Monday, May 10, 2010

UPDATED: Bell Elementary parents question LWSD feeder school changes.

The following is breaking news and opinion from Kirkland about LWSD Bell El. feeder school changes:

Updated, 5/11 - "A lot of Bell Elementary parents in Kirkland are f-u-m-i-n-g right now." 

On May 4th, the Lake Washington School District announced changes to the configuration of elementary, junior high and high schools along with a change to the feeder school for AG Bell and Audubon.  The two changes are slated in 2012, as follows:

(1) schools will run K-5, 6-8, 9-12 (instead of current K-6, 7-9, 10-12)  AND

(2)  Bell students will go to Finn Hill Jr. High and Juanita HS (instead of Kirkland Jr. High and Lake WA HS) while Redmond's Audubon students will be coming to Rose Hill Jr. High and LWHS. These changes were initiated as a result of the need to address a boom in student enrollment.

Now to the fuming part....
Bell Elementary parents were notified via a memo in their children's backpack after the decision had already been voted on and passed. I've heard the principal didn't even find out until 4 hrs prior to the parents.
One Bell parent says,
"We were not included in meetings where this was discussed. This is a neighborhood filled with families who have specifically moved into the area to send their children to AG Bell, KJH, and LWHS but we were given no voice in this."
Some are worried about their property values and are left wondering why their kids would have to walk by KJH in order to get bussed to Finn Hill JH. Bell students also already have friends and connections from their sports teams that align into the same feeder schools. Another Bell parent takes a hard stand stating,
"I expect as a tax paying citizen in this district that this decision will be revoked until the community has a chance to repeal with alternative solutions."
Dr. Chip Kimball, LWSD Superintendent has stated,
“If we don’t make any changes, we will need over 100 portable classrooms at the elementary level and about 28 at the secondary level to house the expected enrollment and to provide space for all-day kindergarten in the next five years. Changing feeder patterns reduces the need at the secondary level."
Dr. Kimball expressed great empathy when I asked him about this situation, but said with the way the population is spread and the overcrowding they are faced with, there just aren't any viable alternatives. He knows this is really tough and plans to be holding meetings at the impacted schools this month.
So, here's what you can do:
  • Go ahead and comment/discuss here (  to share ideas and chat about it-
  • Concerned families should attend the LWSD Regular Board Meeting on Monday, 5/17,  5:30pm.  Location is:  Redmond Town Center District offices:  16250 NE 74th St, Redmond.  No Public Comments will be taken at this Meeting.   
  • OR watch the meeting LIVE (or archived the next day) at this link.  (It's not necessary to download Silverlight.  LIVE meetings sometimes begin up to 12 minutes late.  Wait for the sign-in button)
  • Affected families will rally on Thursday 5/20 at 6:30pm in the AG Bell Gymnasium/11212 NE 112th St, Kirkland
  • Send a note to the communications office or to Dr. Kimball care of
Read the complete story here.

This abridged posting is courtesy of the Kirkland Weblog   Contact Kathryn Reith at LWSD or the Kirkland Weblog editor Jan Rabuchin to confirm meeting times.  B. Yoder


Anonymous said...

Please note the grade configuration stated is incorrect. It will not be K-6, 7-8, 9-12 it will be K-5, 6-8, 9-12.

Bob Yoder said...

ATTN: School Board President Pedergrass

Dear Dr. Chip Kimball and Mr. Shahani -

To be honest, I'm not happy with your process, even though you say it's legal according to your code. Could you kindly quote me the applicable code you reference that gives you an out from public review in this case? Thanks.

FROM CHIP: With something as significant as this, however, I would not propose such a change without the board’s full support. This was discussed at public work sessions where we discussed facilities. No public attended those work sessions.

RESPONSE BOB: Yes, no public attended your facilities work sessions because you never announced them to the public until after the meeting was held! Chip, the Board officers don't give the viewing public any notice of what's on the Work Study agenda in their Regular Meetings. According to the record, the Board President approves all the Meeting agendas, The President has a perfect opportunity at each Regular Board Meeting to approve the agenda for the coming Work Study Session(s) only two weeks away. Please work on your process and courtesies to be more open and transparent with your constituents.

The Bell parents have every reason to be disturbed by the Board of Directors abrupt approval of your decision. (Have Directors ever said NO or ABSTAIN to a superintendent's decision?) Yes, the Board had several hours during the work meetings to vet the issues, but please remember there are real people "out there" who care, too. Rather than race to the finish, the Board could have talked to some of their constituents before their approval. Surely, they have working relationships with some of constituents within their neighborhood who voted for them.

A point-of-order question: When the Board "approves" a decision at a Regular Meeting, do they need to actually vote? straw vote (thumbs up/down?), mumble in unison?, or take no action?

Lastly, have you ever held a Special Meeting to deal with a heated public that simply misunderstands and needs information to bring clarity. Next week would have been a perfect time to hold a Special Meeting to take comment. As it is, the dialogue with Kirkland Weblog must suffice? What would you do without us. :) Please hold Special Meetings to provide Public Comment access when venting and information is urgently needed. Once a month Public Comment is to confined and rigid considering the dynamics of our day.

FROM CHIP: That said, we believe that public processes are important, and we engage in those processes frequently and diligently. But what we don’t want to do is engage in a public input process unless there are viable options for the district to consider.

RESPONSE BOB: How are you going to arrive at viable options if the public isn't involved or spoken for by their constituents?

Thank you for the hard work you do for us and for the Board's representation. I fully understand these are very challenging times for you and wish you the best in arriving at solutions.


Redmond blog

For the Record, please