The future is still uncertain for Horace Mann school building

The slew of community activities currently taking place at the Horace Mann school building on East Cherry has the school district rethinking its plans to renovate and reopen for high school classes.

The Seattle Times reported yesterday that the future of the building is still uncertain:

The district shuttered the 110-year-old structure four years ago amid school closings tied to reduced enrollment. With enrollment now rising, the district planned to renovate Mann beginning Sept. 3 so it could return Nova Alternative High School there next fall.

Now, all that is uncertain. After telling the community groups in a letter this month that they needed to vacate by Aug. 15 — and then adjusting that date to Aug. 30 — the district has now formed a task force to study options not just for itself but for the organizations, whose programs it says align with the district’s five-year strategic plan.

The school district is currently housing Nova at the old Meany building near Miller Park, but had plans to return Nova to Horace Mann and reopen Meany as a middle school. But these plans are on hold while the district’s task force mulls its options.

Meanwhile, a diverse group of community organizations, operating under the coalition More 4 Mann, are holding outdoor movie events, mentoring programs, vocational training, and a slew of other community development programs.

We’re working to find out more on the school district’s plans as they develop. Stay tuned.

49 thoughts on “The future is still uncertain for Horace Mann school building

  1. I hope so. This revolving door soap oprah needs to go. I say we give it to Wyking et al. ASAP. Let’s jetison it now and move on. SPS will waste more money fixing it occupying it, de-occupying, cycle and eventual give away and legal wranglings. Let’s give it up now. We need to reduce the footprint and legacy carried by SPS. We need to reduce the damage inflicted on society by SPS. We need self support activism like that advanced by Wyking. Like him or not – it is a righteous path that must be followed by some. Step aside and let it happen. People are capable of great things if you get out of the way. Note that I am not liberal, not and activist, and generally don’t care. However, I support sensible activism. (Not “anarchists which is a bunch of slacker hacker bs.)

    • pinebeatle,
      Why don’t you give him your home for his programs?

      Reduce the legacy and footprint of the district? Are you suggesting that the central district cecede from the district and run it’s own schools? If not, how do you intend to educate your children? If that is your plan, who will pay for and run your schools? Please share your plans.

    • Interesting that that you say “Wyking. Like him or not – it is a righteous path that must be followed by some. Step aside and let it happen.” and then go on to say ““anarchists which is a bunch of slacker hacker bs”. Are the anarchists not also on what they consider to be a righteous path followed by some?! I mean come on, so you think that anyone who feels they are on what they consider to be righteous paths should be given anything they want? Bullies, developers, take note!

      • No. I am saying that whom ever I (me or perhaps we (responsible society) think is on a righteous path deserve to be supported.

        Giving Umojafest center and Wyking a junker building that will cost SPS more than it delievers is good for us. I am saying that Umojafest can take the building and create a sustainable revenue stream and go on to build programs that are needed. Perhaps they could even work on building an alternative education platform – yes an alternative to SPS.

        The prime question to this tangent is – What are the alternatives to SPS. My answer is let’s get started building something. It is far to late to hope that SPS can serve more than half our population in a responsible way. SPS does not deserve the chance to continue failing. They do not deserve the whole pie. Public funding should be distributed to institutions that can serve various segments of our population in ways that are effective to that population. If that means experimentation with alternatives and risk – good. The risk of letting SPS continue to fail a broad segment of our people is too risky. SPS is a prooven failure to a high proportion of the population. it is responsible to try something else.

      • Pinebeetle, do you even know what you are talking about? NOVA is a school that has for years (nearly 30 spent in Horace Mann before getting moved against their will) been an alternative to the “pile of #$!% offerred up at SPS.”
        The funds to fix the building are already there having been approved by voters last fall through BEX
        What is wrong with giving a true alternative high school a chance to continue on their righteous path?

  2. Looking forward to a great High School reopening there. Seperate but equal went away with Jim Crow laws years ago, not comming back no matter how hard each side tries.

    • I do not advocate seperate but equal or any such thing. What we have is one pile of #%^$ covers all.

      Yes, I would avocate that there can be seperate things. There are seperate things. Private big money schools, God schools, prison schooling, GED, online learning. They may or may not be equal. What the heck is equal? Does it actually mean anythign. I don’t want to be equal to anybody. I want to go my own direction and develop the background for a life of lerning and growing. I do not want my equal share of the bottom half of the pile of #$!% offerred up at SPS. Now, I’ll give that I’m and old man and that the personal case isn’t real. It is what I advocate is the position of many young folks that are drowning in the bottom of the pack at SPS.

      They deserve some alternatives. Some push in a new direction. The same old plan isn’t going to work. Things will get worse unless we try some new things.

  3. pinebeatle
    The Mann building and land are not worthless. After the renovation it will be a beautiful school again. The district cannot legally give away it’s property and it’s ridiculous to suggest they would do so.
    I suppose they could do a swap. Do the Garretts have a property that can house 300+ high school and 100+ middle school students that they are offering in exchange? I don’t think so.
    Have you done any reading on what it takes to succeed in school? Is there an urban district doing a better job? What lessons can we learn from them?
    Where are the central district families who are pulling their kids out of public schools? What specifically will replace those schools? Who will educate them?

    • @Lynn

      You lack a lot in your argument, the most important is that you are claiming this whole “squatting at Mann” is lead and only wanted by the “Garrets”! That is FALSE, it is a COMMUNITY EFFORT, a community in which feel their school district are failing them. It would make NO SENSE for any of you to claim that the school district is failing any other demographic of people other than African descendants!? By the way there was never any mention from the SPS or from community organizations that the district would just “give up” the building! Get your facts together before you speak solely on emotion.

  4. The parents of students and community members who care about our public schools in this neighborhood, should take note that the District seems to feel free to disrupt plans and neighborhood schools ,to ignore facilities that allow a vast majority of students to walk to school, and to ignore providing options. We should take steps to protect what is good here and take an active interest in current and future plans for our schools and programs. Passivity will not bode well for the future.

  5. The parents of students and community members who care about our public schools in this neighborhood should take note that the District seems to feel free to disrupt plans and neighborhood schools, to ignore facilities that allow a vast majority of students to walk to school, and to ignore providing options. We should take steps to protect what is good here and take an active interest in current and future plans for our schools and programs. Passivity will not bode well for the future. This does mean paying attention and organizing, not just as one school, but as a community.

  6. I’m looking forward to having Horace Mann back up and running full steam when NOVA returns. Hopefully community groups can continue to access the building on the weekends and after school hours.

    • Its clear to see that the majority of the students at Nova are white kids. ( THAT is obviously the only reason you all have a dis-taste for the current happenings at the building. Because they don’t service your children! (I’m taking an educated chance now that the majority of people posting are of European descent).

      If you sat down and looked at the statistics of ALL our children (in school, prison, or corporate america), you will see time and time again that people of African descent in this country are more than tripled times affected by the systems in play; to prevent them, keep them, or funnel them into a state of paralysis!! Be honest with yourselves..

      I agree that Nova is a great program, but SPS has many many buildings they can use to host that program, even so because Nova is a city wide program, meaning the students it serves are not directly from the community it is in, proving it doesn’t need to be at Mann. But taking the building that sits in the heart of the Black community in Seattle (historically and presently), is straight up gentrification and racial privilege. If you are true citizens of this WORLD you would understand the greatness that is happening at the Mann building right now, and how powerful its service to the community would be when run by the community. SPS, SPD, and society have shown that they do not care about the African descended peoples…It is not the white or asian kids who are in dire need of specific attention in this city and this country, it is the Black/African descents.

      So I ask you, does the actual location of Nova mean anything greater than the actual attention and support we need to put on these dying youth? I’m sure ya’ll don’t even give a damn, which is fine and the same reason why community members stand up for their own!

      • Solo,
        No. The school district does not have many many empty buildings they can use for NOVA. We also don’t have extra funds to replace this building if your group is allowed to steal this one. You can move your programs to the Colman or MLK Jr. buildings.
        I understand that the whiteness of NOVA students offends you. Do you understand that the district is not legally able to place students based on their race. Did you hear about that Supreme Court case?
        There is no point in even suggesting that we give up public school seats for programs that do not provide a basic education, that are not available to all residents of the city and that have no proven value.

      • Let’s get something understood. Both of you who responded completely disregarded the root of this issue/topic we all are facing in this city. Yes, the federal investigators are all over the SPS to solve some serious problems. The disproportionate suspension rates and the thousands of tax payers dollars disappearing for the special ed programs. How is it possible that in almost every school the majority of special ed students are of African descent? What do you have to say about that? The root of the issue is, that Black kids are being funneled systematically into the jail system and into the special ed programs! That is a serious issue. The educational system in play, DOES NOT in ANY way respect nor acknowledge any other perspective outside of the European perspective. We all took History class and Literature, our kids are being taught BY white people ABOUT white people. How do you think that shapes them?

        There is nothing wrong with European descendants, but there is something wrong when the system proves to purposefully pipeline African kids into the jail system and programs that destroy the child’s self image and mental growth! Just be real and say that you don’t care about these kids, its that simple.

        Nonetheless, what needs to be done will be done, the disadvantaged people will work to fix their own instead of waiting on a broken system to do it for them. Step back, let your dominating ego-centered character rest for awhile and let the struggling folks pull themselves up! :D at the truth!

      • @Solo. I really don’t know anything about your program- it certainly sounds like your heart is in the right place. I’m a fan of alternative models and options for all the different types of students and learners in our community. I would hope there’s a more constructive way for you to advocate your interests than squatting at Horace Mann. Everybody loves to rail on SPS, but they have my sympathy in this instance.

      • NOVA was at Mann for almost 30 years! There’s no “taking” of Mann for gentrification or racial privilege. If anything you could say that some of our most vulnerable students were DUMPED at a crappy broken down Mann School for years and years and Meany is hardly better! It has only had community groups in it for two while the city tried to figure out what to do.

        Seriously, this is insane: there is a community center across the street, the awesome brand new TEEN LIFE center on the Garfield campus and the empty Islamic school building right next to Mann that could probably be rented and is of a scale that would certainly be cheaper to rent or own and actually, upkeep. As several have also noted there is the MLK school that was sold to First AME for a community center…

        I voted for the School Levy with excitement that the at-risk kids of NOVA can come back to a rehabbed Mann building and be right next to the state-of-the-art-facilities at Garfield and that with Meany back to being a middle school some of the awful overcrowding at Washington Middle could be alleviated. Seems like a win for all the kids in our area (and even some that aren’t).

        If you are as concerned as I am that this NOVA school renovation is getting derailed, then please email the Seattle School Board [email protected].

      • @NovaBelongsAtMann

        Yes, Nova has been using the Mann building for 30 years. But what was happening before then?

        “From 1970–75, the building also housed the Extended Services Program (ESP), an alternative program for grades 9–12 developed by the Central Area community (African Americans) and the district. It provided more individualized instruction and attention than was possible in the regular school setting. Additionally, it gave students who had dropped out or who had been suspended a chance to continue their education. In 1975, ESP became GAP (the Garfield Alternative Program). That September, an alternative high school called Nova joined GAP at Mann. Summit K–12 was at Mann from fall 1977 through spring 1979, when it moved to Colman.”

        The ESP program was teaching and housing many African descendant STUDENTS before Nova was even in the Mann building. It wasn’t until Nova joined the building that the ESP got moved out. I wonder why?

        You all need to definitely be factual instead of assuming your emotions are logical and precise. THE FACT STILL REMAINS that our students need an alternative program (which is what we are offering in the building currently :D ) that mimics Nova.

        What this city needs is a change in the broken system that only excels specific racial groups while destroying the character/spirit of the rest! —— I say no to biased education, no to funneling systems, no to gentrification, and no to illogical community members solely concerned about their own piece of the pie! THAT IS NOT COMMUNITY!

        More 4 Mann means bringing more programs that serve ALL communities.

    • I support the occupation of Mann, the overthrow of SPS, and the developement of new systems of education.

      SPS is a proven failure. The only arguement against change is we don’t have a proven success. Hogwash. Our side does not have to prove anything in advance. We are up against a professional society dedicated to decimating growth and intelligence in Seattle – SPS.

      Fuzzy warm thoughts of the quack liberal nutcase education system does not equate to doing a good job. Go choke on your mental hairball and stay at home with our cats. The students deserve change.

  7. Surrendering the building for the cause du jour should not be an option. Coleman sat empty and deteriorating for fifteen years before the Urban League stepped in and provided mature leadership. We can’t afford to go through something like that again.

    NOVA is a great program, and they deserve a great building. I hope the district comes to its senses.

  8. We need to cut SPS somewhere and move some of the pie to something new. Nova is currently operating and can operate in any number of SPS locations.

    SPS is destined to fritter away it’s oportunities. When they stop and wobble like this we need to kick them in the knees and take their stuff. Eventually they might get down to core capabilities that they are competant in managing.

    Today they are simply too scatterred to focus on funding education. Worrying about an old building is a distraction. Take the TV away from the baby (SPS) and teach it to walk on it’s own.

    • @ Pinebeetle. To quote you “When they stop and wobble like this we need to kick them in the knees and take their stuff.” Yes, a criminal analogy that supports what has been the core problem in the containment zone know as the CD. A sense of intitlement to live a social lawless lifestyle in the CD becuse the city policy is to contain crime here. The Parnells article on page two is one of many deliverable that confirms that the CD is a containment zone for crime. And you and this quote is further confirmation.

      • Leberating community property from SPS is not the same as dealing drugs and shooting people eyes.

        Put yourself at 12 years old. Are you wanting to go to Washington Middle School? Has SPS prepared you for anything at all. Look at the place. WM has to be one of the most depressing buildings I have ever seen. I hear all the raves about what a wonderful model school it is. Get real. It is a dump. It could be better run by transfer station workers – Actually, check out the new south transfer station. I would rather send my kids to the south transfer station to learn from the Public Utilities team than send them to SPS for brainwashing and prep courses for Depression 101.

        When is the last time SPS even mowed the lawn? No reason to let them have a solid historic building. Let’s take the Levy money that they lied to us about and are trying to steal – put it into the school and let the school be run by responsible community members.

        SPS is just trying to keep on top of the bubble of legacy problems and collect their salaries as long as possible. It won’t be long till the crash and we have nothing. Best to take it now and get started building something people care about.

      • Eyes is a douche, don’t bother trying to engage. They are obsessed with confronting the “containment zone”, a term that doesn’t really apply to a low crime city like Seattle.

      • so poopsonu the troll has yet another name. your childish insults are getting worse, (yawn) zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

  9. What is wrong with allowing a TRUE alternative schooling option, not one of these alternative schools that allows students to graduate by skating their way through and receiving the easy pass out, but instead a school that gives the students the opportunity to learn what is necessary for the survival of the up and coming generation. Clearly the Seattle Public Schools of today are structured in a way that only allows one type of student to excel by adjusting the schooling in a way that conforms with only one type of students way of learning. This can be proven in the stats for Seattle Public Schools. One Core Belief that the Seattle Public schools Strategic plan states is this “We believe it is essential to place the interests of students above all others in every decision we make”, so why is it that the system currently used in SPS is failing many of our kids? Why is it that if a system is formed that opens up a door that gives these kids a genuine academic chance to be successful it is looked down upon. Also, in the Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan there is a statement in the mission that says “closing the opportunity gaps”, there is obviously an opportunity gap if only 50% of the black students are meeting the standard reading requirements in 2012-2013 verses 88% of whites that are. Not only that, 60% of black students are not meeting math standards yet only 20% are not meeting the requirements amongst white students. I say there is most definitely an opportunity gap and the Africa Town Center is the way to fix it.

  10. There is a big misconception that this will be a “Black Only School”, and I do not understand why that would be a problem in the first place, but it is not the case; it will be a school based on African Principals for all peoples.
    As a small-business owner of South-Asian American decent, the community groups running the successful programs at Horace Mann have reached out to me in a very compassionate and welcoming way to bring my business to the facility. I envision
    this building being used for all people. The African curriculum being taught here is good for everybody and teaches the youth of all backgounds a new and inspiring way to see the world. The word Umoja means to strive for and to
    maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and all people and that is exactly what will happen at Horace Mann. Unlike Western ideology, African ideology is based fundamentally on building community and sharing with another;
    regardless of race, the programs at Horace Mann are all about community and educating the youth to be better citizens and people in their community. It will be a great move for SPS to support More for Mann.

    • Than you professor. I look forward to learning more and watching programs thrive in this facility. This is the kind of positive change we need. I do hope Seattle Schools and City of Seattle will support the community.

      • Time for more lessons on the core concept and value of equality. To believe in and forward the modern application of “all men are created equal”. We must have resolved a number of things. I appologize for regressing too far below, but, clearly some members in the dialog do not agree to the principles below that are required to discuss equality in the modern sense.

        1) In this discussion man can be interchanged or replaced with the following: woman, person, human being, etc. We will leave out for now application of equality to unborn humans, animals, protozoans, mature forests, businesses, cultures, governments, or ecosystems.

        2) A human is genetically consistent with homo sapiens. Color, shape, physical capability, mental capability and other such things are not qualifiers of humanity. Even evil or holiness do not remove a person from technically qualifying as a human – for the sake of this discussion.

        3) Some other stuff.

        Now. All men are created equal. That’s kind of tough to grasp, for me. I suppose it is our hope in a spiritual and legalistic sense that ideally your abilities, rights, and freedoms should at least have certain minimums applied. We know this is not true, but, we wish it to be so, or not – in which case the conversation must end or go along foolishly.

        The reason I bring it up is the silly banter about European vs African societies and the cause of hellaciousness on earth. This was a round about way of saying – All poeple are created equal and are capable from conception to be many things. Great, terrible, smart, lazy, wrotten, leaders, followers, builders, inventors, warriors….

        All people, men women varicolor are equally capable of being terrible or ignorent. Europeans or Africans are no exception. Christian societies go bad. Muslim societies go bad. African societies go bad. Native american, Asiatic, Islander – All have histories of good and bad. Greatness and horror.

        There is no room in my book for racial blame as a core or general principle. In the case of actual and specific wrongs, then, the discussion can be had in a limited yet futile sense. No way to avoid that. But, certainly let us abandon general differences, or, let’s not discuss at all because there is no way to ever agree. Most cultures over the ages have defined themselves as the people or the humans and outsiders to be less than that. If that is our position today, then, the divide is impossible. So – as yourself and declare – Are white people human? Are black people human? And stop this blame game about race.

        Now back to the true side bar discussion. Would it be a good thing to support a variety of community based programs, including the possiblity of building a new accademic platform as an alternative to SPS. I think so. I strongly support just about any movement towards that.

        SPS has the capability to reorganize and do more. Shedding some of their historic baggage would be good for SPS. The value of Mann is to the community. SPS is just a trapped and hobbled institution, it is not our community and is barely a part of it. Buildings can have meaning to us. To SPS buildings are a trap that they need to get out of.

    • I find it interesting how easily this conversation blurs some lines, while insisting that other lines stay very clear. I do not disagree that our public school system is in need of serious repair. I get the fact that lots of kids are falling through the cracks of our educational system and I agree that this is unacceptable.

      This concern isn’t unique to us. The whole charter school debate is very much inline with much of what is being said here. I’m personally not a fan, but I get the fact that many believe the best approach is to get out of the way of people who want to give their kids a better education. So is the proposal here a sort of charter school?

      I find a lot of the arguments about “European” education to be misplaced. Being a former British colony and (still) a predominately English speaking society, the focus on English literature seems less ominous. I can’t think of much French, German or Spanish books I read in school, for instance. When it comes to math and science, I think Japan, China and India have all proven these skills to be pretty universal.

      I’m honestly not trying to pick a fight here. I get the fact that we’re not in a color blind society and that there are still huge inequalities amongst many groups, not just black and white. I see value in looking at education from as many angles as it takes to get our kids educated and to keep our city and our nation competitive. I just don’t see a direct connection between these concerns and any justifiable claim that SPS should somehow give up the Mann building.

  11. What is a charter school? Is it still directed and funding tied to the system or are they free too teach?

  12. I think before anyone can make blind assessments regarding the best interest of the building, or district, they ought to actually see for themselves the work the More 4 Mann coalition is doing in the community. Talk to the residents. Talk to the participants. Furthermore, their outreach extends far beyond the African American citizens and the Central District. Youth are traveling from neighboring cities on a regular basis to actively engage in the current development of Horace Mann.

    As mentioned before, this is not just a system for African Americans, but for all peoples based on African ideology. Wyking and the other entities involved in the Mann campaign have proven that regardless of money, class, race, education level, etc. that they can all come together to create and cultivate fundamental positive programming for the city. This space is giving young entrepreneurs, leaders, artists, activists, and educators a platform to do so. It is not about asking for handouts, simply a centralized hub for various organizations to operate out of. The mention of the neighboring community center is irrelevant in the previous threads. Garfield Community Center is run by Seattle Parks and Rec and does not have the capacity for outside grouping or allow for many of the current M4M members to even participate in their programs. There is a specific curricula designed for a targeted demographic.

    What is the harm in providing an unused space for those willing to work for it? If M4M is dedicated to the upkeep, and even generating ways to monetize the building and local community, why prevent them in doing so? The one common denominator is that the youth of Seattle, specifically youth of color, are tired of being shuffled around to where the institutions or powers that be feel are best suited for them. If we claim to be concerned citizens, we’d actually see and sustain the considerable changes that are happening here.

    • Christy,
      It doesn’t matter what they’re doing there. The building is not unused. The district has plans to renovate it and use it for it’s actual purpose – as a public school.
      The harm in allowing this to continue is that we need the space for a school. What is the harm in moving along to a building available for use by the community – either the MLK or Colman buildings?
      If you want to provide continuity to the youth you serve, don’t start programs in buildings for which you don’t even have a short term lease.

      • Exactly!

        What I don’t get is there is the old Islamic school right new door EMPTY! So rent that, long term, build your community center into the vision you want, right in the center of the neighborhood.

        These groups have a long-term solution, taxpayers aren’t stuck, NOVA is back in Mann, Meany is a middle school again, Washington is less crowded (though still a dump.. and I’ll be voting for the next levy, but only if they rebuild Washington!)

      • Regardless of my opinion of whether programming should continue at Horace Mann, the Islamic school building is NOT an option. That building is 1) not for rent, 2) situated on toxic grounds with preventative cleanup costs 3) Another private school is negotiating the purchase/cleanup of the site. FYI.

  13. let us not forget that some of SPS’ troubles stemmed from and African-American woman. You can’t literally whitewash all of this nonsense. Greed exists everywhere. Focus should not be a racial issue. Economic decline affects folks of all colors, shapes and sizes. I don’t care if you’re black, white, yellow, plaid or gingham! We, as a community, are in this mess. Nut up or shut up. go to townhall meetings. Organize more community events that are more inclusive. Half the churches and community buildings around here were formal Jewish temples. Case in point, Langston Hughes. Everyone gets displaced or suffers a loss of identity, but that doesn’t impact your ability to keep your culture alive in a positive manner. Wave your banner but don’t be so resistant to lending a fellow community member
    a hand in raising theirs. Change cannot be stopper, but you can lend a hend in maing it a more beneficial transition.

  14. I have an honest question, not being snarky: isn’t there a really nice, brand-new African-American school on Beacon Hill already? Is it that it’s too far away?

  15. Pingback: Schools says with community issues sorted out, $14.2M plan moving forward to re-open Hill middle school | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

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