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Monday, August 19, 2013

Seattle Schools Rethinking the Mann Building Use

In the "what!?" category, the Times is reporting that the district is "reconsidering" their plans for the Horace Mann building which is to rehouse Nova High School.  There are some pretty unbelievable statements like:

- in one place in the article the Times says the district has not been charging rent to any of the groups using the building.  Yet later on, they say that one group was paying $3,300 a month and then sub-leased the building out to another group who then - it seems - sublease to others "paying what they could afford.  (They also paid for heating the building. )  I don't get how paying rent and paying utilities is that unusual for a lease.  

-the district is forming ("has formed")  a taskforce (another one?) to study options and see if these programs align with the five-year strategic plan.

- the district is "committed" to helping them continue to use Mann or find other space.  Why is this the district's job?

The Times points out that the John Marshall building ("near Northgate" what?" was rented out until the district ended leases there.   Are we going to find out that the district didn't charge rent there?

What is going on?  What will Nova do?  Is this not leaving a REAL district school in the lurch?  


27 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Let's keep the facts straight and not over-react.

1) The District was collecting rent from their tenants. Those tenants, in turn, sub-let space to others on a sliding scale. So the District did collect rent for the space, it did not allow groups to use it at no cost.

2) The District isn't saying that they will give the Mann building to anyone. They have only said that they will meet with these folks and help them transition to another site or find some way that the groups can use space in the Mann building after school hours.

From the Times story:
"We are committed to working with them to figure out some options," which, she said, could include helping them find space elsewhere or continued use of Horace Mann.

"We aren't going to just go in and physically move them without dialogue about how to help."


3) The District, let's remember, has already made provision for community use of school properties by the African-American community. They surrendered the Colman Building to occupiers and they sold the MLK school for less than the high bid by giving the winning bidder credit for using the building as a community center. The District has already given assets to this community and doesn't owe them more and more and more. When Meany re-opens there will also be space available at Washington Middle School.

4) Let's also remember that the folks now using the space moved in just a few months ago. The Mann building was home to The NOVA Project for thirty years before the District moved it out for no legitimate reason. The District is now in the process of correcting all of the wrong decisions by Maria Goodloe-Johnson and her rubber-stamping board. That includes re-opening Meany and moving NOVA back home to Mann.

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Well Charlie, you have more faith than I do.

Maybe this is just the district throwing them a bone (and I suspect that).

However, how is it you say they moved in just a few months ago when the lease was started 3 years ago?

I hope you are right.

Anonymous said...

I just sent an email to the Superintendent and the school board asking that the Mann construction contract remain on the agenda for Wednesday's board meeting.
They will have a very hard time getting another capital levy passed if they give away this building.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

The tenants have been running the Work It Out project (a very small program) for several years. I haven't heard that they are protesting the end of their lease. I don't know how long the private school has been there. The group making all the noise started making plans to use the space this April. See "A Vision for Africatown" in the Central District News on May 6th.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Annomyous- you have to post w/ a name. Here's the link to the the Times article:
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021642343_mannoccupiedxml.html

Melissa- The district lease was with the Work it Out (a sub group of the People Life's Family Center, a church). They sub-leased to the Amistad School. My understanding is that both those groups have now left the Mann building.

The group now there is the Umoja Center- with the new name ACIC. Umoja and Occupy folks staged a brief "occupation" of the Mann building in November 2011- claiming that the Work it Out group was not doing enough for youth. That occupation ended, but the group came back (w/ a new name/affiliation) this past May/June and have been occupying since.

The Times article claims the ACIC groups came in under the wings of/as a partner of the Amistad School. I am curious about that and would seek confirmation from the school.

(trying to follow along)

Anonymous said...

Trying - your comment is likely to be deleted as your name is too long.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn's link :

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2013/05/a-vision-for-africa-town-by-addisalem-gebremedhin-resident-of-newholly-community-and-solomon-welderfial-resident-of-yesler-community/

PSP

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent with kids in one of the "programs" that the District keeps moving around like a whack-a-mole game. I guess we just need to find a "vacant" SPS building, sign a flimsy-sounding lease, and refuse to move when the District wants it back. Then we get some immediate action, newspaper articles, a task force, help finding other options. None of these things we have received despite years of advocacy for a permanent school for our kids.

- Just Saying

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Saying, you're right.

The district needs to get a grip and decide if it will support ALL its schools, and not just some of them.

They are for alternative education or they aren't. I cannot understand building up this system of truly impressive options and then ignoring many of them.

World School, APP elementary, Nova, even Meany (not an alt). Meany students and staff were thrown to the wind and now "hey, come on back."

Anonymous said...

This would be the Seattle Amistad School that lists Chris Kinsey, who was until recently the Chief Sealth principal, as a Board member? Wonder if his dual role was one of the reasons he left the district.

-SWWS

2 more years said...

The Garrets' behavior should not be rewarded. Good grief.

erik tanen said...

The district has spent countless hours over the last year planning the move of nova and the world school, which in turn allows meany to help relieve over capacity at Washington. Now because some community group is threatening to "occupy" the building they are going to stop the plan is incredible.There are so many kids that would be impacted that the desicion not to move forward would point to the incompetent nature of district staff. The district's purpose is to serve kids and not community groups that threatened when they can not get what they want.

Solo said...

I am a Garfield Alum and my younger brother is a WA alum going into GHS.

Its clear to see that the majority of the students at Nova are white kids. (http://www.education.com/schoolfinder/us/washington/seattle/nova-high-school/#students-and-teachers) THAT is obviously the only reason you all have a dis-taste for the current happenings at the building. Because they don’t service your children! (I’m taking an educated chance now that the majority of people posting are of European descent).

If you sat down and looked at the statistics of ALL our children (in school, prison, or corporate america), you will see time and time again that people of African descent in this country are more than tripled times affected by the systems in play; to prevent them, keep them, or funnel them into a state of paralysis!! Be honest with yourselves..

I agree that Nova is a great program, but SPS has many many buildings they can use to host that program, even so because Nova is a city wide program, meaning the students it serves are not directly from the community it is in, proving it doesn’t need to be at Mann. But taking the building that sits in the heart of the Black community in Seattle (historically and presently), is straight up gentrification and racial privilege. If you are true citizens of this WORLD you would understand the greatness that is happening at the Mann building right now, and how powerful its service to the community would be when run by the community. SPS, SPD, and society have shown that they do not care about the African descended peoples…It is not the white or asian kids who are in dire need of specific attention in this city and this country, it is the Black/African descents.

So I ask you, does the actual location of Nova mean anything greater than the actual attention and support we need to put on these dying youth? I’m sure ya’ll don’t even give a damn, which is fine and the same reason why community members stand up for their own!

Solo said...

Let’s get something understood. Yes, the federal investigators are all over the SPS to solve some serious problems. The disproportionate suspension rates and the thousands of tax payers dollars disappearing for the special ed programs. How is it possible that in almost every school the majority of special ed students are of African descent? What do you have to say about that? The root of the issue is, that Black kids are being funneled systematically into the jail system and into the special ed programs! That is a serious issue. The educational system in play, DOES NOT in ANY way respect nor acknowledge any other perspective outside of the European perspective. We all took History class and Literature, our kids are being taught BY white people ABOUT white people. How do you think that shapes them?

There is nothing wrong with European descendants, but there is something wrong when the system proves to purposefully pipeline African kids into the jail system and programs that destroy the child’s self image and mental growth! Just be real and say that you don’t care about these kids, its that simple.

Nonetheless, what needs to be done will be done, the disadvantaged people will work to fix their own instead of waiting on a broken system to do it for them. Step back, let your dominating ego-centered character rest for awhile and let the struggling folks pull themselves up! :D at the truth!

Anonymous said...

News coverage and $100,000 Dept. of neighborhoods grant for the first year of the new program at Mann building. What about housing these groups at MLK school ?

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2013581711_horacemann03m.html

http://www.workitoutseattle.org/about-us/

PSP

Melissa Westbrook said...

"SPS has many many buildings they can use to host that program"

Solo, name one. I don't know what empty buildings you know that are out there - that can support high school science because a building has to have that element - but let us know.

And, as an all city-draw, it needs to be centrally located. Center School is there for the same reason (although it didn't start that way).

These groups would be better off at MLK, Jr. building where there is a lot of room and at a cheap price.

I hear what you are saying about having mostly white teachers. But Common Core, for one example, IS going to change what is taught.

peter p said...

Solo,
I will take your bait and disagree with you in regards to the use of the Mann building should be for African American kids because of some perceived notion of injustices to these kids. White guilt should not be the rational for the district to make decisions.
Why can't this organization go to the Colman building, or Mlk which are both supposed to serve community groups.The Mann building is a school and should stay a school. The school building would be better used by a full time program like Nova and not a part time program that would only serve kids in the afternoon or weekends. I have been in the building a few times over the last tear and it is nit being used to its potential.In a world of limited resources SPS needs to use its tax dollars wisely and not serve a community group while the needs of its children are not being met. It is not the fault of the kids at Nova that they are white and European and should not be penalized because of it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:46 said:
But taking the building that sits in the heart of the Black community in Seattle (historically and presently), is straight up gentrification and racial privilege

SPS isn't "taking" the building because it already belongs to SPS. They are putting it back to use as a school, which is entirely appropriate given the current capacity crunch. I find this whole situation bizarre.

SPSmom

Anonymous said...

As the NOVA Project existed in the building for so many years, and is now coming back does not increase the gentrification of the neighborhood. It is a net zero.

As NOVA the school has a city wide draw, families do not need to relocate to the Central District for their children to attend the school. NOVA adding to the gentrification of the neighborhood is a smoke ball of distraction and in the end a zero sum argument.

In previous decades the Central District was predominately white. In the past three decades it has been predominately African-American. Now it is changing because of economics. The homes in the Central District have a relatively low price (in comparison to Queen Anne) with an easy commute to Lake Union for the many thousands of jobs being added in the area. To blame NOVA for gentrification is a Don Quixote argument.

If the Africatown group wants to blame NOVA they will receive a lot of press, and very likely receive an increase in donations. If that is their goal then game well played.

In the end the school district owns the property. The legalities of the lease are what will hold sway in the courts. For emotional reasons – gentrification fails. For legal reasons, -occupying the building fails. If Africatown would like to win a moral victory they will need to demonstrate that their program can only succeed if housed in the Mann building. So far they have failed to introduce even an inkling of why their program would succeed in the Mann building and no other. Their program has merit and passion, which makes me believe that it will succeed if housed across the street or two blocks away.

Everyone can succeed here so the argument, or public relations dance, whatever is going on reflects poorly on both groups.

-Abbynot

Anonymous said...

As a public option school, presumably its enrollment is open to all students from all ethnic backgrounds. NOVA isn't like New York City's Bronx High School of Science which is highly selective.

If the community wishes to shift the school's demographics, they can, by enrolling more of their students in this alternative high school.

GMG

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

"The irony is that Horace Mann is considered the father of public education. He advocated for universal education regardless of religion, race, or social status. He was against corporal punishment in the schools, which was pretty radical at the time. To occupy the building in an attempt to prevent its use as a public school is just ludicrous."

No anonymous comments, please.

Anonymous said...

Here is some curious history of the Mann building:

"In a flyer put out by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), and the Central Area Civil Rights Committee (CACRC), they state that Seattle had thirteen predominately “black” schools and over 100 “white” schools. In the Seattle schools, blacks accounted for 9.1 percent of total enrollment. However, the black students were heavily concentrated in a small number of schools. In elementary schools, black students made up 95 percent of Horace Mann; 89 percent of Leschi; 83 percent of Harrison ; 80 percent of TT Minor; 79 percent of Madrona; 76 percent of Colman, and 45 percent of Stevens. About 80 percent of all black students attended two junior high schools, which made Washington 66 percent black and Meany 49 percent. Garfield High School was home to 75 percent of all black high school students, who made up 52 percent of the entire school’s student body..."

"The Seattle School Boycott of 1966", Seattle Civil Rights and History Project

"Enrollment peaked in 1957–58 with 596 students. By 1965–66, it was down to 252 and the school was closed at the end of the 1967–68 school year."

Seattle Schools History Book - Mann Building

GMG

Anonymous said...

Video of Horace Mann meeting with Superintendent Banda on May 14, 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNrPYo3BeUY

a reader

josh husten said...

We left segregated schools in the past,to advocate for their recreation is scary and not wise and must come from those who were to young to have lived through that time.