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Opinion: School boundary changes affect Beacon Hill voters as well as students

October 29th, 2013 at 5:37 am | 1 Comment | Posted by admin

by Erin Okuno

Current State

According to Seattle Public Schools, enrollment increased by 1,400 students this past school year and is expected to grow by 10,000 students in the next decade. To accommodate the growth and alleviate overcrowding, the district is looking to move elementary and middle school boundary lines. In the North East corner of Beacon Hill,, students’ assignments will take families from Beacon Hill International School to Thurgood Marshall, then to Washington Middle School in the Central District. Kimball Elementary students will matriculate to Washington Middle School instead of Mercer Middle School, and John Muir to Meany Middle School. Other parts of Beacon Hill are also seeing significant shifts as well.

School Board Director Voting 411

One of the unintended consequences of this shift is that many Beacon Hill residents will lose the ability to vote for school board members who represent our students’ assignments in the primary election. Much of Beacon Hill resides in School Board Director District VII, yet Thurgood Marshall and Washington Middle School are in District V.

Seattle Public Schools has seven elected board members. Each board member has a slate of schools they represent. During the primary election ONLY those residing in the director’s district are allowed to vote; the top-two candidates advance to a city-wide general election.

School board directors are an important part of a well-functioning and high-performing school district. They are responsible for approving the district’s budget, assuring sound legal and fiduciary practices, student assignments (as presently happening), and representing the public’s voice in school district decisions.

The Problem

The problem comes for those families who are a part of the boundary change. Beacon Hill to Thurgood Marshall, Kimball students moving on to Washington — our students will be sent to schools in District V. This means we lose the ability to vote in the primary election for a school board member representing our student assignment. This problem already exists in the north-end neighborhoods of Ballard, Crown Hill, and possibly other areas.

As South End residents we have more to lose by losing a vote in the primary election. Southeast Seattle schools aren’t performing as well as their North End counterparts. Voting for a school board director that represents our Beacon Hill students, how funds are allocated, and where students attend school is important.

What You Can Do

Now is the time to speak up and ask Seattle Public Schools what their plan is to address the discrepancy. Tell them how you feel about the boundary changes and wanting to keep Beacon Hill students in Beacon Hill. Let Seattle Schools know that it isn’t ok to take away this important voting right in the primary election.

As another neighbor wrote, Seattle Public Schools cannot afford to disenfranchise voters. As taxpayers and citizens we have a right and a duty to pay attention and vote in accordance to our values. I hope you will join me in pressing the need for Seattle Public Schools to pay attention to this important voter right. A feedback form and more information can be found here.


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School district needs to hear from Maple neighbors

October 18th, 2013 at 11:18 pm | No Comments | Posted by JvA

by Julie van Arcken

In both their latest boundary maps, Seattle Public Schools wants to kick Mid Beacon Hill out of the official Maple walk zone (an area so close to a school that bus service is not even provided) and instead make our kids bus miles to school every day.

We’ve been working hard to rally the neighborhood to oppose this change, but the majority of our neighborhood are not native English speakers, and none of the boundary materials have been translated into any other language. At the Oct. 16 School Board meeting, we were supported by members of our local Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese communities, and we spoke about retaining our Maple walk zone, and also the need for native-language outreach in these important decisions. Together with an East African woman (to whom we donated one of our speaking slots, as she was also speaking out for the need for cultural and native-language outreach), we were the only voices speaking about the lack of racial and linguistic equity in this process. (See this post on the Mid Beacon Hill Blog, containing a bar graph depicting the lack of diversity in feedback the district has received so far.)

If you also feel it’s unjust that SPS is kicking a majority-non-English-speaking community of color out of its local school walk zone without even notifying affected families in the languages they understand, please fill out this two-question SPS survey before Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.:

Survey link

Choose Zone 36 for the area of concern, and provide a comment like “Let kids in the Maple walk zone walk to Maple. For a racially equitable process, notify affected families in their native languages.”

Zone36ToMaple


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Kids invited to create in Día de los Muertos crafts class

October 10th, 2013 at 4:11 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Photo by Wendi Dunlap.

Children and their parents or caregivers are invited to the Beacon Hill Library on October 27 to learn about and celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with a free milk carton crafts workshop. Kids aged 7 and up will learn how to create an altar, shrine or shadow box with milk cartons.

The event is from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 27 at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Ave. S. There is no fee, and everyone is welcome.


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BHIS students planning dream trip to China

October 10th, 2013 at 2:41 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Photo by Rob Ketcherside in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

The Northwest Asian Weekly reports that fifth grade students in the Mandarin Immersion Program at Beacon Hill International School are planning a trip to China in 2014 to meet their pen pals from Renmin Rongqiao Primary School in Chongqing. They need to raise money to achieve their dream, which may cost as much as $2,500 per child.

For more information about the school, and to make an online donation to the China trip fund, visit the school’s website.


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Opinion: Community must work together on school boundary changes

September 28th, 2013 at 6:16 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Photo by Kei Noguchi via Creative Commons/Flickr.

Seattle Public Schools is scrambling to avoid overcrowding. They’ve introduced a proposal to move kids around called “Growth Boundaries.” Kids would be bused miles instead of attending a school two blocks away or another school less than a mile away. We must encourage complete transparency and work together as a community to keep Beacon Hill awesome. SPS needs to be thoughtful and engage our community more in the process before any decision is made.

Even if you don’t have a child in the Seattle Public School system, you are affected by this proposal. When families travel farther from home for school, they have less time to invest in our community. We have fewer eyes on the street and less of the daily interaction that makes our community so strong and interesting. We all benefit from the volunteer efforts and the small businesses started by families with kids. When families are forced to send their kids outside of the neighborhood they’ve invested so much time and money in, they may feel less committed to the community and may even decide to leave. Property values are affected by reference schools. Our homes may be worth less after this proposal is implemented because potential buyers are holding out for a better or more convenient school.

Please sign up now to “Walk the Boundaries.” It’s another important way to share feedback about the proposal. Feedback is due by October 1.

  1. Download the map for the school attendance area(s) you will review. Each map has a grid to use as a reference point when you submit your observations and suggestions.
  2. Drive or walk the boundary shown on the map. Look for portions of a school’s proposed boundary that have geographic barriers or local features that separate a specific area from the rest of the attendance area. (For example, we are recommending that the elementary boundaries in Southeast Seattle be modified so that the light rail is a dividing line.)
  3. Mark any issues on your map and note the reason, or note that there are no issues.
  4. Enter your results in the online survey. Please complete the survey one time for each school attendance area boundary you review.

While you’re “Walking the Boundaries,” remember: the City of Seattle has invested millions of dollars in Safe Routes to School and Neighborhood Greenways. The SPS proposal doesn’t take any of that valuable infrastructure into consideration.

“Walk the Boundaries” is only one part of the outreach. Please attend meetings and send letters to our school board representative,
Betty Patu; School Board President, Kay Smith-Blum; Sally Bagshaw, Chair of the City Council committee responsible for the Neighborhood Greenways; and any other elected or appointed officials you believe may be interested in this proposal.

I’m confident we can help Seattle Public Schools find a solution to the problem that works well for communities. I’m confident that Beacon Hill will work with Georgetown, Mt. Baker, Seward Park and other South Seattle neighborhoods to create a plan that meets the needs of students while maintaining strong communities. We must.

Please note: all opinions expressed or implied in this message are Melissa’s own and do not reflect the position of the North Beacon Hill Council or the NBHC Board. This topic is on the council agenda for Tuesday, October 1. Please attend the meeting at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library and share your ideas. (Melissa adds: “The NBHC does actually agree that Beacon Hill is awesome. That’s an official position.”)


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Help music students at BHIS by donating instruments

September 21st, 2013 at 4:26 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

That old dusty violin or clarinet in your attic could help fifth-graders who want to learn to play.

Beacon Hill International School is seeking donated trumpets, clarinets, flutes, and violins (1/2- or 1/4-size only) for the 45 students who want to study music. The school has only a few instruments to lend, and many students who cannot afford to rent or purchase.

If you have an instrument to donate, please drop it off in the front office at 2021 14th Ave. S. on North Beacon Hill.

Photo by Pete + Lynne via Flickr/Creative Commons.


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Discuss Seattle Public Schools boundary changes at Mercer 9/23

September 20th, 2013 at 6:26 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

The Seattle Public School District has drafted potential attendance boundary changes for elementary and middle schools, including some in the Beacon Hill area. For example, some students from Northeast Beacon Hill who previously would have been assigned to Beacon Hill International School will now be assigned to Thurgood Marshall in the Central District when the new boundaries come into effect in 2014. You can see the new maps here.

The District is hosting a series of community meetings to discuss the changes before the final proposal is introduced at the October 16 school board meeting. Asa Mercer Middle School is hosting the meeting for our area on Monday night, September 23 from 6:30-8 p.m.

Mercer Middle School is located at 1600 South Columbian Way. The meeting is in the lunchroom, and there will be Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese and Tagalog interpreters on hand.


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Denise Louie preschool wins $126K grant

July 24th, 2013 at 2:22 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

denise_louieDenise Louie Education Center at 3327 Beacon Ave. S. is one of three Seattle preschools who will share $470,000 in funding from the 2011 Families and Education Levy as part of the City of Seattle’s Step Ahead preschool program. (The school also has branches in the International District and Rainier Beach.)

The funding will increase slots at Denise Louie for 20 children to attend part-time, for a total grant of $126,240. Denise Louie was one of nine preschools applying for the funds, which were intended to serve low- and moderate-income families of three- and four-year-old children who live in the attendance areas of Seattle elementary schools that are eligible for Families and Education Levy funding.

Slots are available at Denise Louie and the other Step Ahead preschools for the coming school year. To be eligible, children must be three or four years old by August 31, 2013, must live in Seattle city limits, and their family must meet the income guidelines based on family size. See the web page for more information.


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Orca Reading Club welcomes Beacon Hill kids

July 18th, 2013 at 9:56 pm | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Neighborhood kids are invited to take part in the Orca Reading Club at the Beacon Hill and Columbia City libraries. All kids are welcome; it’s not limited to Orca students. Books will be provided, and students will work toward prices including books and entries into a raffle for lunch with Mayor McGinn.

Upcoming reading club meetings are scheduled for:

  • July 19, 10-11:30 a.m., Beacon Hill Library
  • July 30, 6-7:30 p.m., Columbia City Library
  • August 16, 10-11:30 a.m., Beacon Hill Library
  • August 27, 6-7:30 p.m., Columbia City Library

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Cleveland HS to dedicate library to teacher known as “Mr. Cleveland”

June 28th, 2013 at 6:04 am | 3 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Edward Landon.

Edward Landon.

Cleveland High School students and alumni will gather on Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m. for a ceremony officially dedicating the school’s library to the late Edward Landon, who spent his entire career (1948-1973) teaching history and coaching football, basketball and baseball at Cleveland. Landon’s 4-year-old great-grandson, Dilon Hagedorn, will unveil the plaque honoring his great-grandfather, who died on January 15, 2013, aged 98. The event will take place at 11 a.m. on the second floor of the main building.

Landon, a World War II veteran and former minor-league pitcher, was known by the nickname “Mr. Cleveland” for his dedication to his students. He wrote the first Seattle Public Schools curriculum on African-American history, as part of which he invited members of Seattle’s Black Panthers to sit in on his history lectures and provide feedback.

Landon was previously honored by a scholarship fund in his name, managed by the school’s alumni association. Donations may be sent to Ed Landon Scholarship Fund, Cleveland High School Alumni Association, PO Box 94004, Seattle, WA 98124-9404.


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