A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


A new class could be added to Whittier, but not Kindergarten

January 25th, 2012 by Geeky Swedes

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 was opposed by the PTA.

In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday, Pegi McEvoy the Assistant Superintendent for Operations for SPS writes,

Our preliminary enrollment projections indicate we may need to add one additional homeroom at Whittier next year. The additional homeroom would NOT be for a fourth kindergarten class – we are still planning for three kindergarten classes. The potential need for an additional homeroom is based primarily on enrollment distribution across the grades. If enrollment is not as high as anticipated, we will not add an additional homeroom. However, we need to be prepared in case this need arises . We are looking at options in the building, given the fact we cannot place a portable on the Whittier site.

The school board is voting tonight on the Short-Term Capacity Management and the New Student Assignment Plan: Transition Plan for 2012-13. The Board will not vote specifically on adding a new classroom at Whittier. Placement decisions – moving or adding a new program to a school – will be made by the Superintendent. If a new homeroom is added, it is unknown which grade would get the additional class.

“These decisions are made prior to open enrollment to ensure that families can review their options for the next school year,” the letter states. “The Superintendent seeks guidance for these decisions from staff and community groups, such as the Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council (SEAAC) and the Advanced Learning Task Force to provide input to inform these decisions.”

According to the letter, no changes in the Spectrum program or the Phinney Neighborhood Association programs are being considered at this time.

Individuals can email suggestions to: programplacement@seattleschools.org.

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Schools open, buses on normal routes, garbage to be picked up this week

January 22nd, 2012 by Doree

Life is getting back to normal after last week’s snow storm. Seattle Public Schools will reopen Monday morning, and Metro Transit has returned all buses to normal routes, after canceling dozens of routes last week.

Seattle Public Utilities is back on its normal pickup schedule for garbage, recycling and yard waste starting Monday.

Residential customers that had their collections missed last week can set out double their normal amount of garbage, recycling and yard waste on their regularly scheduled collection day at no additional charge.

Extra recycling that doesn’t fit in the city-provided container should be placed in sturdy bins or boxes next to your recycling cart. Remember to flatten empty cardboard boxes and do not put recyclables inside of bags.

Extra yard waste that does not fit in the city-supplied cart should be set out in one of the following ways:
• A 32-gallon can with handles. Label your can “yard waste,” and fill it loosely, so that it will empty easily when turned upside down.
• Bundles, tied with fiber twine, up to 4-feet long by 2-feet in diameter. Do not use wire, nylon cording, or plastic banding to tie these bundles.
• Kraft paper bags, available at many home and garden retailers
• Reusable yard waste bags, made of polyethylene.

No food waste is allowed in these extra units.

Extra garbage should be placed in plastic bags or your own garbage can (up to 32 gallons), and put next to your regular garbage.

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Seattle Public Schools make-up snow day is next Friday

January 20th, 2012 by Doree

Next Friday, Jan. 27, was supposed to be a day off school for students as a day between semesters. But, Seattle Public Schools just announced that it will be the first of three snow make-up days.

A determination on making up the additional snow days, most likely at the end of the school year, will be decided next week.

“It is important to get our students back in the classroom next week,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield. “We know some families may have made out-of-town plans for next Friday, and we apologize for any inconvenience this causes.”

There will still be a three-hour early dismissal on Tuesday, Jan. 24 for a scheduled furlough day for teachers and staff represented by the Seattle Education Association (SEA). That day cannot be used as a snow make-up day.

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Schools closed, buses still on snow routes, temperatures should rise and begin melting ice and snow on Friday

January 20th, 2012 by Doree

Update 9:30 a.m.: Woodland Park Zoo has reopened today after two days of closure. It is open until 4 p.m.

Update 8 a.m.: The route 28  route has changed as of early this morning.

Due to road conditions, Route 28 is now traveling via Greenwood Av N and Holman Rd in both directions between N 143rd St and NW 103rd St.

When Route 28 is operating via its designated snow routing, board or exit it at posted bus stops along Greenwood Av N.

The forecast calls for warmer temperatures and rains that will start to melt that snow and ice on Friday. Here’s the official word on closures, etc.

Seattle Public Library branches will open at 1 p.m. Friday.

Seattle Public Schools are closed again on Friday.

Next Tuesday, Jan. 24 is a three-hour early dismissal from schools because of a scheduled furlough day. That day cannot be used as a snow make-up day. District administration will determine tomorrow if Friday, Jan. 27 – a scheduled day off for professional development – can be used as a snow make-up day.

Metro buses will remain on snow routes on Friday. As of Thursday night, Metro planned to cancel 27 routes on Friday, but that could change as weather conditions change. Expect delays on routes that are still running. Dress warmly and be prepared to wait at the bus stop.

Seattle City Light reminds customers not to call 911 to report power outages. Instead, call City Light’s Outage Hotline at 206-684-7400. You can see an outage map here.

With the forecast for snow turning to rain Friday, stormwater runoff will challenge Seattle’s drainage system. Seattle Public Utilities is asking residents and businesses to locate the storm drains in the street and clear them of snow, leaves, and debris to help prevent localized flooding. Clearing storm drains is the single most important thing that residents and businesses can do to protect their property and prevent ponding in streets that poses traffic hazards.

If an inlet or street drain appears to be blocked by snow or debris, try to safely clear a channel to provide a path for the runoff. If the drain cannot be cleared, or if the cause of the blockage or flooding is uncertain, call SPU at (206) 386-1800.

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Schools closed, no garbage collection, buses on snow routes on Thursday

January 19th, 2012 by Doree

We’ll continue to update this post throughout the day.

Update 11:14 a.m.: According to KING 5, Gov. Gregoire has declared a state of emergency, 100,000 people are without power across the state, and one man died near Issaquah when he was hit by a falling tree.

Update 11 a.m.: If anyone has driven on neighborhood roads or taken the bus, please put a note in comments and tell us about it. We’re curious to know how well the buses are running.

One man took to his skis to get around the neighborhood (thanks to Lynn for the picture!)

Update Thursday 8:30 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for the Seattle area until 12 p.m. today.

According to the NWS, an ice storm warning means “severe weather conditions are imminent or occurring. Significant amounts of ice accumulation will make travel dangerous or impossible. Travel is strongly discouraged…Ice accumulations will likely lead to snapped power lines and falling tree branches that add to the danger.”

On traffic cameras, television or from your window, streets may appear bare and wet but they may still be covered with ice. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) continues to treat major arterial roads with salt brine and granular salt. Some secondary or neighborhood streets are very slick and changes in conditions between treated and untreated roadways can be very sudden. Four wheel drive is not a solution – vehicles need chains to have traction. Keeping the roads clear of traffic is extremely helpful for emergency vehicles.

Many sidewalks are icy. Pedestrians should use caution while walking and crossing streets. It is the responsibility of property owners to keep their sidewalks clear of ice to protect pedestrian safety. SDOT is dispatching 22 crews to activate the Pedestrian Safety Element of the Winter Response plan to clear and salt pedestrian landings, crossings, and intersections.

Seattle Public Utilities will not pick up garbage, recycling and yard waste today as planned, because the roads are too icy.

Weather permitting, garbage, recycling, and food/yard waste service will resume Friday, on a revised schedule — with customers scheduled for pickup today collected Friday, and Friday customers collected Saturday.

If your materials are not picked up this week, please put them out on your next regularly scheduled pickup day. Missed customers will be allowed to set out double their normal amount of garbage, recycling and yard waste at no additional charge.

All Seattle Public Library branches are closed on Thursday.

Woodland Park Zoo is closed again on Thursday.

Many King County offices are closed today, including District and Superior Court, Council offices, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Department of Assessments. For a full list of county closures, click here.

Someone created some great snow creatures in front of Santoro’s Books on Wednesday. (Thanks to LS for the pictures!)

Earlier: Wednesday was a very fun snow day of sledding and drinking hot chocolate. Unless, of course, you had to drive somewhere. The roads will likely be very icy on Thursday, so please drive carefully if you must go somewhere.

Here’s what’s on tap for Thursday:

Seattle Publish Schools are closed again.

Seattle Public Utilities will pick up Wednesday’s garbage, recycling and yard waste on Thursday, weather permitting. That means regular Thursday pickups will now happen on Friday, and Friday customers should set their refuse out on Saturday by 7 a.m.

If your materials are not picked up on the revised schedule, please put them out on your next regularly scheduled pickup day. Missed customers will be allowed to set out double their normal amount of garbage, recycling and yard waste at no additional charge.

Metro Transit will continue to operate on snow routes, with 27 routes canceled. Other routes may experience significant delays, so check Metro’s Snow & Ice page for updates before you head for the bus.

Greenwood Hardware was all out of sleds on Wednesday, but they’re getting more on Thursday.

We may be out of sleds for today, but we’ve seen a lot of creative solutions: garbage can lids, cardboard+rope+tarp… Send us pictures of your ad-hoc sled-like device and whichever we think is the most creative we’ll hold a sled for you from tomorrow’s truck!

Lexy sent us a photo of the hordes of sledders at Woodland Park on Wednesday.

Next door, at the Woodland Park Zoo, the animals frolicked in the snow.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto, Woodland Park Zoo.

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Get ready for possible snowstorm Wednesday

January 17th, 2012 by Doree

The city, utilities and schools are all getting ready for possible major snow on Wednesday. KING 5’s Jeff Renner is forecasting snow accumulations of up to 10 inches in the foothills tomorrow.

Seattle Public Schools has canceled all classes and activities on Wednesday.

The Seattle Public Library has canceled Wednesday night’s meeting for community input on library services at the Ballard Library. The meeting will be rescheduled.

Seattle Public Utilities says Wednesday customers should set out all garbage, recycling and yard/food waste carts by 7 a.m. tomorrow, but collection will depend on the weather.

Please put your garbage, recycling, and food/yard waste out by 7 a.m. Wednesday. If your collection is missed, please leave your materials out for one more day. If your materials still have not been collected by the end of the day Thursday, put them out on your next regularly scheduled pickup day.

Customers, who were missed today, Tuesday, Jan. 17, should set out your materials for pickup Wednesday morning. If your material is not picked up Wednesday, please set it out on your next regularly scheduled pickup day.

Customers who were missed Monday, Jan. 16, should set your materials out on your next regularly scheduled pickup day.

Missed customers will be allowed to set out double their normal amount of garbage, recycling and yard waste at no additional charge.

SPU is also asking people to make sure the storm drains in the street in front of their homes are clear of leaves, ice and other debris. Blocked storm drains can cause localized flooding. Seattle has about 80,000 storm drains.

Metro buses remain on snow routes, and some routes will be canceled on Wednesday. Metro plans to cancel as many as 30 routes tomorrow morning, depending on how severe the storm is.

Due to the weather forecast for treacherous and impassable roadways, Metro is scaling back some service Wednesday to be able to operate the rest of its system safely and as reliably as possible. The routes scheduled to be canceled for Wednesday are: 2EX, 38, 42, 45, 46, 51, 53, 79, 114, 161, 162, 175, 192, 193, 197, 205, 210, 215, 216, 219, 224, 237, 251, 268, 277, 316, 355, and the Center Park Shuttle.

Information about these Wednesday route cancellations will be added to Metro’s snow page after midnight tonight. But, service on those routes could be restored depending on overnight weather forecasts and actual travel conditions tomorrow. So before traveling, riders should check either online or by phone (206-553-3000) for the most current status of Metro service.

For travel on Wednesday, check Metro’s snow web page before leaving. Updates to the online information begin as early as 4 a.m. and continue as needed until travel conditions improve. Also, it is important to sign up for Transit Alerts so you can be alerted when bus service status changes.

Even though weather and road conditions in the morning may not be bad in your area, delays and service disruptions can occur in other parts of the county that affect bus service in your area. Buses will also be chained, which means they have to travel at slower speeds.

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Seattle Public Schools are closed on Wednesday

January 17th, 2012 by Doree

Seattle Public Schools has just announced that all schools will be closed on Wednesday, due to anticipated snow and ice. That includes all before-and after-school programs and preschools.

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Seattle Public Schools out 2 hours early today

January 17th, 2012 by Doree

Seattle Public Schools started two hours late on Tuesday morning, and now the district has announced that classes will dismiss two hours early.

All after-school activities are canceled.

We are cancelling all classes this afternoon because of recent winter weather. Buses in the north end are having difficulty on the roads. This will be operated as a two-hour early release. Weather patterns changed this morning in the north end of the District requiring us to dismiss classes early. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused today but predicting the weather is not an easy task. Safety is a top priority of our students.

SPS will send an automated phone call to all families notifying them of the two-hour early release. Families who are using childcare services at a school should contact the childcare provider directly for hours.

Seattle Public Schools is closely monitoring the weather this week, especially for school on Wednesday. Families will receive an automated phone call if school is cancelled.

Families can learn if there is a school delay or closure through:

  • local media (TV, radio stations, newspapers and blogs)
  • the District website at www.seattleschools.org
  • an automated phone call
  • the Public Schools Emergency Communications System at www.SchoolReport.org

For the latest weather updates, you’ve got a smorgasbord of options. Check out the weather blog of UW Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass; KING 5’s weather forecast; KIRO 7’s Stormtracker radar; KOMO4’s weather blogs and forecasts; and the National Weather Service.

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Get ready: City braces for expected snowstorms

January 16th, 2012 by Doree

The City of Seattle is warning residents to take precautions and be ready for a series of winter storms over the next few days.

The National Weather Service predicts lowland areas, including Seattle, could get three to seven inches of snow through Tuesday morning, plus the possibility of another six to 12 inches of snow over the lowlands on Wednesday.

The Seattle Department of Transportation crews are working through the night to maintain snow routes and address any trouble spots. Crews will use salt and salt-brine on city streets to prepare them for Tuesday morning’s commute.

Metro Transit remains on snow routing. Some trips or routes may be cancelled depending on conditions. Bus riders should check Metro’s Adverse Weather page for updates. Sign up for email or text Transit Alerts. People without online access can call the Customer Information Office at 206-553-3000 from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Metro suggests dressing warmly since you may be waiting for a while. It’s also best to head for a bus stop on a main arterials or at major transfer points such as park-and-ride lots, transit centers, or shopping centers. Riders also should wait at bus stops at the very top or very bottom of hills, because buses are often unable to stop for passengers on the hill.

Seattle Public Schools notified parents and students on Monday night that Tuesday classes would start two hours late. Buses will be on snow routes, and there will be no preschool or Head Start programs.

Buses will be operating on snow routes tomorrow, which means that yellow buses only run on roads maintained by the City that receive snow removal. Students who ride buses received notice of snow routes in the mail during the week of Nov. 21. For more information on transportation, visit www.seattleschools.org/transportation

Families are being notified by an automated call tonight. Families are also advised to continue monitoring weather tomorrow morning and this week, as winter weather conditions may cause changes to school schedules.

The city is urging everyone to be prepared, and recommends that people:

  • Consider options now for travel, staying off the roads if possible.
  • Move cars off streets, if possible, to aid with snow removal.
  • Check on neighbors, especially the vulnerable.
  • Wrap pipes and outdoor faucets to prevent ruptured pipes and flooding inside homes.
  • Turn faucets to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Be careful how they choose to heat or light their homes. Open flames and unattended candles are dangerous. Do not bring open stoves or gas grills inside as the fumes can be poisonous and deadly.
  • Find and clear street storm drains. Snow followed by rain can clog drains and cause flooding.
  • Have coats, hats, gloves and blankets at hand to stay warm during possible power outages.
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Only call 911 in a life-threatening emergency.

Businesses and residents are reminded to keep their sidewalks clear to help pedestrians walk safely. Pedestrians should be cautious on snow or ice covered surfaces.

Once the snow starts coming, please email us your pictures of the neighborhood, whether it’s a cute snowman or cars abandoned on an icy hill.

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Free Thanksgiving meal for families on free and reduced lunch program

November 20th, 2011 by Geeky Swedes

Families who participate in Seattle Public Schools’ free and reduced lunch program can sign up for a free Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of NBA stars and local politicians.

Families must sign up by Monday at one of 11 Seattle Parks and Recreation Community Centers. The two nearest community centers to Phinney Ridge and Greenwood where families can sign up are: Ballard, 6020 28th Ave NW; or Bitter Lake, 3035 Linden Ave. N.

NBA stars Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Will Conroy, Isaiah Thomas and Spencer Hawes have teamed up with Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Mayor Mike McGinn to give away 2,000 Thanksgiving dinners. The “Thanks-Give-N-Go Turkey Give-Away” takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 5-8 p.m. at the Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave S.

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Seattle Public Schools needs volunteers for Advanced Learning Program Task Force

November 3rd, 2011 by Doree

If you’re interested in working as an unpaid volunteer, Seattle Public Schools needs community members for its new Advanced Learning Program Task Force.

The task force will consist of approximately 20 members including one or more district staff, principals, teachers, parents and community representatives. Late afternoon meetings will be held monthly beginning in late November at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence.

The task force’s primary purpose is to advise district staff as it develops facility recommendations that will support the delivery of services to advanced learners throughout the district. The recommendations will be used by the Seattle Public Schools Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee, Superintendent and School Board. The task force’s work will include a review of Accelerated Progress Program (APP) and Spectrum enrollment patterns, key program elements, family interests, costs and decision-making factors regarding student enrollment in APP and Spectrum programs. Responsibilities will include participating in public meetings, reviewing descriptive data, and weighing the competing interests and constraints surrounding future services for APP and Spectrum.

The task force will meet at least once a month for two hours from November to June with the possibility of additional meetings as needed to provide timely information to the Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee, Superintendent and School Board. District staff will facilitate the meetings. A typical meeting will include a staff presentation on a topic or issue to resolve, followed by dialogue and discussion by the task force members. Staff will review task force input to develop recommendations.

Seattle Public School parents, principals, teachers and community members with an interest in advanced learning programs are encouraged to apply. Interested individuals should submit background information and reasons for their interest via email with “Advanced Learning Task Force” in the subject line to: advlearn@seattleschools.org no later than Monday, Nov. 14.

A district administrative team will select task force members to represent of a cross section of the community and participation in the Accelerated Progress Program and Spectrum program. Task force members and those not selected will be notified via email or mail sent Nov. 15. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Room 2765 of the John Stanford Center, 2445-3rd Ave. S.

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West Woodland celebrates International Walk to School Day – and Daniel Bagley, too

October 5th, 2011 by Doree

Schools around the country celebrated International Walk to School day today. In South Phinney/East Ballard, West Woodland Elementary School counted more than 250 students who walked or biked to school.

The bikes started piling up outside West Woodland’s doors this morning. Photo by Anastasia Schemkes.

Students received special stickers from parent coordinators and the Sierra Club this morning as they arrived at school. The Sierra Club is promoting its “Beyond Oil” work to get more people out of their cars.

October is Walk and Wheel month, and most schools are encouraging students to walk or bike to school instead of having mom and dad drive them. Thirteen Seattle Public elementary schools have special events planned this month.

If you’ve got photos of Walk to School events from your school, please email them to us.

Updated Thursday: We just got some photos from Daniel Bagley Elementary in Green Lake, which pulls kids from Greenwood and Phinney Ridge, too. Bagley mom Lexy reports that more than 150 students walked to school yesterday, many of them as part of a Walking School Bus.

Two Walking School Bus routes converged about 1/2 mile from school to form a mega-bus of 50 kids and 20 parents. That’s one way to stop traffic on Aurora!

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