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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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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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Students participate in El Centro phone bank for school levies

February 8th, 2013 at 6:22 pm | No Comments | Posted by admin
Chief Sealth students participate in a phone bank in support of the school levies. Photo courtesy of Mwiza Kalisa.

Chief Sealth students participate in a phone bank in support of the school levies. Photo courtesy of Mwiza Kalisa.

by Mwiza Kalisa

Schools First, a non-profit volunteer-led organization that conducts Seattle’s public school levy campaigns, is seeking volunteers for phone banks at the organization’s headquarters. Yesterday evening, Chief Sealth High School students, parents and community members made calls at Beacon Hill’s El Centro de la Raza to remind voters to renew two upcoming school levies.

On February 12, Seattle voters will be asked to renew two property-tax levies that bridge state funding gaps and support facility improvements for Seattle Public Schools. Proposition 1, a $551.9 million Operations Levy, will provide funding for approximately 27 percent of Seattle Public School’s operating budget over the next three years. The school levy will help fund teachers’ salaries, textbooks, transportation, a sixth period for high school, and security and special-education programs, among other basic day-to-day costs not fully funded by the state. Proposition 2, the $694.9 million Capital Levy (BEX IV), will provide funding to maintain, improve and expand school buildings. Both propositions are renewals of existing levies. If approved, these levies would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $13 a month over what the homeowner pays on the expiring levies.

Blanca Olivera, a student at Chief Sealth High School, joined the volunteer callers at the event. “I think [the levies] are going to help us at the end of the road for everything we need,” she said. Olivera added that some of the challenges her school faces are large classroom sizes and outdated technology.

Phone bank opportunities for volunteers are Friday and Monday 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the McKinstry Innovation Center, 210 S. Hudson Street. Students who are interested in participating can receive community service hours.

Contact Kerry Cooley-Stroum at kcs@seanet.com or Dayna Lurie at dayna.lurie@gmail.com for more information.


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Beacon Bits: A crow, a whale, and Kimball’s open house

January 30th, 2013 at 7:42 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

A few quick notes from the Beacon Hill Blog mailbag:

Neighbor Anne wanted to let us know that the Kimball Elementary School Open House is tonight, January 30, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Kimball school library at 3200 23rd Ave. S.

School tours for incoming kindergarteners and their families are on February 5 and 13 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Call 252-7280 to reserve a spot on the tour.

* * *

Crow photo by Chris Gladis via Creative Commons/Flickr.

First we had a lost parakeet, and now there’s a crow who needs help. Neighbor Wendy writes:

“There is a crow that has a badly broken leg. I first saw it last October when I moved to Beacon Hill, then recently saw it and its partner near my house south of the golf course. I called PAWS Wildlife Center and they do not have the resources to catch the crow, however, they will treat it if the crow is brought to its Wildlife Center. The crow still flies. I’ve been leaving peanuts near my front yard and this crow and its mate have been eating the nuts. I saw both this past Sunday. Anyone with expertise in catching birds? It hurts to see this poor crow.”

Any advice for Wendy?

* * *

A missive from ROCKiT Community Arts arrived with news about the Beacon Whale, who was sighted all over the Hill last summer after a storm drove him from his Garden House perch:

“News Flash! The Beacon Whale has been captured! Come join us for his
miraculous, historic restoration to his natural habitat rooftop of the Garden House on Beacon Hill on Sunday, February 3 at 11:00 a.m. We will be serving a fantastic brunch and celebrating his return. Don’t miss the fun!”

See the story of the whale here. The Garden House is located at 2336 15th Ave. S.


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Dearborn Park Elementary honored for breakfast improvements

October 26th, 2012 at 5:51 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

This morning, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will visit Beacon Hill’s Dearborn Park Elementary (2820 S. Orcas St) to honor its staff with a Super School award as part of the Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge. The Challenge is a joint initiative of Dorn, the Washington State Dairy Council, Share Our Strength, and Children’s Alliance.

In the Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge, all of Washington’s schools were challenged to change their breakfast programs to increase school breakfast participation by 50% during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. Schools that have made the greatest improvements will be awarded cash prizes.

During today’s event, parents and students will have breakfast with Superintendent Dorn at 9:30 a.m., followed by a ceremony at 10 a.m. in which Dorn will present the Super School award to Principal Angela Sheffey Bogan and the students of Dearborn Park. Dorn will also announce additional winners of the contest.


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Meeting at Mercer to discuss school levy priorities

March 30th, 2012 at 5:30 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Seattle Public Schools will host a community meeting at Asa Mercer Middle School on Tuesday, April 10 from 6:30-8 p.m., to discuss possible building construction projects to include in the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) levy package. This is the third in a series of community meetings over the next couple of weeks throughout the city to work on the BEX IV package, which is expected to be voted on in February 2013.

The meeting will include presentations by Capital Projects and Planning staff, followed by a question and answer session. Comments from the community will be collected to consider when the District puts together the BEX package.

If you can’t be there but still have something to say, emailed comments are welcome to capacity@seattleschools.org.

The BEX III levy was approved in 2007, and included renovations at Chief Sealth International High School, Hamilton International Middle School, Ingraham High School, Nathan Hale High School and Rainier Beach High School. It also included new construction at South Shore Pre-K-8 and Denny International Middle School.

Asa Mercer Middle School is located at 1600 S. Columbian Way.


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Beacon Hill International School hosting informational tours this week

February 27th, 2012 at 2:30 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

This sculpture, Welcome to the Wheel World by Ela Lamblin, decorates the front plaza at Beacon Hill International School (the school building isn't showing in the picture). Photo by Rob Ketcherside in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.com.

Have kids starting kindergarten this fall? Beacon Hill International School invites you to tour the school tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28, or on Thursday, March 1, from 9:15 a.m. until 10:45 a.m., starting in the school’s Multipurpose Room A.

There will be a brief presentation of program highlights followed by the tour of the school building. Registration is not required. Please note that no child care is provided.

Beacon Hill International School is located at 2025 14th Ave. S.


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Parent leadership workshops coming to SE Seattle schools

April 15th, 2011 at 5:32 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

The Southeast Parent Leadership Project is a series of workshops intended to train parents from Southeast Seattle elementary and middle schools to be “informed school partners and advocates.” Through the project, South End parents will be able to connect them with other parents across schools and culture groups, and learn to use leadership skills and tools to support community schools. Topics of the workshops include: learning styles, parents as partners, giving voice to education experiences, understanding standards and school data, asking the right questions, action, and comprehensive school improvement planning.

 Parents who participate in this training will be encouraged to support ongoing school improvement in the Aki Kurose/Asa Mercer Middle School feeder pattern assignment schools. The project is organized by Community & Parents for Public Schools (CPPS), and funded by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Matching Fund Program, and the Hands-On Network.

The two-day workshops will take place on the following dates:

  • May 6-7, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Aki Kurose Middle School, for Aki Kurose assignment pattern schools (Aki Kurose, Graham Hill, Wing Luke, Martin Luther King Jr., Dunlap, Emerson, Rainier View, South Shore)
  • May 21-22, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Asa Mercer Middle School, for Mercer assignment pattern schools (Mercer, Beacon Hill International, Maple, Kimball, Hawthorne, Dearborn Park, Van Asselt, Orca)

 
For more information or to sign up, contact Amber Banks, CPPS Project Director, at amberbanks@mac.com, or Stephanie Jones, CPPS Executive Director, at stephaniej@cppsofseattle.org.


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Van Asselt’s “Extreme Readers” competing for city championship

March 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

The “Extreme Readers” reading team from Van Asselt Elementary School is among 10 teams of fourth- and fifth-graders who are competing in the city final of the 2011 Global Reading Challenge on March 29. The winning team from this event will face teams from Fraser Valley, BC and Coquitlam, BC in a video conference final at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 15.

More than 2,500 fourth- and fifth- graders from more than 40 Seattle Public Schools studied 10 books to prepare for the Challenge. Along with Van Asselt, schools represented in the city finals include Adams, B.F. Day, Bryant, Concord International, John Muir, Roxhill, Sanislo, Thurgood Marshall, and View Ridge.

The city final event is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 29 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, in the Microsoft Auditorium on Level 1. It is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. Parking is available in the Central Library garage for $5 after 5 p.m.


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Kimball hosting Kindergarten Open House tomorrow

February 16th, 2011 at 6:42 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Parents of Beacon Hill youngsters should note: Kimball Elementary School is hosting a Kindergarten Open House tomorrow, February 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There will be an overview of kindergarten and of Kimball’s program.

Kimball is located at 3200 23rd Avenue South.


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