City moving ahead with plans to reopen Webster School, meeting planned for March 19

Now that the Nordic Heritage Museum has moved out of its old facility at 3014 NW 67th St., the city is working on plans to reopen Webster Elementary School at the same location.

Webster School was built in 1908 — with a new addition in 1930 — and it closed in 1979. The Nordic Heritage Museum opened in the space a year later.

With Seattle’s population growing like crazy, the school district is looking for more capacity. Now the museum has moved to Market St., the plan is to reopen Webster School with room for 450 students in time for the 2020-21 school year.

There’s a lot of work to do in the meantime. The school district plans to build a new gymnasium and covered play area on the west side of the property. It needs to seismically-retrofit the 1908 building, as well as make upgrades throughout. And then there’s the complicating factor that several parts of the school were designated a Seattle landmark, and key features of the facility must be preserved.

To make these additions and improvements, the district is requesting some modifications to zoning regulations for height, parking and noise, to name a few. To ensure neighbors are plugged into the process, the city is inviting residents to attend a community meeting about the project on Monday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St.

January: North Seattle schools to gain from new budget

Deal reached in school bus strike, service resumes Monday

Saturday update: The deal has been ratified, and service resumes Monday.

Earlier: First Student and Teamsters Local 174 have come to terms on a tentative agreement to end the Seattle school bus driver strike, both parties reported this afternoon.

Bus drivers will vote on the agreement tomorrow morning, and if the ratification vote goes as expected, service will resume on Monday. The deal includes an “expanded benefits package and comprehensive health care coverage” for drivers and their families.

Bus drivers have been on strike for a week. We’ll update you on the outcome of Saturday’s vote.

School board approves draft boundary map, but makes 2 changes for Ballard High

Friday update: The district has shared the official Ballard High School map, which reflects our earlier reporting below. And here’s the citywide high school map.

Updated 1:45 p.m. The Seattle School Board voted last night to adopt the final boundary map to redraw the high school boundaries for the 2019-20 school year.

They were voting on the draft map Fv4.3 (pdf), but they also voted in favor of two amendments to the map — which we’ve now been able to confirm.

So take the map linked above and make these two changes:

1. The northern boundary remains at NW 85th St., but a last-minute verbal amendment makes an adjustment. Families inside the Loyal Heights Elementary boundary — north of NW 85th St. to the west of 28th Ave. NW — will be included in Ballard High School’s attendance area. Here’s the current Loyal Heights Elementary boundary:

2. The board also passed an amendment to the draft map that keeps “Reference Area B” (.pdf) inside the Ballard boundary. This is a slice of Phinney that is currently inside the Ballard boundary: 3rd Ave. to the west, 70th St. to the north, Greenwood Ave/Phinney Ave to the east, 46th St then NW Market St then NW 50th street to the south.

After you make those changes, the Fv4.3 map stands. That means a southern portion of the West Woodland neighborhood, beneath Leary Way, moves to Lincoln High School. And Magnolia remains inside the Ballard High boundaries.

Yes, this is all very confusing, and the district tells us the final map will be published “late today or tomorrow.” (It’s also in the middle of dealing with a school bus strike). We will publish the final map as soon as it’s available.

All in all, the map appears to be mostly a win for the Ballard area, especially if you compare it with some of the early drafts of the boundaries: one drew the northern line at 80th St., and another moved everyone to the southeast of BHS — even across the street — over to Lincoln.

The board also passed an amendment to move the north-end Dual Language Immersion high school pathway from Ingraham to Lincoln in 2019-20.

The boundaries were redrawn to accommodate the addition of Lincoln High School opening in Wallingford and Ingraham High School expanding in 2019.

(We’ve corrected this post to include the Loyal Heights Elementary and Reference Area B amendments. We apologize for the confusion.)

School bus drivers planning to strike tomorrow

Thursday update: The strike is underway.

Earlier: The union representing school bus drivers in the city of Seattle say they’re planning to strike tomorrow (Thursday) over “unfair labor practices.”

“This is not a one day strike,” said Jamie Fleming, spokesperson for Teamsters Local 174. “This is a strike that is going to last until a deal is reached.”

That means there will be no yellow bus service for the duration. “You will need to use your family’s plan to get your student to and from school,” the school district said.

The company, First Student, and the Teamsters have been negotiating a new deal, but health and retirement benefits are sticking points.

“The deal on the table, we believe, is fair and equitable to all parties,” said First Student in a statement. “We care deeply about our drivers, and feel strongly that this deal reflects that.”

The First Student drivers held a one-day strike on Nov. 29. Approximately 12,000 students ride a yellow bus daily.

(Photo from FirstStudentInc.com)

North Seattle schools to gain from new budget

The state legislature has passed a new capital budget, and about $20 million of it is headed to Seattle schools — mostly to schools here in North Seattle.

The money is earmarked to “relieve some of the most critical capacity and safety needs created by a decade of extraordinary enrollment growth,” the district said in a press release. “North Seattle schools are experiencing some of the worst overcrowding.”

Of the funding, $6.7 million will go toward adding 10 classrooms to West Woodlands Elementary School. The next biggest chunk, $6.6 million will complement the $30.4 million in local funding to reopen Magnolia Elementary, a historic landmark that has been closed since 2007. Another $1.9 million will complement $39.2 million in local funding for the ongoing expansion of Loyal Heights Elementary (pictured above from the construction webcam).

“I’m particularly pleased by the historic level of funding devoted to invaluable school construction projects, such as the reopening of Magnolia Elementary in 2019, that will build a better Washington for our children and continue to make the 36th Legislative District a great place to live and work,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle, who represents the Northwest Seattle area.

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the budget measure.

School board to discuss boundaries this evening

The school boundary task force will be discussing its two mapping options with the school board in a working session this evening (Wednesday).

As we’ve reported before, both options are similar for Ballard, drawing the line for Ballard High School at 85th St. to the north and 48th St. to the south.

“Staff will use the feedback from the board to create a boundary change proposal that will be included in the Board Action Report for introduction on January 17,” the agenda explains.
In advance of the meeting, the district released this packet of materials (big .PDF file) with the two proposed maps and supporting data.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting — the final vote is scheduled for January 31st — although changes to the existing options could be made. The agenda does not show any time for feedback from the public. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the board auditorium of the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd. Ave. S.

School boundaries boil down to 2 options

Updated: The task force charged with drawing new high school boundaries in North Seattle has narrowed the maps down to two options, according to a report from KING 5 on Friday night. Then the school district followed up on Saturday evening by publishing the two new maps, and it said additional modifications may be made before the final selection.

Here’s scenario F version 4.2:

And scenario F version 6:

Both options draw the northern line at 85th St., not 80th St., including all of Loyal Heights, Whittier Heights and Sunset Hill (minus the Golden Gardens area north of 85th) inside the Ballard High School boundary.

Both maps also include most of West Woodland, drawing the line at 48th St. (we initially reported 50th St.), cutting off the southern portion of the neighborhood. Everyone to the north would go to BHS, everyone to the south would go to Lincoln High.

The eastern line is set at 3rd Ave. The only difference between the two options in our area affects a chunk of Greenwood between 3rd and Greenwood Ave.

Both options also retain Magnolia inside the BHS boundary.

What’s next? On January 10th, the school board is holding a work session with the task force and will determine which of the two scenarios to introduce before the board on January 17th. Then on January 31st, the board expects to make the final vote. Compared to earlier timelines, this extends the process by a couple weeks.

We’ll keep you updated.

Proposed high school boundaries introduced to board tonight

The controversial proposal to redraw the Ballard High School boundary will be introduced to the school board tonight. Just over a dozen Seattle residents are slated to speak before the board — several about Ballard High specifically.

As we wrote last month, the latest proposed maps either exclude a chunk of North Ballard — which would go to Ingraham near Bitter Lake — or move West Woodland to the new high school in Wallingford. Under these scenarios, Magnolia remains in the Ballard High zone.

The meeting begins at 4:15 this afternoon (Wednesday) at 2445 3rd Avenue S. Public testimony is scheduled for 5:30, and the board is expected to discuss the issue sometime after 6:30. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn at 8:30 p.m.

The board is not making any decisions today. It has a work meeting scheduled for the 10th, then the full board is expected to make a decision on the 17th. We’ll keep you updated…

Ballard gets squeezed by proposed school boundaries, parents fight back

With Lincoln High School opening in Wallingford and Ingraham High School expanding in 2019, the Seattle school district is redrawing the boundaries for North Seattle high school students.

Until last week, one of the recommended scenarios (.pdf) kept the vast majority of Ballard-area families inside the Ballard High School boundary, drawing the northern line roughly at Carkeek Park. But this option has fallen off the list, and many parents in North Ballard, Crown Hill, North Beach and Blue Ridge are not happy about it.

The new option, called scenario F (above), draws the line at 80th St. instead of Carkeek Park. (In the map, green is Ballard High, brown is Ingraham and purple is Lincoln. There are several versions of scenario F — this is version 2 .pdf — but the northern cut-off remains 80th St. in each).

That means any families to the north of 80th will attend Ingraham High School, which is located up at 135th St., above Bitter Lake. If you live at 24th Ave. and 83rd St., for example, that’s 4.5 miles away. Ballard High is 1.5 miles away.

Then there’s the other option, called scenario H version 3 (above and .pdf). While the Carkeek Park boundary is preserved, the southeastern boundary is at Ballard High School itself: homes to the south of 65th At. and to the west of 15th Ave. — the West Woodland neighborhood — fall inside the boundary for Lincoln High. You could live a block from BHS, but go to school in Wallingford.

“North Ballard parents do not support either of these plans,” explains a new site, North Ballard Parents, created to rally opposition to the proposals. “We support our neighborhood and community all being allowed to attend Ballard High School. Seattle Public Schools shut down the high school serving Magnolia and Queen Anne, and now Ballard is paying the price.”

The organizers of North Ballard Parents have created a petition on Change.org which has 1,290 signatures and counting.

Another site, Save Seattle Schools, urges parents to “tell the board and the superintendent you will be voting no on the operations levy in Feb. 2019.”

Seattle Schools says the new scenarios take into consideration the potential changes in the highly capable pathways at the high school level. “We heard overwhelmingly that families want increased and equal access to advanced courses offered closer to home,” explains a November post on the Seattle Schools site.

The Magnolia neighborhood has worked hard lobbying the High School Boundary Task Force — which is tasked with creating the proposed boundaries — to remain inside the Ballard High School zone. One of its primary arguments: the commute from Magnolia to Wallingford would be problematic — as much as 74 minutes each way on Metro.

The task force is expected to present its recommendations to the school board on January 3rd, and the board is slated to vote on the final boundary map two weeks later on January 17th.

Your thoughts on the boundaries? Let us know in comments…