Monday, June 1, 2009

Reader comments concerning the future of the old Ronald School

We've been posting about an unfolding story concerning the future of the "old Ronald School" - an historic brick schoolhouse in Shoreline that currently houses The Shoreline Historical Museum. There are conflicting (or at least unresolved) reports about what the future holds for the old Ronald School. Shoreline Historical Museum seems to think it is going to have to move out of its location at Ronald School (which is owned by Shoreline Schools), while Shoreline Schools maintains that no decision has been made yet.

Here are parts of a couple of comments posted to the blog concerning this issue:

Janet Way wrote:

I urge all citizens and history enthusiasts to jump into action to Save the Museum! Send letters to Shoreline School Board. Send letters to Shoreline Enterprise and Seattle Times.
This place matters to Shoreline and the North Seattle area!

Anonymous wrote (excerpt):

In talking to dozens of parents of Shoreline elementary school children, only one could actually name where the museum was. Not one had ever visited it.

Meanwhile, every single parent knew where Shorewood was and at almost all had attended at least one event there (sporting, drama, or community).

I don't think the museum has done a good job reaching out to the community. As a future Shorewood parent, I don't care about the museum at all. I do care that my child goes to school in an up-to-date facility.

What do YOU think? Post your thoughts to the comments section.

Link to see both of these comments in their entirety

Link to read all posts related to this issue


  1. I sure like the (historic) name.

  2. I appreciate the museum, but a new high school is absolutely essential.

    Let's not allow our love and appreciation for our town's history sabotage our town's future.

    I hope all those who love our museum and our community will work to find a compromise solution, rather than simply impede the district as the district tries to meet the current and future needs of our students.

    -Michelle Hickman

  3. Has the museum offered any counter solutions to the school district or the community about ways to best utilize the limited space in our developed community? Also, has the museum done any research into possbile new locations?

  4. Dismissing history as irrelevant is a powerful way of sabotaging a town's future.

    I would like to know how the school plans to use the Ronald School building if they do evict the museum. I would like to know how leaving the museum on that small footprint could possibly "impede the district's ability to meet the needs of its students" or prevent the district from building a "state-of-the-art" facility.

    What will prevent the renovation of Shorewood High School is persisting with this plan to remove the museum, and jeopardizing the passage of the levy required to do anything at all.

    I very much doubt that the building as-is would, in this day and age, be considered structurally appropriate to house students at all. So should it be torn down?

    And as for those Shoreline parents who don't know where the museum is, maybe they just don't pay attention to museums. I can assure you that there are plenty of kids who know the museum very well and participate in its programming. There have been elementary students in Shoreline writing and circulating their own petitions in support of the museum.

  5. Liisa Mannery -

    Have you attended any of the design meetings? I felt like the last presentation did a good job answering some of the questions in this post.

    As for this line "And as for those Shoreline parents who don't know where the museum is, maybe they just don't pay attention to museums." Yeah, that's a great way to get people on your side. These are parents who are active in their community and their children’s education. In the last year, my family has visited the Pacific Science Center, MOHAI, the Frye, Soundbridge and SAM (among others) - usually because there was specific programming that drove us to visit. We get the value of museums. Talking down to us won't make us want to visit your paper studio.

    Children’s petitions aren’t going to help and are only going to bring about bad feeling towards both institutions. The district has a legal right to take that property of they need if for a school. What are the museums plans should that happen?

  6. No personal offense meant, anonymous. I've spent a big chunk of my life working in various museums (including SAM and MOHAI) and I realize that museums just aren't some people's thing. Personally, I don't pay any attention whatsoever to sports, but I appreciate that they have value to a community.

    I find the "who has a legal right to do what" question very convoluted, have never brought it up myself, and would just as soon leave that to lawyers. But I sure would like to know why the district NEEDS to evict the museum in order to build a new high school. Can you tell me?

    And I can't imagine children's petitions causing any bad feelings toward anyone.

  7. I'm glad you explained your post more completely. So you know for future reference, I was EXTREMELY offended by your original post. Please think about what you are writing. Just because the parents in this community are not aware of your museum does not mean they don't appreciate or visit museums. Perhaps the museum itself is to blame for lack of visibility in the community.

    The school district is dealing with a site that is much too small for a modern comprehensive high school. You may think the museum has a small footprint, but the building and the parking take up needed space for the new plan. This has been covered at the outreach meetings. I asked before if you had attended, but you didn’t respond, so I’m asking again.

    I'm not sure why you find the legal argument convoluted. Don't you think it is important to understand the museum’s and the district's rights in this matter? The school district has always said they might use this land for the school and it is their right to do so. Why would the museum try to deny them that right?

    As for the children's petitions, why put them in the middle of a legal argument they cannot fully understand? When their petitions make no difference (as they inevitably won't) they will only feel as if the district didn't care. This isn’t about what grade school kids want. It’s about the legal rights of an institution and about building the best possible space for the next high school.

    I'll turn your question around on you. Why does the museum have to be at that site? Couldn't the collection be housed elsewhere? Why impede the process of serving our high school students? If the museum is that important to the community, surely the collection will survive a move.

  8. Did you know that the Shoreline mayor, when asked why not take the Shoreline Historical Museum into the new city hall said "they couldn't afford to rent there." It's no wonder the mayor and city council are so determined to have the school district keep the museum as a tenant - they want more revenue from their own tenants. The Shoreline City Council is a troubled entity indeed.

  9. Did you know that the school district did not let the museum know about their plans for the museum until City Council asked about what was going to happen to the museum? The museum was never notified by the school district staff or board that they might be evicted, it was only when the school district wanted an exemption from height restrictions and had to submit their design alternatives for review to the City of Shoreline that the truth came out regarding what was going to happen to the museum. The city council is responsible to EVERYBODY in the City of Shoreline, if the school district wants special dispensation to build a new campus that exceeds the height restrictions in the neighborhood, it is the responsibility of the city council to review ALL of the plans.

    If the school district had been open with the museum and city council throughout the planning process, the issue of the would not have blown up in their face.

    I'll also turn it around on the questioner: did you know that museum owns the building?

    The school district has a poor record in public participation and public notice. Does anybody remember how upset the community was over the school closure process a few years ago? And how that process spilled over into a teachers strike? Or is anyone aware that the school district is trying to lay off more teachers and staff than they need to based upon the State budget cuts in Olympia? There is little transparency and accountability in how the Shoreline Public School District conducts business.

    The Shoreline City Council allowed school district advocates over 45 minutes to press their case for taller high school buildings in general public comments, yet they limited the ENTIRE SHORELINE COMMUNITY, INCLUDING THE MAYOR, FIVE MINUTES at the school board meeting. Is that fair? Is that just? There are more households in Shoreline without children than there with. I certainly hope that people remember the teacher strike, teacher & staff layoffs this year, the school closure debacle, and now the museum when the school district comes around asking for their levy lift to increase property taxes - and ask themselves, do they really need it? I mean, this is after they have spent money on laptop computers and field turf to replace grass fields that they had installed only 5-6 years previously. In fact, they haven't even finished the track at Kellogg after a year, the roof at Kellogg went over budget, do we ever hear about how they waste taxpayer money?

  10. To the Anonymous Poster at June 6, 2009 7:46 PM:

    There is a lot in your post and not all of it is accurate. I’d like to address your points individually.

    “did you know that museum owns the building?” Did you know that the school district has an option to purchase the building for $10. The district needs to explore all possible alternatives before exercising that option, but the option exists. It seems ideal for all parties the museum to move the building. Is the museum considering that option?

    “I certainly hope that people remember the teacher strike, teacher & staff layoffs this year, the school closure debacle…” Aside from the strike, many parents feel like the district handled these other painful circumstances in an okay manner. Why do you feel like the closures were a debacle? The school closures were difficult for all. However, the district is now more financially sound.

    “is anyone aware that the school district is trying to lay off more teachers and staff than they need to based upon the State budget cuts in Olympia?” This year’s layoffs were incredibly difficult. The Shoreline School District (as most others in WA state) had to make difficult decisions when the state funding was slashed. The slash in funding required the school district to reorganize the entire way that they deliver services. This was actually a sound practice. Laying off x number of teachers because that’s how the budge fell makes no sense. Looking at the budget and then figuring out hwo to allocate resources was the right way to go. They process was painful for everyone involved. Did you have better plan?

    “The Shoreline City Council allowed school district advocates over 45 minutes to press their case for taller high school buildings in general public comments…” If you have a problem with how the Council handles affairs, that doesn’t really reflect on the district, does it? Isn’t it the SOP for a petitioner to present their case?

    “There is little transparency and accountability in how the Shoreline Public School District conducts business.” I disagree with this strongly. Every request I have made for records have been met and every time I have had a grievance, I have been given a chance to speak.

    Can you name one instance where the school district has not followed the law, the museum lease agreement, or their own policies in the Shorewood Design Process?

    It sounds like you are calling on the people of Shoreline to not fund the school levy unless the museum is allowed to keep the building on school grounds. Is that correct? Do you really feel like that is what is best for Shoreline?

  11. Shoreline citizens are not required to fund the legal and financial mistakes of Shoreline Public School District. The school district now has established a record of years of financial misfeasance, why should the taxpayers continue to fund it?

    You did not address the existing cost overages of the existing bond levies, why should we not expect the new construction of the high schools to be the same? The school district has not demonstrated any ability to responsibily manage its budget over a period of years, its time for the taxpayers of Shoreline to send a message to the school district.

  12. "The school district has now established a record of years of financial misfeasance... The school district has not demonstrated any ability to responsibly manage its budget..."

    Can you back these statements up? I do not believe them to be currently true. There were serious problems, but the district has worked hard to correct them, sometimes with painful solutions, and the state has agreed that the district is acting in a financially responsible manner.

    Do you really think the kids at Shorewood are being well served in their current building? Do you really think that they don't deserve the best possible facility.

    If people don't like Mrs. Walker, put pressure on the school board. If people don't like the school board, vote them out. But don't punish the kids of Shoreline.

    You are right. the people of Shoreline are not required to fund a new building for the high school. My hope is that the concered citizenry would agree that the current facility is not acceptable and that we should build the best possible building we can for the future.

  13. The school district has not responsibly spent the money on the laptop program - they took back the laptops early because of the warranty program. Students are required to turn in their homework on their laptops, but if they have no laptops, how are they supposed to turn in their homework. Tell me how that is furthering the students' education? I also spent a great deal of time reading about how these laptops were stolen in the Enterprise in the police reports.

    I did tell you how the school has misspent previous bond monies - Kellogg was so far behind and over budget that they were still working on the roof and the new field & track over the Labor Day weekend last weekend to get ready for classes, paying the contractor overtime to get the facility ready. Is that a responsible construction program? I've asked you this question twice and you have chosen not to answer this question.

    The Kellogg track is still not done - it does not have the top coat. The contractor will have to remobilize all the equipment to apply it. That will add to the final cost. Are you even aware of this problem?

    New school construction is even more costly and complicated and the school district has not demonstrated that it can manage something as simple as putting a new roof on an existing building without going over budget and staying on schedule.

    The school district could not even get the Kellogg field done on schedule. This is the same track & field it had just finished reconstructing eight years before at great taxpayer expense.

    The school district has not reported to the public any financial figures of the results of their bond project. The City puts on their website all cost figures for their projects, you don't have to make a public records request to find out. The City has its problems, but you can find the city council minutes and video online, the same can't be said of the school board.

    Taxpayers are tired of funding poorly managed and conceived projects. And I am tired of parents trying to use children to guilt trip people into funding more projects. You have provided no evidence to me that the current facility is not acceptable, you have chosen to attack the city council, attack the museum, attack anyone who doesn't agree with you, not address the issue, and therefore I will continue to not support your position.

    In this severe economic downturn it is absolute madness for the school district and its supporters to demand new facilities supported by new taxes, if they can't see the folly of their ways...

  14. Holy cow. I think this statement is directed at me:

    “You have chosen to attack the city council, attack the museum, attack anyone who doesn’t agree with you…”

    I have re-read all my posts and all those of other posters on this thread and I don’t see a single attack. What on earth are you referring to?

  15. "you can find the city council minutes and video online, the same can't be said of the school board."

    Aren’t School board meeting minutes are published online here:

    None of the board meetings that I have attended have been videotaped.

  16. As usual, follow up postings have not addressed key issues regarding financial misfeasance regarding mispent funds regarding:

    Kellogg roof replacement
    laptop program
    Kellogg field

    And you believe the school district deserves more funds for a more expensive and complex construction program?

  17. Follow up postings have also not addressed the alleged "attacks". Are you going to? Because I am uncomfortable continuing any further discussion until I understand what was meant.

  18. Just curious...

    Can anyone point me to anything to substantiate the discussion on Kellog. I'm unaware of it and couldn't find anything from the newspapers.


  19. Asking questions and demanding answers are not attacks and if you chose to perceive anybody who asks questions of you when asking for them for money, then you are certain to be repeatedly disappointed.

    As far as Kellogg, the so-called newspaper that published in Shoreline has not reported it, the Seattle Times cares little about Shoreline, so you will not find it published. And it is difficult to track the actual costs that accumulate each change order, but each month the school district board was asked to approve a change order for at least $10,000 without any financial statement provided that showed a running total for each project that showed how much was overbudget. It would be necessary to get a copy of the original budget (not otherwise available.

    I have a question for the person who feels they are being "attacked" because they can't or won't answer questions - have you tried to read the general and non-specific financial documents the school district has posted on their website? To accurately analyze their financials, you need to make a public records request of the capital improvement budget they started with, print all the meeting minutes to track the amounts of each change order, set a spreadsheet, and then total the cumulative changes. The city council prepares staff reports with detailed background material attached to each agenda for download in a packet. You can search the city website for a great deal of background information related to the staff reports.

    But for the aggrieved party, have you looked at the proposed tax increase and what projects are included? Have you actually sat down and read all the materials - or is asking questions of what steps you have taken to inform yourself as a citizen an attack?

  20. Errr, I didn't think I was being attacked. I was told that I had "chosen to attack the city council, attack the museum, attack anyone who doesn’t agree with you…” and all I wanted was ONE example of where I had attacked anyone. If you provide it, I would apperciate it.

  21. Latest results of the laptop poll are published to the school district website. Parents (overall) seem relatively happy with the program and the insurance situation for stolen laptops. Does anyone have any information or links that show otherwise?

  22. The museum is a great resource for the Shoreline Community. There are wonderful online pictures of the area and more housed at the museum. As a librarian I have often recommended people visit the museum. The staff has always been most helpful. The building and site are perfect for a historical museum.
    D. Brown