their children). 

He said the permanent home for Cascade would be the Queen Anne building that NW Center currently occupies.  He said they may have to add on at some point for Cascade but that it would be their building. But before Cascade could move in, there was some capital work to be done that would take between 6-7 months.

He said that his allegiance is to Cascade as an SPS program but he wanted to be a good neighbor to NW Center since no other entity wanted to step up to help. He said they wanted to give them more time to find a space for their community.

He said that the BEX schedule was a major consideration because they cannot delay the work on Wilson-Pacific.

He then turned it over to Facilities director, Flip Herndon who said that he needed to coordinate moves, logistics AND stay on schedule and on budget.  He said that he had met with many people and said as an SPS parent and former teacher and principal he understood the concerns but that he knew they had to have a plan and a budget.

He said for Cascade they had looked at the QA gym (seriously, a gym for a program?) and Van Asselt but neither were viable.

He said that they had given notification to NW Center and they were not happy.  But he said his first concern had to be to SPS students.  He said the district had offered them Van Asselt and even with the pre-school licensing and capital work that it could be done in less than a year.

So here's the option (which gives everybody something but both parties - especially Cascade - will take it on the chin).  All dates approximate:

- NW Center would move out of the Queen Anne building by January 2015 - the district is willing to work with them to move to Van Asselt but that is all they have to offer.  Banda said that NW Center had told him they were working with a realtor.
- The work would then begin on QA for Cascade.
- Cascade stays on-site at W-P (but moves to another building there) and stays there for 6-7 months (from about Jan. 2015-June 2015).  They would then move into QA in Fall 2015. 

They handed out a schematic that showed three options at W-P and costs.  One would involve using all portables, another would take money to fix the building and their favorite, of course, was the one with the minimal costs.

They said demo at W-P would start in Feb/March and that they would do what they could to mitigate the noise, dust, etc. 

Let me say that in other districts, the norm IS to build while children are still on-site (as at Hale).   But W-P is one of the crappiest sites around so to stay on-site has real issues for both students and staff.

Students:
- limited green space (if any).  Access to the playfields would be restricted.  SPS said they might be able to put a fenced-off play area in the parking lot.
- there is abestos and lead paint to abated.  Many a building has had this issue so the district knows how to do this but rarely has done this with young children on-site (plus many of the mothers were either pregnant or had newborns in tow).

Principal Sterk was very diplomatic in her remarks about the effects to her staff but also plainspoken.  She said that their school had been restructured for several years, always with the promise of being able to be stable.  She said that her school had worked hard to build a community that breaks the socioeconomic/cultural/religious boundaries (and, if you looked around the room, that's just what it looked like).  She said it was difficult to keeping promising one thing to staff and then finding out that it changed/wouldn't happen.  She said the level of instruction suffered.

Parent reactions - frankly, I thought for a packed room they took it calmly.  No one shouted or disparaged staff.  But they expressed a lot of concern for their children and disappointment that it would be okay to ask their community to have to live with at least 6+ months of demolition with all its outcomes.

One parent said that she felt SPS cared more about a "private school" that had more childcare than academics.

Another parent said she was taken aback at NW Center's surprise at the lease termination when several Cascade parents toured the QA building in 2012. 

Another parent worried about noise for students with sensory issues.

Another parent  - and this shocked me - asked if the rats would be gone in the building they would likely move to. (What !?)  But the answer was, yes, we'll make sure that is done. 

(I believe the building they are moving into was the one the Native American program had been in and they are telling us that they are NOW going to get rid of the rats.) 

One father quietly and calmly said another option was to tell NW Center that the 6 months was firm and that their first duty was to their SPS program, Cascade. 

Analysis:

There seems to be a lot of "he said, she said" going on and there may be some very hurt feelings out there in elected official land. 

It seems hard to believe that City Council members and legislators would get involved and have offered no ideas or solutions that they could help facilitate.  But I will have to believe Superintendent Banda until I see proof otherwise.

If this was a court of law, SPS would be found to be within their rights to end the lease with NW Center.  I'm also sure that the district could show evidence that they had been talking to NW Center about the possibility of SPS using the building (to the point of allowing a tour by parents) long before and well, NW Center was either being tone-deaf or playing chicken with the district. 

Meaning, thinking "they won't end the lease with us after all the time we've been here and the money put into the building."

I think the district thinks they are being "fair" to both groups.  But, of course, no one is really happy.  The Cascade parents worry that if NW Center gets another six months, they will then ask for more time.  SPS says that is not an option.  I'm sure NW Center parents will be unhappy that the building is not going to be their home anymore. 

But honestly, even for 6-7 months, I really do not think I would allow my child to be at a construction site where buildings are being demolished.  I think beyond the dust, the noise, the abatement issues - it is very poor-quality situation for those students and their academic outcomes lessened. 

I have to say that if the district asked this of any other school community with young children, they would get shouted down (or sued).  

One last note, I asked the Superintendent about the meeting on Sunday with Rep Carlyle and NW Center.  He said it had been canceled.

Principal Sterk told me she had been surprised to get a call, asking her to attend.  When she found out that neither the Superintendent nor Dr. Herndon would be there, she declined saying that it would not be appropriate for her to attend a meeting that her superiors had refused to attend.  She was told the meeting would not happen without SPS officials in attendance. 

One big chess match except that it's about vulnerable children and their lives.

67 comments:

mirmac1 said...

well, i'm glad the politicians were shown to be the ineffectual, loudmouthed gasbags that they are. When the "help" they offer is to strong-arm and use their media connections, well that doesn't really educate students, does it.

NWC Parent said...

I have many other thoughts, but I will start with these two.

First:
"But I will have to believe Superintendent Banda until I see proof otherwise."
How often do you say that?

Second:
"I'm sure NW Center parents will be unhappy that the building is not going to be their home anymore."
NWC parents have been saying over and over and over and over and over that we JUST. NEED. MORE. TIME. We recognize that we aren't staying in this building. (Among other reasons, the landlord is shady and untrustworthy.) We just want enough time to get another reasonable place so we can get out of the way and let Cascade move into NQA.

Bonus third thought:
This is a horrible "solution." Of course this isn't going to make NWC parents happy. But that's not because we don't get to magically stay in NQA forever. It's because we want both programs to be safe and successful, and this is not an okay solution for Cascade.

Cascade mom said...

Mellisa, thank you so much for attending the meeting and seeing our great familiy at Cascade! If this article had a love button I would click it twice. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This gives excellent detail and fairly represents the position and concern of many Cascade parents with regards to being housed on a demolition site.

Only thing is ... I hope the title is wrong and housing public school children in a demolition site isn't the final plan!

-SPS parent

Lynn said...

How many portables could fit on the tennis courts and/or soccer field at Rodgers Park? That way they'd have access to the Queen Anne gym. If the city wants to be part of the solution - here's where they could help.

Anonymous said...

Also, lets continue to look for solutions through all avenues. SPS officials stated that Van Asselt could be licensed and ready for a pre-k program for NW center by July 1st.

If these are the options we are presented with, having the nwck families commute 11 miles south (long or short term) seems like a far better option than housing nearly 200 public school children on a demolition site covered in lead and asbestos.

Since either option leaves one or the other school moving twice, that shouldn't weigh into the debate. If anything, the Seattle pubic school program should have the least moves.

-Safety first

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great update. I wish the district would start communicating to the public instead of the media.

Lynn, The QA gym they are referring to is the one next to the old QA High School (which is on the other side of QA, not near North QA). There isn't an area for portables near the gym, unfortunately.

QA Mom

Mike said...

+Like for Lynn's suggestion.

The tennis court is not an option, that is privately owned and scheduled for construction of a senior housing center, but the soccer field is bigger than the footprint of N QA Elementary.

That is the type of creative brainstorming that NWC has been asking Banda to engage in...and that Banda has been refusing.

Anonymous said...

QA Mom,

I think Lynn was being snarky rather than sincere with her "portables" on city property suggestion.

QA Neighbor

Melissa Westbrook said...

Safety First is right and I left that out of my notes. Van Asselt could be ready for NW Center, if they want it, by July.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not think that QA will be big enough to house Cascade's growing population. Wish there was another viable option in North Seattle.

Numericmama said...

I am trying to be positive.

The media for NWC is working and the SPS cared enough to come up with something. . . :)

AND finally CPPP is getting some airtime. That's good.

The plan is not good though.

CPPP is already in a "sick" building. We have accepted a lot of yukiness that no other population in Seattle would have accepted. We were just so glad to have a place to go, we were willing to work with the bottom of the barrel.

Most parents at CPPP are already re-arranging their lives to help meet their children's special needs that I seriously doubt any parents would be willing to give up their children's current and future health. I am frankly, quite shocked that a construction situation for a population with a lot of fragile students would be considered worth presenting.

This whole idea is quite bizarre to me. If you visit the CPPP "commons" which is our lunch room - you will hear people talking about using food to support their children.

For example - eliminating gluten and casein to help with behavior. Moving to whole foods and organics to help with behavior and health. Adding fermented products such as Kefir and Kombucha to help with gut health for health and behavior.

CPPP has so many kids with disabilities and parents working within the system and at home and with food, that there is no way these parents (me included) could undermine all of our efforts by introducing carcinogenic toxins on purpose.

However, I do appreciate the effort.

Anonymous said...

It could have been worse. Cascade could have been exiled to Northgate MALL with the Indian kids. Who in this town cried out when they were banished? No one. Who at SPS looked out for those at-risk kids? No one. Travesty.

Most districts do remodels on site with kids in place. The rat infestation and asbestos dust isn't likely to pack in new students during Open Enrollment, though. But, Cascade will probably muddle through for an additional 6 months before they get their "forever home" (which, psssst, won't be forever...because SPS doesn't "do" forever.)

If anyone thinks adding on to the QA facility to grow Cascade is a promise SPS will keep in the next 20 years, given the current BEX list, there is some swampland out in Carnation that I'd like to sell.

The Van Asselt offer to both parties was a canard. NW Center couldn't move there and serve its families anymore than Cascade could and that's maybe the one thing both programs can agree on at this point.

NW Center still has to move with haste if there is any hope to their getting permitted elsewhere. Their operating costs will almost certainly go up. Possibly way up. That program is taking pain too.

All in all, a lose-lose situation for students. Go SPS. You've lived up to expectations once again.

And finally, if Banda, who hasn't shown his face in public that anyone can much remember in the past 12 months is surprised that he doesn't have a "working" relationship with local politicians or the press, then his term looks to be very short and the employment of his communications staff (how many are there?) looks to be even shorter.

And finally, anyone see SPS Board members out there offering leadership with this issue? Don't they cover the entire geography of the city as well as have political relationships? Where especially were the board members who cover the geographic areas in question - Peters for Queen Anne and Peaslee for Wilson-Pacific. Not a peep from either. Like Banda, an unsavory case of Duck and Cover. Bah.

DistrictWatcher

Cascade mom said...

Portables in the Oak Tree lot work for anyone? Sigh

OMG said...

Look, I get not wanting to travel - I really do.

But, what if there is a place ready:

"Safety First is right and I left that out of my notes. Van Asselt could be ready for NW Center, if they want it, by July."

Why is this not an acceptable second rate solution?

I am really upset that my kids are having to worry about this (they have to suck poison or loose school) if NWC could just move twice.

I understand it isn't desirable, (we've all had those experiences) but poison or nothing vs. travel?

Help me understand. And my kids are fragile too. But I can take on a lot of the explanation and make it shorter for them relieving them of the burden (except for making them breathe poison - you can't really get past that bad boy.) And I get it, part of it is me posturing that it will all be OK.

I am just really upset now. My (mostly protected) kids think that they aren't going to have a school or see their friends anymore, and this could have been prevented by a situation that was OK with regulations by July 1st?

So my kids might lose their everything because one group doesn't want to move twice? Or commute - temporarily?

Please tell me that my family has not been going through all of this upheaval when a solution was right there for NWC, unattractive but workable until a new home could be found.

Seriously, I want to hear something different because I am feeling like my kids are trash waiting at the curb right now.

mirmac1 said...

District Watcher. I cried out!

For those who wonder where board members are, they have been effectively silenced and near-brainwashed by staff. But I know there are some who continue to probe and advocate (perhaps not in Reuven "Look at me!" fashion.

Frankly, after pretty much giving up, I must say I am encouraged by Banda's "students first!" message: Not Murray first or Alliance first. Trying to do the impossible job of Solomon - split the baby. He tuned out the noisemakers at the Seattle Times - hopefully allowing himself to hear and think about what best benefits stduents.

He needs to emerge from his shell more often, and not leave important, impactful decisions to lieutenants who seem to screw things up.

Anonymous said...

Also, just to add a little detail:

The proposed plan isn't 'just' that Cascade would have to make a costly move to an rat infested building on the Wil-Pac demolition site, Cascade would literally be 'hugged' in a u shaped 'visual wall' of plywood butted up against the building that cuts off the entire campus. The 'wall' would only be a visual barrier and would not reduce noise, dust or other issues. Windows (needed in the spring because the building is hot!) would be difficult to have open.

One parent asked if the district had a safety analysis done BEFORE proposing this to see if it is viable, given the specifics of the site - NOPE.

This just stinks all around. Cascade really is a nice community and wants the best for NWC and their program, but this is clearly a slap in the face... again.



Herewegoagain Cascade

Cascade mom said...

What bugs me is that it is our kids EDUCATION and health that SPS is willing to compramise! This is our school day and yet the kids are suppose to sit in math, english, and Spanish while construction crews try to "keep the volume down?" Let's not even mention how I lose my appetite thinking about kids, babies, and parents eating with the windows open blowing in the nasty construction air.
Sure our kids out perform many on tests, but seriously how long will that last in a construction zone?

OMG can you imagine the kids taking the MSP (oops SBAC) in May/June? That is right when the big machine demolishes the physical building!!!! WOW

Concerned citizen said...

I do not believe Van Asselt has been offered for consideration outside of newspaper articles and blogs. School district personnel are apparently refusing to plan or talk with Northwest Center representatives. Is the district's solution to pit two parent groups, each with vulnerable children, against one another? Oh and then blame the media.

skeptical said...

I don't actually trust that Van Asselt could be ready by July 1. For one thing, if that was a legitimate option, why wouldn't SPS say "too bad - here's another option that we gave you, so tough" to NWC and be done with it in June? I call that a bluff.
Additionally, have any of you seen the place? I truly doubt that SPS would be able to have it in good (or even decent) shape for NWC, plus necessary remodels for preschool, by July. Again, if they could, why wouldn't they have said how they plan to make that happen.

n said...

I have a question: I heard a radio interview with a NW representative. Sorry. I don't remember the name. But she did say that NW wanted to remodel the building and approached SPS about the possibility of losing the building upon completion. SPS apparently told NW they had no plans to retake it and so NW spent a large amount refurbishing it.

If that is true and if NW did its due diligence before spending the money, then SPS is not acting in good faith.

Of course SPS owns the building and has every right to take it back. But there is a question of integrity here if in fact they led NW to believe the building was securely in NW's hands for a period of time worthy of spending money on the fix up.

n said...

Sorry. I guess that wasn't a question. :) But, I am wondering if anyone knows if that scenario is correct?

CONTRACTS said...

n - as a landlord - I would expect to write something up with the tenant about that so that it would be legal - otherwise it is just "he said, she said".

That may have happened, but if something is not in writing, then it is n not "due diligence."

Seattle has very progressive landlord tenant laws.

However, this can be made into an awesome media smokescreen.

n said...

Well, I just want to know if that scenario did occur. It makes a difference. Perhaps not legally but ethically - at least to me. And if that is so, I think the District should own up to it. Might call for a bit of humble pie but it would be honest.

Even if such an event occurred, it doesn't mean the District is wrong to take it back. None of us can see into the future. If they made their best guess at the time that they wouldn't need the building, I can accept that.

Gimme Sanity said...

n- on the other side of things.

I am really big on gut instincts. Gut instincts keep us safe. I teach my kids to listen to their gut instincts.

This book - which Oprah really pushed - is all about gut instincts: http://www.amazon.com/Protecting-Gift-Keeping-Children-Teenagers/dp/0440509009

My experience, listening to my intuition or gut instincts, tells me that whoever would have made that call - actually "knew" the true answer. The person answering the phone has to follow whatever legal dictates are there.

So if there are "no plans for the building" in the record - it may be that "no plans" can be spoken of. Or it may be that that person, may have known of "no plans at that time." At this point, we are asking the person (who we do not know who is) to answer a question that they may not know the answer of - or it may have been grey.

I still think, if these conversations were going on, then something "smelled funny" and a dice was rolled.

I don't know how you deal with different personnel, talking to different people, under the cover of personal relationships. What if someone is wrong - or doesn't know the whole story?

It's crazy land. And this is why we have contracts. To stay out of crazy land. I wish that I was in sane land right now. Everyone would be happy enjoying the sunshine instead of stressing out over the future.

Anonymous said...

Where is Sue Peters?
Jonny

Charlie Mas said...

Seattle Public Schools has a special lexicon.

"No plans" means that they have not yet made an irrevocable decision. It remains the status all through the period that they define a problem, brainstorm possible solutions, review and analyze those possible solutions, select one for recommendation, refine that solution, plan the implementation of that solution, present that solution to decisionmakers, and await the decision on the approval, rejection, or amendment of that solution.

During all of that process - until the moment the decision maker finalizes the decision - the status of the effort remains "no plans".

Keep this in mind the next time anyone from the District tells you that the District has "no plans" to take any specific action or has "not made any decision" about an action.

Anonymous said...

"Many a building has had this issue so the district knows how to do this but rarely has done this with young children on-site (plus many of the mothers were either pregnant or had newborns in tow)."

And please remember these pregnant mamas, and mamas with newborns in tow weren't just there for today's meeting. We have entire families onsite, with very young children and babies in utero, all day, every day, breathing the air, and not-drinking the poisonous water.

While older siblings are in class these young kids are often outdoors, toddling around, and playing together in the spring sunshine. What we have right now isn't much - a strip of grass between two derelict buildings in which staff frequently find feces and drug-needles. But it's grass, and bushes, and it's workable.

Among all the rest of the wrongness for the school-aged kids, Banda is suggesting that our infants and prescholers spend a season of their young lives indoors in a stifling hot, disgusting , noisy building, or in tiny portion of the parking lot, in potentially poisonous air, while heavy construction vehicles are hauling out debris?

He is suggesting putting entire families at tremendous risk.

No. Just NO. This is complete insanity.

Disgusted and Insulted

SPS Parent said...

Let's talk about personal and professional responsibility: NWC has been let down by their leadership. Why has that program been operating under a long term lease with a 6 month termination (aka 6 month lease)? I guess they were just hoping that someday their lack of foresight would not put their community in such a bind?

And Seattle City Council; shame on you for throwing SPS under the bus on this one. Why aren't you reaching out to the developers, business community, and the DPD, to help come up with some real solutions? The boom happening in Seattle is putting the squeeze on available sites for schools and pre-school programs. Are schools not part of the infrastructure needed to be expanded as the population grows?

Should SPS been more transparent with their tenants? Yes, that would have been helpful to NWC and their community. That could have been handled better. But as my granddad use to say "you don't do business on a handshake. Get the what you want on paper." Hoping that someday your 6 month lease would not get you in trouble was careless and irresponsible. Your community deserved better.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

I get really tired of the Middle College at Northgate Mall being disparaged as a MALL!! It is not like they are meeting in the Food Court or in the Nordstrom Shoe Department. The facilities at Northgate Mall are very similar to the facilities at the Seattle Center that the Center School occupies.

My cousin works at the Middle College at Northgate. She is Native American and used to work at the HS at Wilson Pacific. She moved to the Middle College as Wilson Pacific got crappier and crappier and as more and more kids moved to the Middle College at Northgate. Yes, she would like to have a place in Wilson Pacific when it is remodeled but she was happy that many of the kids from the Native Heritage HS moved to the Middle College at Northgate.

Wilson Pacific campus is awful and no one should have to be there until it is remodeled.

HP

kellie said...

We as parents had a meeting with the Parks department about two years ago. The Parks department arrived at the meeting with the Commissioner, all deputy commissioners and the person who was responsible for all their properties. They also came with a full inventory of every parks owned property and they were happy to discuss every single property on the list.

I have a hard time imagining that if a the Parks department would be that forthcoming and helpful with just average parents that we concerned that SPS was running out of space and then when actual students are on the line, all of sudden there is no help to be had?

The meeting with Parks department is one of those of those types of meetings that keeps me hanging in this issue over the years. The Parks department sincerely thought it was their job to do the absolute best they could for all of Seattle. It was such an amazing example of teamwork, collaboration and engagement. They then approached SPS and SPS said they didn't need any help.

I am having a hard time grasping that SPS asked for help and they all said no??

Anonymous said...

Wow. This truly boggles the mind.

First of all, as much influence as Sharon Peaslee seems to have regarding the Wilson-Pacific site, and though it is true that the directors are elected city-wide, and all should get themselves up to speed on this issue and advocate for what is best for all kids, Wilson-Pacific is Director Carr's turf (District II).

Secondly, when Hale was renovated in place, there were BRAND-SPANKING NEW portables in the parking lot to house students during construction, and these were not butted right up against the construction site...you had to cross the bridge over Thornton Creek to get to them.

The Hale renovation was PLANNED as construction in place. This latest proposal from Banda has not been thought out or planned in any significant way with regard to the health, safety, or, at minimum, with the consideration of survival of a very worthy program (CPPP).

CPPP, like the Jane Addams K-8, Olympic Hills, Pinehurst/AS-1, Bagley, Loyal Heights, Wing Luke, etc... deserves a safe interim housing situation until their building is ready for them. How can the District, on one hand, perform extensive air and water quality testing and repairs/updating at John Marshall, and at the same time even suggest that Cascade not only remain at a site which should be condemned, much less during construction, asbestos abatement, etc...?

The crazy train has left the station on this one. That's for sure.

IF SPS gives NWC more time, then the least they can do is find a decent interim site for Cascade. I'm very disappointed that the City isn't pitching in to help find more space for SPS' capacity needs, at least the interim capacity needs.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Has SPS reached out to North Seattle Community College (located near the current Cascade Parent Partnership location) or Seattle Pacific University (located near the North Queen Anne building) to see if there is any space available to house Cascade in interim?

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@SPS Parent
"NWC has been let down by their leadership. Why has that program been operating under a long term lease with a 6 month termination (aka 6 month lease)?"

I was wondering the same thing. If it does, indeed, take 1-2 years to find and license a new preschool site, then why sign a lease with a 6-month termination clause?

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Look people, SPS is singing a false tune about no solutions for housing students.

Last year the state legislator for the area basically offered to hand SPS a solution on a plate re: overcrowding. He offered state level funding and/or opening doors to get federal/state facilities repurposed for use.

This was a year ago during boundary discussions when parents were about to pluck their eyes out because it had been apparent for years that the crisis-level population wave was breaking on Seattle's shores, even though it was just then dawning on SPS that they had a problem with housing everyone.

It is the truth, as Kellie posted, that SPS said "No thanks, we can handle it."

I think SPS was trying to show others that it has its operational house in order. But the brave face belies the fact that it didn't and it doesn't.

Specifically it was the team of McEvoy and Morello (operations and capital planning), who said thanks but no thanks...although they at that time reported directly to Banda, so one would suppose he signed off on this message.

This housing crisis for CPPP is not solely about Cascade. This is about SPS as a whole. THE DISTRICT CANNOT HANDLE ITS POPULATION GROWTH ON ITS OWN. IT NEEDS CITY AND STATE HELP. THE THREE ENTITIES MUST START WORKING TOGETHER YESTERDAY OR SPS IS GOING TO FAIL.

There MUST be more teamwork between government entities.

Thank you.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed SPS needs help.
I just know the N/NE:
Lake City School
Fairview School
University Heights School
Ravenna-Eckstein CC
Roosevelt Lid
Magnuson
Oak Tree
Wallingford Center
QA HS

One the district still owns: use it. Two the city got from the district: time for the city to help. Three the developers got from the district: they can help too. Maybe not for that specific property, but many many parties have benefitted from SPS property over the years.

I know the answer has been "no" to all of these. We need to ask again and again, and again. legislators can be helpful to lean on the right people. Reuven?

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

@Chris S.

You can add the Crown Hill building, as that was sold off fairly recently, too.

I was recently reading about the process in which the SPD obtained property for their new North Precinct building.

http://www.seattle.gov/northprecinctstation

I found this statement interesting:
Last December, Council also approved the City's intention to acquire ownership of the property, either through a negotiated settlement or, if necessary, using its power of eminent domain (condemnation) for public use. Using the action of condemnation keeps the project on track and there may be favorable tax advantages to the sellers as well."

I also found it interesting that the Wilson-Pacific site was apparently one of the sites originally in the running for the new North Precinct site (but it did not make the final cut).

Too bad that the current SPD north precinct site won't be vacant until 2018, as it might be large enough to support a school.

- North-end Mom

mirmac1 said...

I have asked Flip Herndon about condemnation and immediate possession. Specifically, I wrote;

It would seem to me that SPS could exercise its right of eminent domain on the MLK and other properties. These buildings retain many of the classrooms and spaces needed for school use. The owners/occupants should be immediately put on notice of SPS' need for those buildings for their intended purpose. This will get the process and timeline moving. The public interest and capacity shortfalls are clearly evident. I expect that the other parties will not resist too strenuously, or risk appearing heedless of the greater community's need. I believe administrative settlements could be reached with these parties. SPS would of course assist with relocation and pay the fair market value of the property.

No response of course.

Anonymous said...

The Seattle Waldorf High School is leasing a building at Magnuson Park. There are other buildings at Magnuson that would also make a good small school even if only temporary. I don't understand why SPS doesn't talk to the Parks Department. The building that SWHS is remodeling and moving into has been there for awhile. Why didn't SPS try to lease it before it was leased to another?

HP

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I must say I find it odd that in this instance, you're willing to take Banda at face value. I'd love to see you really follow up with who he contacted and who at the city really said no. I feel for Banda's position here, and am glad he at least showed up at the Cascade meeting, but it's not enough. Let's try to really daylight what avenues were explored. As usual, it's the 11th hour.
-just sayin

Anonymous said...

I am in utter disbelief about the proposal to leave school children and their families onsite during demolition. A wall of plywood would not protect them against lead and asbestos exposure.

shocked

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered about Magnuson. It's been floated as an idea for a school for years, and the space has slowly been snapped up. Heck, there is a public/private partnership (sorta) with Arena Sports that let a private, for-profit business get space at a reduced rate and they've turned it into a first class (if expensive) facility. Can you imagine if those resources had gone into making it a new school? Anyone know for sure whether it was ever explored?

-just saying

suep. said...

To DistrictWatcher and others:

Where am I?, you ask.

Well, I devoted the first part of my first community meeting in early February to hearing from the Northwest Center community (whose site, North Queen Anne Elementary, is located in my district), have received and read hundreds of emails on the matter, have been in touch with Principal Sterk at Cascade, Tom Everill at NWCK, Rep. Carlyle, other city officials, Board colleagues (who are also engaged in the issue), Supt. Banda, various staff members, in an effort to help connect community concerns and realities with district decisions.

I have inquired about the possibility of finding other site options, and various solutions, in the hopes that Cascade and NWCK can secure the homes their worthy programs deserve.

Both deserve support, but only Cascade is an SPS program, which makes it the district's primary responsibility here.

Clearly, the enrollment growth of SPS and subsequent capacity challenges are forcing the district to make some very difficult decisions.

Please e-mail me with any further questions or concerns: sue.peters@seattleschools.org

Regards,

Sue Peters

Anonymous said...

This is what the leading edge of a capacity CRISIS looks like. The District is out of space, and, enrollment is growing. This is just the first shoe to drop, the first community to really have to experience this District's planning. Actually, scratch that, this District also let Lowell implode, and pushed kids out of the building in the summer, and, Schimtz Park is at 12 portables... so, I guess that means Cascade is not the first to feel the burn.

Cascade being stuck with a renovation in place is shoddy. But, that was discussed 3 years ago, because, this District is OUT OF SPACE.

Nice that Mr. Banda put in an appearance. Would have been better of course if he managed this more appropriately to begin with.

This District is out of capacity, except perhaps in the South. Because of the pressure, and, what I would characterize as a lack of leadership, planning is just crisis managment, and, some really bad decisions are being pushed through.

This is like the closures - very bad decisions that you know won't stick. Cascade is stuck there because when this District could take back the Lake City building, which would have added inventory in the right place in the right time, the District said no thanks. That was a really, really short sited decision. If it had said yes, it would be ready to house either Pinehurst or ESTEM K8 or Cascade.

Parents, now is the time to activate. Bad decsions are being made which will affect you in a couple of years (if not sooner), and, the people who are making them will likely be gone by then, but, we and our kids will still be here, living with it. WOuld it have made a difference if Cascaade rallied 2 years ago and demanded the District take back Lake City? Who knows, but, I wish they did...


Cascade should try to get space in the Marshall building, that can take portables, and, they can co-locate. It is not ideal, but, it may be preferable. Last year, the ESTEM K8 was pushing HARD that Marshall's capacity was over 900, so, it could work. And, then Cascade could stay and expand in Marshall after the ESTEM K8 leaves, which would be a bigger and more centrally located home for them. Especially after the treatment they've been afforded (stationed in a dump for years - no office, WP), they really ought to pipe up and demand Marshall, and truly position themselves for a better, bigger building in a better, more central location so that their program can truly grow and thrive!

Anyway, this is only the first of the big issues that will come in the next years. High school is frightening.

Does anyone have confidence this District can successfully pull off the opening of the new high school, Lincoln? If so, share your optimistic thoughts, because some of us, especially if you have a kid in the fourth grade, are not so sure...

Anonymous said...

oops, me above, forgot to sign
-not optomistic

Anonymous said...

Sue Peters!
Glad to hear from you. That's great you did that engagement...now what was the outcome? You left us hanging! Did the district approach the city? Did you have any talks with them? What happened??

-Do Tell

Anonymous said...

Read the description of the Cascade program. The program needs seem quite flexible Is there really no other interim site for it the transition period? I agree that SPS's first responsibility has to be to the SPS programs, though with the reminder that being good neighbors is always a good thing. Is there no neighbor who can offer the kind of space they need?

NWC's needs are more demanding, and short term solutions don't seem like they'll work for them.

I think one of the issues with Magnuson is that it's being offered at market costs and the market costs are occasionally set by real market participants (like the dentistry practice). The buildings are also in bad shape, unless they've been extensively renovated for use, and rules about waterfront development/historic registrations can apply.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me, zb

Anonymous said...

Magnuson is actually getting a school...a private high school, Seattle Waldorf opening this fall I believe.

Kp

mirmac1 said...

Do Tell,

Do you seriously think a board member will spill beans on the blog? I would equate that to DeBell dishing to the Times and Crosscut.

I'll just say that the conclusions presented by Peters align with mine. For that I'm glad.

As for Banda; inasmuch as he has seriously disappointed me, I think that his facilities people (Herndon, McEvoy) need to know WTF is going on and have the expertise on staff to predict capacity and enrollment needs.

Anonymous said...

Due to its proximity to the freeway, and related health risks, John Marshall should not be used for anything other than an interim location. I don't think they will be demanding such a location, no matter how convenient and centrally located it may be.

Also, WP is not a renovation in place. It is a complete demolition with construction of a new middle school and new elementary school. Demolition should not proceed with students on site.

observer

Another Cascader said...

Cascade cannot co-locate. I'm tired of explaining why, so I'll leave it at that. Those options were explored already.

We are out of time, and out of options. Either NW Center finds an interim location (like Van Asselt) or Cascade gets to breathe in building dust.

At least that way they'll have more time.

Anonymous said...

@Another Cascader

If the District is planning to extend the lease agreement with NWC until January, and it sounds like that offer is on the table (?), then the District is obligated to find a safe, non-hazardous interim arrangement for Cascade until the NQA building is ready for occupancy.

Other schools/programs are worthy of safe interim housing, complete with environmental testing, replaced pipes and upgraded air filtration. Cascade should be treated no differently than other programs in temporary, interim housing.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

How many students are there in the Cascade Parent Partnership? (1/2 and full time?)

zb

Anonymous said...

I believe they said it is 186 students currently enrolled at Cascade. Enrollment for next year does not begin at Cascade until June or close to it.

-me

Another Cascader said...

180 + full time enrolled...not sure how many part time enrolled.

Numericmama said...

And a lot of the students at Cascade are special needs. So that plays in.

me said...

I don't think it matters how many are part-time at Cascade as NW also has many part-time. There are over 180 kids enrolled in classes at Cascade, that is what matters as all classes at Cascade are public school classes.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to get Lake City back? If SPS still owns the facilities there, they can end the lease with those tenants & rent it to NWC. That way NWC does not have to move twice. I do not know which special needs pop is at NWC, but some kids on the Autistic Spectrum have a very hard time with transitions, abrupt moves would do a lot of damage to their health, mental & physical. We need to talk to Parks, may be one of the bigger community centers has room and can be leased, they have their own childcare programs but mostly for school age kids so the rooms would be unoccupied during school hours. Or perhaps a lease with one of the Boys & Girls Club.

The City has to help with money for new capacity. These unending crises because there is no space are really stressful. Seattle is going to keep growing because of Amazon etc. No one is moving into the burbs anymore (who can blame them! Everytime I have to go to Lynnwood I think of that X Files episode of the monster eating people who break the Community Assoc rules)

Anyway, toddlers and pregnant women everywhere, we have to get more schools online now. Every couple months another capacity fiasco, we are all going to get heart attacks!

CCA

TechyMom said...

Add Martin Luther King Elementary (now FAME-MLK) to the list of recently sold properties. It's centrally located and has good bus service. Could the district lease space there for Cascade until NW Center has time to move? (I know it hurts to lease space in a building we just gave away, but it might work).

Joe Wolf said...

FWIW, when Flip asked me and my team what our #1 ask of the legislative delegagation would be, the quick consensus was "4-6 acres at Magnuson, next to the athletic fields, as a site for a new comprehensive high school. Geographically and in other ways it's an ideal location."

The proposal was daylighted by SPS leadership, that much I know.

Anonymous said...

What about all the vacant fort lawton buildings in discovey park? Hasn't the army vacated all or most? . NW center could start work asap on one of those if the city et al would prioritize permitting and licensing etc...

NWmom

Anonymous said...

From school closure days w list of sites.
http://seattletimes.com/news/local/links/closedschools03.html

Magnolia is listed as emergency site. When Coe burned down in early 2000s they went there. I think kids breathing asbestos and lead dust and having construction going on around them is an emergency. It's not worse than WP site. Can that be CPPPs temp site until NW center can relocate? I know moving twice isn't ideal but its better than living in a construction zone. And there is an awesome city playground below.

NWmom

Anonymous said...

@NWmom
Unfortunately they took money promised to Cascade for a gym added to QA and are now using that to refurbish Magnolia since Coe is now full. :(

-me

Anonymous said...

Jeeze, TALK ABOUT ENTITLED!

PEOPLE: 1 question: WHAT MONEY?? What money to 'add a gym' or anything else to North Queen Anne facility? Step back and think for a moment. It ain't over 'till the large lady sings', and, she ain't even on stage, yet.

Is there a link you can point to that shows the approved appropriation from the State Legislature for this mythical money? The money that got "yanked" or "pulled" or "withdrawn"? Last I heard, they were still in session. You are getting angry of a slaughtered chicken when, you are counting eggs that haven't even hatched yet.

How can you beat up on Legislators for 'withdrawing money' that never existing? And why beat up on them in the first place? This is the DISTRICT'S job, so where is our District facilities' plan that specifies the plan for NQA, or, for that matter, Lake City or Webster, the other rented-out-by-"claw-backable" properties? It is NOT in the recently Board-approved Facilities Master Plan.

And, isn't this all fundementally a function of program placement, which is directly the Superintendent's job, and school placement, which is the Board's job? Where is the Board Action Report for this school (not program) placement? Doesn't long-term planning go something like this: (1) gather accurate and complete data, (2) make a operationalizable plan, that works for the near term through to the long term, but provides sufficient flexibility to accommodate best, worse, and expected case scenarios? Where is that plan, not just for Cascade, but for all schools, especially high school?

As Kellie said, or what I think I understand her saying, is, there was never a planning process for the school in the Wilson Pacific property. If that community had an email, great, but, that never showed up on any of the Friday Memos or the BEX IV plan as passed by the Board.

But, that is beside the point, really. If the District 'planned', like, in the last 2 months, to put Cascade in NQA (simply because NQA has an occupancy permit and that lease made it 'grabable'), clearly, there was never any monies to customize or renovate that facility. So, again, beating up the Legislators, is, umh, perhaps misplaced anger?

Besides, even if the Legislators were to pursue specifically earmarked money for NQA building, what makes you think they will be successful and get the money in the first place? That is FAR from a done deal. There is a lot of budget pressure in Olympia (recall that last session, and, the last few 'extra innings' sessions, just to try and get a budget passed? The Legislators weren't doing that just for the fun of it), AND the Seattle Dems are a minority, perhaps you've heard, and, with McCleary, some say the Legislature is reluctant to put out more ed dollars, because they want every scrap of credit they can get for ed spending, so they won't do anything outside of McCleary...

Bottom line: attitude of gratitude, please, for SPS supporters! Any legislator who supports and pursues any dollars, capital or operating, for SPS, whether it is for a building in the south, north, west or east, whether it is for high school CTE or Special Education or lower elementary class sizes, gets my appreciation and my vote. But, that is just me.

-attitude gratitude

Anonymous said...

Seattle Public School Parent

Ultimately what I find frightening is SPS appearing to not stay true to their ONE charge…..take care of Seattle Public School Students. As a public school parent, if in the future my school needs District support do we need to fundraise in order to hire a PR team? this sets quite a precedent

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