Sunday, June 22, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week would have been a quiet week for SPS except for the new issue of Superintendent Banda wanting to leave.  As well, there are a couple of events that will impact our district.

Monday, June 23rd
Seattle City Council will vote on their Preschool for All bill at 2 pm in City Council chambers.  They do take public comment but I note it comes after presentations (which means you get to sit through a lot before you can speak). 

This is important because it involves our district.  I cannot support any measure that puts a burden of time and resources on our district.  It is not the district's core mission nor do our facilities in any way support this use of space.

Wednesday, June 25th
I see that the previous Work Session on the Superintendent's evaluation has been pulled.

Public Hearing on the 2014-2015 Budget from 4-4:15 pm.  You are allowed two minutes to give your input on next year's budget.  I believe you can submit a written statement via e-mail to go into the public record but I will check.  Sadly, the agenda gives no information on how to give input.

Work Session: Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act Training from  4:30-5:30 pm.   Powerpoint presentation.

Thursday, June 26th
March and rally to protest the Gates Foundation involvement in public education sponsored by Save Our Schools and BATS (Badass Teachers Assocation) from 5-7 pm.  They will march from Westlake Park to the Gates Foundation (at 5th and Mercer/500 5th Ave N).

Speakers include Anthony Cody, Kshama Sawant, Wayne Au & Morna McDermott. We would love you to join our flash mob and sing with our amazing chorus. You will also have an opportunity to vocally demand that public education be revitalized as the foundation to a free society that it should be.

Saturday, June 28th
Community Meeting with Director Patu from 10 am to noon at Caffe Vita.


#GetOffYourHands said...

" I cannot support any measure that puts a burden of time and resources on our district. It is not the district's core mission nor do our facilities in any way support this use of space."

I share Melissa's concerns. Seattle voters were generous and supported the Family and Education Levy which is funded at $235M.

SPS facility dept. has the burden of extra work and they are looking for funding to support additional pre K classrooms.

In essence, the city is sitting on $235M. Has the city provided the district with adequate resources to cover administrative costs related to this project? Will the city loosen purse strings on these dollars to support SPS?

Anonymous said...

Received today from our school PTSA. I'm confused. Who is the author?

Speak up for better conditions at Eckstein

Eckstein needs our help. Below is a letter that from a Laurelhurst parent and Eckstein teacher outlining the deplorable building conditions at Eckstein. Staff, students and parents have reached their breaking point.

The Eckstein staff, students and their families have asked for our support. Please email the contacts listed below and urge them to address these issues that pose health and safety concerns for everyone in the building immediately. In its current condition, Eckstein does not provide a quality teaching or learning environment. We need the district to remedy these issues ASAP.

Letter from Eckstein Staff, Students, and Parents

June 19, 2014

Dear Assistant Superintendent Herndon and Executive Director Whitworth:

The staff of Eckstein Middle School has reached the breaking point in tolerating the deplorable physical condition of our school. We are unaware of any reasonable plan to address the physical plant at Eckstein and we would appreciate it if you could look into this over the summer. Additionally, we would like to hold a meeting with you to hear our concerns and to begin addressing them when we return in late August, prior to the start of the next school year. It is too much to ask of staff and students to work in the current environment which is far from conducive to learning.

Here are just a few of our concerns:
* Unbearable heat in our classrooms fluctuating between extreme heat (regularly in the 80's and 90's in all south facing rooms) and extreme cold (in the 50's and low 60's).
* A stove in a portable which requires inserting your arm into a hole with a lit match (asthmatic children should not be in there, but really no-one should be in there)
* Heat issues ruining orchestral equipment
* Vermin including rats and ant infestations
* Mold and asbestos
* A crazy quilt of portables and driving lanes making it unsafe for students and staff to move around the campus
* A tennis court filled with garbage and broken materials
* Improper drainage causing sinkholes in our parking lot
* Abnormal amounts of dust throughout the school and rooms even after sweeping and dusting
* Ceiling, dirt, and particles falling from the ceiling onto desks
* Missing, moldy, or ruined ceiling tiles
* Lighting issues making it hard to see the projector screen
* Extremely old, unstable, covered in carvings and graffiti desks, tables and chairs
* Severe noise issues in the rooms with warehouse furnaces and in the "port-o-lux" and in rooms facing south when we need all windows and fans on during warm days
* A library where our entire staff cannot come together and all see the screen nor speaker
* Lack of printers-many of us have to walk to the main office where they are already picked up in a stack by someone else. This is a huge problem in an English class where students need to print one paper.
* Lack of 1:1 computers. With online testing, writing, and our Strategic Plan stating we will produce 21st Century skills, students need access to reliable computers daily.


Anonymous said...


* Electrical issues with blowing fuses when we plug in the laptop cart into our rooms to do MAP testing, among other activities
* Sinks for hand washing that say "Do Not Drink Water"
* Bathroom water faucets that cannot maintain a temperature safe for children
* No access to drinking water that we feel is safe to drink (some staff pool money for a water cooler-this is a 1st world country, shouldn't we have water provided at our work?)
* Leaking toilets
* Toilets that splash back upon flushing
* Only one staff bathroom in the building which is very far away for many to access (.07 miles from the south wing taking a solid two minutes to walk each direction)
* No bathroom for transgendered students or staff
* An overall feeling from the students that we have been forgotten and are not valued
* Many technological, temperature, and charging issues during state and MAP testing creating a hostile testing environment

The Staff, Parents, and Students of Eckstein


Melissa Westbrook said...

First, they need to get a tv crew there. That might get some attention.

Second, yes, who did write this? Does it include the principal, staff leadership and PTA leadership? If so, why is it not signed?

Again, the outcomes of a growing district. Eckstein would have probably been #1 on BEX IV if all had gone according to plan.

Anonymous said...

From an email sent by Allisa Sweet on 6/20 to legislators and copied, I believe, to the VNESS email list:

Happy summer to all! Yes, school is out and I was really hoping we could all rest. But, Eckstein needs our help. Attached is a letter that I received from a Laurelhurst parent and Eckstein teacher outlining the deplorable building conditions at Eckstein. Last time I checked, Eckstein had a maintenance backlog estimated at $23.6 million . Staff, students and parents have reached their breaking point.

The Eckstein staff, students and their families have asked for our support. Please email the contacts listed below and urge them to address these issues that pose health and safety concerns for everyone in the building immediately. In its current condition, Eckstein does not provide a quality teaching or learning environment. We need the district to remedy these issues ASAP.

In addition, please forward this request to anyone who shares these concerns regarding Eckstein.

Please feel free to email with any questions. Many thanks for your support.

Alli Sweet
VNESS Co-Chair

Email Contacts

Kim Whitworth

Flip Herndon

Jose Banda

Sharon Peaslee
Sherry Carr
Harium Martin-Morris
Stephan Blanford
Sue Peters
Marty Mclaren
Betty Patu

Sen. David Frockt

Rep. Jessyn Farrell

Rep. Gerry Pollet

Mayor Ed Murray

Thomas Whittemore

Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:44 AM
To: Whitworth, Kim; Banda, Jose L; Herndon, Flip; Patu, Betty; Martin-Morris, Harium
Subject: Eckstein Middle School Conditions

Please read the attached letter from Eckstein staff, parents, and students. We are very concerned that this school cannot sustain 5-9 more years of use before a remodel (on BEX V, supposedly, which is still dependent upon voter approval). The facility at Eckstein does not provide a “quality teaching and learning environment for students and staff” (Banda email 6/18/14).

Thank you for your swift attention to this urgent matter.


Joia Poort (educator & future parent) on behalf of staff, students, and parents of Eckstein Middle School

~ for transparency

Patrick said...

Every school has huge maintenance backlogs. Jane Addams doesn't have as many problems... but this year they had the fire alarm going off once or twice a day for months and months. How can you teach when you have to evacuate all the time? How do you keep people taking the alarm seriously when the Alarm that Cried Wolf has cried wolf 100 times running? Why didn't the Fire Dept. put Banda in jail?

Anyway, it's not a contest or anything, but severe issues like this should get addressed promptly. Eckstein's portable maze should be mitigated somewhat by the split with JAMS over the summer, so that should address a few items on their list.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Patrick, I wrote about that fire alarm issue. The Fire Department DID get the district's attention but only after about 17 times of the alarm going off.

But I do think the Eckstein has real problems but unless there are BTA dollars to address them, I don't know how they will get fixed.

Anonymous said...

I also got this from our local PTSA and figured this was from VNESS or some such group but it doesn't help their cause when it's NOT transparent who wrote it or sent it. It seems to attempt look "official" but wasn't actually written by school leadership, correct?


Anonymous said...

From the background info of a consent agenda (for design work to be done at Eckstein) item from last week's (June 18th)Board meeting:

"As part of the BTA III Capital Levy approved in 2009, mechanical upgrades, waterline
replacement, and new fire sprinkler installation was identified to be completed at Eckstein Middle School. Additionally, in the BEX IV Capital Levy approved in 2013, partial new roofing
was identified under the infrastructure improvements to be completed at Eckstein Middle School.

The design will incorporate these infrastructure renovations to improve air and water quality,
reduce maintenance, and increase building safety."

Looks like some of the issues mentioned in the letter will be addressed using a combination of BTAIII and BEXIV funds.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch, N-end Mom. I had forgotten that was in the agenda.

Catherine said...

There are so many reasons to vote no on the current preschool proposal - I'd need my own column. The short list: the pre-selected required curricula are ed-reform models and the consultant incorrectly claimed there was no research to support other models (false) and then stopped responding to emails when his assertions were challenged with data (so did CM Burgess); the reasons Melissa stated; there's a whole diversity/equality/education matrix that this plan will make worse not better (if you believe in diversity/role models/achievement by all). You know... little things like this. Please - email the council members to shelve this thing, or go back to the drawing board.

Anonymous said...

I got a phone poll this week on the preschool issue. They didn't say who they were polling for. The questions centered around the two initiatives (I forget their numbers) but the one sponsored by the city (w/ funding/levy funding mechanism) and the one sponsored by the SEIU (which referenced $15 wage for workers and union involvement)

It was an odd poll.


Anonymous said...

Re: Eckstein's ancient portable.

John Rogers has one of those, too. I think it dates back to the 1950s? It had what sounds like the same type of oil heater inside the portable. The heater was enclosed by a chain link fence (inside the portable!) to keep the kiddos out.

Our principal begged for the old portable to be replaced last summer, when plans were made to add a new double portable at John Rogers, but instead of removing the old portable, they did some cosmetic work and replaced the oil heater with an electric baseboard heater. It is now used as our music room.

We had previously gone through several years of having no music room or PCP space other than the gym, so the old portable is better than nothing.

They DID, however, tow away the icky moldy RV on blocks that served as a resource room (thank God!).

It would seem as though, with the 300-400 geo-split enrollment reduction at Eckstein,they should be able to remove some of the old portables...though I suppose it is possible that they will just get spruced up a bit, like the one at John Rogers.

I've heard that one of the newer double portables is being moved from Eckstein to Hale.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell whoever wrote that letter about Eckstein's condition that it is never productive to laundry list your complaints. Half of the items on that list are either shared with dozens of other schools or just irrelevant.

The others, including the accusation of infestation (to quote Frank Costanza 'I will not tolerate infestation') need to be addressed ASAP.

Unfortunately, long laundry list complaints such as this tend to be summarily dismissed.


Anonymous said... can still wash your hands with the "Do not drink the water" water. I'm pretty sure it's about lead in the water from old fixtures and pipes, making it unsafe for regular drinking but fine for just about any other use.

Interesting that it is about the staff not having water they feel is safe to drink - is the health of students not equally important??

Christina said...

Patrick, I am sure you mean the Alarm that Cried Hazel Wolf.

Joe Wolf said...

Re: Eckstein

- All portables aside from the six-classroom modular will be either demolished or removed this summer.

- The classrooms in the modular building will receive the following upgrades this summer:

- New carpeting.

- The lights are receiving new lenses to improve light spectrum/quality.

Anonymous said...

Joe Wolf, What about the pile of rusty metal and garbage in the Eckstein "tennis court"? Can't the district haul that away when they clean up after the portables? It is astonishing to me that that pile of junk sits there year after year.


Joe Wolf said...

Re: Eckstein Redux; KMG-365

I will do my best to get that iasue resolved.

Joe Wolf said...

I have given direction to the portables team to tag on the clearance of the tennis courts.

So let it be written;

So let it be done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joe Wolf!