The talented 4th grade students at Whittier Elementary illustrated a beautiful map of their neighborhood and are now offering prints for locals to purchase. The project was originally put together as an item to be sold at the Whittier Elementary PTA Auction and now due to local demand smaller 11″ x 14″ reprints are being offered for […]
The Whittier Elementary Online Auction “The Great Catsby” is now live and open to the public and you don’t have to have a child attending the school to make your bid. The auction features a number of specialty items set to be auctioned off during both the online and live portions of the fundraiser for Whittier […]
Tonight is Whittier Elementary’s 12th Annual Arts Festival from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Known as the “Arty Party,” the night will kick off with the Whittier unicyclists at 6 p.m., and then the on-stage performances will start at 6:15 p.m. Whittier’s Dragon Art, installed earlier this year There will be a book fair in the gym, […]
Seattle Public Schools is moving the Developmental Preschool program at Whittier Elementary School in Ballard to Viewlands Elementary in North Greenwood/Crown Hill next year. But, some parents in the Developmental Preschool are upset because they weren’t involved in the decision-making process, and they were given very little notice.
The Developmental Preschool is located on the bottom floor of Whittier Elementary.
The district says it is moving the program because it anticipates higher enrollment at Whittier in the next few years, and may need an extra classroom.
Amy Thompson, whose 4-year-old daughter, Ava, has attended the Developmental Preschool for the last two years, says the district apparently made the decision in February, but didn’t notify parents until Monday. She said the district posted a letter on its website on Feb. 17 detailing various district-wide Special Education changes, and the preschool change consisted of one line in that document. But no one from the district or Whittier Elementary notified parents of that letter on the website.
“It was deeply buried,” Thompson says of the notice. “And who’s going to go looking for that if they don’t know to look for it?”
Thompson says she heard about the move last Thursday from Whittier Principal Linda Robinson. Preschool families received a notification letter on Monday, and that same letter was sent home with all Whittier students on Tuesday.
Here is an excerpt from the letter by Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent for Operations:
At this time, we have tentatively planned to maintain the same number of homerooms currently at Whittier; however, the situation is such that we need to be prepared to add a homeroom as additional Open Enrollment date becomes available. This type of decision obviously needs to be made in advance. In anticipation of potential space needs for an additional homeroom at Whittier next year, we have decided to relocate the Developmental Preschool to Viewlands Elementary beginning in the 2012-13 school year. Consideration was given to the addition of a portable; however it was determined to be unfeasible.
SPS also says it is studying the need for additional Development Preschools at other sites throughout the district, including North Seattle.
The Whittier PTA has formally opposed the move, arguing that Whittier’s enrollment figures do not necessitate another homeroom next year. On Monday, the PTA sent a letter to district officials (see end of this post for the full letter).
Thompson said her family’s reference school is Adams Elementary, but they chose to enroll their 6-year-old son, Campbell, in kindergarten at Whittier this year, so he and his sister could attend the same school. With the preschool moving to Whittier, they will be split up.
Thompson said she understands school capacity issues, but the real issue is with timely notification. Since the Open Enrollment period has passed, she no longer has the option of moving her son to Viewlands next year, to keep her children at the same school.
“If it is a foregone conclusion that the program is moving, at a minimum, just give us a year of transition to work these issues out,” she pleaded.
Thompson says routines and structure are especially important for children with developmental issues. Her daughter has significant development delays and requires intensive speech, occupational and physical therapy. When Ava started going to the Developmental Preschool program at the age of 3, she used a walker to get around. Today she walks independently, and Thompson attributes that to the teachers and intense therapy at the preschool.
“All of them require a special level of education services, so whether it comes in the form of cognitive therapy, learning or physical therapy, their routines are very structured that way,” she explains. “It takes a while to develop that routine with your educators.”
She’s worried about the same level of services being available at Viewlands, after the district informed parents that the new Developmental Preschool room at Viewlands is not equipped for physical therapy, as it is at Whittier.
“Not having those things in place is a pretty big setback to their progress and overall development plan,” she says.
If you own a Ballard-Phinney-Greenwood area business and would like to donate to Whittier Elementary School’s bi-annual auction, the deadline is tomorrow, February 29. The auction is the main fundraiser for Whittier’s PTA, which pays for after-school tutoring, field trips, the school’s art teacher, annual events like the fall carnival, provides extra library funds, and […]
Whittier Elementary will have a new principal next school year. This letter was sent to Whittier families over the weekend. Dear Whittier Community, It is with a sense of deep gratitude that I write this letter, gratitude for the three years I will have served as your principal when I end my term on June […]
As you walk along the first floor northern breezeway of Whittier Elementary, a large, three-dimensional dragon is watching you. It is The Year of the Dragon, afterall. For the last six weeks, nearly 80 kids in Whittier’s three second grade classes, parents and staff, have been working with Ballard resident Jan Harvey-Smith, the Artist in […]
Whittier Elementary will not be getting a fourth Kindergarten class next school year, but could get one additional homeroom for a different grade, if needed. The Seattle School Board is looking at options to ease overcrowding in the school district and one of the options included adding a fourth Kindergarten class – an option that […]
The date for the Whittier New Student Tea and the inaugural Taking Care of Business Day has changed. Instead of meeting on Thursday, September 1st, the new date is Tuesday, September 6th. The tea is from 2 to 3 p.m. followed by the Taking Care of Business Day from 3 to 7 p.m. Families can […]
This Saturday is the Whittier Elementary Beautification Day. The school has recently won a grant through the Neighborhood Matching Fund for a new reader board in front of the school. Volunteer hours are needed to match the grant and make the reader board a reality. On Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., families, friends, […]
Stop by Whittier Elementary today during two one-hour open houses to see the final designs for the new reader board. Organizer Jason Sharpley writes: The Whittier PTA is excited to share the final Reader Board design developed with input from the May public workshop as well as school staff and students. We will have information […]
The Hi-Life (5425 Russell Ave NW) is holding a fundraiser on Thursday to benefit Whittier Elementary. This is an all-day fundraiser from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 25-percent of the day’s food sales will go directly to the school’s Field Day festivities.