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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Letters about the Historic Museum

January 14, 2010

Here are three excellent letters on our Historic Museum and the School Bond Ballot Measure

All three letter have also been sent to Shoreline Area News this week.

Respectively by- St Rep Maralyn Chase, Jan Stewart, and Tracy Tallman

To the Editor: Response to letter on School Bond and Museum

[Editor’s Note: A recent letter asked about State Rep. Maralyn Chase’s stand on the Shoreline School District’s bond issue. Here, Rep. Chase, co-chair of a committee to save the Shoreline Historical Museum, responds.]
To the Editor:

My support for education, for full funding of education, is unquestioned, as is my support for green schools and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leeds program, for the California High Performance School (CHPS) building standards and our own state’s High Performance School Building Program. We know that we need safe, healthy schools. I am on a national USGBC panel advocating for green schools for all 50 states. And, I love museums, am proud to support preservation of historic buildings across the State and appreciate the value they bring to a community. Our state’s citizens value historic preservation and excellent schools. These two priorities have been brought into conflict by a Shoreline School Board decision that can and should be changed. That decision has produced unnecessary conflict between the education community and the historic preservation community.

Bassetti Architects can design a green high school that does not destroy the Shoreline Historical Museum now housed in the historic Ronald School Building and that also meets the needs of the Shoreline School District. The oldest building in Shoreline with such rich history, along with the Museum, can be preserved.

This museum is more than its “collections.” The building itself is the manifestation of our state’s educational history. Few original school buildings are left. The Ronald School Building is one of the best examples of the schools that educated our pioneer-era school children. Its value is as important as a new “green” school.

We must separate the ongoing existence of the Museum from the school levy and bond measures. We need these measures to pass; of equal importance, we need to save the Museum. These are not mutually exclusive.

The School District claims to own the building, but the Museum has title to it. If the building has need of retrofitting, it is the responsibility of the Museum Board, not the Shoreline School Board.

At this moment, just a short time before the voters will receive their ballots, the remedy at hand is for the School Board to remove the Ronald School Building from its plans.

Bassetti Architects included plans for the Ronald School Building because they were told to. They can be told to leave it alone.

To all the fine citizens who are struggling with this issue – this is what democracy is all about. We can have civilized debate about issues without demeaning the participants.

Maralyn Chase
State Representative


To the Editor, Shoreline Area News

Like so many others in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, I believe in building strong communities, and creating and preserving community identity. Building community involves forming trusted relationships and partnerships and living and working together for common purpose. Supporting our schools is very important in this endeavor. I strongly support Shoreline schools and the rebuilding of our two high schools. I have voted for every levy and bond in the past, but I now find myself in conflict over the upcoming school bond measure. The Shoreline School District, by their mishandling of the Historical Museum issue, has betrayed its own supporters who also supporters of the Museum and has put the bond in serious jeopardy.

For over 30 years the School District has partnered with the Museum via long-established and ongoing agreements, all for the benefit of the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park communities as well as for the larger region. Now, the current leadership of the District is taking a different approach.

The District has decided not to honor its legal obligations, deciding suddenly and conveniently after over 20 years that the ground lease and deed are now invalid.

The District has chosen to ignore all of the very compelling legal arguments put forward by the Museum’s attorney, which very effectively refute their own positions on the lease, deed, fair rent and other issues. This will surely lead the community down a path toward litigation.

The District has very effectively deflected public scrutiny. They have been unwilling to have a dialog, opting for a one-way “conversation”, avoiding answering direct questions in public meetings. They have limited communication to putting out written statements (“spin”), or referring to their attorney.

The District is ignoring the unanimous formal resolutions passed by both the City of Shoreline and the City of Lake Forest Park Counsels, which support the Historical Museum remaining in the Ronald School.

The District would rather disfigure the interior of an historic landmark building in order to incorporate it into space usable for the school, rather than recognize that the highest and best use of the historic landmark building is the Museum. Experiencing the building and the museum together is what makes the Museum so great.

Originally, the District purposefully excluded the Museum from any planning of design options. Now, after public outcry, the District has made a disingenuous “offer” to share space with the Museum knowing full well that the proposed limits on space would allow only a small fraction of the Museum’s essential functions, such as storage for collections, preservation, archival research, public access and assembly, not to mention exhibits.

The District is ignoring the 1.5 million in public money invested in the Museum building, the annual budget allocations by the City of Shoreline for operating costs, and the countless donations of time and money by Museum members and other supporters and visitors.

So much for being a good community member.

The District says their need for the Museum building and land is all about creating facilities and space for educating Shorewood students and about getting parity with the larger Shorecrest campus. First, if more space and more acreage is a good measure of obtaining an education, then Shorecrest students are already about 32% better educated than Shorewood students, and it’s doubtful that .4 of an acre will make a lot of difference. Do smaller schools produce less well-educated students? Really? Second, no matter how many times you work the problem, adding .4 of an acre (Museum) to 26 acres (Shorewood), it will never come close to 38 acres (Shorecrest). These arguments by the District would be just plain silliness, if they weren’t so serious about them.

If this was about education, the District would want to keep the Museum. History is still a subject in school, right? No, this is not about education, unless it’s about the District teaching everyone a lesson on who’s in charge here, how to trample all over a beloved community institution for a meager plot of land because you can, how to divide the community, and possibly how to defeat your own purpose in the process.

The real lesson here is for us all to remember who owns the land in Shoreline and that whatever the District giveth…well, you get the point. I wonder what get’s taken out next, the Shoreline Center maybe? The problem is, of course, is that everything the School District owns was paid for with our taxpayer dollars. Is this kind of heavy-handed dealing really what the community wants? I don’t think so; there are so many people in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park who are working hard to build community, not tear it apart.

It’s time for the School District to put an end to this whole debacle by making a commitment, maybe something like this: “We recognize the needs of the whole community, realize that the solution is in a better design that keeps the Museum in the historic building, and acknowledge what a great asset a museum is on any school campus, especially one located in a new town center. “ I may be dreaming, but if this could only happen, we could all vote for the bond just like we wanted to in the first place.

Jan Stewart


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Letter to the Editor

School District invites a ‘no’ vote on bond issue

Editor, ShorelineAreaNews:

As someone who was born and raised in Shoreline, whose father attended the Ronald School, and a Museum board member I feel I must weigh in on the Museum/School District/Bond issue. I am not an attorney and this is my personal opinion.
The School Board began the Shorewood design process without even notifying the Shoreline Historical Museum. Since that time, nearly a year ago, the Museum management has tried to work with the School's management to find a solution to the District's assertion that there wouldn't be enough space on the current Shorewood site to house the Museum in the Ronald School Building and the new Shorewood High School.

The School District has stated that although a prior School Board in 1989 gave a quit-claim deed to the Museum, this deed was invalid due to the fact that proper notification was not made to the State superintendent's office. The reasoning then ran that since the Museum's deed was invalid, the School District owned the building and could evict the Museum at will.
In fact, I personally found a map in the Shoreline School District archives that makes it very clear that the Ronald School was surplused prior to the time notification to the State was necessary. I believe that the 1989 quit-claim deed is valid, that the Museum owns the building, and that the School District has room on the Shorewood site to build the new school and house the Museum in the Ronald School.

The Ronald School is the oldest public building in Shoreline. I believe the building has value as a learning tool. Gutting the building and saving part of the facade to incorporate into a new school would just leave a few bricks. Thousands of school children have gone through the building and been delighted to see the quaint closets, imagine the students in the school rooms, and walk the same stairs that earlier generations walked. All these aspects of the Ronald Building would be lost if it is gutted as the District proposes.

I am very dismayed at having to oppose anything the School District puts up for a vote. I've always trusted them to do what is right, but I don't believe they have been honest with the community or the Museum on this issue, so there seems no alternative but to advocate a "no" vote.

Tracy Tallman

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