Wallingford is fortunate to have some excellent public elementary schools, although they are unfortunately fractured in their attendance areas. Just last year the decision was made to make both John Stanford and McDonald school “option schools”, meaning nobody in Wallingford is guaranteed entrance. There’s a complicated lottery system that assigns a certain number of slots to students in the walk zone and then to other buckets as well, so nobody is guaranteed a slot.

The primary reason Sherry Carr (our school board representative) gave for Wallingford having two option schools and no neighborhood schools in the neighborhood is that JSIS and McDonald were becoming too desirable, so managing their capacity with boundary changes was getting too difficult and contentious. The fact that they are both language immersion means that parents needed to be able to not choose one of those schools, so designating them option schools made sense. It still seems stupid to me to bus kids across the street from one of those schools to a different school several miles away if they don’t want that, but that’s how things ended up.

On top of the complication of choosing language immersion or not, you also can choose a K-8 option school for your child or not. If you pick Salmon Bay you’ll get bus service, if you pick Hazel Wolf you’ll need to get them north of Green Lake now and then on up to Northgate when their new building is finished in 2 years. The upshot is that you have a lot of schools to look at, and you better have your backup schools figured out- not just your 1st choice, but your 2nd and 3rd as well. Here’s a map of where everything is at:

Elementary School Map

The reference zone for Green Lake is shown, if you’re to the left of that then you are designated B.F. Day.


I’m skipping Licton Springs in this write up as we toured it and it is super teeny tiny and moving north of Green Lake in 2 years. I’m also skipping APP, as you need to test into that. Here’s the teacher survey results, with interesting bits in bold. The numbers are about 1 year old (from last year’s survey, but just recently published):

Teacher Survey Results B.F. Day Green Lake McDonald John Stanford Hazel Wolf  K-8 Salmon Bay K-8
Healthy community- respect, appreciation, enjoyment of work 86 94 98 98 93 88
School Safety- bullying is dealt with 77 91 94 90 91 87
Learning environment- student behavior 52 89 97 89 89 93
School Professional Community- teacher collaboration 62 88 89 88 77 49
Helping kids that struggle (MTSS) 73 76 67 75 74 48
Teacher Survey Average 70 88 89 88 85 73


My reading of the numbers is that B.F. Day has some behavior issues to deal with, and Salmon Bay has suffered from weak administration (they have weak collaboration and special education numbers). Green Lake looks great, and they have a largely new building as of this year. John Stanford and McDonald are solid, and if you want a K-8 and can schlep your kid to school and back, Hazel Wolf is a solid choice (they move to a new building in Northgate the year after next).

Here are the numbers from 2 years ago regarding demographics and school performance. McDonald was still a new school then, so take the numbers with a grain of salt there:

Demographics B.F. Day Green Lake McDonald John Stanford Hazel Wolf K-8 Salmon Bay K-8
Students in grades K-5 336 259 277 451 388 320
Average class size 24 25 24 25 24 27
Demographics- White 51% 73% 69% 60% 55% 78%
Demographics- Free / Reduced Lunch 38% 19% 11% 6% 36% 11%
Exceeding typical growth- Reading 55% 49% 32% 48% 47% 57%
Exceeding typical growth- Math 68% 57% 55% 60% 53% 47%


In terms of demographics, Hazel Wolf and B.F. Day are where you want to go for diversity, or avoid for non-diversity, or don’t care if you are color blind like Stephen Colbert. I don’t get much more from the numbers than that. Maybe B.F. Day has a great math department?

The choices are overwhelming. It seems like the rest of the city went back to neighborhood schools a few years back, but here in Wallingford school choice still rules the day. Unlike the Middle School write up I did yesterday, I didn’t do elementary school tours and my kids didn’t attend school in this neighborhood (my wife was a teacher at Whittier in Ballard, so that’s where they went). Given that, my write up here is a little shallow. Please help with insights in the comments section!

Open Enrollment for choosing a school in Seattle Public Schools closes on March 6th, and school tours wrapped up last week. My family is choosing a middle school for our daughter. We toured Hamilton, where my son went, Hazel Wolf K-8 (formely Jane Addams), Licton Springs K-8 (formerly Pinehurst), and Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School (private).

Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School had the best presentation- they had all the girls in the school either give tours or get up during the presentation and do show and tell for the range of stuff they do in the school. The public school presentations were joyless in comparison and sounded more like they were pitching to the Gates Foundation instead of to neighbors with 11 year olds.

All the schools offer variations on the trendy STEM / STEAM / E-STEM project based learning scheme. I’ll leave Lake Washington Girls Middle School out of the rest of this article as it’s in Capitol Hill and not part of the open enrollment decision, but the presentation alone helped justify the big private school $$$.

Hamilton remodel being finished up in 2009, the building is spectacular

Hamilton remodel being finished up in 2009, the building is spectacular

In terms of location, Hamilton is smack in the middle of Wallingford and is everybody’s default school. Salmon Bay is the K-8 alternative in our transportation zone so you get bus service, even though it is located in Ballard. Hazel Wolf and Licton springs are in our area for now because their buildings are being renovated, but Hazel Wolf relocates from Green Lake to the Northgate area after next year and Licton Springs relocates from Lincoln to north of Green Lake the year after that. Here’s a link to transportation zones:


Here’s the striking differences in terms of size and makeup of the student body in each school:

Demographics Licton Springs Hazel Wolf Salmon Bay Hamilton
Students in grades 6, 7, 8 66 193 374 974
Average class size 21 24 27 30
Demographics- White 52% 55% 78% 71%
Demographics- Free / Reduced Lunch 53% 36% 11% 11%
Exceeding typical growth- Reading 58% 57% 52% 55%
Exceeding typical growth- Math 70% 63% 45% 61%


And for those that like data, here some interesting numbers from the teacher, parent, and student surveys (if you follow the link, Hazel Wolf is listed as Jane Addams, and Licton Springs is listed as Pinehurst):

2013 to 2014 staff survey results Licton Springs Hazel Wolf Salmon Bay Hamilton
Teachers- Healthy community 97.10% 92.70% 87.90% 85.00%
Teachers- School Safety 88.30% 91.40% 86.50% 74.30%
Teachers- Learning environment 89.20% 89.20% 92.60% 85.60%
Teachers- School Professional Community 81.90% 77.10% 48.90% 53.90%
Teachers- Helping kids that struggle (MTSS) 79.60% 74.00% 48.20% 55.10%
Teacher Survey Average 87.22% 84.88% 72.82% 70.78%
Family- Healthy community 91.40% 86.90% 88.00% 76.70%
Family- School Effectiveness 87.50% 77.30% 64.70% 72.50%
Family- School-Family Leadership Opportunities 71.90% 68.90% 65.50% 48.80%
Family- School-Family Partnerships 82.10% 73.60% 62.40% 64.50%
Family- Welcoming/Culturally Responsive 81.00% 72.10% 71.20% 58.20%
Family Survey Average 82.78% 75.76% 70.36% 64.14%
Students- Healthy community 67.30% 75.90% 69.80%
Students- Belonging and Identity 72.70% 73.90% 75.80%
Students- Learning Environment 45.80% 49.50% 58.50%
Student Survey Average   61.93% 66.43% 68.03%
Net Average 85.00% 80.32% 71.59% 67.46%


Hamilton is huge and offers a great diversity of curriculum, particularly in music and language (Spanish and Japanese). We know it from our son’s experience, and it’s a good place for a kid to be if they are able to manage their time and pursue all the opportunities the school offers. It’s a bad place to be if your child is struggling or might get lost in the shuffle, as the school has undergone a ton of changes in curriculum and administration over the last few years and at this point it’s really just a collection of some great teachers and some bad teachers, not a cohesive operation.

In terms of the K-8 Schools, Hazel Wolf looked best to us. They have a very good and stable administration, diversity, and seem to have great results from their students. While smaller and alternative, Hazel Wolf is still traditional in the sense that they focus on fundamentals and science in particular. All the survey data for their school is also solid.

Salmon Bay was well written up here in Wallyhood a couple years back and focuses on hands on learning. It’s a very desirable school in terms of everyone wanting to be there, but has had administrative turnover and seems to struggle with math and community satisfaction. Licton Springs is just too small for us and doesn’t offer curriculum choices like a foreign language.

Anyhow, that’s our wrap up. Our likely sort given our child is Hazel Wolf, then Salmon Bay, then Hamilton. Anyone else going through the same choices and have something to share?


Wallyhood Hand-Off

Back in January, I announced that after 6 years, I would be taking a break from Wallyhood.

My family and I will be leaving on Monday, March 9th to spend several months living in Europe, and, while the Internet can make distances dwindle, I don’t think it would serve the community well for me to carry on remotely (not to mention the effect on my mental reset).

Fortunately, Eric Fisk, past President of the Wallingford Community Council and long-time Wallingford resident, has volunteered to mind the shop in my absence, so Wallyhood will continue, uninterrupted!

I also heard from a number of people who offered to submit articles on a semi-regular basis, which is fantastic both for Eric, but also for Wallyhood: it’s always been my vision that Wallyhood would be a community conversation, populated with a diverse set of voices from around the neighborhood. Hopefully, this trip and change will be the impetus to move it in that direction.

hive-mind-travel-bannerOf course, inveterate blogger that I am, I (along with my wife, Michelle) will be blogging our trip through Europe. We’ll be sharing both the sites and adventures that we have, but also insights and lessons from the road on traveling with children, “worldschooling” and education outside of the classroom, and how to cope with a dizzying constellation of food sensitivities (gluten, amines, salicylates, to name a few) on the road. I invite you to follow along on at Hive Mind Travels.

You’ll see a few ghost posts from me still to come (already written, pre-scheduled), but for now, I’m handing it over to Eric. He’ll be introducing himself shortly.

See you later!

(Back in January, David Perk announced a Legislative Climate Action Forum. He recently sent in this report of what happened, written up by Arvia Morris)

ForumAudienceThe Legislative Climate Action Forum on Saturday January 31st was engaging and well attended at Keystone Church. Approximately 100 voters learned the details of Governor Inslee’s Carbon Pollution Accountability Act (HB1314, SB5283), the Oil Safety Bill (HB1449, SB5087) and the low carbon fuel standard (executive order). Elected officials present included Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, who has also hosted several constituent meetings on the subject, as well as Brady Walkinshaw from the 43rd District. Gerry Pollet from the 46th district also came to support the event.

During the question and answer period audience members wanted to know more about how the carbon pricing bill will generate income over the decades as carbon pollution decreases and why Washington state is the center of so much additional coal and oil rail traffic. Sightline has published briefing documents which are a great source of detailed information on both these points.

The audience also asked about how the carbon pricing bill (HB1314, SB5283), would impact Eastern Washington compared to Western Washington. The panel pointed out that most of the clean energy jobs this bill and the others will create are to be located in Eastern Washington. Thus, though fuel prices will go up modestly, there will be new opportunities too. The bill also includes funds to support people who are disproportionately impacted by carbon pricing.

During ForumPanelthe training session audience members divided into smaller groups to discuss the best way to weigh in on legislation. The first thing to know is who your reps are. This is easily done by going to the web site http://leg.wa.gov. Rep. Walkinshaw let us know that for him a personal email that includes bill numbers and a specific request has the most impact. Form emails are okay, but personalized ones have more weight. We were also reminded that even if we trust that our reps share our values, it is best to write to them on issues we care about so that we communicate our priorities.

As the training concluded, audience members were encouraged to reach out to friends who live in swing districts and ask them to write both their Republican and Democratic reps so both sides of the aisle know what constituents are thinking. A final way to be effective on an issue is to respond to blog comments with links to well vetted sources of information. Providing good information on issues helps everyone make better decisions.

You can also continue to participate in this conversation by supporting the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. The Alliance is Washington State’s coalition of individuals, organizations, and businesses dedicated to reducing global warming and strengthening our economy.  Please support the Alliance by visiting and sharing our website and liking our facebook page. Other organizations who supported this event include, 350Seattle; Cascadia Climate Action; Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle; 43rd District Environmental Caucus; and Climate Solutions.

Bike Drive Results

Hey, remember how Ed Phippen said BikeWorks was collecting bikes for their program that teaches primarily disadvantaged kids through bike repair. Sounds like they did alright:

IMG_1146 IMG_1149

Hey!  We collected over 50 bikes and bike frames. Plus 6 boxes of parts and accessories. Thanks SO MUCH for your help!

Ed (and my dog Loki)

Piano Lessons, Kid to Kid

Carly writes:

Hi Neighbors. My name is Carly. I’m nearly 11 years old and have been taking playing piano for about 5 years. I have a great teacher at UW and have progressed to level Medium Difficulty 3 (MD 3). I love playing piano because it feels good and learning the language of music will last a lifetime.

I’m comfortable teaching kids 6-9 years old who wants to learn from someone who gets that you are a kid, too. I’m new at this so my rate is only $10 for 30 minutes. I teach the very popular Faber Piano Adventures Method but we can mix in some other interesting pieces as well. Lessons are at my home, near the Wallingford Center, using our a beautiful sounding Grand Piano. These are one-on-one private lessons that can be once or twice a week, as desired. Given my other responsibilities I can only take on 2 students. Parents are welcome to stay and observe.

You can hear me play a piece here:

This is a great idea to see if your child likes music. If interested please contact my dad at chris.nabinger@gmail.com.

Thanks for supporting me and Wallyhood.

:-) Carly.

Diverse Dolls and Books

Megan Lehman wrote to let us know there’s a collection drive for “diverse dolls and books”. It wraps up this week, along with Black History Month:

On a given day there are between 1,300 – 1,500 youth in foster care throughout King County and 9,000 statewide. Many of the kids in foster care are disproportionately youth of color who face unique challenges. Treehouse addresses the essential education and enrichment needs of kids in foster care by helping them succeed in school, fulfilling key material needs, and providing the important childhood experiences every child deserves.

IMG_5395Treehouse serves 7,000 foster youth annually. Of those 7,000 kids, 40% are African-American, 21% are white, 15% are multi-racial, almost 10% are Hispanic or Latino, and 8% are Native American. One of the key services Treehouse provides to foster families is the Wearhouse, a free store where youth and their caregivers can shop for high quality new and like-new clothing, shoes, school supplies, toys, books and other essentials.

The Wearhouse is entirely supported by generous donations from the community. When I visited the Wearhouse recently I was struck by how it felt just like a real store, with thoughtful and attractive displays, except everything in it was free. Thinking of my daughter, I admired the full wall display of new-in-the-box Barbies. But as I walked closer, I noticed that 95% of the Barbies were white-skinned.

Inside the Wearhouse, there is a cozy book nook, with enticing displays organized by age group and category. I saw many of my childhood favorites there, but did you know that only 10% of American children’s books include diverse characters? African American children’s book author and college professor, Rudine Sims Bishop address the importance of diverse books:

“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”

How can you help?

  • During February, plan a trip with your family to pick up an African American doll or diverse book to donate to youth in foster care (get one for yourself too!). Books can be new or gently used. Dolls should be new in the box.
  • Bring the younger siblings to a special storytime, hosted by Treehouse at Mockingbird Books, Feb 27th at 11am (free & all ages)

Where can I find African American dolls and diverse books?

  • DOLLS: Some toy stores don’t carry many African American dolls; it’s a good idea to call the store to see what’s in stock before you go. For Barbies, try Target and Toys R Us. For other kinds of dolls, try Top Ten Toys or Snapdoodles (in Redmond & Kenmore).
  • BOOKS: Find the perfect title through the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign: weneeddiversebooks.org. Mockingbird Books (7220 Woodlawn Ave NE) is partnering with this drive and will have kid-directed book displays.

Learn more at weneeddiversebooks.org and www.treehouseforkids.org

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