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

Letters to the Editor - May 13, 2013

  • Written by Readers

Two common household items that seem easy enough to empty or fill. Easy enough for people who don’t need long-term services and supports.
As a home care aide, I provide vital services for seniors and people with disabilities – people whose laundry requires special treatments and whose dietary needs can’t rely on whim, but require careful planning.
The current State Senate budget proposal for the 2013 to 2015 biennium would cut funding for home care services including laundry and shopping.  

Some lawmakers believe – wrongly – that volunteers will come fill in to help my clients do their laundry and will drive them more than 45 minutes to pick up groceries or medications.  Home care clients have already lost an average of 15 percent of their home care hours through arbitrary budget cuts. More cuts to hours are penny wise and pound foolish because they will cause vulnerable seniors to go to more expensive settings like nursing homes.

If caregivers don’t caregivers don’t do laundry, shopping, or provide vital home care services, thousands of vulnerable Washington residents will have rubbish pile up, laundry overflow and cupboards go bare.
Under the Senate plan, big corporations and special interests get priority over vulnerable adults though costly tax breaks.

There’s a better approach. Eliminate tax loopholes and use the money instead to help seniors and people with disabilities.

Richard Ross, Kirkland


Waste Management North Sound has over 250 employees who are committed to creating sustainable communities.

Our mission is to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Our goal is to be part of the solution to the problems that sparked the original idea for Earth Day, and while that is a 365-day-per-year job, Earth Day is a good reminder of our commitment.  
In honor of Earth Day which was April 22, Waste Management (WM) of North Sound would like to share a few helpful recycling tips for residents and businesses in Woodinville.

 These few simple changes can go a long way in helping to do our part in preserving the planet all year long:   
• Recycle paper and packaging: It’s an easy way to do your part.
• Compost food scraps and kitchen waste: Set-up your own backyard compost or utilize your food/yard waste services.  
• Don’t forget about e-waste: Computers, electronics, batteries and light bulbs are all recyclable today. To find out where and how, check out online resources including King County website and Waste Management’s Lamptracker.
• Donate, reuse and recycle items before throwing them into the garbage
• Harmful materials like chemicals, batteries, electronics should be taken to local hazardous waste depots or recyclers.

Jeff McMahon, District ManagerWaste Management-North Sound, Woodinville

Guest Editorial - Light a Fire for Learning

  • Written by Larry Francois, Northshore School District superintendent
On March 28, over 300 supporters of public education gathered at the Northshore Schools Foundation’s “Light A Fire For Learning” luncheon and raised over $120,000 to support students and teachers across our district. As an all-time high fundraising total for the luncheon—one of two major annual fundraising events for the foundation—these funds will go a long way towards fulfilling the foundation’s mission of “Making An Impact, Everyday.”

Since 1995, the Northshore Schools Foundation has partnered with the district to support, enhance and extend learning opportunities for our students and staff. Through investments in innovative classroom grants, teacher excellence, new curriculum, extended learning opportunities and, most recently, strategic investments in S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, the foundation positively impacts tens of thousands of Northshore students multiple times throughout their school career.

The foundation has built relationships with over 65 regional companies and partners that contribute generously to their mission and initiatives. But the backbone of the foundation is the hundreds of community members, parents, staff and kids who give of their passion, energy and resources. From the volunteer board of directors, to the students who inspire and entertain at events like the luncheon, to the parents and community members who answer the call to give, the foundation’s strength comes from the collective and shared commitment of those personally invested in a world-class education for the young people of our community. Northshore is rightly recognized as one of the top school districts in Washington state and across the nation. Organizations like the Northshore Schools Foundation play a key role working with the district to make that happen.

If you are not already a part of the foundation’s network of supporters, I encourage you to learn more and get involved. A good place to start would be visiting the foundation’s website: www.Northshore