Letters to the Editor - June 24, 2013

  • Written by Readers


I recently learned that our elementary school (East Ridge) will be closing two hours early each Wednesday next year and am struck by the mathematics of it. In theory, a minimum school year length should be 180 days. This was at one point reduced by waiver to 175 days (I may be wrong here). So, 175/5 = 35 weeks. Now, if we take 2 hours out of the week, that is 70 hours of class time. Given that each day is generously assumed to be approximately 6 hours of class time (I consider recess part of the learning process), 70/6 = 11.6667 days, rounded up is 12 days of your child’s education gone!

Please feel free to correct my math because I hope I’m off.

Brian Bordeau, Woodinville


On Friday (June 14, 2013) I sent a note to NSD Superintendent Francois and the NSD School Board, voicing my disappointment with the decision to implement weekly staff planning times on Wednesday afternoons as opposed to Friday afternoons. Friday afternoons had overwhelmingly been chosen by 65 percent of respondents to a NSD public survey. Superintendent Francois responded to my feedback in an email that stated many reasons why the NSD went against public opinion and chose Wednesdays.

He sent this same email to several parents I know who voiced negative feedback. Below are some of my responses to his email:

Dear Superintendent Francois and NSD School Board:

Thank you for your timely response. I can see you have put a lot of thought into this matter and I appreciate your consideration:

"Our reasoning to favor a Wednesday early release was a belief that it would be less likely that students/families would choose to not come to school at all on Wednesday (middle of the week) versus Monday or Friday where we already have higher absence rates." – Superintendent Francois (6/17/2013)

As for your reasoning as to why Friday wasn’t chosen, the message I can’t help but  hear is that "parents don’t really know what’s best for their kids and family." I’m sorry that some parents already allow their children to skip school on Fridays. I can’t imagine why they would do that.

Perhaps there is a false opinion that Fridays are mainly for class parties and other "busy work," and that it’s not a great day for learning? I can assure you that my family (and most families I know) value every hour that our children are in school.

Personally, I work very hard to make sure that I don’t take my kids out of school early unnecessarily.

In the 7 years I’ve had my boys in school, it’s been very rare that they are absent for reasons other than illness or unavoidable doctor appointments, and trust me this has not always been appreciated by my kids (and sometimes not by my husband!).

That said, I don’t appreciate the NSD administration and the school board assuming that the poor choices of some families should bring consequences to those of us who encourage diligence in our children.

After all, this is data I’m sure you were aware of before this process started, so why did you give us the option to vote for Friday? There is just no way of overstating this — getting out on Friday afternoons vs. Wednesday afternoons would be much more convenient for families. And, it would soften the blow of this decision overall with a bit of "goodwill."

"We hope and expect that PTAs and other organizations will utilize the collaboration time to offer extended learning opportunities for students. We believe it is more likely that students and families will access these opportunities on a Wednesday versus a Friday." – Superintendent Francois (6/17/2013)

I would caution the statement you make about hoping community organizations should pick up the slack for your decision. Whether our PTA is willing to help with this or not will be up to next year’s Board of Directors.

However, please remember each local PTA unit has its own independent mission statement and goals, and it shouldn’t be assumed that they would feel obligated to bridge this gap. That is an unfair yoke to place on these parent volunteers.

"While the District and Northshore Education Association were not opposed to a Friday early release, both believed that the time would be much more beneficial to those ends on a Wednesday when staff are fresher and more receptive to new learning than at the end of the week where folks are generally more tired." –Superintendent Francois (6/17/13)

Finally, to your point that collaboration at the end of the week would be less effective because teachers would be less tired ...  my question then is whether teachers should be spending their most tired hours of the week with our children?

I would think our kids would benefit most from classroom time when teachers and students are the most "fresh" (Wednesday not Friday).

Having done a fair bit of studying myself, I have come to realize that adults are quite capable of learning at all hours of the day and night, as long as the environment is conducive to learning.

How many of us have taken evening classes and had to study late after the kids have gone to bed?

Certainly a grown adult and professional educator can muster the strength to devote an afternoon toward professional collaboration and lesson planning.

This is a burden the teachers should bear as adults and not at the expense of valuable classroom time early in the week.

An opportunity to finish the week with reflection and forward thinking to Monday morning is by no means a hardship.

All of this said, I concede there are many factors that I’m probably not even aware of that go into running a school district.

So, I don’t wish to come across as hostile or disrespectful. I just want you, the administration office and our School Board, to see that communication is best accomplished through transparency and engaging in dynamic conversation.

What I am (and many others are) hearing is very likely a different message than you intended to send.

First, you said the transition from in-service days to weekly planning was out of your hands, and that you couldn’t tell us until it was too late (because of the private nature of contract negotiations).

Then you said you wanted parents to give you feed-back so you could advocate for us in your next round of negotiations.

Finally, you are now saying that our opinions weren’t well enough informed, and that we should just let you decide for us.

Putting it into those terms, I would think that you could understand the frustration.

What is happening is that parents are losing confidence in the administration and the school board.

And with a bond/levy coming, this is exactly the wrong time for this to happen.

I want our school district to succeed and I hope to rally support for the upcoming bond/levy.

But I don’t see my efforts going very far in the present climate. It’s not too late to stand up for the majority opinion on this.

It seems like you are giving in to the teachers’ union 100 percent on this, and not willing to fight for the parents who went to the trouble to vote.

And if the teachers’ union had nothing to do with this decision, it seems that you have a no confidence that our parents can make wise decisions for their own children and families.

You can choose to send a message of compromise and goodwill to the parents by changing the weekly planning time to Friday afternoon.

Thanks again for your time and consideration.

Parents: I hope you will take the time (even with the final days of school upon us) to email the NSD Administration (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and School Board (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with your opinions on this matter.

Respectfully yours,

Angela Van Lierop, via email


In reply to Cyndee Wiese’s letter concerning Northshore School District administration not being in touch with the teaching level:  A solution would be to require all administrators to teach in a classroom every fifth year. They supposedly have teaching certificates so should have no problem?

Sharon Kay Ricketts, Bothell


I’m a fifth grader who believes that more people should care about the endangered animals, or at least care more about them than they do now. If animals go endangered, then poof! Gone.

The animals that may feed off of the animals that become endangered will die when the endangered animals become extinct. When the animals they feed off are gone, then they have nothing much to eat.

Then that animal goes endangered because of no food. Most animals are okay if we eat them, just don’t kill the endangered animals like narwhals. People are killing them for their tooth — also known as a horn.

But because cows aren’t endangered, I bet it’s okay that we eat them. The same goes for pigs.

I think in your newspaper you should spread the word about people caring about endangered animals because they are important to life and most likely always will be.

Madison Williams, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - June 17, 2013

  • Written by Readers

I am writing in response to the front page article in the Woodinville Weekly about the surveillance cameras that will be going up in Woodinville. I personally had a conversation with an officer from the Woodinville Police Department, who informed me that “it is perfectly legal for a person to stand on your sidewalk taking pictures through your windows into your home with their camera without your premission. It is not a crime,” he stated.  

Given this is the offical position of the Woodinville Police Department/City of Woodinville  on surveillance  within our city, there is grave concern how this information will be used, especially as surveillance of private citizens will be available to any person who requests it.

I am a member of the Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety Commission. But I am also personally very concerned  about the rights and privacy of all citizens and families that would be in the surveillance areas due to the fact that any one can request copies of the tapes.
Lille Clinton, Woodinville

My name is Samantha and I am in the 8th grade at Leota Junior High. I wish to write about the Northshore School District’s decision to bus the half-day kindergarteners from their homes near Kokanee to Maywood Hills Elementary. This change to the kindergarten program will have a significant effect on me and my family.

When we were discussing these adjustments as a family, I immediately recognized the impact on me. If my sister is assigned to afternoon kindergarten, the timing of the bus will make it impossible for my mom to pick me up after school if I participate in after-school activities.

As we all know, about half of what colleges look for is how many and what activities you participate in during your 9th through 12th grade years.

My goal in life is to go to a competitive college. It is important to me that I will be able to put in my college application that I have participated in sports.  

But how will this be possible if my mom can’t pick me up?

Not only will this affect my goal for college, but it will take away the joy I have at school.  

The district’s decision to bus kindergarteners so far away may impact my opportunities for a college education.

The district’s motto is, “Strengthening Our Community Through Excellence in Education.”

How does limiting my educational opportunities support this motto?
Samantha Green, Snohomish

A very heartfelt thank you to our wonderful friends and neighbors for your generous donations and kindness at our yard sale last weekend. We raised $503 for Homeward Pet in Zac’s name!

If he could have been there, we’re sure he would have given you lots of XXX’s, OOO’s & LLL=Licks!
We send you XXX and OOO (ok...not the LLL). :)

Karen & Bob Myles, Woodinville

I don’t even know where to begin addressing the fallacious ideas and pipe dreams that generated City Ordinance 560.

And if indeed this missive makes it into print, it may already be too late, a penalty (not to mention increased taxes) we will all pay for the general populace’s apathy towards local government.  

But perhaps I can start with Councilmember Rubstello’s statement that “we are now a city …. it’s an evolution.”  

Well, Mr. Rubstello, Woodinville is not a city, it remains a small town with a crowded two-lane road, one shopping center, and a few smaller strip malls.

Woodinville even has a nursery and a feed store in the central business district, not normally commercial activities associated with the central business district of a “city.”

Up to this date, no developer has come forward to build anything beyond what would normally be built in a small town.  

There has been no evolution, there has been little change apart from the grandiose delusions of this newest iteration of council members.

If and when an evolution from a  small town to a city begins, it will be signified by neither code nor regulation but by the private sector acknowledging that the local demographics have changed significantly enough to make a concrete investment. The signs will come from the private sector first, not from the personal desires of the council members.

There are specifics of Ordinance 560 that are simply ridiculous.

Perhaps the most inane are the restrictions on auto services and gas stations.

The ordinance would put five long existing auto service business “out of compliance.”

In other words, the council members have told these businesses “thank you very much” for your years of employing our local citizenry and paying and generating tax revenue, but now it is time to leave in the hopes of replacing you even though the market has shown no interest in providing any replacement services.  

And the restrictions that 560 places on the few gas stations in town are simply laughable.

The council members and a few of the planning commission members have found a few isolated examples of gas stations that appeal to their personal aesthetic tastes and now wish to force that aesthetic — an aesthetic built voluntarily by the example stations and not by code, upon all of us.

Well, let me be the first to confess that when I get off the interstate to gas up my vehicle at some unknown small town like Woodinville, I want to be able to make out my preferred gas station hopefully even before I get off the freeway, and I want to be able to see a big sign and the pumps, giving me plenty of time to navigate safely through the traffic to my destination.

You simply can not compare a commercial intersection leading directly to and from a major interstate highway to a gas station in downtown Lynnwood or Snoqualmie.  That is just plain nonsense.
Another specific of Ordinance 560 that makes no sense is the prohibition on the indoor gun range.
Now I can certainly understand the need to have codes regarding noise from such a facility. 

But once the noise issue is properly addressed, how is an indoor gun range any different than the indoor golf range that 560 does allow.  

Both services would bring in visitors who might not otherwise come into Woodinville.

Both services would generate welcome tax revenue and both services would lead to their patrons visiting and patronizing other neighboring businesses, thus generating even more revenue for the city.

Where is the legal justification that allows these arrogant council members to decide which sport facility is allowed and which sport facility must be banished from the commercial district to a distant industrial region?

The bottom line, and I could go on at length at other inanities and delusions contained in Ordinance 560, is that the market will decide how Woodinville evolves.

In another five years we may see the proposed Canterbury development come to fruition.  It might indeed cause an evolution in Woodinville from a small town with lots of underutilized, if not undeveloped land, contained within its commercial core to something else.

Perhaps it might be the seed that will cause Woodinville to evolve into Councilmember Rubstello’s imagined city.

And at that point it might indeed be time for the council members to facilitate that change by tweaking the city codes and regulations.

But at the moment nothing is changing or evolving to an extent that necessitates this poorly conceived ordinance that penalizes existing businesses and land owners that the city now, and in the foreseeable future, will continue to rely upon to provide the revenue needed to properly maintain our town.  
       R. Jaffe, Woodinville

I am the proud grandparent of a Woodinville graduate, class of 2013.

My husband and I attended the graduation ceremony Wednesday evening with our family.

It was a proud occasion, marred only by the extremely disrespectful rendition of our National Anthem by a teacher.

We were appalled at the display of disdain for the National Anthem and wondered why he wasn’t vetted before hand, or if he was, why you would allow an unsuspecting audience to be assaulted by his obvious statement of disrespect for our country — which makes me ask, who was in charge of this part of the program?

And believe me, we were not the only ones who were offended.

The people sitting around us were also commenting on the disrespect. It really doesn’t matter what anyone’s political beliefs happen to be, this was no place for him to make his statement.

I think he, and whoever chose him, owes everyone in attendance a huge public apology at the very least.

He should at the very least, be reprimanded. He needs to keep his political opinions out of school, or resign.

I would not want him having any influence over my children and will check to see if my other grandson who will be a junior this year, is in his class.

There is no doubt that his rendition of our National Anthem was a statement of his utter disrespect for our great country.

It was disgusting and unacceptable at what was a proud moment for the families of the graduates.
 Pamela Anderson, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - June 10, 2013

  • Written by Readers

(Last) week, the Northshore School District asked that, in my technical capacity, I place a survey on our school’s website. The survey was asking for student feedback.                  

It is hard to express my frustration at realizing that this survey was designed, not for the majority of our students, but for those students who are enrolled in our challenge (honors) courses. 

This is demonstrative of an ongoing issue in our district: a pervasive elitist attitude where segregation is the norm and students’ opinions and needs are valued, not based on the fact that they are students in our district, but where they stand in the academic ranking. 

Where are the surveys asking our "average" students what they think? Where are the surveys that ask students with disabilities how we can help them better? Surely, if our district really wants us to focus on struggling learners, asking the learners themselves what they think might be helpful.  The absence of comparable surveys makes clear a deficiency that starts at our district administrative level: some students matter more than others.  Our district administration is completely out of touch with the true needs of our students and school communities.

I’ve watched for years as this district has continued to remove focus on the tools that assist the 15-20 percent of students who can and are successful with some additional/specific/support.  This is despite a community meeting several years ago when a district community forum had a vote that resulted in showing that this district’s parents believe that the AP/IB program are equally as important as helping our struggling students. This administration isn’t giving equal effort to the requests of their community.

I’ve watched the district take away math para-educators. We needed more, not less. Last year, all year, I volunteered in two math lab classes to help alleviate the slack this district and state chose to create. Working first as a tech specialist for seven years, I’ve been in every classroom of Northshore Junior High. I know my teachers; I know the impact/consequences of our district’s administration’s decisions. 

Top-Down administration doesn’t work. Teaching isn’t a final product that you can measure. The majority of teachers work hard, despite increasing demands in testing, to help students learn how to learn and grow into confident, successful individuals.

At the end of the last school year, I wanted to dedicate my time to helping students full time. I gave up a stable tech position I had to take a position that I knew, based on the current school administration, would not have any job security. I was given a four- hour- a-day position working with students in a learning center and general education classrooms (my goal has always been to help any and all students on campus if I am able). I also continued to volunteer my time every day to make sure these students have the continuity of support they need during any part of the school day and after. To do otherwise, would feel like injustice to me. 

Yes, I believe my district, state and nation set up kids and teachers for failure.  Any legislator or school administrator who wants to make education curriculum and testing decisions, needs to have a rounded understanding of what their demands do to the nature of teaching and how it may impede students from truly learning.  They also need a depth of understanding on how the brain learns (including the fact that the brain needs empathy from others in order to really learn).

There are school districts and some national programs that are implementing changes in useful directions. The Northshore School District is going in a tangent direction away from what studies and neuroscientists already know concretely about how our brains learn. 

Our district administrators don’t spend enough time in the schools participating and working with students and teachers.

A district’s success is not about a student or select students. Education is about all students and helping them achieve success to the best of their abilities. Our society and community success depends on all people being allowed to reach their potential.

This district is segregating and acting elitist. It was painful for me to add the student survey to our school’s website. My hope is that it angers more parents/students than it appeases.

Until the district values all students’ opinions and in due diligence attempts to meet these needs, I can no longer silently watch while trying to stop-gap the problems this district’s administration is creating with their discriminatory behavior.  My first reaction to the posting of the student survey to our website was excitement; finally the district is talking to the consumer (our students) about their education needs.  This happiness was followed with frustration that this survey wasn’t for all NSD junior high students; even worse, it was geared toward only a select few.

Cyndee Wiese, via email

PALS (Parent advocates for a later start) representatives have been in discussions with NSD to change the high schools to a later start time for many years now, but the stumbling block to change has always been "cost," albeit unsubstantiated cost! The transportation budget is made up of state and levy funding. However, things are about to change as the state is set to "fully fund" transportation, which means that approximately $2.5 million of levy money will become available. What PALS would like to see is some of this money, your money, being used within the transportation department to bring about changes that would allow our high schools to start later.Also, the Seattle School District is working with parents to resolve the issue of later start times by polling every parent on this issue next school year, with a view to implementing the changes the following year.

Their high school start times are already half an hour to one hour later than ours!

Why is NSD not working with us in the same way?

PALS Representatives


"The Northshore School District is seeking feedback from students in the JH Challenge and Pre AP/IB program via a survey to assist the district’s program planning process. Students - please complete the survey on the following link no later than June 14, 2013."

Centennial is focus of Duvall Days

  • Written by Lisa Allen, Valley View Editor


Photo by Lisa Allen
As part of the Duvall Days festivities, Mariachi Band dancers entertained the crowd prior to the ribbon cutting of the new Centennial Way project.

Letters to the Editor - June 3, 2013

  • Written by Readers

Letter sent to Woodinville City Councilmember Liz Aspen

I am sorry to hear that the Woodinville City Council voted to approve cameras in downtown Woodinville. 

According to the polls, the majority of people polled disapproved of the cameras and the money could be better spent on other things.  It sounds as if the council has another agenda that does not involve listening to the people they represent.

I will have to take my business in downtown Woodinville elsewhere to a city that doesn’t spy on their community “in the name of safety.” Cameras do not stop crime. We need to find other ways to deter crime. This is just the lazy way to do it.

I will be contacting Massage Envy, TJ Maxx, Top Foods, Office Max, Jamba Juice, InSpa, Starbucks, Petsmart, the post office, Aaron Bros, BECU, Albertsons, Target, Regis, AMC Loews, Molbak’s and McLendon and let them know I will be taking my business elsewhere with the decision the council made.  These are all establishments that my family and I frequent almost daily.

And when the election comes up again it is way past time for a change in Woodinville.
Susan Milke, Woodinville

Armed with antibiotics, throat lozenges and tissues, I left my sick room to attend the May 21 Woodinville City Council meeting as they were discussing an issue of vital importance: the government use of video cameras in public spaces. Woodinville’s online survey resulted in a rejection of this idea by 56 percent  of Woodinville respondents yet five of the six members present voted to move forward with implementation. 

Regretfully, we know from the current IRS scandal what happens when personal or private information gets into government hands. Several council members shared personal stories about the use of cameras on private property. 

I wholeheartedly support the right of homeowners or business owners to use surveillance cameras or other legal means to protect their private property. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a branch of government that will have a video archive of what its citizens did, where they did it, when they did it and who they did it with.  Of course, this information will not be limited to only the current government and public safety officials, but those that may come after.  As a matter of fact, with a simple Public Information Request, anyone can have access to these videos. That includes felons that may like to see a pattern of traffic into a business, pedophiles that want to watch young teens hang out in front of the ice cream shop or a disgruntled boyfriend that wants to find out when his “ex” visits her favorite coffee shop. One member that avowed principled objection was Mayor Bernie Talmas. He didn’t waffle or equivocate. He stood clearly against government intrusion into personal privacy. As I watched the other members of the council each say in their own turn: “I believe in privacy but …”, I was reminded of the saying engraved in the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  I hope the citizens of Woodinville let the council know that they are not willing to give up their liberty.
Ann Streit, Woodinville

The following statement from NSD communications staff Leanna Albrecht in the article “NSD Considering Schedule Changes” on May 21 is incorrect:  “Albrecht said parent representatives met with school staff to discuss starting high school later, but mutually agreed to stop discussions once the proposed cost of transportation for the later start exceeded $200,000 to $300,000.”

Representatives from PALS (Parent Advocates for a Later Start) met with the superintendent and NSD Board members last June to discuss later start times, as well as NSD transportation staff last July to run later start scenarios.  The representatives DID NOT mutually agree to stop discussions once the proposed cost of transportation for the later start exceeded $200,000 to $300,000 as Albrecht stated.  

Rather, the mutual agreement was as follows:

Transportation staff would run a scenario in their software program for a 20 minute later high school start, a 15 minute later junior high start, with minimal adjustments to the elementary start times. It was also mutually agreed between NSD staff and the PALS representatives that documentation (printouts from the software, cost analysis, etc.) would be provided for all scenarios.  To date, PALS have not received this documentation despite the fact they have requested it several times. Rather, they have only received an email stating that the above scenarios would exceed $300,000 to implement (with no actual documentation attached).  Before this, in a March 2012 meeting between NSD staff and PALS representatives, a cost of $45,000 was quoted for a scenario to shift all secondary and elementary start times ahead 15 minutes.  A year later a very similar scenario will “exceed $300,000.”

PALS is printing this correction so that the 1600 + Later Start supporters (from an online petition: will not be misled by the miscommunication from NSD. There has never been a mutual agreement to stop discussions; in fact the Later Start campaign is growing each and every day and discussions are continuing.  PALS representatives have documentation of the above agreement.
 If you support a Later Start time, please sign the above petition, and email the superintendent and the school board:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Larry Francois
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Julia Lacey
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Janet Quinn
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Dawn McCravey
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Sandy Hayes
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -Todd Banks
PALS  - Parents Advocates for a Later Start

Once again the school district is trying to make changes to our children’s schedule that will adversely affect our kids without including parents and community members in the decision-making process.  At issue this time is the district’s decision to shorten the school week by turning one day a week into a half day. We, the parents, were NOT consulted.  It was rudely presented to us as a fait accompli, or as school board director Quinn so happily announced, “a done deal.”   

A survey purporting to seek community opinion on which day we would rather have as a half day, (the union wants Friday, so Friday it shall be), was sent to parents, but it is deliberately skewed, and only one response per household is allowed. If you have more than one adult, and only one computer in your home, only one voice will be “heard.” If both adults respond from the same computer, Superintendent Francois may decide to throw out both responses, decrying your voice as a “cheat.”  This is unacceptable.

It isn’t simply parents and community members who are upset about the half days: teachers and principals have also voiced disapproval of the decision that the district is forcing upon them.  Teachers need our support!  I encourage parents to talk to their teachers and encourage them to vote “NO!” on any contract that includes the weekly half-day off for students. Our children deserve MORE educational time, not less. Most teachers understand this, and need your support and encouragement to stand up to the district. Just say “NO!” to half days, and “YES!” to kids!
R.E. Miller, Woodinville

The survey is closed and yet the NSEA is  still negotiating!

So, why wasn’t the community asked whether we wanted any of these changes, rather than just our opinion on a 2-hour early/late release? I also understand that most of the teachers only knew about this at the same time as the parents! This all seems like it is being rushed; why is that? As the survey asked for comments I hope that the district will provide them to us as well as the costs involved with all these changes.
A Whelan, Woodinville