Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

A reader let me know that his/her home got a call from Universal Survey (according to their phone message they do "marketing and political opinion" surveys.  The caller said they were doing a survey for SPS.  The reader did not continue the call.  Anyone else? 

As well, the APP blog had a comment that one person had not received their scores and e-mailed AL.  They received a prompt reply that a letter had been mailed Feb. 15(!) but it never reached the family.  What was worse is that they received a PDF with the scores for their child but ALSO names, IDs, addresses and test scores for 60 other students.   Did anyone else get this in their letter?

I also note that I believe something of a similar nature happened to some Sped students (to an even larger degree).  

I find this all quite interesting given that tomorrow's Work Session is on ....data privacy and how SPS has great polices and procedures in place.  I will inquire to the district about these incidents and will they be letting parents know of this issue.

What's on your mind?


Robyn said...

I took the survey last week. It was for parents of kids in K-3 asking tons of questions about pre-school and you could only answer on a scale of 1-10. Things like, Should 'high quality' pre-school be free for all? Should pre-school teachers be required to have college degrees in education? Should pre-school programs be ranked for quality? What did you like about your pre-school? I'd ask clarifying like define high quality, but she wasn't able to help. It took over 10 minutes.

As far as the data breach you mention, I'd sure rather have my kids' personal details in the hands of other SPS parents instead of the Seattle Times, the Gates Foundation or any corporations. Neither is OK in my opinion, but that's the lesser of two evils to me.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

Corporate Ed Reform won't have Goldy to kick it around in this town anymore. He's out at The Stranger.

The Seattle APP blog has two disturbing threads going. One details the utter chaos of this year's enrollment process. The other talks about how inequitable and not-up-to-snuff the APP program is. Both threads are fascinating and disturbing reading.


Anonymous said...

I got a call a on Sunday but the sponsor wasn't SPS, it was the City of Seattle, I thought. I think it was related to the Preschool for all work that is going on in the Seattle Office for Education.

Lots of information here:


I think the "Gap" analysis mentions a plan to survey Seattle families this Spring (i.e. now).

One thing that caught my eye was the number of 12,000 3 and 4 year olds. From a facilities perspective, I'm very interested in where all of these new preschools would be located. If only half that number were the number of kids that would be served, there would be 300 new classrooms that need to be found.

If you click through the links to the City's pages by the Office of Education, you will see that there are several workgroups planned for this month.


Rainier said...

There is a Pinehurst bldg variance meeting on March 13th also. Important for neighbors and community to attend. Here is the link:

JvA said...

I was disappointed in the APP enrollment process.

I signed my SE kindergarten daughter up for AL testing in the fall and assumed we'd get the results soon after January 31 (as stated on the district website), in time to tour APP/Spectrum schools if she ended up qualifying for either one.

Stupidly, for a long time I followed the instructions on the AL website, which implored parents not to bother them with communications. Finally, last Thursday, March 6, the day before the end of open enrollment, I finally emailed to ask if they had an ETA for informing us on her test results. They emailed back to say that they had sent us a letter on February 21 saying she qualified for APP. I asked for the actual test results, and they emailed a PDF to us (with ours alone, no one else's). I did get her signed up for Thurgood Marshall (with a date-stamped copy) during Open Enrollment, as I'm still not 100% clear on whether we needed to apply during OE and wanted to err on the side of caution.

Then on Friday, March 7, we finally got our letter in the mail. It was dated February 21, but postmarked March 5!

I was disappointed that they waited so long to mail that letter out. I stubbornly refused to do open house tours of the different options for AL without knowing whether she had even qualified for any level of it. (I mean, really, come on. Why should we be expected to know what exact percentiles our 5-year-olds are going to test into. Ludicrous.)

But now I'm in the position of having signed my child up for a school I haven't even toured. Luckily, I've found enough acquaintances who have experience with the school that I feel it's going to be a good choice. But, honestly, the schools with test-qualifying programs should be having open houses AFTER the test results come in.

Anonymous said...

The survey asking about "free" preschool is a great example of how the wording of a survey question can bias the result. Asking whether someone is in favor of "free" preschool is bound to have a more favorable result then the more accurate question of "should taxes be raised to provide free preschool?"

Free isn't free

Anonymous said...

Interesting Salon article: Could Standardized Testing be contributing to the over-diagnosis of ADHD? Strong correlation. The truth about ADHD: Over-diagnosis linked to cause championed by Michelle Rhee.


Anonymous said...

Reactions to the Town Hall meeting last night at South Shore Elementary?

I was impressed with the staff. They are truly dedicated and determined to get family engagement right.

I heard a lot of concern from families and teachers at South Shore about not having been involved in decisions about the late pm bell time there. The community has plenty of serious safety/gang issues going on in the vicinity. I hope there is some way to figure this out.


Anonymous said...

I am with you jva, except that they also need to have them well before open enrollment ends, and in this case there was no overlap in those times. We still have no received initial eligibility results for our kindergartener, and I've had no e-mail reply from advanced learning.

Waiting waiting

Anonymous said...

Lunch break and while soaking up the sun, found this:

From Slate, The Many Origins of the English Language-


(My proof that I'm not a robot word is quiescence. How cool is that. Now outlawed as a SAT word.)

Anonymous said...

Real question here: do we as parents, taxpayers, citizens, whatever, have a right to an explanation from Advanced Learning about the debacle this year? I honestly don't know. We got our letter before open enrollment, but I think we were one of the few, as we applied from private and were the very first testing date in Oct. I wish there were some oversight here...I don't need/want an apology, I just would like to know that the problem won't happen again next year - like they have learned from it. I know it was a severe source of agony for many, some of whom are still waiting. I know many parents who didn't want to tour (such as at Ingraham IBX) in case their kid fell in love with it only to be denied. I guess this is why people write the board, and then the board gets involved in the "micromanaging" of basic staff functions like testing for AL. I mean, who else can you call? AL won't even answer the phone. Who do they report to? I really would like to know what people think is the proper recourse here, especially for those who still haven't heard.
-staying private

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Do we as parents, taxpayers, citizens, whatever, have a right to an explanation from Advanced Learning about the debacle this year?"

Yes,you do. Now will you? No, you'll get an apology, and better luck next year.

Sorry to be testy but this is the way it is. AL is not something that this district cares about - not the Superintendent, not the Board, certainly not upper management. If they do, it is not apparent.

That testing and notification is virtually all AL gets to do with their money, you'd think things would at least be better on that front. That said, how are the letters dated Feb. 21st and yet postmarked March 5th?

AL reports to Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley. I would let them know and cc the Board.

Lynn said...


I would assume they just reprinted your original letter without changing the date.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm getting an answer regarding the reasons for the Advanced Learning fiasco this year. Public disclosure requests are easy, and there has to be a paper trail regarding these delays. I'm just giving them time to get caught up as I don't want to do anything to slow down their already glacial pace.

--Not letting this go

Anonymous said...

Re suggestion to report to Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley:

They are generally perceived to be looking for any opportunity to dismantle APP and break it into smaller and smaller cohorts, in favor of in-class differentiation in kids' neighborhood schools, just like Spectrum and ALO ... b/c those work so well.

So complaining to them about APP enrollment plays into their hands. "See it's too unwieldy, must just allow it to be handled at a school level, oversight/management is clearly too challenging ... do away w/the office and just leave it up to each school to define and provide APP level service, and we won't have THESE problems."

Be careful what you ask for, always my motto w/SPS.

Signed: yes, paranoid.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting that link, that's a very interesting article.

The way I read that piece, it's more the fault of the NCLB funding being tied to standardized test scores that send ADHD diagnoses (and consequent special ed eligiblity and/or prescribing of ADHD meds) soaring.

"What the team found was that high rates of ADHD diagnoses correlated closely with state laws that penalize schools when students fail. Nationally, this approach to education was enacted into law in 2001 with No Child Left Behind, which makes funding contingent on the number of students who pass standardized tests."

The tests themselves aren't so evil (they're not so great either), but "fixing" the kids with diagnoses and/or drugs so they can earn us our funding? Putting the pressure on students to conform to the demands of the test instead of looking for meaningful ways to assess student learning? That's messed up. and that's NCLB for ya.

old school

Anonymous said...

AL is hopefully going to be rationalized by 2015-16. I think it's hyperbole to say theydon't care. It's a big program with many different facets, from under-representation to space issues, various delivery models, conforming to best practice and state law. It's tough all over, special ed, students below grade level, ELL, homeless students, gang members in and around schools, culturally relevant curriculum. Don't get me started on how many kids will be injured in a quake that is no doubt coming our way due to unsafe buildings.
Big Picture

NatalieS said...

I am a Whittier parent with two Spectrum kids, grades 1 and 3. I just received the following email from a fellow first-grade parent. Does anyone have information about this?

Dear Families of Room XXX,

I don’t know if you have heard, because it hasn’t been well publicized, but the staff at Whittier are discussing the dismantling of the Spectrum program in it’s current form. They are talking about doing away with self contained classrooms and creating a Walk-to-Math program. I don’t know many details other than that. I do have questions and concerns though. I wanted you all to have a chance to consider your questions and concerns as well. I did not see this topic on the agenda for the March 20th “Evening with Melissa” so I don’t know when they plan to address parents’ questions and concerns. I wrote a letter to Ms. Schweitzer already. I attached it in case you are interested. Some additional questions I had, which I did not put in the letter (it was already two pages), are:

These changes are being propose after open enrollment, so families who might have decided not to enroll their child at Whittier have lost the opportunity to enroll elsewhere. Is the district going to give Whittier Spectrum families another chance at open enrollment?

What are the reasons behind dismantling the Spectrum program?

Anonymous said...

@ "Paranoid"

Is absolutely correct about Heath and Tolley looking for ammo against AL.

That's who is pushing the search for a new "delivery model" for AL services. They have convened a rubber stamp task force with nobody from Washington so that they can claim community engagement.

open ears

n said...

Last week I said that I was told that Banda lied to the legislature. This week it was confirmed to me by our SEA business agent that he had indeed lied about title 1 funds. According to the agent, SPS has received those funds but apparently Banda either equivocated or denied that we had them.

Sorry I don't know more. Melissa, can you check on that to see the conflict between what the agent said and the information Banda gave the legislature?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Big Picture, I didn't say AL didn't care. Bob Vaughan cared, Stephen Martin cares. But they are powerless. It is the people at the top who do not care.

Natalie, you don't mean me "Melissa", do you? Who are you referencing?

What is the reason to dismantle Spectrum? Well, the district has allowed principals to weaken it, for it to be bad-mouthed within their schools and because it is allowed to play out differently at every school, there is no real way to know how well it works. I am very sad to hear this about Whittier where my sons attended and were in a strong, vital Spectrum program.

N, I'll try. Could you send me the date that Banda testified before the Legislature or who he was talking to and what the disconnect is between what he allegedly said versus what SEA knows to be the truth?

Anonymous said...

Dismantling the Whittier Spectrum program has been kicked around for a while. Ms. Schweitzer just seems like she is really going to do something about it. The saga/drama is a lot more about adults than it is about kids. The staff has always done a lot to minimize the difference. My kids went to Whittier, one in Spectrum, one in Gen. Ed, and the one in Spectrum didn't even know what it was until 5th grade. The one who wasn't didn't know until 4th grade, and when she asked, I just said that they did harder work (to me, that is where the differences end), and she was cool not being part of that. There are parents that talk to their kids about Spectrum starting in Kindergarten. When they see how important it is to their parents, they think it must be a big deal. Then you hear parents talking about how their kid is crying because they didn't get into Spectrum, and isn't Spectrum horrible.

That said, I think Walk to Math could be a great thing, but it is an unknown. My Spectrum kid was APP qualified and I didn't want to send her to Lowell because it was so far. I knew she needed AL, so I would have sent her to Lowell if Whittier Spectrum wasn't an option. They should not change this after open enrollment, because Walk to Math at Whittier is not a known quantity like Spectrum. But I do think that with Readers' and Writers' workshop being at kids' own levels, adding Walk to Math could make the whole school program challenging and individualized for everyone. They do the same science and social studies by grade level anyway. I think that could have worked really well for both of my daughters.

But I strongly believe that they shouldn't change programs after open enrollment unless there is some sort of crisis, and they certainly shouldn't be secretive about it.

-Mama no Drama

Anonymous said...

Re: Pinehurst Variance Meeting
(Tomorrow, 3/13, 6:30 pm, Pinehurst library)

Here's a link to the traffic study.


Only 9 parking spaces on-site!

Also, the building capacity is stated as 650. Isn't the JA K-8 program over 700?

- reality check

Anonymous said...

Walk-to-math at Whittier as a possible option was included in a mailing that all parents received last week. Parents also received a phone call. Please attend the budget meetings and PTA meetings that are coming up to voice your opinion. It is being considered as one possible budget solution, but absolutely isn't set in stone yet. I'm actually all for walk-to-math. Spectrum is a good program if you are lucky enough to get in for First Grade, but many children are wait-listed (mine was),and there are many kids at Whittier who aren't in Spectrum, but are way ahead in math (or reading). All children who need the additional math/reading placement should receive it, and unfortunately these kids don't always come in neat packages of 28.
Whittier Parent.

Lynn said...

I think a self-contained Spectrum classroom combined with walk to math would work well. Spectrum placement could then be based on reading scores and everyone could have access to the appropriate math instruction.

What doesn't make sense is the idea that this would affect a school's budget. Can you explain that?

mirmac1 said...

I see the billionaires and charter proponents are after Di Blasio in NYC:

Tense Moments in de Blasio’s TV Interview

Anonymous said...

9 Parking spaces are all that is slotted for the Pinehurst rebuild? For a school with projected enrollment of what - at least 650 kids? That's asinine. It is ridiculous for staff who we parents want to come and spend long hours on behalf of our kids. It is ridiculous for parents who I hope our district would be encouraging to be at school. It is ridiculous for little kids who will be walking the sidewalks of the speedways north that are Pinehurst and 12th. Accident waiting to happen. Are the SPS planners really this daft?

North End Dad

Anna said...

Insist on walk to reading starting in third grade. Should be a plus for all kids. No more waitlists, more interaction between students, single subject gifted and high achievers actually served. Requires much more teacher cooperation, however. A strong principal and help from the district are needed.
Good luck, Whittier

David said...

Yes the Whittier Spectrum program was strong and vital, for those who could get in. My Whittier kid was on the Spectrum waitlist for four years. Perhaps a new model can serve more students.

Anonymous said...

There is no need for self contained Spectrum reading. I for one am happy with every single Spectrum self contained program getting dismantled. Its time has come and gone. It has always left out students who need and want the service, based on the fact that classroom and staffing could not always accommodate the program. That should have been an equity nonstarter years ago.

Don't get me wrong: all kids need to be challenged at their level, and outside of the far, far outliers, this should be a mandate of every school. Differentiation within a classroom or "walk to" programs promises to reach more kids than self-contained Spectrum ever has.

The problem comes when Spectrum is dismantled by a school administration without purposeful planning and commitment to serving accelerated learners. If Whittier has that plan in place, then godspeed. If it doesn't, then parents do have a right to be furious.

"Accelerated family"

Anonymous said...

Though I feel for Whittier being blindsided I do hope this thread doesn't turn into an APP-Spectrum pro-con tirade.

I am interested in the parking issue that was brought up for the new JAK8. Does anyone know of an SPS school with similar nonexistent parking? I am wondering if this really stands a chance of approval because this is troublesome both ways. Seems like very impractical planning and maybe a safety concern? if it is approved. If it isn't approved and more parking needs to be added, would that reduce enrollment at JAK8 because then where would kids go? I think everyone on this blog agrees that we are full to the gills. I worry a lot that enrollment and building teams at SPS are not aligned.


Melissa Westbrook said...

David, I agree. Why is everyone testing into APP served and not Spectrum? But if you think there will be something that will serve kids like Spectrum does, good luck. They can't even get ALOs right.

Also "walk-to" programs, when they were called "pullouts" were tried and guess what? parents and teachers complained and that got eliminated. Maybe they are doing it better now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I just went to look up the Whittier PTA meeting and saw this about their budget survey (they got a lot of people to take it, good for them):

"The final two questions on Common Core showed mixed support and lack of clarity on how the PTA should
participate financially in supporting Common Core curriculum and professional development for staff."

I can ask but I'll guess the "mixed support and lack of clarity" is because most parents don't know what Common Core is. I'm aghast that any PTA would need to support funding the curriculum or PD.

That's the DISTRICT's job. Don't do it, PTAs.

David said...

The three schools my kid has attended (Green Lake, Whittier, Salmon Bay) have all had absolutely no parking whatsover. None. I realize that when building a brand new school parking is a consideration, but it never even occurred to me to think about it before I read it about Pinehurst.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about Montlake's teachers having to get parking permits donated from local homeowners so they can park their cars closer to the school. I don't know if the city finally relented and gave Montlake staff RPZ permits. Hope so.

City life

Anonymous said...

Good point about parking, David. I had forgotten how many schools around Seattle have no parking at all - Bryant, Laurelhurst, and Loyal Heights to name just a few I'm familiar with.


Anonymous said...

TOPS has a tiny parking lot too - more than nine spots, but I am guessing less than 15-20. Urban living. It was designed in the late 90's, so fairly recently.


Anonymous said...

old school, NCLB funding (i.e., Title I funding) is NOT tied to standardized test scores. The author of the article is wrong about that. Her statement that "funding [is] contingent on the number of students who pass standardized tests" is a misunderstanding of the law and federal funding of NCLB/Title I.

Title I funding is a formula based on the number and percentage of low-income students in states and districts. The funding from Congress for NCLB does not fluctuate based on student test scores --- the districts do NOT get more money if there scores go up and less funding if their scores go down. Schools and districts may have to expend the funds differently based on those scores but the state and the districts receive the same amount of funds regardless of the performance of students. Again, it's based on the number and percentage of low-income students, not test scores.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

So far, every school with inadequate parking that has been mentioned by readers, with the possible exception of Salmon Bay, is smaller than what is planned for the Pinehurst site (even Bryant, I believe, unless they are over 700 now.

- reality check

Anonymous said...

In addition, most of the schools mentioned are in residential areas so there is street parking available and many families walk to school. The location of Pinehurst is adjacent to a pretty major road and correct me if I'm wrong, does not seem to be nestled in a residential area. Not sure how much offstreet parking there is. What about when there are school functions or pick kup and drop off time. It's going to be a mess.


Melissa Westbrook said...

That's true - Pinehurst is on an odd triangle corner near businesses.

Anonymous said...

The Pinehurst site is basically a traffic island. The Jane Addams parking lot is HUGE and full to over-flowing during evening events. I can't imagine how all those cars will be accommodated at the Pinehurst site.

BTW, while driving around the neighborhood today, on errands, I noticed that there were NO EVENT PARKING signs at the entrance to the Pinehurst Safeway lot. Not sure what the event is today, but something tells me that parking is an issue in that neighborhood.

- reality check

John Sullivan said...

Pinehurst Way is the busy arterial that runs NE to SW on the long side of the site. 115th and 12th are the 2 other sides, which are residential. In fact, if you keep going beyond those, you'll encounter an extensive residential area where many nice people live.

Interesting to see so much concern about Pinehurst parking from people who don't seem that familiar with the place.

John Sullivan said...

And Safeway is trying to keep people from the church across the street from using their lot, I think. Those signs are always up. We're getting pretty far from the school site, though.

Anonymous said...

@John Sullivan

Actually, I am very familiar with the neighborhood, including how residents have had to put up "no parking" and "reserved parking" signs in front of their homes to deal with baseball parking at nearby Pinehurst play field.

Just because there is a residential area behind Pinehurst Way doesn't make it "OK" to be used as a parking lot for a 700-student school (and it's 70-something employees).

- reality check

Anonymous said...

Just some notes about parking on the Pinehurst site for JA K8 (pulled mostly from my reading of the traffic study) –

There will be 9 parking spots actually on the building site, but there are 435 spaces of on-street parking within 800 feet of the school. This is not counting setbacks for special parking zones, on street parking designated for apartment houses, businesses or other adjacent uses, within 20 feet of uncontrolled intersections, etc.

They looked at current utilization of existing parking and at no point in the day was utilization greater than 37%. Midday, when the parking is generally maxed out at schools, the utilization was 32%.

That is now. In 2016 with increased traffic, they suggest that there will be an area of about 20 spots along 117th that would end up having some peak period restrictions to accommodate load/unload activities for parents dropping off kids. Taking into account the removal of those parking spots and looking at how many parking spots the JA K8 program uses at their current site (both staff and visitors), the utilization for midday (late morning, same measure as above) would be 56%.

School bus load/unload will be happening at the same spots in 3 years as it is happening now for the Pinehurst K8.

The report does say that the parking impacts will be noticeable to neighbors and many discussions are happening to mitigate that. There is discussion about possible contacting local businesses, churches, etc. to partner with for parking for whole school events, field trip loading, etc.

Parents have already started talking about walking school buses (2.5 years before we move there!) There are plans that the city has to put in a bike lane there and public transportation is much better there than in our current location.

Yes, parking will be a challenge. The Pinehurst community has had a number of meetings with the planners and the JA K8 planning team to look at solutions that can benefit all. Many in the Pinehurst Community are looking forward to having the infrastructure improvements, new sidewalks, access to community space, a revitalized lot, etc. Many in the Pinehurst Community are already sending their kids to JA K8 (and we anticipate that more will choose the program when the building opens.)

Certainly, JA K8 didn’t want to move to the Pinehurst site and encouraged the district to look at many other options (Magnusson Park, Lake City Professional Building, another building on the current lot, searches of park property where the city might be able to negotiate a swap, trying to get some land from Bill Pierre). We didn’t want to displace the Pinehurst K8 program. It was what we were given. Now we’re trying to work collaboratively and creatively to design a building on a lot that we wish was bigger and create a partnership with the Pinehurst Community that benefits both our program and our soon-to-be neighbors.

~ thinking ahead

Anonymous said...

@thinking ahead

I noticed that the traffic/parking impact study was done using a building capacity of 650. Does this mean that the JA K-8 will be scaling back in order to fit into the building? I was under the impression that the desired 3 classroom/grade K-8 model has a program size of approximately 720 students.

- reality check

Melissa Westbrook said...

John, no one is saying there is no residential area nearby but for parents picking up kids or having school events, it may be problematic for staff and parents, not to mention the neighborhood which suddenly finds a lot of traffic.

Anonymous said...

Ingraham staff just voted down their budget, 58-1 and released the following statement: We reject the budget on the grounds that it forces us to compromise basic student and staff safety, requires us to compromise building and community standards for a comprehensive high school and reflects the wrong priorities for Seattle Public Schools and its students.


Anonymous said...

An updated article (March 12) from myNorthwest on the return to the decision to have NWC vacate the Queen Anne building by June.

Seattle Superintendent does about-face over school for disabled children


Anonymous said...

In reference to the Pinehurst parking questions, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

It's one thing if an old building has no historical parking. The community and school are used to it. It is another when $$$$$millions$$$$$ are going into a redo and is bringing more kids with it. Please note this parent alum's experience. When they redid TOPS for our kids in the late 90s, the district reduced on site parking to maybe 15 spaces to fit in a gym. When the facility reopened, more kids were drawn to the facility. I think it ended up around 450 K8 kids. Can't remember the total for sure but because the building site is small it was a pretty small cohort even with increased enrollment. Many fewer students than the numbers being thrown around for Pinehurst.

TOPS is bordered by two arterials and two residential streets. SPS was determined to cram as much onto the space as possible so it put as little parking onsite as possible. Staff was annoyed but parents did not get too upset. We just wanted the building upgrade. We were not very smart.

SPS did the parking study with the city like Pinehurst. Like Pinehurst they did mitigation with Eastlake neighbors by working with the city to close a street to make it into park space. SPS struck up deal with the Catholic church a block away on the other side of I5 to use the parking lot for event and dropoff + pickup parking.

Sound familiar?

So our kids happily entered the updated building and the reality of the staff parking taking up residential streets and the buses blocking street access and kids near arterials freaking out drivers and parents parking across neighbors driveways because there was no place to pick up or drop off kids hit hard. No parents or staff used the church parking lot. Not so convenient after all. The neighborhood was p****d.

The neighborhood residents who had seemed so nice when the plan was on paper went to war and tried its best to get our alternative program kicked out, on the premise that a neighborhood program would have less traffic impact. They didn't let go, year after year building their case, complaining to the city and trying to displace our program. Lightposts were covered with fliers hating on TOPS. Tires of school staff were slashed. There were many meetings with TOPS and neighbors screaming at each other. It was a very bad situation and when one of the earlier horrible SPS facility shuffles took place, the neighborhood's case against our school almost was the straw that tipped us out of our building. The drama was a complete waste of school time and a daily drain on our staff. Long story short, the school had to expend all its volunteer energy to not get kicked out of its building. When some of the assignment changes took place, some of the neighborhood relations improved. But they never were great when we were there.

The only point I remember the 2 parties ever agreeing on bitterly is that the scheme SPS set up for parking was stupid---far too small---and unsafe, because there were very small kids, special needs kids, big busses and heavy traffic twice a day. The principal at the school worried every day, twice a day, about a kid getting hit.

That neighborhood has gotten dramatically denser since SPS assured everyone that limited parking would work. Last I checked, and it's been a couple years now------ nothing had changed. And even with my sympathies lying with the school not Eastlake I agree that someday some kid will likely be hit by a bus or car.

I know JAK8 is fired up about their permanent home, but don't let SPS sing a happy song. Their planning is historically horrid, it is in their interests to shoehorn kids into that site and they don't really care if parking is inadequate. They will role their eyes if a neighborhood hates on your school. But if a kid dies, you'll remember that you had a chance to force SPS to design a safe dropoff/pickup and parking zone but you didn't speak up.

TOPS Alum Too

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a horrible story about TOPS. But perhaps it is just the people in that neighborhood? Hamilton has no parking lot at all, and JSIS & BF Day's lots are very small, not even enough for staff, but I've not heard of that kind of problems with those neighborhoods. Parking for school events is a major pain, peeps have to park a few blocks away, etc. But I think that is just the reality of North Seattle now, every household has more than one car, and almost no one uses their garage.

The problem is the district does not have enough capacity for all the kids they have to serve, so they have to prioritize classroom spaces over everything else.

We need more land and money. The city needs to impose a tax for building schools on the big businesses that are bringing more people to Seattle, Amazon etc. AND on the developers building the huge condo complexes.


Anonymous said...

Hamilton has only middle school students. JSIS and BF Day have residential frontage where it is safer for small children and they are much smaller than what I see predicted for Pinehurst. Agree that Pinehurst needs a redo at minimum for arrival-departure pickup logistics. Remember the deaths in front of Eckstein last year?


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to give a little update on TOPs - the parking is still very tight, but is no longer as bad as TOPS Alum too experienced. Two things have changed in recent years, mostly due to the new assignment plan - there are less children who live really far from the school, especially in the lower grades (because of the transportation being taken away or made less convenient), and more children who live within walking distance (because of the creation of the Geozone). The animosity with the neighborhood was not really so much about the parking - it was an overflow of the huge resentment about the majority of kids in the neighborhood being bussed to schools 4 or more miles away (usually Madrona or MLK) instead of being allowed to attend the school a few blocks from their home. When my oldest child started kindergarten (we were very fortunate to get in by lottery - none of my neighbors did) as far as I can recall she was one of only 3-4 kids in a class onf 26 that walked to school. Now, in lower grades, probably close to 1/3 of the children walk - and this makes a huge difference in the traffic at the school.
Mom of 4


Anonymous said...


Now you think it is a good idea to build a mega-school for 720 on the tiny triangle at Pinehurst, with a total of 4 parking spaces and a loading bay? Last Friday open thread, you were advocating that building Wilson Pacific Middle School without enough of a gym, without lockers, without an auditorium was also okay, in fact, you even went to far as to clarify that the district had to NOT provide the state mandated PE hours to 30% of children in that building and it would work out.

I am betting you don't have children who will go to either the Wilson Pacific Middle School, or, the K8 at Pinehurst, right? And, you certainly don't live in Northgate, because you would know that it is a tight-knit community, and along with Lake City, they are trying to get away from pot shops and liquor stores, and to attract less specious businesses to the area, the merchants will need parking. The K8 uses right now 70 spots. 70. That is just for staff. You really think this is going to make for good relations with the community? The district has a 9 acre lot exactly 1 mile from Pinehurst's door, that is also being razed.

So, they are putting the largest K8 EVER on the smallest lot EVER?? And, they are putting a smaller school on a much bigger lot??? This makes sense to you? If so, explain it to me. This is an urban setting, but, we are NOT Manhattan. We still build schools on acreage here, (not install them in skyscrappers), and this is a residential neighbourhood with an urban village, so it has mostly single family homes, some higher density apartment (but not mega density), and small 'strip malls'.

Note that in West Seattle, a 'switch-a-roo' is happening: they are moving the big school from its current lot to the bigger lot to get a new school for them.

This 'plan' for Northgate is idiotic. The area is getting 2 new schools, somebody (Banda, anybody home??) needs to make the capital planning make sense. The constant "I wasn't here last year, last month, last week..." is the equivalent of "the dog ate my homework"


Anonymous said...

"So, they are putting the largest K8 EVER on the smallest lot EVER?? And, they are putting a smaller school on a much bigger lot???"

According to the traffic study for the building at Pinehurst, the building capacity planned for Pinehurst is 650 (how this fits the JA K-8 program is confusing, to say the least). This is the same as the planned building capacity for Olympic Hills, which I'm assuming is the much bigger lot you are referring to? So, not it is not really the case of a small school on a big lot -vs- a big school on a small lot...it is more like two big schools, one on a big lot and one on a small lot, right?

Just trying to follow the argument.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...


If you have extra land or large buildings to give to SPS for new schools to put all the students in the North end into, do step up. Otherwise, SPS has to do with what they have, can't squeeze blood out of stone.


Anonymous said...

It seems like common core standards would really allow a walk to math program to work. Then it should be clear which concepts will be covered at each level. If there are no common standards then teachers will not be able to place kids appropriately with a walk to program.

CC withWalkTo