Finding Solutions: Where is the Leadership?

This issue of homes for Cascade and NW Center Kids is  but one of the first capital dominoes to fall.   The new 2014-2015 budget reflects that the growth isn't quite what the district expected.  At this point, that doesn't matter.

The district simply does not have the capacity for the students who continue to pour in.  There will be more dominoes and the number and speed at which they fall will only get faster.  

There are huge mistakes being made in our capital building and thinking.   Someone needs to have the political courage to do something but what is it going to take?

I have heard from a number of different people on the front lines of the issue of housing both  Cascade Parent Partnership and NW Center Kids.  

There has been an astonishing amount of "haven't heard from them", "didn't know" and "they offered no options."  Somewhere in there is the truth.  

It's like in Cool Hand Luke - "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."  And, there are smart people involved so I suspect that rather than ineptness, there is some pridefulness going on.

Here are some very basic facts ( as best I know them):

- Just upfront, I think that Rep. Reuven Carlyle is just trying to act as a facilitator/go-between on this issue and is not advocating anything except for the district and the City to work together.   But it is a delicate matter when you are talking about jurisdictions and elected official turf.

- NW Center Kids is an established program that serves both disabled and developmentally on-target children.  It has been a program for over 25 years.  Some of the student in the program would be SPS students - or at least SPS would be responsible for their education - if they were not in this program.

They knew - according to CEO Tom Everill - that the district was having some talk about capacity issues and had even been considering a downtown school from an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal in 2012 where Michael DeBell was interviewed.  And yes, some Cascade parents did tour the QA building.  But Mr. Everill asked, at the time, if any changes were coming, to please be kept in the loop.  He never heard anything about the building being taken until they received notice.

So you have a tenant asking a landlord to be apprised if the building's lease will not be renewed.  Doesn't sound like a lot.

I asked him that with his knowledge of these capacity issues why they went ahead with the use of a gift to renovate their building.  He said that after his request he never heard anything and thought that the district would have let him know especially after the group giving the money for the renovations went to the district about doing them.  (And c'mon , the districtnever would have allowed those renovations to happen without their knowledge.)  

I would say that clearly some finger-crossing (that it was all talk by the district) happened at NW Center.  But then again, you ask to be kept in the loop and you are not and it's not exactly a poor judgment to make.

- Cascade Parent Parentship serves a diverse group of students that even the Superintendent says were failed to be served at other SPS schools.  It is an incredibly diverse group - racially and socioeconomically - who treasures their community.  You can feel that walking in the door.  And yet they are in an incredibly terrible building.  They have been made promises that were not kept.  They have been kept in limbo over where they would go.  And now they are being told they will get a building - at the expense of another established program - but will have to stay in their crappy building but with massive demolition going on all around them for at least 6 months.

- I have been told - by three different players in this arena - that the City has been supportive of finding a solution but has offered no options or solutions themselves.  I am trying to verify if this is true.  

But the point is that the City knows many more possibilities than the district ever could.  And they could offer no answer to either program?  It is very difficult to see City officials insert themselves into a discussion without answers.  I can appreciate that maybe they don't want to overstep their bounds given the City has no real role in running schools.  But no one is asking them to run anything - they're asking for the City's knowledge and expertise on buildings around the City (like at Magnuson).  

Here's what I think should happen and pronto:

-leave NW Center in that building. It has been their home and upgraded - with the district's knowledge - and to find another facility, with the specifications they need in a short period of time, is a Herculean task.  

Because NW Center is a community-based program and the district would be allowing them to stay,  then the district AND the City should be working together with the City offering ideas of where Cascade could move.  

There have got to be spaces that the City either has or knows of that would be suitable for Cascade for at least 5 years (until the district gets their capacity footing and plan).   And, the City and the district should split the costs of leasing that space.  

If this cannot happen - by either/both the district and the City's inability to get - it - together - then they are both to blame for the suffering that is going to happen to both programs.

The district's proposal is just a no-go to me.  I've thought about it and I always go back to "is this what I would want/allow for my child?"  And the answer is no.  (And again, if this was being suggested for any regular-type elementary, the parents would be up in arms. )

Even if the district does exit NW Center, Cascade still can't move there.   So, one way or another, a new and better and existing home has to be found for Cascade.  It would seem leaving NW Center where it is and asking the City to be good partners and find a home for Cascade - which is not as specific in its needs as NW Center - would be the way to go for the best outcomes.

Where are the grown-ups and, more specifically, where is the leadership?


Kathi said…
Melissa, can you clarify what you mean by this statement: "Even if the district does exit NW Center, Cascade still can't move there"?
Anonymous said…
I think she means to say that CPP can't move there until renovations are done which was mid-school year next year if I read that correctly in an earlier post.

Ann D.
Kathi said…
Ah! That makes sense. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Special education right now is just a matter of capacity management, not what is best for students. So I'm going to pipe up from the special needs community and concur with you: Where is the Leadership? Where is the Board?

Josh Hayes said…
Well, maybe we can help them out. We can all see the demographic writing on the wall (or is that on the demographic wall?). If you could rule SPS with an iron hand, or a wooden foot anyway, what would you do? How do you solve these problems - because to me it seems as though we simply don't have the seats, not even with the new construction at the Pinehurst and Wilson-Pacific sites. I'm as crabby about the district as the next guy, but I really don't see what the solution(s) is/are to these problems in the short term OR the long term. What do we want our leaders to be doing?
Former Cascade Parent said…
I absolutely agree!
Anonymous said…
Again, Melissa hits it RIGHT on the head. There is enough blame to go around to ALL of these 'Leaders.'

I will say that I agree with EVERYTHING that Melissa says, except I fear for the outcome:

The truth, as shown in COUNTLESS cases, is that these leaders will AGREE to find a suitable location for Cascade and extend the lease for Northwest Center and then in a few weeks, when this story is cold, Cascade will get shoved into a leftover piece of a building with used condoms and debris scattering the walkway, again.

It is true that Cascade is wildly popular with those who use it and the many, many people who seek out assistance in navigating district issues and are counseled on issues regarding enrollment. (look how popular it is without even a sign in front of the building or any outreach!) It does have the potential to grow like many other ALEs in related districts, BUT it is a non-traditional program serving kids on the fringe, many of whom fall through the cracks (or in some cases, who are pushed through the cracks by the system).

I will bet money, that IF Cascade does not get a suitable location right now, while all eyes are on this situation, it will be forgot and families will be forgotten.

IF our City, County and School can put their egos aside and WORK TOGETHER with a true commitment to find Cascade a PROPER home, then all issues are solved.

However, no one is ready to believe this promise yet - so scrap for what you can get becomes the mentality for all involved - SO SAD!

Hey all you councilmembers, lurking on this site to get a pulse of our feelings ---- STOP lurking, stop banging on drums AND PRODUCE A SOLUTION!! Start thinking of a centrally located space that will work- Make it happen!

Right On
Anonymous said…
Please note, CPPP parents find staying in their current location until a February, 2015 move to North Queen Anne an acceptable and ideal scenario. This is the earliest date the site could be available and would necessitate only 1 move for the students at Cascade, a very important issue for families and students with special needs who have difficulties with transitions.

Families at CPPP were told North Queen Anne will be our permanent home and our students need to get there as soon as possible. As a long time Cascade family, my child hasn't had a playground her entire public school experience, she is now in middle school. She and friends (as 3rd graders) were once followed around outside by a homeless person who then followed them into the gym and asked the girls if he could 'nap' there. He was harmless, but confused by our open and derelict campus, not realizing he was at a school. I have many times had the office contact our custodial staff or security because homeless people are walking through our campus mid-day and I once found a large pile of needles on the steps outside of our playroom for infant and toddler siblings.

CPPP can wait no longer to move to their permanent site. It is so sad that Northwest Center was not prepared for the termination clause in their lease to be initiated 6 months before their lease was to be renewed (or not) in 2015. I would ask SPS to provide transparency on their offer to have Van Asselt ready for a pre-k program for NW center by July 1st. Details around this option need to be provided immediately to give NWCK families assurances that their students have a viable option. Rather than SPS saying, 'we promise' and NWCK saying 'it can't be done'. Lets see a plan written down and then some follow through to make it happen if NWCK chooses this option.

It is inconvenient for my child to reside for another year from today at her current site ... rats, needles, homeless people walking through campus approaching children, ridiculously high temperatures because old radiators are either on or off (nothing in between), forgetting our bottled water and feeling dehydrated on many days for fear to drink the tap water. At the same time it is also terribly inconvenient for a Queen Anne daycare to have to commute 11 miles for this short or long term option at Van Asselt. They need to keep their community intact and the important and specific needs of their children met. Having possibly two transitions for these children is difficult and I feel for these children as well as the parents on this longer commute.

SPS needs to immediately provide transparency on the Van Asselt option to the NW Center as well as the community at large. Making good on their confident comment at the Cascade meeting that they can have Van Asselt ready by July 1st. This option is inconvenient for all, but keeps both communities in tact, and all the children safe. And while you're at it SPS, feel free to drop Cascade by some water coolers and additional rat traps for the next 12 month, we could use them.

-SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
SPS Parent

I agree with your frustration, really I do, and I know you are holding firm for this site - I hear you - You have been lied to over, and over again and have been given ONLY the worst options to choose from (a gym (seriously), North Queen Anne, and V.A., I think.

I do think SPS has to look at you first and if there is nothing APPROPRIATE offered to you - North Queen Anne should be yours, BUT I am just saying - IF all the community leaders could do more than yell and shout at each other, they could produce a solution that REALLY gave you a GREAT school location and NWC the space or time they needed too.

Wow, whoever delivers on this gets my vote!!!

BUT, since we have seen that our leaders cannot do it - I don't blame you for fighting. When this attention shifts, you (Cascade) will be left behind if you don't have something in your hand. It is just sad that it has come to this, that is all. It stinks all around.

Right On
Jennifer said…

Thank you for "seeing" our community!

I think that this is the first news report that I have seen that reflects what I see and experience at our school.

Thank you,

Anonymous said…
Again, please note, the North Queen Anne site meets the needs of our Cascade families. We are eager and ready in a year to make it our own. It is a Seattle public school and the children are in need of it. This is a great fit for us. Please, listen to what our families and our superintendent is saying, this IS the future permanent home of Cascade. The question is, when will we move in and will we be on a demolition site while we wait for NQA?

-SPS Parent
Another SPS parent said…
Thank you for this piece on the lack of leadership surrounding this issue. I am very empathetic toward the NWC's facility situation. I have worked extensively with the DPD on many projects requiring permits and licensing for preschools and it is tough! I can imagine why Mr. Everill and the board at NWC has avoided the inevitable.

I am hopeful that the NWC's leadership team will emerge as contrite servants that have let their students down but are ready to work hard to find solutions to this problem.

SBS, City of Seattle, and The Northwest Center Community and their leadership should all come together and find a suitable home for this program. Valuable time has been wasted blaming others so just get to work!

me said…
The issue that Cascadians have is not our current placement at this point, we can and have made due, what we find unacceptable is our kids trying to learn during construction...not to mention the possible health implications. We would be open to staying the whole of next school year if we did not have to switch buildings and if there is no construction, even the internal portions of it.

As far as sharing a facility with traditional schools, it is just not an option, it will not work for reasons explained numerous times in past threads. SPS has been clear that all schools will be filled to capacity, this would mean Cascade sharing with up to 2 other schools. That's just not feasible. Unfortunately when we tried to get TT Minor they were already planning for World School to get it in BEX.
joanna said…
The plan for World School is another one that needs to be changed with new thinking. There are a lot of problems with the last minute way that the sites were put on BEX and then the all the last minute and untrackable assignment area changes made to by the Board at the last minute. These things need to be thought through with robust community engagement. Leadership is needed. At one recent meeting, Stephan Blanford mentioned the old MLK (FAME) site as a possibility for the NW Center. I have no idea if that was real.
Anonymous said…
Can someone just put Kellie or Meg or both of them in charge???

Clearly some people did see this coming in detail. Why is everyone behaving as if this is a surprise.

How can so many of the actual people in the schools be so clear that the BEX plan doesn't work and yet everyone is still pretending the Emperor has some clothes.

Why can't they do a construction in place like Hale for Olympic Hills and then Cascade can have Cedar Park. It is not central but it will be quite descent and Cedar Park would be a good campus for Cascade and better fit for the campus.

Someone needs to full review of BEX

- cranky mom
Anonymous said…
Agree with Melissa 100% QA IS LESS THEN IDEAL FOR CASCADE. Too small! VA is not the answer for either program.Neither option is a Win/Win! SPS leadership and City, choose to make this politicized bomb shell a Win/Win. Our children are counting on us!
Anonymous said…

SPS Seeks 10,000,000 for QA Renovation to ready for Cascade and add addition later.

Rep Carlyle(from QA & working with NWC) on Education Finance Committee blocks request/refuses.

SPS is instead granted 20,000,000 for Magnolia (something asked for years and refused)

NWC gets lease extension, Cascade gets building w/no upgrades and put in asbestos abatement zone.

HONESTLY, wondering - Was this a backroom deal?

backroom deal?
Anonymous said…
@cranky mom

The renovations for Cedar Park are not scheduled to be completed until Fall 2015. If Cascade were to move there (and IF it is feasible to do construction of Olympic Hills in place - it is a demo job, too), then they would still need to find Cascade an interim home during the demo and construction work at Wilson-Pacific.

Personally, I think Cascade would be a better fit for Cedar Park than a 400-seat assignment school (which is currently proposed after it is used as interim housing for Olympic Hills).

I don't see how 400 kids would fit there, even with the 8 portables, since there would be no room for a library, art/music room, etc...

I agree that there needs to be a full review of BEXIV, and perhaps this review needs to be done by a joint panel of SPS and City officials, knowledgeable parent/community reps, and include(gasp!) demographers.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
SPS is not in a position to make properties available to other (even worthwhile) endeavors. Didn't we have this argument already over the Horace Mann building? There's a reason that the leases have (and should) have short term exit clauses.

If the community wants to support NW center, it shouldn't be at the expense of SPS, and SPS should get an equivalent property in exchange.

Oops, me again, zb
Lynn said…
While it's lovely to hear that school board members are working on solving this problem, that is not their intended role. The fact that they feel it's necessary to intervene is proof that someone who is employed by the district isn't doing their job. Is it Flip Herndon? He has been on the job for six months. Is it the superintendent? He hired Herndon and is directly responsible for the Mann fiasco.

Someone in an office at the John Stanford Center for Educatiional Excellence (ha!) is incapable of doing their job. We are about to spend $695 million dollars in BEX funds. I want to hear from the board why they believe Jose Banda can pull this off.

How many conference rooms are there at the JSIS? I think eight should be set aside to be used as classrooms for Cascade beginning after spring break and continuing until they have a building to move into. If staff aren't willing to double up in their offices to make room for this, they are welcome to work in the rat infested, lead paint and asbestos filled buildings at Wilson Pacific. Seriously, the fact that Banda and Herndon can sit in the gym at Wilson Pacific, propose this solution and then return to their lovely office building is sickening.
Anonymous said…

Cascade won't like it, but yes, the second floor conference rooms at JSCEE, there are definitely 6 of them, the water is good, there is transit. It is safe and clean, no rats. GIVE THEM TO CASCADE! Then, Mr. Banda can host meetings in the parking lot, as they can land 6 portables there. They will know what it is like to be Wegwood or Schmitz Park students, out in the portables.

Great idea!

Anonymous said…
I would add that since parking is such a bear around JSCEE, that, in lieu of a playground space in the parking lot that they instead install a playground structure in the auditorium.

- North-end Mom
Po3 said…
I also think it is time to think about housing a program at JSCEE - so much wasted space.

If we came up with reasonable solutions for 1)student bathrooms 2)cafeteria 3)outdoor space then I think it becomes a viable option.

One other thought is Lowell, the school has been modified for accessibility, is there any available capacity?
Anonymous said…
Why not give the Billionaire Boys Club the brand-new, "state of the art" downtown or SLU school they have been advocating for, on the condition that it co-locate Cascade as a permanent tenant. Bezos or Hanauer could build the whole thing with their pocket change.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
If I remember correctly, the new Seattle Delegation "ask" is for $20M to re-open Magnolia and and additional $5M for another school.

Any word on what school is getting the $5M?

- North-end Mom
Charlie Mas said…
I really, really like the idea of housing CPPP at the JSCEE, but I wonder if it isn't too far south for the families.

The conference rooms on the second floor can be classrooms and some of the senior staff can move their offices to make room for school staff.

The district staff can have their choice of other office space at the JSCEE, portables in the JSCEE parking lot, or the construction zone at W-P. That seems fair.

All of the school breakfasts and lunches are prepared right there at the JSCEE, so no problem with that. The kids could eat at their desks - that's how they did it for years at Kimball before that school got a cafeteria.

Some sort of playspace can be improvised in the lot to the north of the building. Heck, they could even jackhammer up the paving and lay down some sod. It certainly wouldn't cost anything like the $10 million they were going to spend to fix up the Queen Anne property.

Or, then again, the District could work with the City to find some space. The District can simply lease an appropriate space until they can fix up a permanent site.
Mike said…
The timing might not fit for Cascade, but how about offering developers of large condo/office complexes in the geographic area you want to serve the ability to build higher in exchange for dedicated space for alternative SPS programs like Cascade?

With all of the new construction going on around the city, it seems like we should be able to make some spaces. If, for example the AVA or Ballard Blocks projects in Ballard took an offer like that, it could have opened up at least enough square foot of building to house a program like that (or a program like NWC).

I understand that a traditional program requires state standards that can't be met this way, but would something like that work for an alternative learning environment school?
me said…
I don't see why SPS can't build a separate building specifically for Cascade on another part of the lot of WP or another facility that has huge unused yard space. I know that may be down the line, but I think this should happen.
just saying said…
To move a north end school to the south end is not something that should happen. It would be like taking North gate elementary and moving it to the south end, it then limits the access of it's current students.
Lynn said…
I'm not suggesting moving the school permanently, I'm suggesting a temporary solution. It's more like busing Garfield students to Lincoln during their remodel. If you were a Cascade parent, which would you prefer?

Transportation is tricky because the parents attend with their children and they come and go at different times. Maybe a bus that stops at community hubs and makes two trips to the school and two trips back every day?
Anonymous said…
Seriously? Build Cascade a building at Wilson-Pacific?

Did you know that there is already an elementary school AND a middle school going in at Wilson-Pacific, AND a K-8, now that Sharon Peaslee directed that Wilson-Pacific become the future home for Pinehurst/AS-1 + Indian Heritage?

I heard there are plans to modify and enlarge the comprehensive middle school to accommodate the AS-1/Indian Heritage K-8 programming.

Cascade needs and deserves a home, as does AS-1/Indian Heritage, but they can't just keep plopping programs for which they did not plan space for as part of BEXIV into the Wilson Pacific site.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Right right, like I said if there is a school with unused and excess yard space then why could they not build Cascade a nice home there? WP may or may not have excess yard, but other schools do which would allow for a separate playground as well

just saying said…
I am a Cascade parent and no, unfortunately the schedules and days completely vary so there would need to be constant bus access. Plus a majority of the school population resides north of the U-district.
Mike said…
If the majority of Cascade families are north of the u-district, would space at Sandpoint / Magnuson Park work? Some money would be needed. Most of the buildings there aren't in great shape either so something would need renovation or to be built, but at least there is space and bus service.

I wouldn't want to push Cascade to a location that doesn't work (like Van Asselt), just trying to think of where there is space in the city.
just saying said…
What space are you thinking of Mike? I'm not familiar with the older buildings and it's hard to find them by googling since the schools have been closed for a while.
Anonymous said…
Since Cascade is a unique school, shouldn't it ideally be located in the central area instead of North of the U? The current families are mostly from there, but locating it permanently N would block de facto access to families in the south end

Cascade mom said…
That would be ideal CCA, we really wanted TT Minor...yeah not happening.
CascadeMom said…
I'd just like to point out that Cascade hasn't had a cafeteria at all anyway (there's a room like an office break room - district provided school lunches are cold only) and doesn't have a play structure either (kids play in a bumpy weedy grass strip between two buildings).
Anonymous said…
Where's the leadership?


signed: I miss PB
Cascade mom said…
I like having the commons with the stove! Wish we had a better one...
CascadeMom said…
I don't mind it either. Love it when I smell middle eastern cooking! But having a cafeteria isn't a necessity, I mean. We get along ok without one.
Anonymous said…

I LOVE the ideas. Some of us Cascaders are from Central area too -- I think all of us are willing to think creatively. We could definitely share Banda's office - I hear it is big! Let's hear it for REAL community engagement. I think they would be very impressed with the staff at our school. Count me in!

Seriously, though, all of these space ideas - Lowell, Private space, etc. are great.
Our principal is challenging everyone to think creatively and for all the city's leaders to come with solutions (not just complaints) because this is just the beginning of the capacity challenges ahead-- This sounds like a beginning. Most of us are happy with thinking about other spaces BUT want a CONRETE plan with a permanent location and NO changes.

Banda make-some-room
Mike said…
I heard back from some earlier inquiries and apparently all of the buildings in Magnuson park / sandpoint that aren't condemned are already spoken for.

Are portables an option at all? I know they aren't ideal, but if they could be placed near a site where a permanent building could be constructed, could that work or it that not an option due to program or other constraints?
Cascade mom 2 said…
We'd need about 12 portables minimum since they are small and we have a lot of parents and kids to house in commons and study areas...

-Cascade Mom 2 (to prevent confusion)
Numericmama Mediaman said…
And we need a gym or gym like area. The kids need to have PE. They need to learn that exercising is important and having PE or sports conditioning allows them the opportunity for being physical during the day and reinforces that value.

I know that the sports conditioning class has been very important for my boys. It is also very important for kids with ADD or ADHD who need that outlet.
Kathi said…
Keep in mind that North Queen Anne doesn't have a gym. The Queen Anne Bowl is adjacent to the property, so this might be a suitable alternative.
All that said, I have personally heard other Cascade parents adamantly state that a gym is not needed when it is mentioned that anyone has said otherwise. I would assume this means it will work out fine despite the lack of a gym.
Numericmama said…
Well, there was supposed to be money for the necessary improvements. Now that allotment has been tampered with.

It should be restored. I have every hope that it will be.

Personally, as long as the kids can get outside at some time, then we can make use of it. I make the kids run around our neighborhood on our off days.
Another Cascader said…
Kathi, the money that Carlyle rescinded without speaking to our principal or bothering to find out what exactly the plan was for our program was for a gym.

There are spaces in and outside of the building we *could* use for physical education, and could make do for awhile. That's not ideal though.

Thanks, Carlyle. You'll never have my vote.
Anonymous said…
Let's not forget that Olympic Hills is not actually in bad shape and doesn't need to be demolished. In fact, it's a large site and Cascade could move permanently into Cedar Park or the old Oly building while a new one is being built. Like at Thornton Creek, you know.

Anonymous said…
Speaking of Cedar Park. Does anyone know why it is suddenly OK to draw a walk zone that spans both sides of Lake City Way (aka SR 522)? How the heck are elementary kids supposed to safely cross LCW?

Here is the walk zone map:

It is shocking that the only areas of the Cedar Park attendance area that are eligible for transportation are a few blocks along Lake Washington. The entire area West of LCW is within the Walk Zone.

Currently, the Olympic Hills walk zone does not extend across Lake City Way, even though the attendance area includes the Cedar Park neighborhood, East of LCW.

I don't get it.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
@ Another Cascader


He is now asking for MORE than even before, so, that is better for everyone. How the District places programs in not up to him, obviously, but, if he can secure more funds than fewer, that is a huge win for all of us! Now, if our District doesn't go and screw it up.

So, thanks Representative Rueven Carlyle: you see how badly SPS is out of capacity, and so while the initial ask for for $10M relief funds to bring back a facility, you have UPPED that amount to $20M to bring back a bigger facility (Magnolia) that is more expensive to rehab, but, incredibly important to have.

I imagine he was asked to do that by the District, so I appreciate that he is supporting our kids by attempting to get MORE funds out of the State Legislature.

He has my vote! More is more.

-$20M good
Anonymous said…
kiro tv report with interviews of Cascade parents and Principal Sterk.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Lovely that funds were obtained for Magnolia, but ... misinformation was given to rescind funds for the NQA renovation. E-mails were used out of context and it is more than obvious NWCK advocates, or the lawyers they can afford to pay, used political sway to advocate to remove the funds for the public school children slated to utilize the NQA campus. It was a low blow. One thing you can say is NWCK will do ANYTHING to keep their kids on NQA for a longer period.

I'm still holding out faith in SPS that they will do the right thing and use their time and money for public school children and place Cascade in NQA in February, 2015. Banda, don't let powerful, influential families affect making the right decision by your students.

Never thought I would need to advocate that public schools work for public school students, not private school students!

If I could sign with a name containing more than 2 words it'd be 'parent without power' or 'poor vs. rich, guess who wins again?'

-SPS Parent
Mike said…
On Friday Sally Bagshaw visited NWC, something I as a parent asked her to do when I showed up at her community coffee meeting. There were no lawyers or professional lobbying, just parents spending time spent trying to get someone to talk with us since SPS was and still is giving us the silent treatment. In our meeting on Friday, we strongly encouraged Sally Bagshaw to visit CPP and strongly re-iterated that we were appalled at Banda's "solution" and that both CPP and NWC need a better option.

At one point, she asked NWC parents to tell her about their kids.

The stories ranged included (my paraphrasing):

"I brought my typically developing kid to NWC to be raised with compassion for others" (this was echoed by a few parents)


"one of my kids was born very early, we spent so much time in the hospital that before we found NWC, we had both lost our jobs. We couldn't pay and NWC took care of our kids anyway"


"my kid has a feeding tube. The staff worked with us to deal with the feeding tube that needed to be cleaned 14 times a day."


"my kid had surgeries and as a result has lifelong incontinence. That is a problem in other settings. At NWC, it is not a problem."


"my kid needs to have an AED (defibulator) with him because there is a real chance that he could have a heart attack at any time."


"NWC staff visited my kid in SPS and in NWC after-school care, and helped a therapist to figure out and diagnose an anxiety disorder. Now my kid is doing well at SPS."


"NWC had reserved spaces for foster kids, and takes the state's vouchers that are about half of the market rate for childcare in Seattle. NWC is the reason why I was able to foster and eventually adopt my child."

None of this makes NWC better or more worthy than CPP. It just raises the stakes. Since the State of Washington can't guarantee anything shorter than 6 months to license a new facility, and even existing facilities need to be re-licensed with a new program before the program can move, and Banda hasn't officially offered anything to NWC. NWC parents are stuck, just like CPP parents are.

We need other options. We need leadership. We need open communication.
kellie said…
I think there is some serious confusion about the money in question here.

It is important to remember that renovations for Queen Anne were NOT in the plan as such there was no money put aside for CPP or Queen Anne. Period.

So the legislature was asked for help. There was no "real" money, there was only a "can you please help?" The legislature did NOT take anything away from CPP.

The challenge here is that the legislature has responsibility for BOTH public school students and NWC students. While there is some grey area as to precisely how many of the NWC students are DIRECTLY SPS's responsibility, there is no doubt that 100% of NWC students are the legislator's responsibility.

To ask the legislature to lobby with their colleagues from across the state to secure additional funding that was not planned in the state budget cycle is a big enough ask. To do this in a manner that creates a potential gap in care to another group of students for whom they are equally responsible and potentially cause the need to request additional mitigation fund for those students in the same budget cycle is to create an impossible scenario.

Again, the issue is a lack of planning.
Another Cascader said…
Kellie, I don't know where you are getting your information from but it's incorrect. Here's from an article a little while back:

"The legislative delegation had approved and then rescinded a $10 million capital budget request to renovate the North Queen Anne location once they found out how the funds were going to be used:

We originally jumped on board to do the work not realizing that the community foundation had not been laid with the existing Northwest Center program, and did not realize the extent to which they were using that request as a stopgap to move the Cascade program there temporarily. I assumed it was directly linked to overcrowding, but it wasn't. There was not a longterm strategic approach to what Cascade or the Northwest Center needs, and this is a stopgap measure."

In the meeting with Cascade, Flip Herndon mentioned that the money was going to be used for a gym. He assured us that the district funding was secure for the necessary renovations to the QA site, but oh yes the legislation DID take something away from CPPP. And they did it under misinformation without even talking to us about how the money was to be used. Misinformation about what the program was, and for how long it would be on site.
Documentation said…
Kelli -

I'm not quite sure where you are getting your information.

Please read this article so that you can see money was allocated for this project.

It was rescinded after someone gave the legislature misinformation.

CPPP was told part of the funds were for a gym.

Sigh said…
Mike -

Yes, both populations contain fragile children.

Like NWC, CPPP has children with medical conditions, disabilites and mental illnesses. AND kids that do not have these challenges.

I personally have one of each.

That's why this is so horrible.

Two fragile populations that fall through the cracks with no where to go.

Even if CPPP stays in place extra time (irregardless of whether or not the environment is toxic to the children) it still isn't enough time according to NWC director.

The whole situation is frustrating.
kellie said…
Over the ten years that I have been testifying on capacity issues, I have gone to dozens of legislative meetings, so I very clear on the process.

There is typical education funding from the State and that funding is based on formulas and those formulas are applied evenly throughout the state. Then there are appropriations, which are negotiated across the legislature and go through the entire process ala Schoolhouse Rock.

The Seattle Delegation was working on a request to get additional funds for Seattle that was not already part of the State budget. When it became clear that the impact of requesting those funds would be to leave another state funded program in jeopardy, that request was halted and for good reason.

A request that then generates an additional issue for the State of Washington and no matter how you slice this, the students supported by NWC are funded by the State of Washington, makes the entire Seattle Delegation look like they don't know their job as legislators.

The Seattle Delegation is NOT refusing to support CPP, they are refusing to request money to jeopardize a program paid for by the State of Washington. There is a huge difference.

Once again, BEX made CPP homeless, not that WP was much of home. For over two years now, there has been a planning process that focused on a major rebuild at WP as the centerpiece of the BEX program to provide capacity in the north end.

There was a major debate about whether or not WP was "enough" capacity which then spilled over into a debate about Jane Addams K8 and a 5 middle school. During that entire process, money for CPP at QA could have been added to BEX.

I am on record in many places, saying that "BEX is not enough" and that this insufficient planning is going to create some huge problems and top of my list of why BEX is not enough is because BEX did not account for multiple student groups. CPP was not the only group of students that were made homeless in this process.

This issue with CPP is the beginning of a very messy process where there simply is NOT enough interim housing to execute the BEX plan. Frankly, I applaud the Seattle delegation for wading into the mess and trying to help.

The delegation has inserted themselves into this conversation because of the many many families all across the district that have gone to their legislator out of desperation because the SPS plan does not match what so many families on the ground are experiencing.

Another Cascader said…
"The Seattle Delegation is NOT refusing to support CPP, they are refusing to request money to jeopardize a program paid for by the State of Washington. There is a huge difference. "

Wooooow. Wow, wow wow. Except that SPS is going to take back the North Queen Anne site one way or another for something or another. HOWEVER, at his most recent communication with Cascade, he reassured us (as other school board members have reached out and reassured us as well) that NQA **IS** the permanent plan for Cascade and that we ARE going there, whether we will be there in the interim or not.

So the community leasing the SPS property is in jeopardy regardless of the political power play taking away funding. The district itself does not suffer and does not care, it will do what it plans to with the building regardless. The only people that suffer are the kids who would have benefited from it in the immediate and for the foreseeable future. Wow, that is so so ugly.

Protection money? Wow. Wow.
kellie said…
I get how this looks and I get how this is reported in the Stranger. However, working with the legislature is NOT about CPP vs NWC. The Seattle Delegation needs to work in partnership with all the other representatives from across the State. As such, they need to be in an incredibly high state of integrity with the FULL impact of how these funds via a special appropriation are used.

The capacity problem that impacts ALL SPS students in some way is not going be resolved by one legislative ask. If one ask for $10 Million was going to solve this mess, there wouldn't be a need for the legislature to involve themselves in this way.

There needs to be an ongoing and open partnership between SPS and the Seattle Delegation to help build a long term solution that will support the structural issues surrounding education and urban densification.

If this was easy, it would already be handled. This is not easy. The reason why I am so concerned about this particular issue is that all the issues from here on out, get increasingly more complex and IMHO, the more people that start talking about this the better.

The high school issue is looming and the complexity of the high school issue is going to eclipse every other capacity issue to date and there is no way to solve the high school problem without substantial and significant legislative support.
kellie said…
The difference here is time. QA is going to go back into SPS active inventory, just like Cedar Park is going back into inventory. NWC is going to find a new home, just like the Atwood Studios community packed their bags and moved on.

But the difference is that Cedar Park was on the BEX plan. There were open public meetings discussing this. The funds were approved via a levy. And while it was a huge loss to that nearby community, Atwood Studios was not a state funded program.

This is so completely different. This is asking the legislature for money to give six months notice to another state funded program. I'm sorry you can't see the inherent conflict but it is there nonetheless.

Daylight and fresh air are the most important parts of a democratic process. It may not be the fastest but it sure creates time and space so that there is an opportunity to at least try to daylight the unintended consequences.

There was a small handful of voices that kept bringing up CPP during BEX. Several of those voices were from staff members. The official answer was there are some things that need to go on the "later list" and CPP was one of them.

I have said this in multiple threads, this is not about CPP vs NWC. This is about how the district is completely out of space. This is about how without significant and substantial support from both the City of Seattle and the State there might not be any relief at all.

I want CPP to have a real home. This year's round of short term crisis management is not pretty. Nobody is winning or coming out ahead.

Another Cascader said…
Nice strawman, but it doesn't really address the issue.

There was an ask for funding to fix up a building for a permanent location for an SPS school. The NQA building is far too small to consider for an option school. By moving Cascade PPP there, it frees up space in the district for other programs and other option schools. Instead of shoving Cascade in with another school, it gives that school room to grow.

In other words, you bet that money would have POSITIVELY affected the overcrowded underfunded issue. It would have removed one piece off of the board entirely!!! Done and done!

And regardless of "how it was reported" and "how it looks" the FACTS are that the money was to be used to improve and finish a permanent location for a program that serves the whole district. The FACTS are that by eliminating funds for that program, funds will have to be allocated away from other programs or projects to make up for the loss. The NQA building needs a new roof, among other things, and the district WILL fund the necessary improvements to the building--however it has to.

By rescinding that money, a domino effect was achieved, and the end result is that children suffer. You can paint it in generalities and platitudes, but at the end of the day, the whole of the matter is a private organization was just favored over a public school.

And by the way, Magnolia is estimated to cost much more than $20 mil to renovate...and it will be years out opposed to BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR one small piece of the overcrowding puzzle was solved.

Another Cascader said…
Again, I want to remind you that Dr. Herndon and Banda and Peasley and other school board members have repeatedly stated that NQA is THE option for Cascade. That was never not on the table. What is on the table is WHEN we will move there, not IF we will move there.

Again, I have to say that removing funding for a public school situation without getting the whole story is deplorable. When Rep. Carlyle did so, he did so under the pretense that a "homeschooling" program was going to use it for the NQA building for a TEMPORARY space. At no time did they reach out and find out what the real situation was, he just rescinded the money.

Again, you say it was rescinded to protect the private school. Is that the state's job? Even so, how in the world does that protect them? It doesn't change the fact that they have to move. It doesn't even slow down the timeline or 'stop the clock'. It was just politics. It benefits exactly zero people. It harms at least 184 public school students.

Lynn said…
The extent to which NWC is providing services on behalf of the state has been overstated. They provide early intervention services - which they have said can be provided in the children's homes. They provide full day childcare to children with and without disabilities and before and after school care to school age children. Is the state required to provide full day childcare to children with disabilities? I'm pretty sure the state does provide before and after school to anyone.
kellie said…
@ Another Cascader,

All I can say, is that I have worked on this topic for a long time. You are completely free to be angry at everyone involved and completely ignore the simple facts that I am trying to highlight, which really amount to - this is much more complicated than CPP vs NWC.

IMHO, there is NO CPP vs NWC in this issue all. CPP deserves a long term stable home, just like every SPS program. NWC is moving. QA will be back in SPS inventory one way or another. I don't have any personal stake in NWC at all.

If you choose to characterize this as someone protecting a private school, you are just completely overlooking the significant amount of Washington State tax dollars that are directed to support some of these severely disabled students.

There is also a huge difference between the Seattle delegation approved a request to ask and the legislature approved funding for. The Seattle delegation mostly acts as a unit and coordinates their legislative requests.

You can take those data points or leave them. But it doesn't change the fact that this is much more complex than $10 Million and one building.

Seriously said…
Kellie said: "The Seattle Delegation is NOT refusing to support CPP, they are refusing to request money to jeopardize a program paid for by the State of Washington. There is a huge difference. "

Honestly NW is not a state funded school program, they are a childcare who receive city and state childcare assistance for qualified families. NW itself is a private program.
Cascade is a state funded public alternative school. Regardless of NW having to relocate, that money should not have been affected as it has nothing to do with NW being displaced due to their lease terms. Cascade is going into QA in 2015-16 school year or sooner so how does earmarking money for a gym cause NW any problems?
Another Cascader said…
What would it have harmed, then, if the money stayed and NQA refurbished? And since it wasn't, what is the benefit of that?

Yes, I understand that it is complicated and there are many moving pieces. Yes, I understand about the funding. Yes, I know that there are problems all over and the district has many fires to put out.

If NWC had not appealed to the legislators, however, the funding would have been used this very summer for our building. The only reason it was rescinded was in a desperate effort to 'stop the clock' and strong-arm the district into doing its bidding.

If it hadn't, the money would have been available, would have been used, and would have solved a problem with an air of finality. And that would have solved many district issues, not just one issue for one school.

You seem to be saying many things, some of which are contradictory. Either the rescinded money protected the children of NWC or it didn't (and it did nothing of the sort). And if the motivation of rescinding those funds was to protect them, it did not accomplish that job. It simply harmed a whole different population. It was a poorly thought out decision. It did not accomplish its purpose, and it harmed another in the process. It went counter-purpose to one of the goals we have fund our public schools.

Seriously said…
Oh I forgot to add, please stop making this a NW vs Cascade issue, Kelly. Your previously quoted statement goes to show that the State is viewing this issue as a NW vs Cascade thing which is not the case, it is a case of poor lease negotiations.
Anonymous said…
Good news, CPPP is not homeless! One year from now we will have our long-term site, NQA.

More (good?) news! My child has been raised in a crumbling school, NQA even in its current state is likely to be a big step up.

As long as SPS continues to do right by CPPP (Banda is the first superintendent to come up with a permanent site vs. ignoring us in our temporary W-P home) I've got nothing but gratitude for how the current administration handled supporting our program under a very difficult situation of significant growth in the SPS population.

Should Banda actually decide to house CPPP in a demolition zone to extend the lease of a private daycare on our future school site, then my tune will change.

All these comments online have opened my eyes to some very difficult larger issues at hand in the district with regards to space and property. Might I suggest everyone refocus their attention to some daunting task and take a sigh of relief knowing CPPP has a permanent home that will meet its needs now and into the future.

-SPS Parent

kellie said…
I have also said this on numerous threads. CPP is very important and as the capacity problems get worse, the services this program provides become even more critical and I fully expect demand for this program to grow much more quickly than general enrollment growth.

As the capacity pressures cause more and more schools to become not just cozy but significantly over-crowded, students who would have been successful in a traditional school, get lost in the over-crowding and in ways that are sadly predictable. CPP is a much need oasis in the over-crowding troubles.

I would not be surprised if there winds up being multiple locations for CPP as a result of this crowding.

The one thing I have learned in my years of following this. The us vs them approach to framing the problem never seems to change.
empty said…
Unfortunately, when the media was first contacted, those that contacted the media advocated for themselves in an "us versus them" way.

So regardless of the fact that it shouldn't be that type of situation, that is one of the ways it was presented.

This has been very difficult for myself and my family. I have seen it effect other children and how they speak about themselves.

Emotional strings were purposely pulled to create a certain public opinion. And Us vs. Them was created.

I wish it wasn't set up that way. But I wasn't the one that contacted the media.

All of that aside, what do you do with CPPP? Realistically? The community has different needs than other schools because the kids have different needs. That's why many of the kids couldn't fit in in their classrooms and ended up at Cascade.

Right now we have NWC who needs more time. CPPP who is being asked to give more time (while exposing their children to a dangerous environment) and according to the NWC director, it isn't even good enough to help out.

And the funding we were told we had is gone.

You have seen WP. We have in a terrible building for years. But we have some outside space that the kids can move around in every day. We'll be fine without a gym for a while.

But without a building at all?
kellie said…
The rescinded "request" which is not the same as rescinded money, has done absolutely NOTHING to protect NWC which is my point. SPS is entirely within its right to take back the building, which it will do one way or another.

All it did was not put the Seattle Delegation in the impossible position of picking one group of kids over another.

That's it.

I should Mel deal with the issue of money in - money out when it comes to facilities. It all effectively goes into a pot. The real impact of legislative money is that it impacts timing.

One of the issues with BEX is that it is trying to fill a $2 Billion dollar hole with a $100 Million dollar shovel. BEX money comes in each year so that limits the ability to accelerate any of the projects. The legislative money has the largest impact on timing because the money comes quickly and enables some acceleration in the overall schedule.

kellie said…
Most people and the media love an us vs them story. If everyone is playing nicely, there isn't any media coverage.

In the midst of all the closures and now the capacity debates, the story is always us vs them, even when I have seen both groups trying to work out something the who moves and who stays debate becomes the center of the story.

Trying to figure out who said what mean thing about whom first is a chicken and egg debate. There is always more than enough un-kind things said whenever there is a conversation about who gets moved where, whether it is because of closures or over-crowding or boundary changes.

When your kids are getting the short of the stick because of a planning failure, protecting your kids should be your first instinct. Plain and simple.

My main point that I bring up every time this same debate surfaces is ... We have a systemic issue. This year it is _____ kids caught in the cross hairs of a planning failure. Next year, it is going to be somebody's else kids. But for 10 years not, there has been some group swept up in this debate every year.

When are enough kids going to be hurt, that the conversation changes to the systemic issue. I don't want any kids caught up in this mess.

However 2015 will be even worse. That seems to be the only reliable thing.
VA said…
So my question is this: In one of the early interviews the NWCK leader mentioned that Van Asselt was not a desirable choice.

And I have heard multiple times that SPS can have it ready for move in on July 1st.

If that is the case - then wouldn't that solve the whole problem in the first place?

And then NWC could have plenty of time to find the right home.

CPPP has already been working on this for a long time and has taken it's turn living in a bad building. I doubt that VA is a bad as WP.
Pollyanna said…
"Most people and the media love an us vs them story. If everyone is playing nicely, there isn't any media coverage."

And that explains why CPPP didn't get any coverage for so long. We have been very, very careful. Having a disabled child and caring for other peoples' disabled kids - I would never attack the way that we were.

"When your kids are getting the short of the stick because of a planning failure, protecting your kids should be your first instinct. Plain and simple."

What about morality and teaching your children? Believe me, I get protecting my kid - but I am not going to attack other defenseless kids to do it. But again, that would be why we lost the media campaign isn't it.

That is ugly. I am not going to roll in the mud with the pigs (as my mom would say). And - I am not actually calling anyone pigs. I am just not going to behave beneath myself.

But, like I said, I have been really really careful. I have defended, and I have responded, but I have not attacked.
AAARGH! said…
Man - I can see why people throw their hands up in the air and go to private school.

This whole debacle makes me want to do that.
Exhausted & Desperate said…
@empty: Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't have shouted as loudly as you could if your child's well-being was threatened? If the only thing that has been successful for your child during her short life so far was suddenly at risk of disappearing? Would you not also plead for more time? Reach out to try to get others to support your request?
Of course you would. It is what is happening now, why parents from BOTH PROGRAMS are advocating for their kids.

Here's the thing... Northwest Center Kids -- whether you call it a "private school," "just a childcare," even a collection of children of "entitled, wealthy, well-connected" people, or simply "school" as it is to my child -- is an important place for many families, of kids both with and without disabilities. It is a setting in which numerous families have finally found a way to make it work for their family and with their kid(s), often after so many failed attempts elsewhere.
Northwest Center Kids is important to families in the same way that Cascade Parent Partnership Program is important to families.

So, yes. Northwest Center parents contacted the media among others to try to bring attention to and highlight the "us vs them" of NWC vs Seattle Public Schools administration, pleading for more time. Northwest Center parents did not ever set out seeking anyone in the media to portray "our" kids vs. "your" kids. Attempts have been made to education media and officials about what Cascade's program is and encouraging more positive coverage of Cascade.

I know that this is an emotional issue. It is for both sides. I wish it was not such an awful mess. We have to hold the district accountable for making decisions that are well-planned, transparent, and reasonable. Northwest Center is getting out of that building; this cannot happen quickly enough at this point, because I imagine not many at Northwest Center are thrilled about being chained to SPS any longer than necessary. I just pray that Northwest Center is able to survive through a transition that will be undoubtably quicker than is ideal, which is regretable given how much time and notice could have been allotted had the district communicated when the building was first verbally promised to Cascade.
Mike said…
VA at 3/3/14, 9:48 PM,

To your question:

I don't think anyone can claim, or has claimed, to have it *licensed* in time.

Van Asselt only has 1 room configured for a pre-school or daycare. NWC needs 9 or 10 rooms configured that way, which requires changing at least walls, doors, and plumbing.

To read up on state licensing requirements:

To read up on Seattle licensing requirements:

If I understand correctly, it can take 6 months for the state licensing process, and that process starts only after the building has been built up to specs for a daycare and the building is fully equipped and ready to open.

I'm not a professional on this and I haven't memorized these WACs and other requirements yet, but what I've heard and read makes this look like a long and complicated process.
Empty said…
I believe I am advocating for my children and others.
My child's well being is being threatened. He has friends, is happy and accepted. He has friends and is a part of the community - right now.

And I have no problem that the media was contacted. From what I saw a parent contacted the media near the beginning. Maybe a few parents were being a little too free with the media. Perhaps it would have been a better situation if the NWC leadership was left to be the one to contact the media.

Maybe part of the reason we have gotten some positive press is partly because of NWC leadership trying to right the wrong that was done to the Cascade students in those first stories. But our program was not potrayed in an honest way at the beginning of this process.

I think that that has changed - but it is hard to come back from.

Personally, I call NWC NWC because I don't actually know or understand all of the ins and outs of that program. There are a lot of rules and regulations that are beyond me.

I do think honesty in how the programs, the services offered and the children receiving services is important and also a part of my child's education. If I don't hold myself to that standard then what I am teaching the kids on a deep level?

I am angry about how we were first potrayed though and I am entitled to my feelings. It was not just.

Seriously, I have no idea what we are going to do. WP is coming down. We can't go to school in a dust cloud. Shoot, the kids with ADD and ADHD need to be outside and to move around. Could you imagine if we locked those kids inside all day!

We can't share schools for a lot of reasons that have already been discribed. So yeah, my kid's well-being is threatened right now.
Empty said…
Sorry if my writing is choppy. I am on an iPad which is not conducive to typing or writing for me.
Anonymous said…
Can't remember if it was Banda or Flip that actually said it, but they were both there at the meeting with Cascade last Wednesday. It was said they can have Van Asselt ready for a pre-k program for NWCK by July 1st. They were confident they would make the licensing happen. It was loud and clear.

-SPS Parent
Ke's mom said…
Empty {{{{hugs}}}}

This is all so frustrating!! And because nobody has any answers or solutions we just keep talking in circles and reopening wounds.

I am so grateful that SPS came up with such a bogus offer, it has finally turned the media attention to Cascade and let us be seen for who we are (even though we are way more than just a SPS spec needs school). If they could just give us a home for next school year then maybe our attendance will jump. :)

Yes I said it.
VA, NWC does not want Van Asselt, move-in ready or not. They don't like the location (which is not the district's problem, frankly) and unless they find something better and fast, it might be their only option.

The state licensing for the pre-K is another story. That probably could not be fast-tracked (unless someone up the food chain intervened).

One thing to note - the City DID offer its realtor/property person to the district more than a week ago. As of last Friday, Herndon had not contacted the City to take them up on this offer.

Empty, I use a Zagg keyboard with my iPad because I just can't type with the iPad itself. Works great.

I'll have to ask around at the Board meeting what the current status of things is.
Anonymous said…
"One thing to note - the City DID offer its realtor/property person to the district more than a week ago. As of last Friday, Herndon had not contacted the City to take them up on this offer."

I hope he takes them up on this. SPS should find a place to house Cascade that is not in a demolition zone, even if it is only a temporary arrangement.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…

Thank you for working so hard to try to help everyone (including me) understand the funding issues between the state and the school district. Thank you for also recognizing that the district will need more alternative options for kids in the future and that Cascade is a big part of this (the only K-8 alternative program).

Thanks to all the Cascade and NWC parents out there who are keeping the debate to the points. It is hard because there does come a point at which we have to entertain -- If there is only one space... who gets it? This is when it gets ugly, unfortunately, by nature. Let's hope we aren't there yet!(and even then, keep it clean!)

Let's look for a win for both programs still. Let's keep pushing for this.

Keep positive

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