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Author: Communications

Whittier’s Black Lives Matter: Week of Action – Jan 31 – Feb 4, 2022

This year’s Black Lives Matter: Week of Action will include in-school activities, discussions, and books focused on the these themes:

Monday 1/31 – restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement 

Additional Resources

Tuesday 2/1 – Diversity and globalism 

Additional Resources

Wednesday 2/2 – Trans-affirming, queer affirming, collective value 

Additional Resources

Thursday 2/3 – Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages 

Additional Resources

Friday 2/4 – Centering Black Women and Femmes, Unapologetically Black

Additional Resources

To learn more about how you can continue this conversation and action at home, here are some great resources for Whittier families:

PTA Board Meeting Minutes – December 14, 2021

Whittier PTA Board Meeting

December 14, 2021

7:00 pm via ZOOM

Board Members Kristen Ramer Liang Megan Wildenradt Sara Lukas Kellie Pecoraro Leah Lansberry Austin Renee Hartnett Kate Scher Brad Nelson Stacy RoseGuests/Community Members Damian Mayo Cindy Watters Sandra Klay Anjean Vanden Bosch JoLynn Berge, SPS Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance Becky Asencio, SPS Capital Projects Carlos Del Valle, SPS Executive Director of Technology Jake Milstein, volunteer, Schools First 

Meeting Called to Order, Land Acknowledgement without Quorum 7:02

Presidents Update/Housekeeping: 

Voting on the following issues  was delayed due to not having quorum:

Guest Presentations:

Our first speaker was JoLynn Berge, SPS Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance. She taught us about school funding and the operation levy. She gave us a rundown on how schools are funded in Seattle, and how the levies contribute. This is SPS’s 2nd largest revenue stream after the state. This year the EP&O is up for renewal, and this levy bridges the gap between what the state provides and the district needs. Some things it covers includes: children nutrition, special education services, mental health counselors, athletics, music, nurses, etc. The levy would generate $646.8 million over 3 years. State law dictates how much they can collect from tax payers, and it’s always lower than what tax payers are willing to pay. 

Next we heard from Becky Asencio, SPS capital projects, who covered the upcoming BTA levy, which will be a replacement for the previous version. This is for large projects like new buildings, technology funding, major maintenance, small renovations, improvement projects for the buildings, etc. She told us about how the project lists are created. Consultants come to every school building to assess where the greatest need is, in addition to guidance from the board. This levy includes the Memorial Stadium replacement where earthquake safety repairs are necessary for the grandstands, along with some basic planned maintenance. Some other examples of what is covered are: playground repairs and replacements, asphalt and stormwater repairs, replacing old windows and doors, seismic safety improvements, fire security, plumbing, electrical, HVAC lighting, clean energy, secure entries, ADA accessibility, gender neutral restrooms, etc.

Then we heard from Carlos Del Valle, Executive Director of the Department of Technology Services. He shared with us that 85% of technology funds come from the levies. The BTA levy aligns with board guidance in three major areas: student learning and support, district systems and data, infrastructure and security, and the staff to support all of this. There’s also a significant increase in tech costs in the last year due to becoming a 1:1 device district. These devices also need to be managed and supported, including cyber security, routers, etc etc. Lastly, the funds also go towards the digital equity program.

We came back to Becky Asencio to talk about academics and athletics funding. We have current needs for special education modifications, turf field replacements, arts and science equipment, and are looking to supplement $783 million over 6years, which is a similar process to other levies in terms of deciding how to prioritize projects. 

Lastly we heard from Jake Milstein, a volunteer for the nonprofit organization School’s First. He let us know that SPS employees can’t tell you how to vote, but School’s First can! They are asking that our PTA endorses the levy publicly, and encourage donations to Schools First to help raise awareness. They are hoping for $1 a student. 

Principal & Staff Updates

General Updates from Principal Watters: 85% of kids have received their first shot. The plan is for 80% of kids to come back in Jan. fully vaccinated. Looking to move more of lunch inside because the kids are really starting to get cold. 

Upcoming in Jan: We’re hoping to see more volunteers, but planning to still be very conservcative. Parents won’t be in classrooms regularly, but perhaps some one-offs.  Massive monkees, Salmon program, both are still able to come. We’ll lean into public health and SPS guidance. We’ve been able to hire an operations person to help with some of the roles we’ve been missing with no parent volunteers. Mr Mo, Kinder teacher will not be coming back, so looking for a replacement. Parents asked about security after the recent shelter in place orders at other schools. We are one of the only schools with a buzzer at the door. The campus will remain closed forever even after pandemic. Gates are locked during school hours and we do safety drills with kids. Whittier is lucky to be one of the few schools with a totally closed campus.

Special Education Presentation: Principal Watters gave us a presentation on the Special Education services at Whittier, so we can all be more familiar with what our school offers. All students have access to all types of support. We have a continuum of services, depending on students’ needs. We’re going to meet kids where they are at and support them as they need. We have a lot of diversity in our learners, and they all need some support at some point. 

Spring Fling Check-In:

Sandra Klay, our Spring Fling chair, led a discussion about the possibility of making this year’s Spring Fling a block party style event. The goal is to make it welcoming and accessible for all, and to just have the community feeling we’ve been missing.

Helping Hands Update: 

We raised $4200 for community and 220 pairs of socks!

Meeting Adjourned 8:47

PTA Board Meeting Minutes – November 9, 2021

Whittier PTA Board Meeting

November 9, 2021

7:00 pm via ZOOM

Board Members Tina Lilley Kellie Pecoraro Megan Wildenradt Sara Lukas Kathleen Donahoe Tricia Schalekamp Kristen Ramer Liang Amy Bryan Leah Lansberry-Austin Renee Hartnett Kate Scher Courtney Sievers Kate MathewsCommunity Members Representative Noel Frame Representative Liz Berry Cindy Watters An-Lon Chen Katherine Abraham Susan Hernandez Will Kruse Kristin Wiggins

Meeting Called to Order / Land Acknowledgment at 7:03pm

Special guests: Representatives Liz Berry and Noel Frame

Megan Wildenradt introduced our two guest speakers, Representatives Liz Berry and Noel Frame, both mothers and live in our community. They did a Q&A for us:

Q: How can we best support the lack of funding that goes into the public school system? The lack of funding for staff and general funding, buildings, supplies, etc? How can we best advocate?

A: Rep Frame: this is why I got involved in politics. We have a deeply problematic tax structure, perhaps the worst in the nation. Some steps have been taken recently, but we have a long way to go. Property tax is the funding source, and it’s a tapped out source. We need to reform our tax  code. We’re a medium tax state, but most of it falls on middle and low income residents. A wealth tax is needed. Stocks and bonds pay 0% tax. 

Berry: Advocate for tax reform! Tell elected leaders that our schools are not fully funded. Tell your stories. 

Frame: “Fully” funded education is based on a 2009 definition. We need a new definition, and then to figure out a new price tag. 

Q: How is funding in other parts of the state?

A: Frame: There’s sometimes more funding for special education nurses, librarians, etc, it’s more specific outside of the Seattle area.

Berry: WSPTA asked the same question on Friday, and they suggested getting together with school boards, teachers guild, etc, to come up with a number to take to the reps. We need to have a united front. 

Q: What can you tell us about funding for dyslexia?

A: Berry: In 2018 a bill was passed that defined it as a specific learning disability, and right now the policy states that kids diagnosed with dyslexia needed to be supported. 

Q: But what funding is provided to train people to do that!? 

A: Principal Watters: It’s mostly an unfunded mandate. Most funding went to testing for diagnosis, basically none for support. 

Q: Not so much a question, but rather a plea for the equity issue. We need the literacy specialist, but we don’t want to be stuck in the inequitable position to fund it. 

A: Berry: I’m learning this too as a kinder parent! Librarian? Nurse? We need these things. We hear you, it’s a mess! Covid testing also should be funded! It’s a horrible cycle. Our schools have perpetuated the very inequities we advocate against through this private funding bind.

Presidents Update/Housekeeping

  • Approval of October 2021 Meeting Minutes: Kristen Liang-Ramer motioned to approve, Amy Bryan seconded, and the motion passed.
  • Reflections: We had 4 qualifying entries, hoping to put them in the halls and on the PTA website.
  • Spring Fling: 5/21/2022 @ Leif Erikson Hall, Ballard
  • Outreach update: We discussed the food & toiletry drive, ILS sock drive, Helping Hands. Principal Watters suggested doing the food drive in March, because there’s a surplus during the holidays anway. Sock drive now, food drive later. A lot of the discussion surrounded the need to really include the children in the drives. 
  • Nominating committee is getting put together, we need 4-6 people. 

Principal & Staff Updates

(From Principal Watters:) Thanks for inviting the reps. We are working with a community partner to host a vaccine clinic at Whitttier, still waiting on info about how many doses we’ll have access to. Hoping to get volunteers back in the building in the new year. It will be joyful to have parents around! Nov 20 and Dec 11, are tentatively the dates for the clinic. Parents and students are invited to send their teachers gratitude letters, spread the word! Regarding the Friday absence… the  district didn’t have enough subs, and this was actually a problem in schools across the nation.  At least we decided before Friday morning.  Another reason we need more funding! Working in education is hard, and teachers are a bit burnt out. In good news, SPED is moving people around and we are getting another IA. Lastly, vaccination rates will determine more flexibility for parents/volunteers on campus.

Annual Give Update 

  • We are at 67% participation!

Treasurer’s Report

Monthly Staff Appreciation

  • Staff lunch is hosted by the 4th grade families this month. In December it will be cookies/goodies from 3rd grade families.


  • Total 114 members, that’s an increase of 8 from last month
  • 106 Regular PTA, 8 Staff members


We discussed changing the date of the next wild chat.  If you have any content ideas, send them in!

9:01 Meeting Adjourned

Winter Giving Drives 2021

Please join us in donating gift cards and socks to help provide a boost to members in our community this winter.

What: Whittier PTA Helping Hands Gift Card Drive and Illumination Learning Studios Sock Drive

When: Monday, November 29 – Friday, December 10

Where: At school, drop boxes in our community, or online (see “how” below for more)

Why: Donate gift cards (e.g., Fred Meyer, Target, etc.) to help provide winter gear, groceries, holiday gifts, home essentials and more to families in our community; and donate new men’s L and XL socks that will be distributed by FamilyWorks.

How: Return one of three ways…

1. Drop boxes available 8am – 5pm everyday.

  • 645 NW 83rd St
  • 7530 13th Ave NW

2. Return to the front entrance of the school.

  • Place gift cards (in an envelope labeled “Whittier PTA – Helping Hands”) in the mail slot at the front entrance of the school.
  • Place socks in the labeled bin near the front door.

3. Gift Cards ONLY: Donate to a volunteer’s PayPal account (5th grade parent Amy Bryan, @AmyBBryan) to support the purchase of gift cards and add the message “Whittier PTA – Helping Hands”. Donations will be acknowledged via email upon receipt, and a follow-up email will be sent to all donors when gift cards are purchased.

Whittier Book Fair: Nov 19 – Dec 10

Whittier Book Fair: Nov 19 – Dec 10

Whittier Families!

Again this year we are partnering with our local bookstore, Phinney Books, for the Whittier Bookfair! The virtual and in-store fair will run from November 19 to December 10, and the Whittier library will receive a credit of 25% of all sales to spend on books for the school library. features some popular categories that you can browse, but you can also search for most books in publication by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of the page.

If you prefer to shop in person at Phinney Books, you can let the person at the checkout counter know that you are with Whittier Elementary and we will get a percentage of the sale.

Looking for a gift idea for your classroom teacher? Phinney Books has you covered with gift cards (only available in the store, not online). Feel free to share the website with your family members as everything is shipped directly to a home address.

If you have any questions, please send Ms. Newcomb ( an email. Thank you so much for supporting the Whittier Library!