Northwest Center KIRO
Northwest Center (shown above) has asked for more time but Cascade says it needs a new building now because their current building, at Wilson-Pacific in Greenwood, contains asbestos, water that is undrinkable, and they have to sweep the grounds for drug needles and human feces on a weekly basis. (KIRO Radio Photo/Colleen O'Brien)

Seattle Superintendent tries to appease parents with special needs kids

A Queen Anne daycare and school, the Northwest Center, was asked to vacate a building they've rented from the Seattle Public School District for 28 years - by June. It's a building they've customized to serve their disabled student population.

The district wants them out to make room for the Cascade Parent Partnership Program, which also serves special-needs children.

Northwest Center has asked for more time but Cascade says it needs a new building now because their current building, at Wilson-Pacific in Greenwood, contains asbestos, water that is undrinkable, and they have to sweep the grounds for drug needles and human feces on a weekly basis.

After receiving pressure from the community and the city Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda called for an emergency meeting at Wilson-Pacific Wednesday evening to make his latest pitch to appease both sides.

According to Cascade's principal, they were promised the north Queen Anne location back in October of 2012.

Then Banda delivered a disappointing solution.

"Cascade would remain here (at Wilson-Pacific) for an additional period of time and that period of time is six months beyond when we were projecting to move you. That would allow another period of time for Northwest to get out and find a suitable place," said Banda.

Banda wants to give Northwest Center more time to find a new building.

It sounds like a win for the daycare but at the expense of the parents and kids in the Cascade program at Wilson-Pacific.

Wilson-Pacific is slated for demolition next February and if Banda's proposal happens, Cascade students will have to continue their schooling in a building that's being demolished at the same time.

Wilson-Pacific is full of asbestos and lead paint.

With that in mind, Cascade parents pounced on Banda.

As he's told parents it's feasible to stay in a school under demolition, one parent asks if a risk assessment from the "hazardous waste" - the asbestos and lead paint - could affect the students and staff at the school during the demolition.

"And if that (assessment) has been done, can we see that report?" asked the woman.

When Banda said that specific report has not been done, another parent jumped in. "So you're proposing something that you have no idea if it is safe for kids?"

Banda said, "It's not that I don't care about Cascade, I'm just trying to be a good neighbor to Northwest Center," and said multiple times that his responsibility first and foremost lies with Cascade.

But he can't delay the demolition of Wilson-Pacific any longer.

"Not only are the needs of this school considered but we can't throw our schedule, our construction schedule way off kilter. If we do that, there's now a domino effect. If we delay the demolition of Wilson-Pacific then it impacts all the other projects going down the way," he said. "We're not just talking about tens of thousands, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. We're talking about probably getting into the millions of dollars."

His proposal Wednesday isn't a done deal. He said he wanted to get feedback from Cascade parents, discuss it with his people and then get back to them.

In the meanwhile Banda said he has offered the old Van Asselt Elementary School on Beacon Hill to Northwest Center as an option for their daycare.

However, Northwest Center told KIRO Radio on Wednesday that nobody from the district had spoken to them about options.


Colleen O'Brien, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Colleen O'Brien anchors The Morning News on KIRO Radio, weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m.
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