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

 

Whittier Elementary online auction is open to the public

March 25th, 2014 by Doree

You don’t have to have a child attending Whittier Elementary School in Ballard in order to bid during the school’s popular online auction, running now. (Whittier’s boundaries include parts of Phinney Ridge and Greenwood.)

During last year’s world tour, Grammy winner Macklemore wore four custom-made Sonics jerseys with his name embroidered on the back. He autographed one of those classic yellow-and-green team jerseys and donated it to Whittier (thanks to his friendship with a Whittier family). Macklemore also donated an Ultimate Fan Swag Bag, which includes three CDs, a Shark Face Gang sweatshirt, hoodie, T-shirt, tank top, socks, beanie, scarf, and a limited edition 7-inch vinyl of “Same Love.”

Other special items in the online auction include a custom kitchen design by Phinney Ridge Cabinet Company (with a fair market value of $1,500); and a four-night stay at the Fairmont Hotel or Resort of your choice in the U.S. or Canada, including round-trip coach class airfare for two (fair market value of $7,260).

About 60 items are in each closing, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, through April 4. You can bid at whittierauction.org.

This is the second time Whittier has conducted an online auction that is open to the community and beyond. The auction team puts most of the hundreds of auction items donated by local businesses in the online auction, where more people have a chance to bid. About 150 items are reserved for the silent and live portions of the main auction event on April 5 at the Marriott Waterfront Seattle, including a football signed by Super Bowl Champion Seahawk Richard Sherman. (That event is open to anyone as well. You can buy tickets online.)

(Disclosure: I’m a Whittier parent and I’m on the auction committee.)

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Phinney Center’s Whittier Kids summer camps open for registration

March 12th, 2013 by Doree

The Phinney Neighborhood Association runs a series of summer camps at Whittier Elementary School in Ballard. The full-day school age and half-day preschool camps are now open for registration.

School Age Summer Day Camps
Whittier Kids offers 11 weeks of Summer Day Camps for kids entering grades Kindergarten – 5th grade (ages 5-11) offer a bountiful choice of daily activities including: arts and crafts, swimming, science, drama, dance, cooking, and outdoor recreation…plus a wide array of field trips that take us all over Seattle nearly every day!

Half Day Preschool Summer Camps
Whittier Kids Preschool offers 8 weeks of summer camp for preschoolers ages 3-5 (must be potty trained). Fun, play-based learning combined with a variety of themes and flexible scheduling. Check out our Preschool Summer Camp flyer to learn more.

Flyers and Registration forms are also available onsite at Whittier Kids. All children are accepted on a first-come first-served, space available basis but current Whittier Kids families will receive priority enrollment through March 29th. Sign up early for best availability!

 

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Holiday sales, toy donations and birthday wishes

December 11th, 2012 by Doree

Ballard, Greenwood and Phinney artisans and home-based businesses are gathering at a Greenwood home on Saturday to raise money for Whittier Elementary School in Ballard.

The Holiday Bazaar is from 12-3 p.m. Saturday at 313 NW 81st St., a half-block west of Greenwood Elementary School. The sale is open to the public.

Customers pay a $2 entry fee, and vendors will donate a portion of their proceeds to the PTA. They’ll also have a bake sale.

Businesses include Plover Organic (linens, pillows, tablecloths and other textiles), Driscoll Design (hand-glittered journals), Glittersweet (purses and bags), Turquoise Creative (greeting cards and fine art), Lara Cowles (totes), Crescent Moon Designs (jewelry), KHS Pottery, and kindie rock band The Not-Its! (CD’s, T-shirts).

Most vendors accept credit cards, but not all, so please bring cash, especially for the entry fee, baked goods and items from smaller vendors.

Bluebird Microcreamery, 7400 Greenwood Ave. N., is collecting new, unwrapped toys for Toys For Tots until Dec 18. For every toy donation, you’ll get a free scoop of ice cream.

Woodland Park Zoo is selling its “seasonal blend” of Holidoo compost, made from animal waste of nearly two dozen herbivore species at the zoo. Holidoo is available at the ZooStore in 4-gallon containers ($20), 2-gallon buckets ($12.95) or pints ($4.95).

Phinneywood resident Gabe Airth is celebrating his 12th birthday tomorrow on 12/12/12 and is hoping his friends will help him raise $1,212.12 for Seattle Public Theater, where he participates in the youth program. You can donate online (be sure and mention Gabe’s name in the comments area).

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Seattle Schools moving Whittier Developmental Preschool after all

April 24th, 2012 by Doree

Seattle Schools has made a final decision to move Whittier’s Developmental Preschool to Viewlands Elementary starting in the fall. The school had been considering delaying the move by one year.

In a letter sent home with students today, Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, explained that new data shows a strong likelihood of increased enrollment at Whittier Elementary School next year. That means the school will need to add one additional homeroom, but it currently has no empty classrooms, so it is moving the Development Preschool.

From McEvoy’s letter:

We determined that more families would be impacted by moving the before-and after-school program than the developmental preschool, since at the time of the initial review there were only five students continuing in the class for the 2012-2013 school year. (There are currently 12 students enrolled who will continue in the developmental preschool class.)

As a result, we will need to move forward with the plan to relocate the development preschool to Viewlands Elementary as anticipated for the 2012-13 school year. This is consistent with the information provided to families back in February. To best ensure consistency of services, the current staff at the developmental preschool will also move to the Viewlands site next year.

Please know that we will do all we can to ensure that our developmental preschool families have a smooth transition to Viewlands next fall.

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Parents upset about Whittier’s Developmental Preschool moving to Viewlands next year with little notice

March 21st, 2012 by Doree

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. Whittier’s boundaries include the western edge of parts of Phinney Ridge and Greenwood.

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.

Thompson says the preschool has done a great job of integrating with the regular education program at Whittier, even having 5th graders as learning buddies for the preschoolers.

“The great thing about it is that as a parent with two typically developing children and one atypically developing, is it integrates the learning environment. So our whole family can participate, instead of Ava being off to one side.”

Parents in the preschool program have started an online petition to ask the district to hold off on moving the program for one year.

We contacted Seattle Public Schools yesterday for more information on the decision-making process to close the preschool. We will update this post when we hear back.

(Disclosure: My son goes to Whittier, but has no connection to the Developmental Preschool.)

 

Here’s the letter from the Whittier PTA to the Seattle School Board, opposing the preschool’s move:

To: Seattle School Board
From: Lisa Melenyzer & April Brown, on behalf of the Whittier PTA General Membership
Date: March 19, 2012
RE: Relocation of Whittier Developmental Preschool

The following letter is written on behalf of the PTA families and supporters of the Whittier Elementary School Developmental Preschool program. The program has been a powerful tool in serving the developmental needs of area children, providing a high quality early education environment and helping each student to realize their full potential. The program and its students have been put at risk as the classroom has been slated to relocate to another school next year. The PTA is formally requesting a reversal of that decision, maintaining the program at Whittier Elementary.

There are four primary reasons to reverse this decision on behalf of the students, faculty and parents at Whittier Elementary:

1. Capacity is a Non-issue
• This migration decision was purportedly motivated by concerns about classroom capacity at Whittier Elementary, however, the District-projected enrollment provided with Whittier’s Budget Allocation indicate that Whittier is expecting a decrease in enrollment, down to 451 from the October 2011 headcount of 460 students.
• A letter written to the Whittier community in January of 2012 by Pegi McEvoy indicated that if “enrollment is not as high as anticipated, we will not add an additional homeroom.” With no increase in enrollment, and no additional staffing for another homeroom, there appear to be no plans for 2012-13 for the classroom currently housing the Developmental Preschool.

2. The Decision for Program Migration Lacks Thoughtful Planning
• Despite a posting of the program change on February 17, 2012, students and families have yet to receive formal notice about the change, thus they were not afforded the opportunity to make alternative plans for siblings during the Open Enrollment period.
• Students and families were not consulted during the decision making process.
• Program officials have yet to confirm availability of Intensive services (e.g. speech, occupational therapies) or provide any insight on staffing positions in the new classroom.
• With principal changes planned this year for Whittier and Viewlands schools, the best way to ensure stability in the Developmental Preschool program is to let it continue in its present form with the support of the Whittier community.

3. The Decision Does Not Consider the Best Interests of our Children
• Disruption to learning environment removes routines and consistency which are critical for children with developmental needs.
• The move will divide families with siblings attending Whittier Elementary across two schools increasing demands on resources (e.g. travel) and reducing parental involvement (e.g. two PTAs, teacher conferences).

4. The Decision Does Not Honor the Interests of our Educators and Whittier Elementary
• Educators, administrators and the Whittier Elementary community were not sufficiently involved in decision-making processes.
• Removing the Developmental Preschool program reduces diversity and makes the school less representative of the community it serves.
• The Whittier staff has a proven track record of working collaboratively with the Preschool team and sharing resources to improve the experience of both the preschool and K-5 populations.

Given the lack of thoughtful planning, negative impact to children, families, educators and Whittier Elementary, the PTA is formally requesting a reversal of the relocation decision. In absence of a rationale to the contrary, we feel that a move at this time is unjustified and unnecessarily destabilizes the preschool population. Please consult with the District and ensure that the children and families served by the Developmental Preschool are being served appropriately and protected from unnecessary tumult.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your speedy response to this request.

Signed,

Lisa Melenyzer and April Brown
Co-Presidents of the Whittier PTA
On behalf of the General Membership of the Whittier PTA

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Whittier Elementary auction looking for last-minute donations

February 27th, 2012 by Doree

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 this Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Whittier is located at 1320 NW 75th St. in Ballard, but its boundaries include the western edge of Greenwood and Phinney Ridge.

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 more.

This year’s auction theme harkens waaaayyyy back – to the 1980s. “We Got the Beat” is set for Saturday, May 5, at The Canal in Ballard.

New this year, Whittier will auction off most items online, before the May 5 main auction and party. The online auction will launch on April 23. It will be divided into sections that close at different dates.

Auction coordinators say auctioning the majority of items online will make it much easier for volunteers, so they don’t have to set up hundreds of items at the May 5 main event. It also opens up bidding to everyone, whether they come to the May 5 party or not, and whether or not they have children at Whittier (i.e., grandparents who live in another state could bid on children’s books or experiences to give as gifts).

You can donate online. If you have questions, email the auction committee at wegotthebeat2012@gmail.com.

(Disclosure: I am on the Whittier auction committee.)

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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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Whittier Elementary PTA opposes School Board proposal to add fourth kindergarten class

January 17th, 2012 by Doree

Update: Wednesday night’s School Board meeting has been postponed to Jan. 25 because of snow.

Earlier: of Whittier Elementary School’s PTA plan to attend Wednesday night’s Seattle School Board meeting to oppose a proposal to add a fourth kindergarten class next year. Whittier, which is at 13th Avenue NW and NW 75th Street in Ballard, currently has three kindergarten classes of 23 students each.

Whittier Elementary on a sunnier day

Whittier’s boundaries include the very western edge of parts of Greenwood and Phinney Ridge.

The School Board is dealing with capacity issues at north end schools, and the fourth kindergarten class is part of a larger proposal to deal with overcrowding.

If the Board votes to add a fourth kindergarten class, the school would lose its on-site childcare program or preschool program, so that the room could be turned into another kindergarten class.

The PTA sent a detailed letter to school families today, and now families are sending around a petition against adding the fourth class, unless the district comes up with better enrollment figures and a longer-term plan.

The letter from PTA Co-Presidents Lisa Melenyzer and April Brown states that 80 percent of this year’s kindergarteners live within the school’s attendance area, and that there was no waitlist for kindergarten at Whittier this year. The two say that there is room within the current three classes to add any anticipated population growth in the next few years.

The PTA also says school capacity data does not show a need for a fourth kindergarten class, and that there is no plan for how it would affect the three existing first-grade classes the following year and the higher grades after that.

The PTA is also worried about the strain another class would add on school resources, including the P.E. and music teachers, as well as the library, lunchroom and recess supervision.

From the PTA letter:

Please note that we are not suggesting that kids in the attendance area who are entitled to come to Whittier should be turned away. We also want the siblings of Whittier families to be served, and for Whittier to be a welcoming place to the community. We simply don’t want Whittier to be appointed a fourth kindergarten – with this lack of planning and foresight – merely to help serve a capacity problem in the rest of our service area.

You can write to all School Board members by emailing: schoolboard@seattleschools.org. The Seattle School Board meets from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at the John Stanford Support Center, 2445 3rd Ave. S., in the first-floor auditorium.

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