The City of SeaTac announced Friday (Dec. 16) that it is among 14 winning communities selected from over 120 applications that will receive a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America in 2015.

Smart Growth America is a national nonprofit that advocates for better cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Through the program, the community will receive hands-on assistance from national experts on moving transit oriented development from concept to reality in a suburban setting.

“The technical assistance provided by Smart Growth America will further our goal of engaging the community to make our three station areas more accessible by foot and bicycle and creating activity nodes where we can focus transit oriented development,” said SeaTac Mayor Mia Gregerson. “This, along with the recent consultation from The Urban Land Institute, and our Angle Lake Station Area planning process gives the City focused insight from a variety of perspectives that help advance our community and economic development objectives.”

“This award is a testament to the hard work that has already has already been done,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “Our program was more competitive this year than ever before, and SeaTac stood out as a community doing great work. We’re excited to be able to help you continue on to the next stage of this work.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post includes both an ‘Op-Ed,’ submitted by the Highline School Board, and an ‘Open Letter to the Community’ submitted by Highline School District Superintendent Susan Enfield. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff:]

OP-ED: An Open Letter to the Citizens of Highline School District,

As members of the Highline School Board, we were heartened by our community’s overwhelming display of support in the November election, when more than 59 percent voted in favor of our capital bond measure. While we fell just 215 votes shy of the 60% we needed to gain approval, it is clear that citizens of Highline understand that we are facing major challenges, including severely overcrowded classrooms and aging buildings. Despite the failure of the bond, our challenges remain, and we must come together to solve them.

Since the November election, we have been seeking feedback from citizens across the district. We have heard from thousands of people through our telephone town hall, our online survey, and conversations in coffee shops and grocery stores. We are grateful for your feedback.

The input we have received has been extremely valuable in helping us shape a proposal that is fiscally responsible as well as adequate to address the challenges we face in 2015 and beyond. Wednesday night we decided to place a modified version of the capital construction bond on the February 10 ballot alongside renewal of the Educational Programs and Operations Levy.

Now we are asking for your support for these two essential measures to ensure that every child enrolled in Highline Public Schools has access to safe, modern buildings and the teachers and tools they need to experience a quality education.

Renewal of the Educational Programs and Operations Levy will provide critical funding for our students. Levy funds pay for basics not fully funded by the state, such as teachers’ salaries, support staff, bus transportation, textbooks, classroom materials, and maintenance of buildings and grounds. The levy makes up 21 percent of our district’s operating budget. Without these funds, our budget would be cut by one-fifth, resulting in lay-offs, reduced services, and a dramatic change in the quality of education our schools could provide. The levy is a renewal of an expiring levy, not a new tax.

Bonds fund capital projects, such as school construction and modernization. By law, they cannot pay for operating schools. The bond on the February ballot would fund capital projects that address two critical challenges facing our community.

First, many students attend school in buildings that are aging, do not meet today’s fire and earthquake codes, and need increasingly expensive repairs.

Second, elementary schools are overcrowded today, and enrollment is growing by several hundred students each year. Additional classrooms are necessary to provide lower class sizes and a high quality education for all students.

The bond would replace our two oldest schools, repair and renovate others, and construct two new schools to provide space for more students and lower class sizes.

If voters approve the $376 million bond, we will receive $78 million in matching funds, stretching our dollars and substantially increasing the return on our investment. The district has an exemplary track record for managing bond funds; every project funded by the past two bonds was completed on time and on budget.

You can learn more by going to www.highlineschools.org and clicking on levy and bond.

Time and again, citizens of our district have stepped up to meet the needs of our students — and our needs today could not be greater. Great schools are critical for a prosperous community, and it takes strong local support to make great schools. When you receive your ballot in the mail in February, please don’t forget to vote. Your ballot must be dropped off or postmarked by February 10.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the children of our community.

Highline School Board
Michael Spear, President
Tyrone Curry, Vice-President
Angelica Alvarez
Bernie Dorsey
Susan Goding

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Open letter to the Highline Community:

As the Superintendent of Highline Public Schools and a resident of the Highline community, I feel compelled to write this open letter. I am grateful to those of you who supported our bond measure last month, which fell just short of the 60% supermajority needed for passage. For those of you who opposed the bond, I also appreciate that you took the time and effort to engage in the democratic process and express your views.

On December 17, the School Board approved placing another bond proposal on the February 10, 2015 ballot. We are taking this step because in order to best educate our children, we must replace aging buildings and relieve the crowding in our schools. The proposal includes some savings gained from, among other things, eliminating the need for middle school interim sites, thus ensuring that our middle school students will not have two transitions during their middle school years.

As we move forward we will engage in a community-wide conversation about this bond proposal, including multiple opportunities at schools and in the community to hear your concerns and answer your questions. During the last election there were significant inaccuracies and misstatements shared by those in opposition to the bond, and I welcome the opportunity to correct those errors.

I extend an invitation to all community members to engage in a conversation with me, Highline Public Schools Board members, and staff about how we will provide safe, up-to-date schools for our students and staff. We will be inviting those who opposed the bond in November to participate in these meetings so that we can have an open, public dialogue on these issues. Our first meeting will be in early January and we will post all the information on our website at Highlineschools.org.

I especially want to invite those who opposed the bond to participate in these public conversations so that we may hear and respond to your concerns. I strongly believe that we as adults must model for our children and young people what it means to be informed, engaged citizens and how to participate in the democratic process responsibly and respectfully.

Together we will build a better, stronger, Highline Public Schools—and deliver on our promise of knowing every student by name, strength and need.

– Susan Enfield

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]

A revised school construction bond – valued about $9 million less than the one proposed in November – to repair or replace deteriorating schools and ease overcrowding will go before voters on the Feb. 10, 2015 ballot.

After seeking community input following the November election, the school board voted Wednesday night (Dec. 17) to place the new bond measure on the February ballot.

The November bond measure fell just short of the 60 percent approval required for passage. The February bond retains the major projects in the November measure, with modifications based on community input.

“The need to replace aging buildings and to ease overcrowding grows more urgent as our enrollment continues to increase,” said School Board President Michael Spear. “At 59.3 percent approval, a strong majority supported the bond measure in November. After seeking community input we believe this is the right decision to make for all of our students.”

More than 4,100 Highline residents participated in a Telephone Town Hall meeting regarding the bond, hosted by Superintendent Susan Enfield and School Board Member Bernie Dorsey.

In addition, over 1,000 people took an online survey. Results from the survey showed strong support of the bond measure. Read more about survey results.

Input gathered from the community helped the school board make the decision to place the bond measure on the ballot. If approved, the bond would:

  • Rebuild Highline High School
  • Build three new schools on properties already owned by the district
  • An elementary school at the Zenith site (16th Place S. & S. 240th St., Des Moines)
  • A new middle school at the Manhattan site (440 S. 186th St., Burien)
  • A new middle school at the Glacier site (2450 S. 142nd Street, SeaTac)
  • Make critical renovations at Tyee and Evergreen campuses
  • Provide technology improvements throughout the district
  • Make capital improvements to support arts education throughout the district
  • Address additional critical needs throughout the district

The total amount of the February bond proposal is $376.0 million, about $9 million less than the package proposed in November. Savings come from eliminating interim sites for the new middle schools and beginning construction on the elementary school a year earlier.

The tax rate was reduced to $1.09 per $1000 in assessed home value.

“It is our responsibility to provide safe, modern schools for all students and space for all our community’s children in the future,” said Spear. “We understand this is a big investment we’re asking from our community. The strong support in the November election shows faith in Highline’s track record of responsible fiscal stewardship, which we pledge to uphold with passage of our next bond.

All 14 schools built as a result of the 2002 and 2006 bonds were completed on budget and (with the exception of a three-day delay on one project) on time.

The district obtained $140 million in matching funds, cutting local taxpayer costs and funding construction of three schools beyond those funded by bonds.

The bonds were refinanced multiple times, saving taxpayers nearly $10 million on bond repayment.

The bond measure will run alongside renewal of an Educational Programs & Operations Levy on the February ballot.

The bond, which funds capital needs, is completely separate from the levy, which funds direct services to students and operation of schools. The two funds cannot be mixed or interchanged.

To learn more about the bond and levy online.

The Highline School District on Friday announced that the transition of 6th grade to middle school will be delayed at least one year.

“Originally slated for fall 2015, the 6th grade move will occur no earlier than September 2016,” the district said in a release.

The district says that the change was made “in part as a response to parent concerns about sixth graders having to make two moves during middle school — once to an interim site, and again to a new school facility.

“The district plans to build two new middle schools to accommodate growing enrollment. The capital bond on last November’s ballot would have funded construction of two middle schools slated to open in September 2017. Students attending those schools would have been housed in interim sites for two years.”

The new timeline allows district leaders to seek a solution that would eliminate the need for interim middle school sites.

“One benefit of this change is that it allows more time to plan the sixth-grade transition,” said Superintendent Susan Enfield.

Community meetings where families can participate in the planning process will resume in January and continue through the spring.

Construction of new middle schools will require passage of a capital bond. The November bond received 59.3 percent of the vote, just short of the 60 percent “supermajority” needed for passage. The school board is gathering community input now as it decides when to place another bond on the ballot.


Press “Play” button to hear live weather info.

by Chris Scragg
Puget Sound Weather Geek

UPDATED 7:00 PM: Hi everyone! This will be brief, I just got home and the winds are already starting to howl to over 50mph!

A strong cyclone will generate high winds through midnight tonight. Gusts over 55 mph are likely, especially in exposed places along Puget Sound like Three Tree and Alki Point.

The recent heavy rainfall during the last few days has saturated the soil, allowing for easier toppling of trees. Tonight’s storm could bring widespread power outages throughout the region (especially in Burien/South Puget Sound).

At this point, if you haven’t already prepared your flashlights and outage supplies, you need to right now.  (Lights are flickering currently!)

Below is a live chat room if you want to chat or report conditions where you are! Enjoy the storm and stay safe!!
Puget Sound WX Geek Chatroom!

For the latest local weather, be sure to follow the Puget Sound Weather Geek:

Thanks for visiting! If you have any comments, suggestions, or feedback please email me at info@pswxgeek.com


Press “Play” button to hear live weather info.

by Chris Scragg
Puget Sound Weather Geek

Not sure which is more impressive, tomorrow’s possible wind storm or today’s record high temperatures in the upper 60s…in December! Thursday’s wind storm would certainly be more impactful, so lets get into that.

Computer generated weather models have been wrestling with the details of a windstorm set to arrive Thursday afternoon. The American produced models were forecasting a stronger scenario than the Canadian and better funded (and typically more accurate) European models. However now, they seem to have switched places.

The forecast for this system will come down to two different possible paths. The first possible scenario which is being suggested by the University of Washington computer model, is a path along the coast and into central Vancouver Island. This would be generate very strong winds for the Oregon and Washington coasts as well as the north Puget Sound, but for central and south Puget Sound it would only result in a blustery afternoon.

The second possible scenario is much more potent. The Canadian and European models have started pointing the low pressure to a path that carves right through western Washington. If this serious situation occurs then we can expect damaging high winds gusting to 60+mph to funnel through the Puget Sound potentially causing widespread power outages.

As a result of the potential for damaging winds, the National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Watch for a large portion of western Washington. The official watch warns of 30-40mph winds with gusts to 65mph. This may be upgraded to a High Wind Warning.

Another thing to watch out for if you live along the waterfront in the Puget Sound: (Three Tree Point, Alki Point waterfront residents) there will be some “tidal overflow” Thursday morning. The NWS has issued a Coastal Flood Watch for all low lying areas near the water in Puget Sound

I will make the final updates for the night after going through them. Stay tuned to the forecasts and be careful out there!

For the latest local weather, be sure to follow the Puget Sound Weather Geek:

Thanks for visiting! If you have any comments, suggestions, or feedback please email me at info@pswxgeek.com

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A power outage has knocked out electricity to 3,130 homes and businesses in the SeaTac/Tukwila area Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Seattle City Light attributes the outage, which started at 10:58 a.m. to “dig up.”

Estimated time of restoration is unknown at this time.

For more details, see City Light’s System Status page here: http://www.seattle.gov/light/sysstat/

BHHSSantaFlyer

REMINDER: Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest will be participating in Winterfest in Burien this Saturday, Dec. 6, with FREE Santa Photos from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.!

“It’s Winterfest in Burien!” reads an announcement. “You and your family are invited to stop by and have your picture taken with Santa compliments of Berkshire Hathaway Northwest Real Estate.”

Winterfest is an annual event sponsored by Discover Burien that runs from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on SW 152nd Street in Burien.

Celebrate the Holiday Season by shopping locally at this annual community event that includes free horse and carriage rides, hay rides, hot treats and in-store specials.

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest, located at 930 SW 152nd Street in Olde Burien.

Late night and early morning travelers using the south entrance to Sea-Tac Airport or the exit on the Arrivals drive will face some minor detours in the next few weeks due to Sound Transit construction.

Beginning Friday, Dec. 5, through Dec. 18, crews will be lifting concrete sections over those areas to construct the overhead trackway during the overnight hours from 11:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

The South 182nd Street entrance to Sea-Tac Airport on International Boulevard will temporarily close, along with the exit from the lower or Arrivals drive. This is for Sound Transit expansion for the future Angle Lake Station at South 200th Street.

Airport Entrance Detour
If entering the airport from International Boulevard, follow DETOUR signs to South 170th Street. Then use existing signs to reach the airport terminal and parking. In addition, there will be an OVERHEIGHT PARKING DETOUR that goes through the departures drive to the south parking entrance.

Airport Exit Detour
If exiting the airport from the arrivals drive or ground transportation center, follow DETOUR signs for the Northern Airport Expressway. Motorists then wishing to exit at International Boulevard can follow existing signs and exit at South 170th Street. Alternately, use the upper Departures drive to avoid the detour and exit on the Airport Expressway.

For details, check the Sound Transit website.

TukwilaCrash112914

Washington State Patrol detectives are investigating a collision that occurred Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014 on I-5 just north of I-405 at approximately 6:00 p.m., and are seeking the public’s help.

The collision involved the injury of an on-duty, Tukwila firefighter who was attending to the driver of a previous collision involving a white pick-up truck.

The firefighter was struck during a second collision involving a red Ford Mustang and the same white pick-up truck.

Detectives are requesting information regarding the collision and/or any observations of the vehicles prior to the incident.

Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact WSP Detective Sergeant Jerry Cooper at jerry.cooper@wsp.wa.gov or 360-805-1192 or Detective Ruth Medeiros at ruth.medeiros@wsp.wa.gov or 425-401-7719.