Basically, it's Spring Break week so no meetings.
Saturday, April 19th
Director Blanford finally has a community meeting. It's from 10-11am at the Douglass-Truth library.
I attended both Director Carr and Director Martin-Morris' community meetings yesterday.
Director Carr had about eight parents in attendance (and one little girl who was reading her book and laughed out loud a couple of times - good to know there are books that make kids laugh like that). I came a bit late but the discussion was around issues with Wilson-Pacific.
I had brought along for Director Carr a copy of what a very basic auditorium (in Menlo Park, California) looks like. I had also communicated with their Operations director who said, they had thought about a cafetorium but felt, for the acoustics, it was better to have a separate auditorium. He also said the auditorium, which has a retractable, elevated seating system, was in near constant use as they use that extra large space for teaching multi-classes, events (like art showings) and sometimes (although not often in California) for eating space when it rains (that actually might be useful here in Seattle).
Director Carr, a careful person, was taking notes about what each person said. She said we should go see how Madison uses its space (they have no auditorium) and wondered if it would be fair to build an auditorium in the north end when they didn't in the south end. I will go back and review who has an middle school auditorium and who doesn't.
But I can say that Denny-Sealth are co-joined and Denny has ready access to Sealth's auditorium. As well, when parents and community realized how co-joined the buildings were going to be AND that Sealth was not getting a new building, they raised a ruckus. That uprising resulted in more capital dollars flowing to Sealth. I remember this and thought,"Good for them."
I have checked the BEX numbers and there have been more projects done in the south end than the north end.
It was also noted that because of the increased traffic pressure on the area around Wilson-Pacific, it is likely one or two stoplights will be installed by the City.
There was also discussion about what will happen to the Decatur building. It's unclear but I think the City may be eyeing it for pre-K use. I doubt that will happen given the district's needs but it's clear the City is pressuring the district on the issue of pre-K placement. Someone also asked why Pinehurst could not have been placed there.
Update on Pre-K issue - Apparently the push is on to get the Board to "see the light" on Pre-K. I don't know why - because the capacity issue has been front and center for quite awhile - but the Board is being pushed to support the City's Preschool for All initiative.
As President Peaslee and all the other Board members have stated - they, individually and collectively - support this idea. They, along with SPS staff, want to work to make this a reality.
BUT, the reality is that there is no room at the inn and yet, that reality does not seem to be making its way to City Hall (or LEV who is pushing this hard).
To whit, a passage from a letter about this issue:
Several new elementary schools will open in Seattle over the next few years, and we have an opportunity to include high-quality preschool in these new schools.
Folks please, if you see a city councilmember or the Mayor (or any other elected official), please let them know that there is no room at any elementary, new or otherwise, for preschool. I wish there was and I know the Board does as well as the Superintendent. The reality is otherwise.
This could get decidedly nasty if this kind of misinformation continues to get out there. It's not a matter of holding onto space in our school buildings just for K-5 or K-8 students - there is NO extra space.
End of update.
Director Carr said that placing Pinehurst at W-P did have costs as did the "greening" of the building.
There were also issues raised about one bus less for McDonald next year. One parent from Wedgwood asked about the later start issue and Director Carr went thru the issue.
There were also concerns from Greenwood parents about their 4th graders going to three middle schools and then at least two high schools. It is a valid concerns and the district should have some mitigation for this issue. I did point out that when Lincoln does open that parents should know that there are scores of Lincoln alum who will come out of the woodwork to celebrate and support the school. It won't be like opening a new school; Lincoln has a rich history.
Director Martin-Morris' meeting was a cozy one as it consisted of just him and me. As first, I didn't think it was going to work out. He was very dismissive of the idea of an auditorium at W-P but then we went onto other subjects. We had a very useful and thoughtful talk about several issues but mostly about the need to have a conversation about race in our schools and our city. We shared some of our personal backgrounds and experiences.
He also talked about being in an urban school district group and the discussions they were having. One fascinating issue is that Seattle is only one of two or three urban districts that are growing. He said other districts are surprised to hear about Seattle's explosive growth.
He was warm and open and this is the person I remember voting for six years ago.
I asked him about his reports from the various education conferences he has attended and he told me that several of them are at the bottom of his School Board page.