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Letters to the Editor - June 22, 2015

  • Written by Readers

REPORT BEAR SIGHTINGS

We have developed a website inviting Woodinville area residents to post photos or blog about recent bear sightings. Over the past three days we have personally seen bears in our pasture within 50 feet of our house, and thought others must also be seeing bears in their vicinity.

We have chosen to live in this community surrounded by nature, appreciating the diversity of wildlife in our yard. Even in our fenced pasture just below the house, deer, coyotes and bobcats are common sights. But the past couple of years, bears have been increasingly daring in daylight hours and were raiding garbage cans and destroying fruit trees at night. While we enjoy seeing them at a safe distance, we are concerned that they are so brazen, even before the first signs of fruit on our property.

It seems prudent to share as much information as possible to heighten awareness, as kids are out of school and we are all outdoors more. Besides warning our immediate neighbors we thought a community-wide blog might help parents plan their outings. For example our sightings occurred at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and a hundred different sightings could show a pattern.

Please check out our website at bearsightingin woodinville98077.wordpress.com.

Max Sahafi and  Cris Darlington
Woodinville

FIRE DISTRICT 7

Snohomish County Fire District 7 received some great news that we want to share. Our cardiac survival rates are twice that of the national average and 21 points higher than the state. We want to thank taxpayers in Fire District 7 and the City of Mill Creek for helping us build the most advanced emergency response system in Snohomish County.
Fire District 7 and the City of Mill Creek formed a regional partnership 32 years ago to save taxpayers money and improve our emergency response for fire and EMS. These recent statistics on our cardiac save rates are just one example of how this partnership continues to benefit everyone we serve.

The contract we have with Mill Creek funds the city fire station, 20 firefighters, an engine and a paramedic unit. Mill Creek voters approved funding for these improvements, and Fire District 7 is committed to maintaining them because it improves our district-wide emergency response.  

On behalf of all of us at Fire District 7, we would like to say thank you for your continued support of this partnership. We are stronger together.

Roy Waugh, Chair
Board of Fire Commissioners
Snohomish County Fire District 7

STATE BUDGET
 
I read with interest K-Y Su’s letter about the State budget. Much of what K-Y said is correct and much is not correct! Under the McCleary decision education in the state needs to be funded in a sustainable fashion. The senate budget does not do that; it relies on recent unexpected tax revenues that are not sustainable in the future. By the next biennium we will again be four billion dollars behind. Senator Hill’s plan to sell cannabis to fund education is also not sustainable.
I have been an educator in Washington for 40 years so I know the system, and I am not a Republican or a Democrat. We are 47th in class size among the states and our beginning teachers are some of the lowest paid. If you want excellent teachers you need to give them a good salary!

Representatives Goodman and Springer are doing their job by trying to provide a sustainable tax revenue for education now and in the future with no gimmicks. Senator Hill and the Republican-controlled Senate need to be realistic and work to provide sustainability in our education system and not hold our children hostage so they can give big tax breaks to large corporations.

Mike Reid
Duvall

CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENT

After having met with the candidates for Northshore School Board and determining their position on the issue of later start times, the endorsement committee representing Parent Advocates for a Late Start (PALS) is endorsing Berta Phillips, candidate for Northshore School Board - Position 3.  

Berta Phillips has long been an outspoken advocate for the students of Northshore School District, and has been a supporter of PALS since its inception many years ago. Berta has been involved with the Northshore Community for over 50 years, much of that time working with staff and students of the Northshore School District. Berta believes in doing what is best for all students. We believe Berta Phillips is the best choice for Northshore School Board.  

PALS Representatives

VALUING PARAEDUCATORS
 
Paraeducators are trained professionals who meet Washington state’s recommended core competencies in accordance with RCW 28A.415.310. They assist certified staff in providing instructional and other services to students and their families. Paraeducators are a valuable asset to our students, and our school community. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Northshore’s paraeducators are on the lowest tier of the Northshore Education Support Professionals Association (NESPA) pay scale. According to a study conducted by the Compensation Technical Working Group, the average Northshore paraeducator’s salary is approximately $6 an hour below the recommended wage.  

In addition to being underpaid, many of our paraeducators are kept to a part-time status, and do not receive benefits. Our paraeducators work hard, but often struggle to feed their own families. It is not uncommon to hear of paraeducators who are on food stamps, and whose children receive free and reduced lunches.  

I believe that we can do better. Celebrating “classified employee week” each year, with its parties and lunches, is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t address the problem. Our paraeducators deserve to be properly compensated for the important work they perform. They deserve to be afforded the work hours necessary to qualify for the same benefits other Northshore employees receive.

It is time the school district treats our paraeducators with dignity and respect. For too long they have been viewed as “just moms who want to keep busy while their kids are in school.” These men and women are dedicated professionals working to make a difference in the lives of our children. All they ask is the right to earn enough to provide for their own families in the process. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Berta Phillips
Candidate for Northshore School Board
Bothell

DIRT ON HOLLYWOOD HILL

I am in complete agreement with Mr. Phillips’ assessment of the dirt on the hill. It has been an eyesore for over two years.

Not just the dirt, but the trucks kicking up rocks that hit windshields, roughing up the road and clogging traffic!
When will this end?!

Julie Miller
Woodinville

THANK YOU

As we prepare for graduation with our seniors, one message we continually share with them is the Commencement Ceremony is really a chance for them as graduates to honor all of those who helped them reach this milestone in their lives. So many of you in this great Woodinville community, whether realizing it or not, made a positive impact on the 461 Class of 2015 graduates who now call Woodinville High School their alma mater. On behalf of each of them, and all of us here at WHS who are so proud of these graduates, thank you for partnering with us throughout their journey to graduation.

Special thanks are also owed to our business partners, staff, and volunteers for their contributions to the successful celebration of the Class of 2015: Flower World, Plants Northwest, Inc. and Hoffman’s Landscape for their help with stage décor; Flowers By George for student flowers and for donating the podium arrangement; Jostens for caps, gowns, and graduation materials; Ray Grice for the hours spent preparing our 2015 Stage Prop; Xfinity Arena for their hospitality; the Woodinville Police Department for their extra watchfulness over our community to ensure that everyone was safe; and our dedicated faculty, staff, and volunteers for the numerous contributions of time and energy whenever and wherever efforts were needed.

Our motto at Woodinville High School is “One Falcon, One Family” and we truly believe that our family extends into the Woodinville community. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be working with you to help shape our future generations. Congratulations again, graduates, parents, guardians and supporters of the Class of 2015!

Kurt S. Criscione
Principal, Woodinville High School

Letters to the Editor - June 15, 2015

  • Written by Readers

MAIL DELIVERY
PROBLEMS

When will the postal carriers in Woodinville get the mail deliveries correct? Recently I had received my neighbor’s mail. I have no idea what happened to my mail that day. This has happened quite frequently since I have lived in Woodinville. Both my mailbox and my neighbor’s mailbox clearly had the house numbers displayed quite visibly on the mailboxes. There is no reason that the carrier could not have matched the mail to the mailboxes he or she was delivering to.

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Letters to the Editor - June 8, 2015

  • Written by Readers

DIRT ON
HOLLYWOOD HILL

Will they EVER stop hauling dirt past Hollywood Hill Elementary? They’re seemingly building a dirt mountain on the hill and it’s been going on for a couple of years now. Seriously, there’s no point in washing your car from May to November because, if you have to go that way, it’s always sprayed with residual dirt from those double-load trucks that never seem to stop. They cover it with about 40,000 sq. feet of unsightly tarp all winter to stop it from sliding onto the road and now they’re loading more up there. They make some kind of pitiful attempt to hose the street down and sweep it but that actually makes it stick to your car worse! Is there any kind of stop date for this endless piling? They owe everyone on Hollywood Hill a free car wash when they’re done.

Bill Phillips
Woodinville

FLY BALL

Last night (June 1) I was driving by the Little League fields at 175th. A fly ball came crashing into my windshield, creating several long cracks. When I went back to the ball field and tried to talk to someone I was met with total indifference. No one took responsibility, no one offered to do anything about it, no one even apologized. Instead I was met with laughter, a lot of it, “bad luck!” they said. It’s not bad luck; it was negligence. It took me a while to even find out who was in charge.

So I’m out some money, but at least the teams had a good joke. And they were, I was proudly told, “the tournament of champions.” Champion at what? Not maturity. In the old days the boy who broke someone’s window had to fix it. Guess that’s another part of personal responsibility that has disappeared.

John Nordin
Bothell

NSD DIVERSITY

Bravo to Larry Francois and Janet Quinn on your pledge to focus on diversity within NSD! Academics, testing and funding have monopolized our “schools’ bandwidth” for the 11 years I’ve been involved with NSD. However, I believe our lack of willingness to sacrifice time and energy from these to address social-emotional learning in our students has crippled us.

Your letter to our community asserted that diversity will increase in coming years. I would like to counter that diversity has been around us in all forms since our species began, and it is what sustains and strengthens us as humans. In fact, it’s a key cornerstone of our biology, and it goes much deeper than looks and bank balances.

Imagine what life would be like if we were all neurotypical, left-brain, heterosexual extroverts, who rated 10 on all our executive functioning skills yet lacked vision. Boring. Evolutionarily dangerous. Where would we be without Oscar Wilde’s incisive writing? Sylvia Plath’s poetry? Temple Grandin’s autism activism and animal behavior work? Marshawn Lynch’s football? This is us. Our diversity isn’t something to solve. Our diversity is what makes us great!

So what to do? Your proposal is a great start. I believe we need to go much further than “Let’s Stop Bullying” assemblies. Progress must start from within. Teachers and coaches, who themselves may feel “diverse,” must be allowed to feel comfortable providing real leadership to students. Students should be encouraged and given time to come together within school to share their ideas and opinions and work to enlighten their fellow students — perhaps through greater use of homerooms that tackle diversity issues head-on, and also through clubs such as GSA/QSA and the like. We parents need to get on board with our own education process so we are part of the solution. The district needs to be proactive, strong, supportive and willing to put diversity and social-emotional learning on the front burner for awhile.
It sounds like this is happening, and, if these resolves take flight, this will be a monumental leap for NSD.

Thank you!

Liz Bohlin
Woodinville
Inglemoor High School parent

SCHOOL BOARD RESPONDS

At our last board meeting many families came to share their comments and concerns regarding a situation at Timbercrest Junior High School involving racially insensitive statements and threats made by a student and their personal experiences regarding race, harassment, intimidation and bullying in Northshore schools. Superintendent Francois will outline in a separate letter action being taken by the district, some of which began prior to the incident at Timbercrest and some as an outgrowth of events of the past few weeks.

Northshore demographics reflect our community and continue to become more diverse. Concerns shared by families reflect a need and urgency for greater understanding and attention to meeting the changing needs of our students and families, and importantly, creating a more inclusive environment for all Northshore students.

The school board is responsible for district governance and we have recently been examining our policies to determine where we have sufficiently strong ones and where they can be improved. We are examining the effects of current policies and reviewing policies from other districts. The experiences and stories of those who spoke to us at our board meeting are important input for the board to consider as we discuss the need to come together as a community to effect change. The school board will be discussing next steps at our board meeting on June 9 at 4 p.m.

The school board and district are committed to student safety and providing an environment free of discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying for everyone in Northshore, and we realize we can’t do it alone. We are resolved to address these issues head-on and view them as opportunities for our district to listen, learn and work collaboratively with our students, families and staff to strengthen our school communities for the betterment of all Northshore students.

We look forward to working together to continue to build a stronger, more inclusive school district.

Janet Quinn
School Board President

COMING TOGETHER, MOVING FORWARD

Recent events in the Northshore School District have uncovered a painful reality: an epidemic of racism, intolerance and bullying in our schools.  

At the May 26 school board meeting parents, students and community members came forward to share their experiences and address their concerns and fears. It was heartbreaking to hear the racially motivated attacks some of our children have endured. No child should ever feel afraid to go to school. No family should ever feel that staff and administrators are not listening to their pleas for help.  

The community has called on the school board and the superintendent to take immediate action to change the climate and culture of our schools, to create an environment where students feel safe and valued. I believe this has been a wake-up call for the District.

Superintendent Francois recently issued a letter to our community. I believe it is a heartfelt response to a deeply distressing situation. In his letter he details the first steps the District will be taking to address the issue of racism, intolerance and bullying in our schools. It is a multi-layered approach that includes working with our community, providing cultural competency, diversity and equity training for staff and administration, reinstating a mechanism for confidential reporting and implementing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports.  

Superintendent Francois has called on all students, parents, staff and community members to help move our school community forward to a better, safer place. I echo Superintendent Francois’ belief that together we can make a positive difference in our schools and in our community. I believe Northshore can become a place where all children feel safe and valued. Where parents are treated with respect, and are considered partners in their child’s educational experience. Where teachers and support staff are treated with dignity. A place that is more “family” than “institution.” A place where our administrators and our school board directors listen and care.

The school district is taking the first steps in a long but worthwhile journey. I think we can all be a positive part of the process and join the District in moving forward.  

Berta Phillips
Bothell

Northshore School District efforts to create a safer, more inclusive learning environment

  • Written by Larry Francois, NSD Superintendent

Our district is changing. Most of the time, I’m writing about the changes we’re seeing as our enrollment grows and we implement changes to our instructional program. Too little do I write about the changing demographics of our community and the students and families we serve.  

Over the past 15 years, the diversity represented across our community has changed steadily and significantly, and even greater ethnic, cultural, religious, economic and racial diversity is projected in the coming years.  

While I believe our schools aspire to be welcoming and inclusive, events in recent months such as hateful graffiti spray painted on the Bothell Hindu Temple and a nearby school, and racially charged threats against African-American students, remind us that we sometimes fall short of what we may believe to be the best about ourselves, our schools, our families and our community.

As a school system, we accept our responsibility to create the environment and conditions for all students, families and staff to feel safe, welcomed, valued and supported within our schools. We also know that we cannot accomplish this alone. True inclusion, acceptance and celebration of diversity are not accomplished solely through school board policy, rights and responsibilities handbooks, a motivational assembly or a cultural fair. They are accomplished when hearts and minds are opened, educated and nurtured to appreciate and embrace diversity as strengths that unite and make us better rather than as differences that breed ignorance and intolerance. That change must be cultivated and grown in our schools, homes, towns, cities and places of worship. It is a collective mission and journey.  

Every journey begins with the first steps. Below are some of the first steps we are and will be taking with urgency to respond to recent events and build upon the work already taking place in our schools:

•    Conducting focus groups with diverse representatives from our school communities to better understand their school experiences and to help inform our policies and programs.
•    Seeking and capitalizing on the expertise of those with training, experience, insights and resources in cultural competency, diversity and equity policy, programs and training; networking with other organizations that are experiencing similar demographic changes.  
•    Initiating formalized cultural competency training and skill-building with district leaders.
•    Analyzing our threat assessment process to align to nationally recognized standards, providing additional staff training and developing stronger relationships with mental health providers and law enforcement.
•    Investigating technology systems to enable confidential reporting of bullying and harassment.  
•    Analyzing available data to better inform our understanding of and responses to disproportionality that may exist across various subgroups of students.
•    Reviewing existing policies and programs to assess whether they are culturally responsive and appropriate to our changing demographics.
•    Continuing to support and expand our schools implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Multi-Tiered System of Supports models (MTSS), which build more positive school cultures and develop intentional strategies and interventions for students needing greater levels of support to be successful.  
•    Revamping our student Rights and Responsibilities handbook to better align with PBIS and MTSS principles.
•    Collaborating with our civic, faith-based and community partners to promote a deeper community conversation around diversity and equity.

Like everyone, I am the product of my life experiences and circumstances. I can’t claim to have insights and understandings that have not been part of my life’s journey. But like everyone, I can be a learner. I can be vulnerable and open to what I don’t know and understand. I will seek to be better skilled and competent to interact with those whose life experiences and circumstances are different than mine. I will use my voice and influence to make Northshore schools and our community better. And I ask that all of you — students, parents, staff and community members — join me on our collective journey to create a school community that more perfectly reflects our best selves.  

 

Letters to the Editor - June 1, 2015

  • Written by Readers

LOOKING FOR LAND

I’m a veteran looking for a parcel of land in the Bothell/Woodinville area to build my dream home. I’ve looked in the area but not too much is for sale. If you happen to own a parcel you are willing to sell to a veteran, my price range is around $125,000.
I am more than willing to answer any questions. I know this is a long shot, but thought it was worth a shot.
Below are some of the questions you are probably wondering about:
1. What type of veteran are you?
I was active duty for 16 years, deployed three times, was discharged honorably and currently in the reserves.
2. Why Bothell/Woodinville?
My son and daughter are autistic and go to a wonderful school in the area that accommodates their special needs. I promised my wife I would exhaust all resources before leaving the schools boundaries.
You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Marcus Barton
Bothell

VETERANS’ STORIES

The StoryCorps Mobile Tour will be in the Seattle area Aug. 6 to Sept. 4. Appointments for interviews can be made at storycorps.org. Interviews can also be recorded anywhere with smartphones, then sent to StoryCorps with a smartphone app.
StoryCorps is a nationwide nonprofit oral history project, preserved at the Library of Congress. Weekly broadcasts of select interviews can be heard on National Public Radio or the StoryCorps website.

Polly Roberts
Woodinville

WOODINVILLE-DUVALL ROAD MEDIANS

To the City of Woodinville: Why do we have medians/islands instead of lanes? I thought we needed more lanes to handle our traffic. Silly me! Have you seen the line to turn north at Mack’s Corner? Have you seen the traffic coming and going during peak traffic and school drop off/pick up times? Have you seen the Saturday westbound back up at 156th? Maybe a designated right hand turn lane would have been better than a median taking up a whole lane. Also, it seems to me that the large (and ugly) evergreens being planted (Why?! We don’t need those!) in these silly medians should have been planted along the shoulders on people’s properties that lost their privacy trees and bushes. Those property owners received twigs instead. I’m sure they’ll have some of their natural screens back in 15 years with those scrawny plantings.
Tina Sander
Woodinville