The Seattle School Board is both out of touch with the environment and with history. They are pursing a pig headed approach to renovating Ingraham High School in North Seattle, refusing to consider any alternative designs. Their one and only design clear cuts half of a grove of 75 year old 100 foot tall evergreen trees.
The disconnect here is that besides being contrary to the current goals of Seattle to preserve existing trees and to plant new trees to increase our tree cover in Seattle, they are doing this clearcut at a school named to honor a renowned outdoorsman and mountaineer. The school was named after Major Edward Sturgis Ingraham – the first Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.
As noted on Wikipedia, Ingraham was “a noted mountaineer who climbed Mt Rainier 13 times and a leader in the effort to establish Mt Rainier National Park.” The Ingraham Glacier on Mt Rainier is named after him. He also was involved in some of the first ascents of Mt Baker in the 1890’s. He was appointed to be a member of the first State Board of Education.
So much for having a school named after you by the Seattle School District. Its sort of like the US Navy naming a battleship the USS Gandhi. Ingraham is probably rolling over in his grave, seeing the lack of respect for what he stood for regarding the environment and the horrible lesson this teaches our children entrusted to the Seattle School District.
The voters approved the funds for the renovation of the school but the Seattle School District never told the voters that their intent was to cut down some 66 Douglas fir, western red cedar and madrone trees on the west side of the school to build the addition. If they had told the voters, the funds never would have been approved.
And all during the planing for the addition through the rendering of architectural drawings, neighbors and other members of the community were kept in the dark as to the Seattle School District’s true intent. Internal minutes of a Seattle School Design Committee were first released some 6 months after the meetings started and after the first opportunity for the public to comment on the Environmental Checklist for the project.
The committee noted last year that some neighbors may object to the trees being cut. But at their second meeting they already stated that building where the trees were was their preferred choice. This was despite the fact that a large open area exists on the north side of the school where they can build the addition without cutting down any trees. And they had already in their long range master plan picked this site for a future classroom addition.
The Seattle School District only seriously considered the site where the trees were. A request for release of public information on any alternative designs and associated budget figures produced only a brief one page line sketch of a building on the north side. No alternative budgets supposibly exist.
The Seattle School Board has taken a blind eye to the whole thing – refusing to look at building on the north side and saving the trees. They have issued a notice of determination on non-significance for their SEPA environmental checklist. This is so they do not have to do an environmental impact statement.
The problem is that the Seattle School District is the one issuing the so called notice of determination of non-significance. There is not a review by a separate agency or entity which seems like a significant conflict of interest. It’s like asking a coal burning energy plant to determine whether its emmisions are impacting the environment and taking their word for it without any independent agency or entity reviewing the information and making the determination.
Contact the Seattle School Board and urge them to save the trees by building the addition on the north side of the school. No money has been committed or spent for construction yet. The Seattle School District is acting like it is still 1959 and they can build whatever they want where ever they want without taking into account the concerns and goals of the larger community they live in. They are being bad neighbors when they don’t need to be bad neighbors. They need to hear that the public opposes their clearcutting plan for Ingraham High School.
You can email the Seattle School Board members at – Sherry Carr, District II; Harium Martin-Morris, District III; Peter Maier, District I; Cheryl Chow, District VII Steve Sundquist, District VI; Mary Bass, District V; Michael DeBell, District IV
Send them all your email since 4 of the 7 board members need to vote to build the addition on the north side of the school. Also send a copy of your e mail to the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools – Maria L Goodloe-Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org .