I attended the public hearing at the Horace Mann Public School building (2410 E Cherry St) last night that addressed the Seattle School District’s proposal to close the facility indefinitely due to an unprecedented deficit the district currently faces. I’d like to report that the turnout of supporters for the NOVA program was impressive: a packed halI – students, parents, administrators. Roughly 35 of the 40 speakers were students of the NOVA program. Their ideas were well organized, mindful, passionate, and very clearly articulated their worries about how a move would impact the program itself. The strengths of the NOVA program shone through, and I have no doubt that future leaders of our community and nation are being nurtured and housed through this “alternative” haven.
However, home owners in the central area were sorely underrepresented. I’m gravely disappointed, especially given the immense concern over crime (robberies, drug sales /activity, shootings) that has been expressed over the past year through listserves, blogs, community news forums in combination with neighborhood watch and general “talk in the street” among us.
In case you haven’t heard, the school district plans on shuttering this facility, with no immediate plan for future occupancy. I rent directly behind the school and, as a former Garfield High student, have a great love for this neighborhood and it’s residents and businesses. I dread the thought of an entire block, with a hundred year old historic building sitting empty, boarded and fenced. The safety of my block, will be impacted particularly hard by the inevitable looting, vandalism, and other blatant crime that comes hand in hand with a vacated premises, especially one as large as the Mann facility.
If you are truly concerned with the safety of our community, please communicate your worries directly to the school board. They are acting fast and, unfortunately, your voice, as community members, were not heard at this meeting, which, by and large, is why this public hearing was mandated by law. At the very least, ask them to have a plan BEFORE evicting the NOVA program. Thanks and please comment here as well.
Seattle school board directors can be contacted here:
Phone (for all): 206-252-0040
Mary Bass is our representative in District V (CD, Leschi, Cap Hill, Downtown, etc.) and she is most likely to be sensitive to our needs. From what I’ve seen she genuinely cares about our community. (All the directors are good, well intentioned people, but Mary Bass “gets” the CD.)
Write her at [email protected]
Feel free to write to all of them, though, as the current bunch of school closures are all interconnected.
All speaking spots were taken.
If the school district boots NOVA, it would be nice see them sell the bldg to a developer. This way they’d raise money for other schools and the CD could get a boost from a thriving condo bldg like the Queen Anne Highschool project or shops like the Wallingford school.
Many of the students at Nova walk across the street to Garfield to take AP classes; it doesn’t seem like this is going to be possible when Nove kids go to Meany. I was also disappointed to see Meany lose its middle school program; it was the smallest middle school (enrollment wise) and the staff was excellent. Principal Shareef ran a tight ship and bullying was not tolerated. Our kid had a rough first year until the toughs got the message and then 7th & 8th grades ran smoothly. It was great to have the choice of a smaller middle school which will not be possible now. Warehousing kids at this vulnerable age in schools of 1200 will someday seem as ridiculous to everyone as I feel it is now. The other issue here is that all the alternative programs have been negativley impacted in these decisions. The cookie cutter approach wins out. Too bad our kids are NOT cookie dough; it would be an easier transition.
I agree, lets try to boost allof our property values and clean up this community! Lets not waste this opportunity with bleeding hearts and good intentions. Let’s be realistic and savvy! This can really be a great opportunity for this community!
It would be a complete disservice to taxpayers to sell that property in this market. There are other options that serve our interests. It’s not bleeding heart, it’s taxpayers getting something for what we pay for.
I’m glad to see someone else considering what might happen to a shuttered building. If you look at what happened at Viewlands (people vandalizing the building to steal copper wiring, greatly increasing the district’s cost to reopen it, if they ever do), you can see that it’s a serious matter. If the Mann building has to be closed, I would like to see a community organization get the chance to rent it.
Meany is not terribly far from Garfield, but far enough that it would be a hassle to have to get back and forth a whole lot.
I want new amenities in our community too- but NOT at the expense of students in our district. The sale and development of QA High did not follow the legal process required AND is often sighted for some of the overcrowding at the heart of the current round of school/program closures. Property sales can not be used to fund class/school programs. I’m not even sure if they can be applied to the millions in cost overruns on Garfield’s new building.
NOVA has cared for the Horace Mann building for 33 years- while the district has neglected it’s most basic needs- plumbing, heating…
The building named for an education reformer who worked to ensure a public education, free from religious influence and available for children of diverse backgrounds- should be “developed”, for educational purposes.
You can learn more than you ever wanted to know through the district’s site linked above (thanks Sara!) and through the community blog http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/
The most obvious way to redevelop this property is to copy the Wallingford Center which is virtually the exact same building, in fact I think they were both built the same year. This is a major opportunity for Cherry Street and the Central Area to get an anchor retail center. For those that support this idea I propose that we re-form the Cherry Street development association, form a plan and lobby the School district and City to make this a reality. Does anyone support this?
Many students thrive in the comprehensive Middle Schools and High Schools but the alternative and small programs offer great options for those who need a different atmosphere. Sara, Diane, Nora and Helen really get it. We have a lot more to lose in meeting student needs and in the long run financially if these decisions continue to be made willy nilly solely on political terms. Individual meetings with School Board members are an effective means of advocacy.