Thursday, September 3, 2015

Parent Group Files Appeal To Stop Additional Laurelhurst Elementary School Portables And Principal Hopes Portable Arrives In October, Attend Meeting Tonight To Learn More

portable delivered then removed on north playground at
Laurelhurst Elementary School last summer

In July, the Laurelhurst Blog reported that the City approved one more portable at Laurelhurst Elementary School.

Principal Talbot's had requested the one additional portable at the very end of the school year after she had hired an additional teacher, the 18th teacher, without having enough space for the additional class saying in an end of year email:
When people ask me what I want the outcome of this difficult dilemma to be, I reluctantly have to admit that in spite of a strong consensus from the community in opposition to adding portables, I would like to have one additional portable classroom if the summer construction project isn’t possible. 

Christi Nagle, who heads up a concerned group of parents called Parents for Playgrounds and Proper Planning , told the Blog staff that following the City decision to allow the portable, her group filed an appeal, Project #3019627, on July 24th based on the following rationale:
  • SPS failed to provide an accurate or sufficient rationale for an additional portable.
  • DPD failed to consider all pertinent facts when determining the educational need for an additional portable.  For example, DPD's analysis did not take into account that on the day it issued its decision, SPS began construction to split the Laurelhurst library, thus creating another critical instruction space.  
  • DPD failed to fully and accurately consider the negative impact a new portable will have on Laurelhurst Elementary students and the community at large.  
  • DPD failed to consider existing alternatives to another portable, such as continuing to work collaboratively with LASER to ensure kids have both adequate instructional space and excellent before and after school care.  
  • The departure is inconsistent with the general objectives and intent of the land use code and does not ensure that an additional portable will be compatible with the character and use of its surroundings.  It is inappropriate in relation to the character and scale of the surrounding area; it has not been located or designed to reduce bulk; and it reduces much needed recreational open space.

 To read the full appeal go here.
The parent group forwarded the Blog staff a letter Principal Talbot sent out on August 24, in which she recently hired another another teacher, the 19th teacher, saying:

Friday afternoon I received notice that we will receive funding for a 19th general education homeroom teacher.  The legislature funded the reduction of class size required by the Citizen’s Initiative 1351 that passed last year, and when the district received this funding they found that our numbers justify an additional classroom. 
I’ve also learned that the district will pursue a permit to add one portable for this teacher.   The district’s timeline for actual delivery of a portable is after October in the best case scenario.  This does present us with a challenge for starting the school year with a teacher who does not have a room to teach in.

Christi said the "letter from Sarah was a surprise...and once again, the situation has changed."

Another parent involved in the Parents for Playground and Proper Planning said:

The hearing examiner’s decision allowed only ONE portable at Laurelhurst.  The portable the Principal is seeking to add would presumably house the newly hired 19th teacher at our school.   
We think it may be optimistic to expect a portable as soon as October, particularly if our neighborhood group, Parents for Playgrounds and Proper Planning, decides to move forward with our appeal.   
There is space for one new teacher inside the school because an additional classroom was created when the library was split into two classrooms.  The library then moved into a single, large classroom on the 1st floor.  Splitting the library was proposed by PPPP and is one of many examples of how we are proactively trying to maximize the very limited space at our school without losing critical outside play space.

The appeal should be heard by Sue Tanner, City of Seattle Hearing Examiner, probably in November.
And Christi added that the group has retained land-use lawyer, David Bricklin, to assist in processing the appeal.

Christi added "The issue remains unresolved and community feedback and participation will continue to be important."

The group is hosting a community meeting tonight at 7pm at Ric and Kaylene Anderson's house (4610 NE 38th Street) to discuss next steps.  

For more information and background on the portable issue go here.


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