Saturday, January 03, 2015

Troubling Transportation Cuts in SPS South End Elementaries

I will be reviewing the School Board agenda for the Board meeting coming up this week on Wednesday.  It looks like It looks like Concord, Roxhill and Graham Hill may be losing some of their bus service.  Transportation standards item from agenda here.  (The changes are fairly extensive as there is sunsetting of some standards.  One thing I wish that staff would do, especially for exceptions to standards for some schools, is explain WHY these schools get an exception.  There could be good reasons but again, when you are looking at equity issues lack of clarity doesn't help.)

And it appears there will be further cuts to Graham Hill.  I am puzzled by this especially for a school that has already had its share AND given serious safety concerns that parents have repeatedly brought before the Board.

There seems to be equity issues arising from the assignment plan in terms of how many options some parents are able to get their children to school, the safety of walk zones especially in terms of the lack of sidewalks and security problems.  (Another school soon to be affected by these problems will be the reopened Cedar Park Elementary.)

Why the Board does not see this - because all they need to do is ride the bus or walk the routes - I do not know.  (I do know that Rep. Gerry Pollet HAS done this in the Cedar Park area and if a state rep can take the time to do this, Board members can as well.)

Here's is some background info from one parent.


See from the RCW at this link, specifically point 5:

     (5) As used in this section, "walk area" means that area around a school with an adequate roadway configuration to provide students access to school with a walking distance of less than one mile. Mileage must be measured along the shortest roadway or maintained public walkway where hazardous conditions do not exist. The hazardous conditions must be documented by a process established in rule by the superintendent of public instruction and must include roadway, environmental, and social conditions. Each elementary school shall identify walk routes within the walk area.

(1) Each district shall determine the walk area for each school building or learning center where students are enrolled, attend class and transportation is provided. The district is required to use a process to determine the walk area that involves as many of the following groups as possible: Parents, school administrators, law enforcement representatives, traffic engineers, public health or walking advocates and other interested parties. Hazardous conditions requiring transportation service will be documented and will include all roadways, environmental and social conditions included in the evaluation process. The district process will be consistent with the one described in School Walk and Bike Routes: A Guide for Planning and Improving Walk and Bike to School Options for Students published by the Washington state department of transportation.


My understanding, and that of my contact at the city, is that state law provides for reimbursement for transportation expenses, provided they fall within the specified guidelines (see The guidelines state the school communities must be involved in determining their school's walk zone, and furthermore that hazardous social conditions should be considered when determining a walk zone.

I do not think we need much more evidence of hazardous social conditions in the case of Graham Hill, and I know that many other school communities could easily document their concerns.

End of parent narrative

It is very important for these parents to sign up this Monday morning in order to speak at the Board meeting on Wednesday.

Please call or or call 206-252-0040 January 5, Monday at 8:00am., regarding the Transportation policy.

Points to discuss could be:

High Crime neighborhoods
Families with No cars
Elementary and Middle School schedules conflicting for families


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Salmon Bay School is getting all sorts of crazy improvements:

- new school crosswalk that will substantially slow traffic down in front of the school

- new furniture and carpets

- new color palette inside the school

- thorough cleaning of the school's brick exterior

- building-wide installation of wireless access

What we've got planned for the summer: new fire sprinklers throughout the entire school plus our field's synthetic turf will be replaced and its rubberized track will be refurbished.

We've got an interim principal right now so I don't know if this is business as usual compared to other schools or if this is his attempt to wow the school community and demonstrate his pull with SPS.

What's going on at your school?

- what is the what

Jamie said...

Well gosh, Salmon Bay has needed new furniture and carpets forEVER. The cafeteria/cafetorium was one of the saddest places my kid has ever had a music concert, I recall. It was like 1973 avocado green in there.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think this may have been in BTA III and it has just taken time to trickle down. I doubt that any principal has this kind of pull.

Anonymous said...

One bit of good news...

The walk zone map for Cedar Park has been revised, so that it no longer spans Lake City Way.

This is important, because most of the kids who attend Olympic Hills Elementary (to be housed at Cedar Park, in interim, 2015-16 and 2016-17) live across Lake City Way from Cedar Park. These kids should now be eligible for transportation and will not be expected to cross a state highway to get to elementary school.

Unfortunately, the Cedar Park Walk Zone still includes portions of busy 35th Ave NE and NE 125th Street which lack crosswalks.

New Cedar Park map:

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

The new Jane Addams Middle School is one of the schools getting a transportation waiver, so that students over 1.5 miles will get a yellow bus starting next year. There are many students needing to cross Lake City Way and walk on many busy streets in north Lake City without sidewalks. Most of those students are FRL and many families don't have the option to drive their students. It shouldn't be this hard and dangerous for 11 year-old kids just to get to school. The kids who are just under 1.5 miles away will still have it hard, but at least this is an improvement.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention....

Director Peaslee DID attend part of one of the Lake City/Cedar Park walks held last year (the same walk attended by Rep. Pollet).

@ what is the what..

John Rogers hasn't scored any improvements since BTAII (unless the addition of portables counts as "improvements"). A classroom is sinking and it has "rained" inside the school this year. Personally, I was hoping for a new building with BEXIV, but no such luck.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I know Director Peaslee attended part of that walk but, according to my sources, did not walk any part of the walk.

Anonymous said...

Director Peaslee walked a short portion of the Lake City walk, near Cedar Park school.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa and North-end Mom. Good to know how other schools in the district (esp the south) are faring compared to my own.

- what is the what