Compromise reached in long debate to reopen short Capitol Hill path

(Image: CHS)

Describing the solution as a unique one-off — not precedent-setting — officials finally have a back-to-school plan to reopen the Lowell Elementary S Path — the short, curving pathway connecting Federal and 11th Ave E that has been fenced off since the start of last school year due to safety concerns over homeless camping and drug use.

“It’s a little bit of a special snowflake,” Seattle Department of Transportation’s Genesee Adkins tells CHS.

The path joins a South Seattle school playground that doubles as a public park and a West Seattle school’s daily closure of a neighborhood street to allow safer student movement among the few unique agreements forged by SDOT with Seattle Public Schools over restricting access to the public right of way.

Officials expect the path to be reopened in time for the start of the school year in September. No property is being acquired and no money will change hands. “There is no change to the right of way,” Adkins said. Continue reading

Seattle Academy’s ‘vertically-oriented middle school’ set to rise above 13th and Union

17202880_1428918773826074_1539814008439652710_nSchools remains a growth industry on Capitol Hill. With a live stream of the building-crunching action of the start of demolition on the school’s Facebook page, Seattle Academy began construction activity Tuesday on its new $48 million Cardinal Union building on E Union just up from 12th Ave.

The Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, a private school for grades 6-12, will be expanding its presence with what is being touted as the “first vertically-oriented middle school in Seattle.”

The school opened in 1983 and started out in space leased from Temple De Hirsch Sinai. Over the years, they’ve been raising funds to purchase and construct their own buildings. The new five-story building starting this week marks the last big project for the time being, said Doug Ambach, the school’s director of operations.

The school owns most of the block bounded by 12th and 13th avenues and Union and Spring streets, save for a warehouse space along 12th. The construction will largely be taking place along 13th Ave and around the corner onto Union, Ambach said. It will mean pedestrian blockages along those streets. The construction should not impact the school’s 12th Ave face. Plans call for the project to wrap up in time for the start of the 2018 school year. Continue reading

Seattle’s State of the City 2017: $55M homelessness levy, soda tax for schools, Trump immigration push-back

At Northgate’s Idris Mosque Tuesday morning, Mayor Ed Murray gave his 2017 State of the City address, announcing plans to increase investments to further address homelessness and education disparities, and to continue to support immigrants and refugees in Seattle. Included in the speech were plans to activate a city emergency system usually reserved for bad weather and protests to provide more resources for helping the area’s homeless, a proposal for a $55 million property levy to fund homelessness services, and the floating of a possible Seattle soda tax to help fund schools. Video and the full text of Murray’s speech is below.

For Seattle, the biggest news of the speech will likely be the homeless levy proposal. The plan will go to city voters this August to ask them to approve an increase in the commercial and residential property tax of around $13 per month for the median household, according to the mayor’s office. Murray said that a coalition including entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Downtown Emergency Services Center executive director Daniel Malone, and City Council members Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw will lead an advisory group to create the funding package for the proposal.

The mayor also announced a new offensive to push back on Trump administration immigration policies. Murray said the city will send Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, in response to President Donald Trump’s actions affecting immigrants and refugees. Murray is seeking to determine potential enforcement actions the federal government may take against Seattle and other sanctuary cities and details about changes to travel and immigration policy.

“We believe that the rule of law is on our side,” Murray said, adding that Seattle will take legal action if the federal departments do not provide timely responses.

Murray’s State of the City announcements:

Murray said he also plans to meet with other regional mayors to about remaining safe sanctuary cities.

“Remaining open to all is a fundamental value of the city,” Murray said. “Seattle is a great city because of immigrants and refugees.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Reflections of home, change, survival in student artwork on display on Cal Anderson Gatehouse

With reporting and photography by Lisa Hagen Glynn

The “windows” above the reflecting pool of the landmark reservoir gatehouse in Cal Anderson Park are displaying artwork from local middle school kids that provides one answer to the threats coming out of the White House so far in 2017. But for the students, the images unveiled at a ceremony Saturday reflecting on “feelings of home, forces that create change, and survival” are personal.

“She’s cutting herself to feed her baby. It’s showing how a mom loves her kids…. My mom does a lot of things for me,” Natanim said about her panel. “Even though she doesn’t tell me, I know that she does.”

The artwork from Washington Middle School students will be on display through May as part of a collaboration between the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Out of School Time program at Washington’s S Jackson campus. Continue reading

Good Citizen to make way for Harvard Avenue School expansion

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Another impending business closure on Capitol Hill illustrates the varied ways coincidences of similar events can form together to make you say, hey, what’s going on around here. This time, a loss for lovers of coffee and couches is a win for Capitol Hill’s two-year-olds.

With a strong demand for a toddler program, the Harvard Avenue School, which offers early childhood education through pre-kindergarten, is planning to expand into the Good Citizen coffee shop located on the ground floor of the school.

“There is an enormous demand for full day care since Amazon has brought so many new families to Seattle,” Andrea Hackman, founder and director of the school, tells CHS CHS. “The market is pretty saturated with half day preschool, but there are more and more families needing full day childcare (which we currently do not offer). Once we begin offering that I’m confident it will be extremely popular.”

The expansion means the end of one of the more curious experiments in the neighborhood’s recent waves of food and drink investments. Continue reading

Seattle educators head to Olympia to fight ‘levy cliff,’ $74M district shortfall

15976997_10155700221837519_5874309542333203523_n

(Image: Seattle Education Association)

While thousands will march through the city to mark the important day, many Seattle educators, students, and parents will be on the road to Olympia this MLK Day Monday to make a stand for education spending in the state as Seattle Public Schools faces a $74 million shortfall.

The Seattle Council of Parent, Teacher and Student Associations has put out a call for action:

Unless the Washington State Legislature takes action quickly, this budget shortfall will cause significant damage by necessitating cuts in staff at schools and to needed central services, disrupting the stability of school communities and support of the whole child, and impacting our most vulnerable populations in greater proportion.

Continue reading

Lowell Elementary S Path remains ‘temporarily closed’ as officials weigh options

img_9619A self-imposed deadline for Seattle Department of Transportation officials to sort out a plan with Seattle Public Schools for what happens next to the “S Path,” the curving public sidewalk between Federal and 11th Ave E that has been fenced off since the start of adjacent Lowell Elementary’s school year, has come and gone.

SDOT’s Genesee Adkins, chief of staff for the department, tells CHS that city representative have met with schools officials and heard the district’s requirements for reopening the route to the public right of way:

We met with the school district a little more than a week ago to understand what they want to do going forward. Now we’re working internally at the city to see how quickly we can make some of those options happen on the ground. I know I’m not giving you too much specificity, but we’re still in flux at this moment. We had hoped to have a long-term solution identified by the end of November, and I don’t think we’ll be too far off of that, but I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet today.

CHS reached out to the school district to learn more about its requirements. A SPS spokesperson said district representatives met on Friday to discuss proposals but we haven’t yet heard back on specifics. Clearly, they have bigger issues to sort out.

Lowell Elementary serves children from across Central Seattle and is home to the district’s program for medically fragile students. Parents said they have been cleaning up garbage and dangerous needles from addicts and homeless campers left along the path for months. Adkins said that the situation had reached an “acute” level and the closure to start the school year was the only prudent course of action to take while longer term solutions were addressed.

City officials met with community members and school parents this fall to hear from some their concerns about the path’s dangers and other’s their desire to restore the public route near the school.

Central District elementary school testing program to help families stay in rapidly developing neighborhood

The City of Seattle, the Seattle Housing Authority, and Seattle Public Schools have partnered to launch a pilot program at 14th and Yesler’s Bailey Gatzert Elementary School that aims to help families at the school find housing. The program can hopefully grow to help students on the edge of homelessness and displacement across the city.

“All the stress is lifted off of them and teachers notice as well and that makes a big difference,” said Keith Ervin, family support worker at Bailey Gatzert, who helps families in crisis whether it’s getting them clothing, or now helping them find a place to live under the Home from School program.

When students are homeless and don’t know where they’re going to sleep or are worried about their parents who are out looking for shelter, Ervin said students aren’t able to focus on their work.

Ervin has been working with shelters in the area and assessing what the families there need to get them housed and keep the kids at Bailey Gatzert. So far, two families have found new housing in the school’s Central District area, and Ervin is working with others. Continue reading

Rally at Seattle Central part of community college union walkout

Seattle Central faculty held a walkout Thursday in a call for fair wages and solidarity during ongoing contract negotiations — and, as she has been for labor issues across the city over the past five or so years, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was on Broadway to cheer the crowd on.

The teachers union AFT Seattle Community Colleges Local 1789 voted to hold what was called a voluntary walkout across the Seattle Colleges campuses — SCC, North Seattle College, South Seattle College and the Seattle Vocational Institute. Continue reading

Seattle students plan citywide anti-Trump walkout Monday — UPDATE: Destination Cal Anderson

Plans for a citywide student walkout at Seattle schools are spreading this weekend following days of protest in Seattle and cities across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory.

According to messages, emails, and Facebook posts from students and parents, organizers are calling for a walkout Monday to begin at 1:30 PM.

UPDATE 11/14/2016 9:22 AM: The kids are headed for Cal Anderson:

Students all across Seattle, will be hosting a walkout and gathering to protest the election of Trump to office. There have been several walkouts organized after the election of Donald trump. Now, students invite the community to come see for themselves why they are so opposed to Trump’s leadership. The walkout will take place starting at 1:30 from the students school of origin (included schools: Franklin, Garfield, The Center School, Nova, Sealth, and UW). Students will then meet up at Cal Anderson park (1653 11th Ave, Seattle WA, 98122) at 2:30. It’s a positive opportunity to show the greater Seattle community how much they care / are impacted by the issue. The students will also be hosting a later “Protest for Solidarity” at Westlake Park (401 pine st, Seattle WA, 98101), at 4:15 pm, to express their feelings after the election and how they plan to about it going forward. Hosted by Emma Reid, Viv Nicole, and Samantha Wisner-Simmons. “EVERYONE is welcome…” “Seattle is a diverse community, and it’s our immigrant/refugee populations, LGBTQ folks, religious diversity and colorful mix of racial demographics that makes us who we are. as students, we grew up in classrooms that reflect that. Trump is threatening our core value of tolerance as a city. We had to use our voices and numbers to show that we stand with members of our community who may not feel safe now. we’ll continue to resist attacks on those around us with any/all forms of student activism!”

“Seattle Public Schools is steadfast in our support for all students,” a spokesperson said about the planned Monday protest. “While the protests are not sanctioned by the district, SPS students do have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their personal views.” Continue reading