Letter Sent to Olympia School District Board Members

4 SEP 2013

Dear Olympia School District Board Members,

After sitting through the 26 AUG 2013 meeting, I understand how thoroughly the Board considers safety in all aspects of district operations. That is why I was disappointed to see that the Superintendent did not come more prepared to discuss the low-barrier shelter issue in his ‘hot button issues’ segment, despite alerting him to ‘The People’s House’ via email two weeks prior. I was also disappointed to hear from neighbors that the Superintendent remarked that he preferred to ‘stay out of city politics’ when asked about his position on the shelter during a recent walk through the neighborhood.

I am certainly not writing to complain about our Superintendent. I understand that he has been busy managing the Madison situation as well as other beginning-of-the-school-year matters. I also trust that he has been trying to educate himself on the ramifications of this issue. I can also empathize with wanting to stay out of municipal politics; this is sure to become the only contentious political issue in an otherwise lackluster election cycle. However, this is not a matter of politics; this is a serious matter of student safety.

The fact that the City Council did not consider school proximity as a criteria in choosing the location of this risky shelter, nor did they consider the Olympia School District a stakeholder worthy of communication with regard to this shelter, is of great concern.

While the safety concerns of finish-work construction-noise at Madison and the menace of after-hours Ultimate Frisbee players at Ingersoll gave me a bit of a chuckle at the last meeting, there needs to be some frank straight-talk with the City about placing a high concentration of sex-offenders, felons, the mentally ill, and those with hardcore drug addictions in such close proximity to several schools. I have seen Avanti students dispersing in the direction of the proposed shelter after classes. The tell-tale signs of sex traffic, drug paraphernalia (including a proliferation of uncapped, used needles), alcohol abuse, and vandalism are already present in Eastside parks. The City is also in denial about the attraction of dangerous individuals and behaviors to our community by the presence of a low-barrier shelter.

Despite a month of grassroots organization and opposition by Eastside neighbors and parents, the Eastside and 10th Ave site is still the preferred location for this facility – whose planning is a collaboration between Interfaith Works and the City of Olympia. Interfaith Works hoped to acquire a conditional use permit as soon as possible, and had initially hoped to open by November 1st, without prior outreach to neighbors and school officials.

Common sense is not common amongst our civic leaders in this matter. Will you please stand up for social justice and speak out for the well-being of kids? If all of us stay silent on this issue it will surely guarantee a stressful environment and security risks for our children, many of whom in this neighborhood are low-income and have enough pressures to deal with already. I would be happy to meet with any Board members to further discuss this matter.

For more information, please visit:
Facebook: concernedeastsideneighbors
Web: https://concernedeastsideneighbors.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your consideration and best wishes for a fun and productive school year.

Steven Welliever, Madison Parent

On Behalf of Concerned Eastside Neighbors (200+ neighbors and growing)

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