Local labor groups, educators and others to stage rally at Shoreline school on Saturday
May 19, 2017
(SHORELINE, WA.) -- The Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) has encouraged all union members and community supporters to a Save Fircrest Rally and Picket on Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Fircrest School located at 15230 15th Ave. NE in Shoreline.
Flyer for the Save Fircrest School rally & picket event on Saturday. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The WFSE is the largest union of public employees in Washington state.
In an email to members early Thursday evening union offcials said, " As state lawmakers continue to negotiate (or not negotiate) over a state budget during the overtime special legislative session, one idea that keeps coming up is to shut down Fircrest School, a residential habilitation center for people with developmental disabilities."
The Fircrest Schools is a full-service, therapeutic facility staffed by WFSE members who serve a diverse population of more than 200 residents with developmental intellectual disabilities, "People that it would be much more difficult and costly — and less effective — to serve in the community at large," says the union.
Based in a campus setting, the school features shared homes within a skilled nursing facility and an intermediate care facility.
Centralized medical, therapeutic and recreational services are provided in both programs for long-term residents as well as for people who need short-term, respite care or crisis intervention.
Each resident’s care is individualized as determined by an interdisciplinary team which includes the person’s guardian or parent.
The WFSE says the Fircrest nursing home program is the only federally certified skilled nursing facility in Western Washington licensed for the long-term care of people with developmental, intellectual disabilities.
However, says the union, the Fircrest School also happens to sit on 86 wooded acres that are considered a "very valuable piece of property," much of it currently undeveloped.
"That has Sen. Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), a commercial real estate broker serving as a one-year placeholder in the Senate, pushing for its closure," says the union.
“When closed, the idea is to lease or sell the land and make sure the money (goes to) make enhancements in the DD (developmentally disabled) community,” Rossi told KING-TV.
He sponsored legislation to close Fircrest by the year 2022 and the Senate Republican budget calls for beginning its closure.
In the short term, the closure process would cost the state $5 million to $7.5 million per year from 2017 to 2021 and after that, it would save the state between $2.5 million to $5 million a year, money that Rossi says would be dedicated to community services for the developmentally disabled.
However the big caveat here is this: that would actually be up to future legislators to decide and the union claims that such “dedicated funds” are routinely tapped by budget writers for other purposes.
For example, says the WFSE, for many years Model Toxic Control Act funding for toxic site cleanups has been spent for unrelated purposes.
The parents and guardians of Fircrest School residents are joining the WFSE and Fircrest staff in opposing the proposed closure.
Fircrest School residents' stories are shared in the video below by their parents and guardians.