ECC Board hears update on NOAA, land use, Seward School

CORRECTION: This post has been updated since it was first published. Jules James also attended the TOPS@Seward Site Council Retreat, and the ECC Board’s intentions for the school and the way the new assignment system works have been clarified.

The Eastlake Community Council Board met Wednesday evening at Seward School. Among the topics on the agenda were a discussion of various land-use issues, nominations for the ECC Board and an update on the assignment plan for TOPS@Seward School.

Brian Ramey reported on the city’s efforts to update the neighborhood plans. Ramey is an alternate member on the Neighborhood Plan Advisory Committee and has been deeply involved in the process of updating the plans. The plans help the city prepare for and deal with growth and cover everything from delivery of city services to determining the character of each neighborhood and what the quality of life there will be.

There are 38 neighborhood plans but the process “doesn’t mean they all will be updated,” Ramey said. Any place with a transportation hub will be updated, he says.

Ramey feels the neighborhood residents on NPAC, who had been asserting themselves in the discussion, are being cut out of the process for revising the plans. He was not encouraged that the voice of the neighborhoods will be heard in the process.

ECC Vice President Chris Leman gave an update on NOAA’s proposed move from Lake Union to Newport, Oregon. NOAA has based its research ships at Lake Union since the 1960s.

The owners of the property NOAA occupies at Lake Union have filed an appeal of NOAA’s decision to move, as has the Port of Bellingham, another site that had been under consideration for the base. One basis for the appeal is that federal agencies aren’t allowed to build facilities in flood plains and the site in Newport is on a flood plain.

Leman said that NOAA now has 30 days to respond to the appeal. That will be followed by another 30-day period when the owners can respond to NOAA’s response. NOAA can’t act on the move until the issue has been resolved.

The board may send a letter to the state’s Congressional delegation about the matter at a future date. Leman said the goal is to keep the NOAA site “as a maritime use.”

ECC President Tim Ahlers and long-time Eastlake resident and business-owner Jules James had just attended the TOPS@Seward Site Council meeting. Ahlers and James also attended the site council’s retreat the previous weekend. Ahlers said they received an “extremely warm reception” at both meetings and that the group wants the neighborhood involved in and supportive of the school.

“It was very interesting to listen to the issues they’re running in to,” he said. The site council, which consists of the Seward principal, vice principal, members of the staff and parents representing each of the grades, is very engaged in what happens at the school, he added.

James talked about the assignment plan for Seward. Eastlake families would like to see a plan that allows more local children to be assigned to the school, he said. 

Right now, he explained, the school district’s assignment system makes it hard for Eastlake kids to get into Seward. Under the current assignment plan, living near Seward doesn’t help much when you try to get in (except for the kindergarten where there’s a little advantage, but not much).

The hope is that a way will be found to allow more Eastlake children in all grades to attend the school. 

The Seattle Public Schools have been working on a new assignment plan for two years. The new plan is based on simplicity, uniformity and geographic predictability. There will be three types of schools: Attendance Area, Option and Service. Service is for special needs kids. TOPS@Seward is an option school.

With an Attendance Area school, most of the kids who live nearby can get in. Under the new system, option schools will now each get a “geographic zone.” The tiebreaker draw used to help determine who gets in to schools will consider three things for option schools:

  1. Is there a sibling attending?
  2. The geographic zone
  3. A lottery

The geographic zone is the new consideration but there are questions: How big will the zone be? How often does it change size? What other criteria will be used to determine it? The first maps of the geographic zones for 97 city schools will be released Oct. 6.

James said the hope is that the geographic zone for Seward will include as much of Eastlake as possible. The ECC and the Seward Site Council will be watching closely, he says.

Fourteen current board members were nominated for re-election to their positions. They are:

  • Tim Ahlers — president
  • Chris Leman — vice president
  • Kate Dulemba — vice president 
  • Melissa Ahlers — secretary
  • Carsten Croff — treasurer
  • Kathi Woods
  • Carsten Stinn
  • Canek Gordillo
  • Mary Hansen
  • Craig MacGowan
  • James Metz
  • Joyce Lane
  • Russ Saimons
  • Susan Forhan

Ballots go out to all Eastlake Community Council members by Sept. 26 and are due on Oct. 6. You must be a dues-paying member of the ECC to vote. 

Memberships are $35 for an individual, $75 for a business, $10 for senior citizen/student/low income. Make your check payable to the ECC and mail it to the ECC at 117 E. Louisa #1, Seattle, 98102.

Ahlers says there is room for more board members. If you’re interested in serving, contact him by e-mail: timahlers206 (at) gmail.com.

On Oct. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m., the ECC will sponsor a candidates’ forum in the library at Seward School, 2500 Franklin Ave. E.