It happened again at around 9:45AM this morning, February 7. Key Bank at 7307 35th Ave NE was once again hit by a gun-toting masked man. It seemed like less than 2 weeks ago we thought we could move on from our armed bank robbing plight. But it turns out more than one criminal has realized there are 7 banks within a 10-block stretch. This makes the 4th armed robbery in 4 months for 35th Ave NE and the 2nd robbery of the Key Bank branch. We hope we’re not the only ones who have noticed this trend…
The Seattle Police Blotter has a brief report on the burglary here. According to their report:
The suspect is described as an unknown race male, approximately 5’09, 140, wearing a black hooded jacket,blue jeans, and a partial black mask covering the lower part of his face. He was also carrying a black backpack.
The suspect entered the bank, pointed a gun at the teller, and then jumped over the counter and took money out of the teller drawer. He then fled the bank on foot, last seen running south.
Officers arrived quickly after receiving the 911 call and are currently searching the area. Several area schools have been notified and are taking the necessary precautions.
According to the Ravenna Blog’s Twitter feed, View Ridge Elementary was put on lock-down following the armed robbery.
By now, you’re probably aware that school capacity is a big issue at the Seattle Public School District. Apparently, people are still having kids! More increase is projected, so the crowding is only going to get worse. The District has been hosting a series of meetings over the past year on what to do. Our NE Seattle and Wedgwood-area elementary and middle school buildings are beyond the capacity they were designed for and multiple portable units are being added. To address this, the District is looking at both short and long-term solutions.
Short Term (2013-2014) Capacity
On December 11th the District is hosting a community meeting at the John Stanford Building auditorium from 7-8:30PM to discuss their short term capacity management proposal. According to information shared at the December 5th board work session on short term capacity management, it looks like a new portable is planned for View Ridge Elementary and may be required at Wedgwood Elementary. If you can’t make it to the December 11th meeting, a NE Seattle Capacity Management Community meeting will be held on December 17th at Olympic Hills Elementary from 6:30-8 PM.
Long Term Capacity
In November, the District formally adopted a $694.9 million Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Levy proposal to be voted on in February 2013 (along with a $559.1 million Operations Levy…that’s $1.25 billion). It is well known to some in Wedgwood that part of the District’s proposed long term solution to the growing capacity is a new school that is proposed to be constructed adjacent to Thornton Creek Elementary School, although language has been formally adopted by the school board in the BEX IV levy to allow some more flexibility on its location should another suitable site be identified. The adopted text is as follows:
“Northeast Seattle elementary school: To meet growing capacity, add K-5 school on Thornton Creek site by 2016 or equivalent additional seating capacity at another location.”
Now that the BEX IV Levy proposal has formally been approved, here’s a little bit on what the levy will do in the Wedgwood area if approved:
- A new K-5 school would be built at the Thornton Creek site or some place similar, to be open by 2016.
- Thornton Creek School would get new athletic field improvements (although its not clear if this is a result of the new school proposed on the ball fields)!
- Eckstein would get a new science lab!
- Eckstein, View Ridge Elementary, and Wedgwood Elementary School would get seismic upgrades!
- Eckstein, View Ridge Elementary, and Wedgwood Elementary School would get new track and/or playfield upgrades!
- Eckstein would get its roof worked on!
- And a variety of technology upgrades…
Not all of the proposed improvements have been welcomed with open arms by everyone in Wedgwood, but it’s because of these improvements and the pressing need to pass the Operations Levy, representing 27% of the District’s budget, that Schools First is hoping to emphasize how important these two levys are.
Help Nathan Hale’s Highly Regarded Radio Station!
North Seattle KOMO has a story that Nathan Hale’s amazing radio station, C-89.5, is in the midst of a fundraiser to sustain the station. They’re hoping to raise $140,000 and YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE too!
Wedgwood Area Schools Are Still Amazing!
As we’ve report in 2010 and 2011, the public schools in our neck of the woods are pretty amazing. Last week, the Seattle School District’s new superintendent, José Banda released their Annual School Reports and State of the District. Schools are scored 1-5 (5 being the highest score) based on a variety of metrics.
In 2010, the first year that all public schools were scored, there were 12 schools that scored a 5, including Wedgwood, Thornton Creek, and View Ridge Elementary schools while Bryant Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, and Roosevelt High scored a 4 and Nathan Hale High received a score of 3.
Last year, while most school scores remained the same, View Ridge Elementary dropped from a 5 to 4, Bryant Elementary rose from a 4 to 5, and Nathan Hale rose from a 3 to 4.
This year, Wedgwood-area schools continue to score well with Nathan Hale the rising star of the year!
Great work to our local schools, including the phenomenal educators, staff, PTAs, and students that make our schools so successful!
Building Excellence IV Levy – UPDATE
As you may be aware, the Seattle School District has proposed, within a draft list of a projects for their upcoming Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) levy, to construct a new elementary school generally located on the Thornton Creek Elementary School playfields. Their list of projects has gone through several iterations although the new “North Seattle Elementary School” has largely remained unchanged despite vocal opposition by some neighbors. On Wednesday, November 7th, the school board intends to vote on a final list of projects for the BEX IV levy that will go out to voters on February 12, 2013.
At this Wednesday’s school board meeting, the board will vote on Building Excellence (BEX) IV Capital Improvement Program and Authorizing Resolution 2012/13-4. Based on the new version of this resolution, the following language has been added relative to the new North Seattle Elementary School.
“At Thornton Creek, the project list allows for the possibility that any needed additional seating capacity may be built at an alternative location.”
Furthermore, within Exhibit “A” – List of BEX IV projects, which the board will be provided, has the following language.
“North East Elementary @ Thornton Creek or equivalent additional seating capacity at another location – Opens 2016″
We currently are trying to get more information on what this revised language really means, although it appears that the District is providing themselves some ‘wiggle’ room to continue the school siting process while maintaining the necessary timeline for BEX IV to get on the ballot in February.
The upcoming School Board meeting will be on Wednesday, November 7th, starting at 4:15PM at the John Stafford Center at 2445 3rd Ave South. Public testimony is supposed to start at 5PM (see rules if you’d like to testify).
On May 21st, we wrote about how the Seattle School District was considering building a new attendance area K-8 school on the existing Thornton Creek Elementary School site. This proposal was included in all 3 action alternatives within the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Levy. The new school would be located in the general area as the existing ball fields. Thornton Creek Elementary would remain an alternative school.
There were very few details that we could provide during that time. Not much has substantively changed since then either. However, we have provided a relatively detailed account of the development of this proposal from the perspective of the Thornton Creek Elementary Site Council (their version of a PTA).
While we are still working on getting more information from Seattle Public Schools, the District has issued their Final EIS for the BEX IV levy. The Final EIS includes a few edits made to Draft EIS as well as all comments received and the District’s corresponding responses. Given that we were only able to provide approximately 1 week of notice to the community before the comment period closed, it was clear that some in the community share some common concerns.
A couple weeks ago, we wrote about a proposed new school that the District is considering building on a portion of the ball fields at Thornton Creek (TC) Elementary School. According to the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Building Excellence Phase IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy describes the potential new school as a new K-8 school, although its our understanding that most believe the school will be K-5. We know very little about the proposed school, other than what has already been shared, largely because the school is contingent upon the upcoming BEX IV levy, which will be on the ballot in February 2013.
In our previous post, we wrote that “The Wedgwood Community Council is still collecting information on this proposal and has decided to refrain from endorsing or opposing this proposal. Instead, the WCC will only attempt to provide accurate information to the community from both sides so parents and neighbors can make their own decisions.” Our decision to refrain from taking a position has caused some concern among some residents. I try to provide a more thorough description of how the WCC reached this decision towards the end of this post. However, the intent of this post is to provide a brief history of this proposal from the perspective of the TC Site Council.
For background, the WCC was contacted about the new school proposal on May 9th in an email from Chris Stewart, Chair of the TC Site Council. Following further email correspondence with both Chris and John Miner (Thornton Creek Principal), I met with Seattle School Board member Harium Martin-Morris to learn more about the proposal. Since that time, I have met with Daryl Whitley who serves as one of the TC Site Council’s District liaisons and has been following the capacity management planning throughout. I asked Daryl for some history as to how this proposal has evolved from ‘adding 4 portables over the next 4 years‘ in November 2011 to a ‘new 650-800 student school on the TC ball fields.’ Turns out, Daryl has put together a 2-page summary describing this although I’ll try to summarize this as well.
History of the Proposal
Back on October 19, 2011, the TC Parent Group wrote a letter that supported the TC staff’s position that expansion of TC and the addition of 4 new portables over a 4 year period would harm the alternative educational program’s success. TC started in 1974 as a K-5, 2-up system (2 classes per grade) but has already begun to expand to a 3-up (3 classes per grade) program having taken 3 kindergarten classes over the past 2 years. The 3-up expansion has been challenging the school and staff, especially since the building was originally designed to support a K-2 school, not a K-5 school. So, for a myriad of reasons, the staff and parents at TC were reluctant to take on more portables and students. However, not only is TC over-enrolled, but Olympic View, Wedgwood, View Ridge, and Bryant Elementary are also over enrolled.
So, following several community meetings, the District modified its proposal. Instead of taking on new portables, the District would change TC’s geo-zone, which is a geographic area around TC that gives priority to those students. By expanding the TC geo-zone, it was thought that more students from View Ridge and Wedgwood Elementary would get into TC and alleviate some of the capacity issues at those “Attendance Area” schools. Additionally, a portable would be added to Wedgwood Elementary and View Ridge and Olympic View Elementary would convert another room into a class room. TC would, however, go back to a 2-up model starting a kindergarten.
In December 2011, Pegi McEvoy, the District’s Assistant Superintendent of Operation, met with the TC Site Council. In her meeting, Ms. McEvoy brought up the idea of TC becoming a K-8 school to help alleviate capacity issues at Eckstein Middle School as well. In late February/early March 2012, the TC Site Council formally responded to Ms. McEvoy in a brief letter describing the TC Site Council’s willingness to take on as many as 500 students as a K-5 school in a new building built on their site. This represented a major shift in the TC Site Council’s stance from back in November 2011. According to Chris Stewart, they have not heard back from Ms. McEvoy on this proposal.
WCC’s Position Explained
A few people have commented on the WCC’s decision to not take a position on this proposed new school. Therefore, I thought I would provide a brief explanation as to why we’ve made our decision the way we have.
To begin, the WCC has had a tradition of remaining a neutral party while serving as a conduit of information to the community, providing a forum for dialogue, and fostering participation of the whole community. This again is the role that we intend to play.
Beyond this though, the District’s proposal for a new school is currently just a proposal that is dependent upon a levy. Other than vague descriptions of where the school would be located and how big it would be, we have no details to consider. The issue of enrollment capacity in our neighborhood’s schools is a very important issue as it has an effect on the quality of education the children in our neighborhood are receiving. More and more families are moving to Wedgwood to take advantage of our award winning public schools. As a result, our schools are bursting at the seams. Therefore, opposing a new school in one part of our neighborhood at the expense of others in our neighborhood isn’t a representative position for the WCC to take. However, supporting a new school when there are so few specifics known about the proposal while obvious potential impacts are apparent, especially to infrastructure and open space, isn’t appropriate at this time either.
Furthermore, we recognize the the District owns the TC property and has the legal right to build a new school on their property if they choose (…and have the funding for). Should the levy pass and a new school is proposed on the site, the District would be required to go through a formal public notification and design review process under the State Environmental Policy Act. All impacts, and we fully recognize there are significant potential impacts to our community, will have to be mitigated as part of this environmental review process. We have already reached out to the District to let them know that should the levy pass that we would like to work with the District to make sure that the concerns of our community, especially those that will be most directly affected by the school, are heard and that the design and operation of the school can be done in a way that complements the surrounding residential community to the greatest extent possible.
We are reaching out the District to see if we can find a way to have them share the reasons for making this decision. We haven’t made any decisions on how best to do this yet. Stay tuned. In the mean time, if you’re interested in getting involved with the WCC, please email Per Johnson » or Brian Turnbull ».
Seattle Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday January 18th due to concerns about the impending snow storm. (The SPS site didn’t have an update about this as of this posting, but the automated calls to parents are currently in process). Enjoy the day with your children, leave the car at home, and see you on the sledding hills!
Because of deteriorating weather conditions, all Seattle Public Schools will be closed two hours early on Tuesday, Jan. 17. All after-school events will be canceled, including games, practices, events, plays, meetings, etc. SPS will send an automated phone call to all families notifying them of the two-hour early release, asking them to pick up their student from school, if possible.
More snow is on the way, so check the Seattle Public Schools website for their plans for Wednesday classes.
Announced Monday evening (check the Seattle School website for more current information!):
Because of inclement weather, schools will open two hours late Tuesday, Jan. 17. Buses will be operating on snow routes. There will be no door-to-door service and no Preschool or Head Start. No morning breakfast will be provided. See Seattle School website any updates.
Over the past couple weeks, holidays and life have kept us from sharing several school-related stories. We’ve tried to wrap up all these stories into a single-post. This could be the Iron Man equivalent of blog posting.
First, kudos again go to our NE Seattle Schools for their excellent report cards. Last year, we shared the exciting news that Wedgwood-area schools were some of Seattle’s best schools during the 2009-2010 school year with Wedgwood Elementary, Thornton Creek, and View Ridge Elementary all receiving a 5 out of 5 in what the district calls segmentation level. Only 12 schools in the City achieved this highest score. Eckstein Middle School, Bryant Elementary, Laurelhurst Elementary, and Roosevelt High School recieved a 4 out of 5. Nathan Hale received a 3.
During the middle of last month, the School District released the most current score cards for each school in the district for the 2010-2011 school year, along with the District Score Card. Students, faculty, and parents of Wedgwood-area schools will be pleased to know that Wedgwood Elementary and Thornton Creek Elementary again received a segmentation level score of 5 out of 5. Laurelhurst Elementary, Eckstein Middle School, and Roosevelt High School remained a 4.
Wedgwood-area schools who’s segmentation level score has changed since the last report include:
Congratulations to all of these schools for such great performances.
Thornton Creek is the Most Innovative
Speaking of great performances, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) designated Thornton Creek Elementary as one of the State’s most innovative school’s of the year. View Ridge KOMO has a great story covering the event. Congratulations to the teachers, staff, and everyone involved with the Site Council. Bravo!
Capacity Management Planning
The School District has been experiencing a surge in enrollment and are quickly trying to identify solutions to what they believe will be an increasing problem in years to come. Last week, the District held their 2nd of 3 Capacity and Management Planning Meetings at Eckstein Middle School. While we couldn’t make it to the meeting, our review of the meeting’s presentation (see Slide 26 of 34 of this presentation) appears to suggest that potential short-term solutions to the Eckstein Service Area include:
- Adding 1 portable to Wedgwood Elementary
- Moving the audiology lab from View Ridge to Lowell
- Reducing the kindergarten back to 2, and modify geozone.
New School District Representatives
The elections have been verified and congratulations are in order for the new and reelected school district representatives. The newly elected representative include Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren.
A Call to Service
The Seattle School District and City of Seattle are looking for volunteers to serve on several committees relating to our schools and the education of our youth. The School District have two committees where they are seeking community volunteers:
Meanwhile, the City Council is looking for community volunteers to serve on the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee, which voters passed during this last election.