My name is Roman Wood, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I am currently living in Los
Angeles, CA. Majority of my very large family still lives in Seattle and attend or have their kids
attending Seattle Public Schools. Apart from being born and raised in the city, part of my family
is Native American, so in that sense also we all have a very strong attachment to the Northwest
and especially the city of Seattle because of its roots. It’s our city and we love it.
Recently I heard of the proposal to upgrade and repair the schools in 5 districts. This sounded
like a great idea, but there are some issues.
I would like to thank my good friend Andrew Morrison for bringing these things more into the
light for the public. Andrew Morrison produced some of the most amazing Native American
artwork on Wilson-Pacific School. The paintings represent the strong Native American roots of
Seattle, they represent culture, family, friendship, pain, gain and the ongoing fight to preserve
these things. His paintings represent the faces of Seattle’s roots, I hope understand this.
In these proposals, there will be some serious construction happening. Schools will be torn
down, artwork that represents the heart of a community will be demolished and when this
happens a debt of 695 Million dollars will linger over the people living in these districts.
$695,000,000. Did you say SIX HUNDRED AND NINTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS!? Are you
guys serious? Naturally the first question that comes to my mind is who are the business people
and construction companies giving this estimate? Obviously somebody is just trying to get
paid…and some! They are not really thinking about the rest of those who will be paying for
these massive renovations and new construction. What about the cost after? Last I checked
the U.S. was in recession right? Last I checked folks were out of jobs. Last I checked school
bus systems were bring downsized and metro cost have gone up, leaving 3,600 kids to have to
figure out how to get to school. Last I checked people are financially struggling all over. Last I
checked Seattle was #2 on the list of most indebted cities. But somehow somewhere 695 Million
dollars is doable according to a select few. Ridiculous.
I am not against renovations, upgrades and expansions. Let’s do it when it’s needed. But what
you guys are suggesting is out of control. Let me give you a perfect analogy of what your
doing. Imagine a man having a hard time with his weight. He needs to loose 150 pounds. He
is having heart problems and other major health issues. Only issue is he has a horrible diet.
So the community and other good minded folks surround him in love and tell him “you can do
it, were gonna help you, were gonna work out, eat right and drop this weight.” To the man it’s
his worst nightmare but he knows he needs to do it. Right before he is about to begin, another
man shows up in a suit, sharp and dapper. Behind him are a hand full of influential people,
wealthy, educated and hungry to go drilling for oil. The man in the suit says to the overweight
man, “you don’t need to work it off, I have a method that can remove the fat from you overnight
through surgery and you will be totally fine afterwards, you don’t need to sweat it at all.” Now
at this point opinions are clashing, its either workout hard and eat right with the community to
support the change or go through this other guys surgery for a heavy price. It’s appears to be a
little to expensive but the business guy has a very elaborate presentation and a library of tricky
arguments why this is really the only way. The overweight man now stands at the crossroad
and needs to make a decision. What the business man doesn’t say so much is that sure you
will be thinner and lighter, but you heart is still weak, you still have toxins throughout your body,
you don’t have a real sense of value of your body which got you in this unhealthy state from the
beginning. So you could look semi good, but will defiantly suffer more than you could imagine
after in the short and long term.
This overweight guy who needs help is Seattle. The community and good minded people are
those living in the district and well concerned about their family and communities. The business
man and his supportive posse are those who are suggesting a 695 Million dollar overhaul on
all of these schools. To those who secretly have dollar signs in your hearts, hear me out. Your
not helping Seattle kids, your leaving a debt that only will make life harder for those who are
already trying to make it to school and families just trying to make ends meet. They don’t need
a mega school to make things better all around. We need good education, good teachers, good
after school programs, and people to help install a since of self value into Seattle kids. Let the
community come together and talk about this and let them make the decision on what is done.
If you want to make a change, then do it. Work with the community, Work with what you have,
improve it, don’t destroy it. There are more pocket friendly ways of going about this. Look at
Detroit! People are coming together, young entrepreneurs are moving in and restoring these old
buildings and running amazing startup companies out of them. They are doing it here in LA as
well! It’s cheaper, the community gets involved, they feel a sense of ownership and this creates
a better environment for kids in these schools. A mega school does not reflect a community, it
reflects a massive corporate style institution.
On those walls lay murals of very powerful men in the history of Seattle. Chief Seattle is one
of them! If you destroy these murals, you destroy the community, you destroy the heart of a
Seattle community. I hope you realize you are striking a very deep and sensitive root. Don’t
destroy it, rebuild it, revive it! Look at the walls of the old city of Jerusalem! 2000 years old and
you have never witness such vibrant community life within those old walls unless you have see
them! If they can do it, so can the Seattle Public School district. I hope you will consider the
community first and value it and it’s welfare just as each one of you individually values their own
home and family.