Monday, August 29, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

Mainly just the calm before the storm of school starting up but there are several happy events; namely, the ribbon-cuttings and tours of new schools.  (I am going to try to go to all of them).

Thursday, September 1
- Thornton Creek K-5 - 11am-noon
- Hazel Wolf K-8 @ Pinehurst School - 1-2 pm

Friday, September 2nd
- Seattle World School @ T.T. Minor School -11am-noon

Saturday, September 3rd 
Community Meeting with Director Peters
Magnolia Library, 2801 34th Ave. W
11 am-12:30 pm  

Tuesday, September 6th
- Arbor Heights - 11 am - noon
- Genesee Hill - 1-2 pm

Update: story from SPS Communications on the new Arbor Heights school.
When you walk inside Arbor Heights School, you find a 89,000 square foot, preK-5 school designed to not just accommodate 660 students, but foster connections between each one of those students, the community, and the natural environment while pioneering Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) Environmental Science Technology Engineering Math (E-STEM) program. The building houses four small learning communities intentionally crafted to focus on 21st century learning and innovation. Each curve and corner supports Abor Heights’ education philosophy and values of the school community, including open-shared learning spaces featuring an IDEA lab, collaboration and project-based learning.
Sixteen members of the School Design Advisory Team, including SPS staff members, parents and neighbors, helped design every square foot of the school to engage students in their own education. Their theme: “Environmental Learning from Sea to Sky”. The result of their work: the building, itself, fosters opportunities for students to cultivate 21st century skills (e.g. collaboration, innovation) and creates successful conditions for the E-STEM program. It is more than just a building, is a critical component to realizing the vision of the E-STEM school community.

Outside, playfields, the running track, covered play area, raised bed planters, storm water cisterns, a sundial, an in-ground slide, educational signage, nature engagement areas, and outdoor classrooms encourage physical activity, casual and structured play, social interaction, and outdoor learning.

Inside, Learning Communities are intentionally designed to provide a personalized learning environment for the E-STEM program. Each has five classrooms organized around an Open Learning Area, a Group Study Room, and an Idea Lab where students will collaborate to bring ideas to life. All of them are interconnected to provide a highly adaptable and robust environment for hands-on and project-based learning in art, science, and technology.

Sustainability is also embedded in the design and used as building-based learning examples: simple, energy-efficient building forms; windows oriented for optimum solar exposure and views; sun shades to control daylight; south-facing roofs for future solar panels; rain gardens for stormwater management; rainwater catchers, exposed rainwater discharge, and above-ground cisterns; large illustrative graphics and ecosystem-themed learning communities; natural cooling and user-controlled ceiling fans; LED lighting throughout; automatic sensors and controls that turn off power and lights; and a “guts-out” approach that showcases the building’s structure and systems. Finally, a video-screen dashboard allows the building’s energy-usage to be monitored by staff and students, once again leveraging the building design to enhance learning.

The result is a school that sought from the outset to provide a cost- and energy-efficient design that is highly flexible, durable, and sustainable and supports the educational philosophy of the school and values of the community.

School District: Seattle Public Schools
School Principal: Christy Collins
Construction Manager: Heery International – Steve Moore, Tim Ausink
Architects: Bassetti Architects – Lorne McConachie, Caroline Lemay, Ross Parker, Charlie Bucheit
General Contractor: Bayley Construction – Jim Levin, Gaylin Stiner, Kevin Krieg

The district is growing at a rapid rate. Seattle Public Schools is opening five new school building this fall and 95 new classrooms. The new Arbor Heights building was funded by the $694.9 million dollar Building Excellence IV Capital Levy. The Levy was approved by over 72 percent of Seattle voters in February 2013 and reflects the district’s and community’s commitment to educational excellence.


Charlie Mas said...

It's good to see that two schools with urgent needs, Arbor Heights and Schmitz Park (now Genesee Hill), were promoted to earlier in the process. These communities have waited a long time and deserve this relief.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am as well, Charlie.

However, let's not forget the history.

Pathfinder K-8 was at Genesee Hill for years. Their entire middle school was in portables. They had one of the worst buildings and yet got passed over time after time, notably for one school building that was NOT even near the top of the worst.

The district knew they had to do something for Pathfinder so they then shut down Cooper to move Pathfinder in. That created a lot of hard feelings.

Now Schmitz Park will be in the former Genesee site. But the district has been mum on what will happen to the old Schmitz Park building (and famously have not secured/kept up closed buildings well.) Given that the Schmitz family gave that land to the district to use for school purposes and in good faith and trust, it seems like the district would keep its promises to the family.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Speaking of school remodels, a group of Ballard High School students (and Loyal Heights grads) produced this 30 minute film on the proposed massive expansion of Loyal Heights, "Mega School":

It's an interesting documentary that raises some big questions. I currently live right on the edge of the proposed expanded boundaries for the mega school (I'm on the edge of Crown Hill and Greenwood). My son would have to cross three major arterials - 8th, 15th, and 24th - to get to the school, even though there are four other elementary schools that are closer to us. So it's hard to understand why SPS would go out of its way to include us when we'd rather go to a closer school.

The folks interviewed in the video aren't against change, and they welcome a smaller expansion of the school. But SPS has adamantly refused to budge. That makes me wonder what is really going on here. Why do they want to turn Loyal Heights into such a massive school? What's the real purpose here? Do they want to co-locate a charter school here? Are they planning to close another nearby elementary school? Their obstinate refusal to even entertain a compromise makes such questions reasonable.

Ultimately this will come down to the school board, and it will be a key test for them - and especially our new board members. Will they let SPS staff get away with it again? Or will the board step in and insist on a reasonable and sensible compromise that adds capacity without taking away a playground and a park?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robert, I heard about this video but couldn't get confirmation if it was about Loyal Heights; thanks for this.

The rather tortured route of this mega-school is troubling. I agree; the Board needs to get real clarity here.

Lynn said...


Have you seen the staff briefing on Loyal Heights?

We have a limited number of school sites and virtually no ability to add school sites

Our school enrollment population continues to grow by 10-30 classrooms / year

McCleary class size reduction ratios for grades K-3 has taken up nearly 100 additional classrooms

Our educational specifications call for maximizing each of our existing sites.

Our standard elementary school is designed for 660 students.

Since all of our school sites are small larger buildings result in loss of play space outside.

Landmarking further impedes our ability to maximize classroom space while minimizing impact on play space.

Loyal Heights does combine a large school with a small site and limited play space; however the building size and playground size is comparable to Hazel Wolfe which is opening this fall.

I don't think there is any nefarious intent. If the educational specs for elementary schools need to be updated to increase the amount of playground space per student we should do that. I think making changes to the rules is generally a better idea than making exceptions to them.

Anonymous said...

I think the specs for a 660++ student school are a fantastic plan for any elementary school sitting on ~ 5 acres of land. Anything smaller than that (including Hazel Wolfe and LHE) will result in a school too big for the lot, and compromise should be sought.

Any parent whose school is slated for expansion next year, and whose lot is less than ~5 acres, please watch the above video and feel free to reach out to us and we will talk about our experiences. I can be found using the lunch and recess matters fb page.

And I would be curious to see anyone's reaction to the new Hazel Wolfe school.

LHE parent

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the efforts of neighbors to preserve to play field Thorton Creek now sits on.

No SpaceGuy

Lori said...

When they say the school is designed for 660 students, is that under *current* class sizes or the hopefully soon to be implemented smaller sizes mandated by law/the constitution? The interior of the building and number of homerooms needed would vary greatly depending which it is, right?

Anonymous said...

It is 4 classrooms/grade plus 3 flex rooms that will be converted to classrooms when need arises plus 2 preschool classrooms which can be converted to kindergarten classrooms if need arises plus a fair bit of extra space (2 art rooms, 2 music rooms, 2 computer rooms, etc).

-LHE parent

Anonymous said...

Cascadia will have eight 3rd classes this year.

Miss fit

Robert Cruickshank said...

Lynn, thanks so much for sharing those notes. It's very helpful.

I fully agree we need a lot more capacity and that we'll need to maximize space as best we can. I could be convinced to support this plan for Loyal Heights. But the district needs to provide some clear answers to some key questions. So far, all they do is stonewall.

1. Why Loyal Heights and not another school on a larger lot? (I'm not sure that the allegations made in the film that LHE was picked after North Beach rebelled are accurate, but that does deserve a reply.)

2. Why are students going to be sent to Loyal Heights rather than four other schools nearer to their home? (Basically, justify why Crown Hill is getting sent there, rather than expand Loyal Heights' boundaries nearer to the school to accommodate the new size.)

3. Can the district commit that it has no plans to support a charter school co-location (or charter school, period) at LHE? Do they have any plans to repurpose other elementary schools in the area?

4. How will SPS ensure the Loyal Heights kids get enough time and space to eat and play? SPS staff's record on this issue has been very poor. They continue to reject a growing pile of research and evidence that kids need more lunch and recess time than they have been getting. SPS staff have spent nearly 2 years resisting parent and teacher efforts to fix this, and we still don't have a good district-wide picture of what the 2016-17 schedules look like. So I lack confidence that these kids would get the time and space they need to eat and play in the new LHE - unless SPS proves they have a good plan to ensure this happens.

I'd also want to know if this is a new paradigm for elementary schools in the district.

Solving the capacity crisis will probably require some tough decisions. So I get that. But that also doesn't absolve SPS staff of their responsibility to address other issues, or their need to be open and transparent with the public.

Po3 said...

The way Seattle is booming it is only a matter of time before Northbeach will also have to become a mega school.

I don't see any other alternatives when the city allows houses to be torn down and fourplexes put up in its place, in addition to all the condos!

No more NIMBY
It is now IEBY-in every back yard.

Joe Wolf said...

Hi Lori - the answer to your question is as follows.

The schools opening next month and in September 2017 were designed under the parameters of our former Ed Spec and have capacities of 660 assuming the following class sizes:

K - 26 students/class
1 - 26 students/class
2 - 26 students/class
3 - 26 students/class
4 - 28 students/class
5 - 28 students/class

If and when CSR is fully rolled out the capacities of these schools will be about 580.

Future K-5 schools (and expansions of older schools) are planned for execution under the revised Ed Spec. It accommodates the same student population (490 or 660) in the same building square footage *and* supports CSR by adding two GenEd homerooms at each grade level K-3. Done by reducing homeroom sizes from 1,000 to 900 SF in K, 900 to 850 SF in 1-5 and other space allocation strategies.

Joe Wolf said...

Arbor Heights photo album (first cut, it will be expanded soon):

Another Name said...

"3. Can the district commit that it has no plans to support a charter school co-location (or charter school, period) at LHE? Do they have any plans to repurpose other elementary schools in the area?"

Good questions. I'm also looking at Webster. At one point, I may have heard that the city wants to use that building for the city's prek.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to a resolution of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Seattle, Washington opposing charter schools and charter school legislation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm confused at those class sizes because that's not what I-1351 or McCleary say they will be.

Yes, Webster, what is the plan for that building? I'm a little suspicious myself.

mirmac1 said...

I look at the layout of these new schools. AH and LH seems to push SpEd classrooms into areas away from Gened, despite the fact that these children should enjoy access to GenEd to the greatest capacity possible, with appropriate supports provided. For example, why must LH SpEd classrooms be by the office and share space with the school's Kindergarten?

Last I checked my neighborhood school AH has a separate wing and entrance/exit for SpEd and Pr eK. This is not necessary and perpetuates a mindset of us and them - nor should this separation be encouraged. The separation is not needed and harms everyone. There are a number of DOE OCR findings that show this segregation is harmful.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Lynn, thanks again for that link. I'm aware of that resolution and remain very grateful for it. But I also recall that SPS staff wasn't a fan of the resolution. And SPS staff have found other ways to undermine and subvert board policies.

I've worked for local government before and so I've been in the position of defending proposals that generated community controversy. What I found in that process is it's really important for government to be responsive, honest, and transparent. Instead I see SPS just digging in their heels and saying "it has to be this way" without really explaining why, showing their work/sharing their reasoning, and honestly responding to community comments.

I've found that when government is appropriately responsive a lot of concerns get cleared up and consensus can be found. But when government digs in and says "it's our way or the highway" the end result usually isn't very good. So if SPS staff can provide more complete answers and address the whole range of concerns, I think this story can have a good ending.

Anonymous said...

I can answer why Loyal Heights and not North Beach. It's quite practical and rational.

Look at North Beach on a map - comparatively few children live north of North Beach (Carkeek Park, large single family lots, topography that doesn't allow a lot of buildings north of North Beach).

Compare with the density around Loyal Heights, especially to the south, and crowding at Adams and density also increasing south of Adams Elementary.

Adding significantly more seats at NB doesn't particularly help kids in the Adams area, or south of Adams. And the boundary for an expanded NB school would have ended up practically across the street from Loyal Heights. (Unpopular).

So adding more seats in the middle of that population corridor - at LH - means that pressure can be relieved in multiple directions, both the existing crowding at LH (It had portables and was too small) and at Adams (portables, and very crowded).

Also, the lot at North Beach isn't as great as you think to build on - it's apparently fill and pilings would have had to be sunk quite deep to reach solid footing. LH is more sound land, from what I heard in JSCEE meetings.

Also - LH seats are needed now in the Adams, LH, Whittier area ... in the future, Viewlands has a big lot and is also more central to population growth along Greenwood (Leilani and many many developments and townhouses along Greenwood and 105th area) than North Beach. This isn't about any pull from the neighborhood - I'm sure North Beach would like a nice new building - but it's just the dead end of this corner of Seattle, and several of the areas around it have strict CCRs (Covenants on the property) preventing increased density. Kids would have to go past other schools to get there, which as you pointed out is unpopular.

The district needs to put the seats where they're more central and closer to where the extreme growth is occurring.

And I find a lot of this fear of a so-called mega school and Nimbyism from people around Loyal Heights to be very myopic and not very informed about the state of the district. Grass? Not the district's job - getting seats for kids to put their butts in is the district's job. Grass for neighborhoods belongs to parks and rec. Please, keep your focus on what the district is supposed to do - educate kids. SPS desperately needs seats in the right spots. Not their job to provide after hours dog walking space, grass, etc.

Signed: Meeting Wonk

Jan said...

Melissa: I read Joe's email to mean that the classroom configuration (26 to 28 kids per class, depending on grade level, with a total school size of 660) was done under the OLD rules (before class size reduction). If/when CSR is fully rolled out, the class sizes will reduce correspondingly, and the total school population will drop to 580 (which probably means that they are looking at 3 to 4 classrooms at each grade level). Is that how you read it, or do those numbers still not add up -- or am I just misunderstanding Joe's post?


Ballard Resident said...

Meeting Wonk makes some good points. Ballard is booming. There is a push for more and more growth.

Zoning allows for most growth to occur south of 65th street. Adams elementary is located around 62nd. Single family homes are being torn down and multiplex units are filling those properties. There are considerable amounts of apartment buildings going into Ballard, too. If you think Loyal Heights won't have a lot of playground space- try looking at Adams elementary. The playground reminds me of a postage stamp.

I'm not certain if apartment buildings and multiplex units will be filled with families.

I do take issue with Meeting Wonk: "And I find a lot of this fear of a so-called mega school and Nimbyism from people around Loyal Heights to be very myopic and not very informed about the state of the district. Grass? Not the district's job - getting seats for kids to put their butts in is the district's job."

The term "Nimbyism" has become a popular mechanism to dismiss valid concerns. Stop name-calling- Meeting Wonk.

Loyal Heights residents make valid points. The neighborhood is too small for a big school. It will be difficult for the roadways to handle drop-offs and traffic. Families are correct to be concerned about decreased play space- too.

Kids need grass- not concrete jungles. Former LH families worked hard to assure kids had grass to play on.

Anonymous said...


There shouldn't be many people driving to Loyal Heights. There are sidewalks. Walk zone is for walking. Car convenience is absolutely not a reason to leave seats unbuilt, capacity unmaximized. Neighborhood convenience, again, not SPS job - SPS job is to build seats for kids, as reasonably placed to where those kids live as SPS can.

Also - if a school is on busier streets, then people complain that it's not a safe walk - case: Bagley (by Aurrora and 80th) or the new Hazel Wolf K8 (Roosevelt) or Broadview Thompson (crossing Greenwood, a kid was even hit by a car a couple years ago). So frankly I find "too much traffic for the neighborhood" to be a smokescreen. Neighborhood should agitate for walkers if the cars -- 2X a day, 5 days a week, for part of the year - are "too much." This is a city. If residents want a quiet street they don't ever have to share with other people's uses, move to Issaquah. Houses by LH will sell quite quickly.

(And by the way - the old Nordic Heritage Museum site - SPS doesn't own the half that is the park/playground, that's owned by Parks and Rec - so it's far, far less buildable than LH site).

Just consider: North Beach road access is even more difficult - not a through street that can connect back onto the rest of the street grid in any reasonable way. A lot of schools have small streets around them - that's urban district living. Please reread that car comment, and then look at 5 or 6 other schools, especially ones in the extremely topographic NE of the city.


Again - grass is NOT the SPS priority. Do you have ANY idea how much $$$ they spend on grass? Look it up. That could be used for an actual middle school math curriculum. Which is a core function of education?

And the schools that manage to actually keep nice looking grass, it's because they forbid kids from actually playing on it when it's wet. My kids have been in 5 buildings - the ONLY one with nice grass had orange cones and "NO" signs put up on the grass area when it was wet. Two had NO grass whatsoever left within 2 weeks of the school year starting. Even 500 kids playing is incompatible with actual grass.

Kids play on the playground and play lots and lots of ball - those are not grass features. Observe actual recess from a distance - the grass "requirement" is an adult wish being extrapolated onto kids. It's not particularly necessary or even noticed by them. And it's so freaking expensive, very hard to achieve, and limiting to the CORE MISSION - create seats for kids to go to school and learn.

Seats where kids are: that's the need. I think every school in the NW now has portables except Greenwood? Or did it get one too?

Policy Wonk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Meeting Wonk, good points. But I will point out to everyone - as a veteran of past school closures from about 10 years ago - that when school closures were going on, people pointed the finger at very small schools in our district. The feeling was that if you were going on just facility size/condition, small building should be closed.

The opposing side to that was that many, many people wanted smaller schools for their kids (like 300 or less) and that a big elementary school was something like 450. Now the district is ramping up to over 600 kids. Other districts around the country do have larger elementaries but this truly is something new here. I'm fascinated that the mindset has changed but I think the capacity issues have helped change that.

Jan, I'll let Joe clarify what he means. I don't know.

Ballard Resident said:

"I'm not certain if apartment buildings and multiplex units will be filled with families."

None of us are certain. The apartments they want to build/have been building in Roosevelt are not really family-sized. This is one issue that the Mayor and HALA have been silent on. If you want to serve all citizens, some apartments need to be built with 3+ bedrooms. Not sure that will happen.

I also agree; no name calling.

Anonymous said...

If I have to turn over my 5 year old to SPS for 6 hours a day 5 days a week, I hold SPS responsible for his educational well being AND his physical and emotional well being. Those last two are hard to achieve with desks alone.

I 100% agree we need more classrooms. I agree LHE needs more classrooms. I also think kids need space to run. Smart growth is trying our hardest to make sure they have both.

LHE parent

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'm not opposed to the mega school, but there are outstanding questions that SPS staff need to answer. The two wonks who posted here make some good points about capacity needs here in NW Seattle. (And the points about North Beach are convincing - I don't think that site makes sense for the reasons given by Meeting Wonk, but SPS hasn't really been up front about that.)

That said, there are two points that don't quite hold together for me. First, it very much is SPS's job to help meet the physical and emotional needs of students. That's good in and of itself, but it's also essential to student learning. That means it's absolutely part of the core mission. In particular, SPS staff have consistently attacked lunch and recess times, and have refused to reverse course on that except under intense pressure and in contract negotiations (thanks SEA for winning a minimum recess guarantee!). SPS staff refuse to accept the mountain of research that proves beyond a doubt that kids need more time to eat and play, and that providing it will go a long way toward improving student learning.

So for me it's not about "grass" - it's that SPS staff have shown they do not take child play seriously, and the design of the mega school reflects this. I would be less concerned about that design if SPS showed they did take children's need to have more time to eat and play seriously. They don't, so this issue could derail their desired school rebuild. That's SPS staff's fault alone.

Second, Meeting Wonk says this: "There shouldn't be many people driving to Loyal Heights. There are sidewalks. Walk zone is for walking. Car convenience is absolutely not a reason to leave seats unbuilt, capacity unmaximized."

But look again at the proposed boundaries, and there will be a LOT of people driving their kids to school. The proposed boundaries include Crown Hill - between 85th, Holman, and 6th. That's well outside the Loyal Heights walkshed, and is a neighborhood that largely lacks sidewalks. SPS hasn't explained how they justify those boundaries. It doesn't help when, as the video showed, SPS staff claim that many of the residents in the expanded LHE boundaries are inside the walkshed - that's just literally not true.

There's no doubt that a lot more growth is coming to NW Seattle. That's a good thing, and we need to provide capacity for it. And perhaps the Loyal Heights mega school is a necessary step in providing that capacity. But SPS staff aren't going to get that school unless they do a better job addressing public concerns - and a lot of what they need to do simply requires them to be honest and forthcoming and responsive. But those words carry little value with SPS central staff, sadly.

Robert Cruickshank said...

My apologies - I got my wonks confused. The quote about driving that I included in my last comment was from Policy Wonk.

Eric B said...

One of the reasons the LHE area extends to the triangle between Holman and 85th is that these students have to cross a major arterial to get to school no matter which way they go (Viewlands, Whittier, Greenwood, or North Beach), so they have to be offered buses. Once the kids are on the bus, it's about the same cost no matter where they go.

Incidentally, the LHE assignment area boundary with the old building size is tiny. It's about 10 blocks north-south and 18 blocks east-west, with an added 4 block square piece. Standing in just the right place, you can see the building from both the north and south boundaries. Expanding the school and pushing the south boundary south will provide much needed relief to Adams, not to mention removing Truman-era portables from the site. Fun facts: my kids and father-in-law both went to school in those portables, and when they were new, they were really exciting because they had oil furnaces instead of wood stoves.

For Webster, I think it's really unlikely that the district will be able to significantly expand the building due to both lot size and landmarking. However, they have a lot of small programs that could effectively use a 250-seat building, possibly shared among them. It seems like there are half a dozen of those programs at Lincoln, and they're all going to have to move.

Lynn said...

Students who live outside their elementary school walk zone receive transportation on school buses.

Anonymous said...

There is another issue that hasn't been raised yet - Loyal Heights is part of the proposed Crown Hill Urban Village upzone area - if you don't think that's going to cause a rise in population, some of which will presumably be kids, then think again. Frankly, the map showing the proposed outline of the rezone was the final nail in the coffin for I and my SPS employed spouse to sell the house and get out of crazy town.

You can see the map here

It extends from just North of both Loyal Heights Elem & Whittier all the way over to past Whitman Middle School and calls for much more increased density, as seen in Ballard etc etc

It would be a fascinating change of pace of the City and SPS got together ahead of time to plan school needs in relationship to these rezone propositions but hey, that would be realistic and useful -not the Seattle way


Robert Cruickshank said...

reader47, that's likely the case. It would be a good example of the City and SPS planning ahead for once when it comes to capacity needs. I support that upzone (and I live on the edge of Crown Hill and Greenwood). Still, SPS central staff do have to answer some questions about the Loyal Heights plan. As I've seen countless times, if they just respond honestly and directly, and address some of the concerns (like commitment to kids' need for time and space to eat and play) they could get most of what they want here.

To those who point out that kids living outside the walkshed get transportation, this is true, but that also doesn't mean all kids will use the bus. I live right on the edge of the proposed Loyal Heights boundary. About half the parents in this area put their kids on the bus to Whittier, the other half drive their kids to the school. So having such a far-flung ares be part of Loyal Heights' boundary does mean there will be more parents dropping their kids off.

Joe Wolf said...

Jan and all -

A 660 seat K-5 school - given the historic class sizes I related in my initial post - is designed with four GenEd homerooms per grade.

K 4 homerooms
1 4 homerooms
2 4 homerooms
3 4 homerooms
4 4 homerooms
5 4 homerooms
24 homerooms total

The full rollout of CSR requires the addition of two homerooms per grade at grades K,1,2 & 3 to maintain the same 660 seat capacity. So, these grades have six homerooms each under the new 660 seat K-5 ed spec.

For those concerned about "mega-schools": SPS is opening four 660 seat K-5 campuses and a 690 seat K-8 campus a week from tomorrow, and as Melissa related their are ribbon-cuttings/tours for them and Seattle World School's new campus later this week. If your schedule permits I encourage you to see for yourself what they are like, and then form an opinion.

Links to my photo albums for:

Genesee Hill Elementary:

Hazel Wolf K-8:

It's interesting to me that the LHS opponents never mention the 6,200 SF gym and large covered play area the new campus will have, that the old campus doesn't. In our climate those spaces facilitate play during much of the school year, do they not?

Joe Wolf said...

Melissa - while not name-calling, Mr. Cruikshank's narrative describing SPS staff is pretty demeaning. A good share of it is simply not true.

He does know I work for SPS, correct?

Anonymous said...

And doesn't the new Hazel Wolf building feature fabulous rooftop gardens?!!!

Hit Ormiss

Robert Cruickshank said...

Joe - actually, I didn't know that. I don't intend to be demeaning and none of my comments were specifically directed at you. But from all I've seen, SPS central staff are not very good at replying to public questions and public input. I'd say that's a widely shared experience among parents in the district and readers of the blog. I don't know in which capacity you work for SPS, but you could directly address the questions I posed above. That would be a start.

To be clear, SPS teaching staff are great. SPS district staff, especially the senior staff, have a long history of not respecting public input or concerns. I am most familiar with SPS central staff's ongoing and hard to fathom resistance to accepting the research and giving students more time to eat and play. But there are many other instances where community members have called SPS central staff out for a lack of honesty, including the racist attack (yes, that's what it is) on Middle College.

You could also answer another question - what exactly is CSR? Forgive me for not being familiar with it. And why are these described as "homerooms" rather than "classrooms"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe -
Thanks for the information. I know from past interactions that you and I disagree whether a PE class once every 3 days is adequate substitute for recess (which my child tells me is rarely cancelled due to rain).

But I would like to point out the old building does have a covered play area, about the same size as the proposed covered play area in the remodel. I suspect the new one, much like the old one, will be a fantastic asset for the ~10 kids that can fit in there to play soccer after school in the rain. Again, thanks for that. And again, this is not an adequate substitute for recess.

LHE parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joe, I'm not sure who knows you work for SPS or not. I reread Robert's remarks and no, I don't find them demeaning. He's pretty calm, actually. It's his opinion and, given he once worked for the City in the mayor's office, probably something of an expert opinion on how government works.

Eric B said...

Reader47, your description of the Crown Hill urban village is technically accurate, but it implies that the (proposed?) rezone is way bigger than it actually is. The map you linked is pretty clear that the revised boundaries are within a few blocks of the intersection of 85th and 15th, which is a pretty high-density area anyway. The "proposed urban village" lines are not that much bigger than the current urban village lines, although the proposed ones are drawn pretty loosely. The proposal adds about 22 blocks of single-family homes to the existing urban village, not counting Whitman, Soundview Playfield, and the cemetery. It's also not really clear that the expansion would significantly change zoning. Even in the current urban village, about half of the land area is zoned for single family houses.

So, yeah, probably some more students coming this way, but it's not like 15th and 85th is suddenly going to become Belltown.

Jan said...

Hi Robert -- I am not Joe, but I think that:

1. CSR means Class Size Reduction -- and specifically applies to the mandated ones.

2. I am less sure on the "homeroom" issue -- but I think they mean that -- if you think of having the bell ring at 8:30 (or whenever) in the a.m. -- and every kid goes to a specific room -- with a specific classroom teacher -- at that point, all those classrooms are "home rooms." It means to NOT count (for that purpose) other spaces (music rooms, science labs, computer labs, etc. where classes may be held, but are not part of trying to "size" the student population for purposes of class size. -- Hopefully, Joe will weigh in so that if I am just blowing smoke here, you will still get the right answers.

Anonymous said...

Well, Eric -since I lived in a single family home very close to 15th, it was of great concern to me what might happen across the street and/or down the block. I like single family housing. I am not a fan of giant boxlike buildings that are slowly blocking out the light on 15th. I know that the Mexican restaurant on 15th, run by a very lovely family, is due to close down in the next year or so to be replaced by 184 apodments.

This is not the life I choose to lead, and I think one is very foolish to believe the City won't expand rezoning as far as it can get away with. Without any clear consideration for a corresponding need for increased schools, sidewalks, bus runs, police or fire personnel. It hasn't happened in other rezoned areas. I seriously doubt this particular one will be any different.

I am not naive enough to believe that more single family housing will disappear in that area. With proper mitigation, maybe that's not a bad thing. Not my lifestyle of choice, but whatever.

Fortunately, no longer my problem...bliss is never having to hear my husband come home with another story about what happened down at Central, what stupid policy they just invoked, or see how exhausted he was from a minimum of 6 round trips a day from North Seattle to HQ and beyond, trying to make sure kids got home safely.

Sorry - more rant than intended

happy trails


Robert Cruickshank said...

Jan - thanks, that's very helpful.

Anonymous said...

LHE, You are not required to give up your kindergartener to SPS. Attendance is not mandatory until 1st grade from what I understand. In the health and wellbeing of small children SPS is not always the best thing. There is a severe lack of nap time scheduled in K, and your child may still need naps, lung lunches, freedom to run, etc. Keep them out or demand your half day and parent if you have the means.

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