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Friday, January 08, 2010

Queen Anne Elementary?

About the Sharples renaming. Linda Shaw of the Times did a piece about this and there were a few Board comments. Apparently, the district and the family could not reach agreement on several issues (not all of them named). From the story;

"But several of Sharples' grandchildren, although happy the school district was finally attempting to uphold its commitment, felt it had set an unreasonable deadline.

Gloria Sharples, a granddaughter who lives in Oakland, Calif., said she and her siblings only learned about the proposal in October and that she hasn't had a chance to visit the Old Hay site.

The family, she said, is willing to consider an elementary school to honor her grandfather, but had a number of conditions. One was that Sharples' name would not be overshadowed by any program at the school. Another was that the name Hay be removed from the two buildings on the site, which the district couldn't guarantee."

Holly Ferguson, a district staff person, said that the Sharples name could be used if another building becomes available.

This is a pretty sad story. They had named a building for Sharples in 1949 and then changed it in 1999 for Aki Kurose, a long time teacher and peace activist. A wonderful person I'm sure but the building was already named. They should have waited for a building for Ms. Kurose. There is another building I can think of with a pretty dull name, South Shore. It's a beautiful new building that houses an Option school. I'm a little surprised they didn't go there except maybe New School might have objected.

Michael De Bell called it a placeholder because he had heard from some people about the issue of it being a site for both Queen Anne and Magnolia children, not just Queen Anne as the name implies (although that is also where it is located). He said he was saying that for the record.

This is the second kind of incident that I can recall offhand where a strong-willed Board member got their way and it has caused problems. The other one is Center School.

20 comments:

Gouda said...

My understanding is that the Sharples name carries with it certain connotations in the SE community, as the last time it was used was in the drop-out prevention program at the building where Aki now resides. (Note I didn't use "alternative" here because of the various definitions people have there.)

Given the program history associated with Sharples, it might be best to house the name in a community that doesn't associate it with a failed program.

zb said...

Sorry, I don't see the problem with having re-named the building Aki Kurose.

Following your rule -- a new school before an old one can be renamed -- would mean that the naming of schools would forever lock in the power structures of the past.

Aki Kurose seems like she was indeed someone in the SPS to truly honor, and the naming of the school seems to honor not just her, but also other teachers who taught in our schools (and who were the instigators of the naming of Aki Kurose).

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/aki02.shtml

I wouldn't be particularly disturbed if we renamed John Hay, either.

ParentofThree said...

I don't understand the connection between the wishes of the Sharples family and the stong-willed board memeber and Center school?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The name was taken off of the Sharples building because of one-strong willed Board member (who, somehow, convinced the other Board members this was a good idea). The Center School is also another example of a strong-willed Board member who convinced the rest of the Board that a small boutique high school was the ticket to solve the Queen Anne/Magnolia problem.

Both outcomes? More problems. Both were bad decisions and it has caused embarrassment to the district as cost them money.

Ryan said...

It would bother me if the district spent more time on this--the Sharples family was given an option and turned it down. They aren't owed anything more than that.

seattle citizen said...

I can't believe the Times dedicated an entire opinion on this, while not addressing other, more important Board actions. Very strange.

West Seattle said...

As a parent of a Center School student I don’t necessarily know the originating history behind it but I do know that the school is a wonderful school that fits a need for a high school that offers a good education and offers it in a small school setting but incorporates that setting into the larger community. I can also tell you that while there are a large number of students from QA and Magnolia there are is also a large contingent from West Seattle as well (at least in the grade my student is in).

It often sounds like most on this board would prefer that every high school be massive and fit a specific comprehensive mold with the exception that people on this board like and advocate for Nova and any other special program that their students want. But for some reason there seems to be a very negative vibe towards Center school. Its very sad.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't know that anyone has a problem with what happens at The Center School or even with the existence of The Center School. The school appears pretty well attended. I have heard that it doesn't accept transfers in after the 10th grade. Nevertheless, in recent years there have been nearly as many students at TCS as there have been at Rainier Beach High School.

It has been galling to a lot of people, however, for the District to be paying rent for TCS while maintaining empty buildings that could, theoretically, house it. I know people say that the location is an integral feature of TCS, but not everyone buys that.

In addition, the construction of TCS ran WAY over budget and the District doesn't have any equity to show for it. At the time, the District claimed that the lease-holder improvements were cheaper than building a new school or renovating an old one. It didn't quite work out that way. There remains some bad feelings about that.

Disclosure: Although I have talked mostly about my 8th grade daughter considering STEM, she has also said that she wants to tour TCS.

West Seattle said...

I did not know that there was a restriction on transferring in after the 10th grade. I have heard second hand info that there are new students in higher grades. Don’t know if that is accurate or not.

I understand that people hate that money was spent over budget. I get that. But at this point does it make any financial sense to move a school now that the money has been spent and incur additional costs? I have also heard that people feel like the location is not important (this was heard loudly during the closure process). I may have skewed perspective but I think several of the things that make the school work is due to its location.

If you move the school to an existing building you increase the serviceable size. One main factors for us was the small school size. Please note that does not necessarily translate into small class sizes so if that’s important TCS might not be a good fit.

The school is part of a larger community. The students are housed in the Center House, there lunchroom is the food court. They have partnerships with other organizations on the Seattle Center grounds. Students have been able to attend and in many cases volunteer for a variety of events held on the grounds. The Dali Lama, Barack Obama, opera performances, Vera Project etc… They use professional spaces for their productions and work with professionals in the arts. Students are expected to attend school and live in the larger community. One thing that struck us greatly is that most comprehensive HS’s feel very insular, TCS is not. It feels more open and I believe as a direct result of that the students that go there are very adept at maneuvering in the real world.

And one more thing about the location. Seattle Center is ideal for students to travel to from all over the City. Metro is geared towards moving people in and out of downtown. While my student would typically take two buses to get to school she could have easily taken one with a few minutes additional walking (and our house is very poorly served by Metro). Moving the school to Beacon hill or Rainier Beach would have killed the program. You would never get the all city draw there as commuting there is difficult for large portions of the city. That being said I know the District does not want all-city draws so maybe that is the plan anyways.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I didn't say Center School wasn't a good school. It is. I also didn't say that all high schools should be large (that's the district's thinking). What I did say is that opening Center School cost us a lot of money, did not solve the problem it was opened for and is the oddity of space we pay money for at the same time we say we have too many opened buildings.

West Seattle said...

Melissa, I was responding to Charlie's message not yours. I was also addressing why I think its in a good location (an issue Charlie mentioned others have expressed concerns over that I have also heard many times).

West Seattle said...

PS. I don't believe you ever said TCS was a bad school.

ParentofThree said...

If we are going to discuss $$$ and schools...then Garfield High School at a 100% cost overrun, of $109 million, last I heard, is the big white elephant in that discussion. I have several friends whose kids go to Center and it has been an amazing experience. Kudos to the board director who got that school opened and kudos to the current board for not allowing it to be moved or closed last year.

We need more "small boutique high schools" that don't cost over 100 million to renovate.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Mom, Garfield is at $119M and counting (they still haven't settled all the contractor claims). The district will give you all sorts of reasons (inflation, historic remodel, contruction costs) but when you go double over your original budget, well, it can't all be someone else's fault. (Well, according to Bill Martin, Facilities staff, they practically got bullied by principal(s) and staff at Garfield and had to give in to their demands. Seriously, he's said this twice and I can hardly believe it.)

I think the State Auditor's report on BEX over the last 5 years will address this issue.

ParentofThree said...

that's my point. The Center School could not cost the district that kind of money in a million years.

I was also thinking, with all the QA and Magnolia students that DO choose the school, didn't that take some pressure of Ballard, when they had to draw the boundry line? If Center School had been closed, I would think that line would have been even further south to accomodate all those students.

So, personally I an very glad for the school and would love to see more of them in Seattle. Sad thing is, I think we will, they will have the name "Charter" attached.

seattle citizen said...

I agree with SPSmom that it would be great to have more "option" programs and comp-school sited academies, such as Ballard's BioTech, etc.

I don't agree that new "boutique schools" have to be charters. If enough people actively lobby for these schools, and support the existing ones, SPS could build some wonderful new programs without having to go charter.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Since Center School is now an all-city draw, no they don't take a lot of pressure off of Ballard (hence, Ballard's northern line went further south and many of those parents were very unhappy with their Ingraham assignment).

Charlie Mas said...

Even if The Center School were wildly popular with Queen Anne and Magnolia families, it would not have moved the boundary line for Ballard High School.

There are lots of reasons you can list in support of The Center School - and did an admirable job of it - but this isn't one of them.

We could debate the creation of the school or the location of the school, but those decisions are made. I prefer to face forward.

Now, after the District gets the Mercer garage in the Memorial Stadium deal, could a new building on that site be the permanent location of The Center School?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Could be Charlie but (1) that's a long way off and (2) Center School would have to grow. Does it want to grow? Maybe they could do a 6-12 arts school and expand it that way? They were spoken of very highly by the head of the Seattle Center and welcomed to stay when SC is rebuilt but I think Center School would need to leave Seattle Center because I'm sure the lease rates would go up and the district wouldn't be able to afford it. (Not and look people in the face and cry poor.)

But who knows? I never understand the thinking in Facilities anyway.

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