Salmon Bay School is rich with traditions and values that have stood the test of time, with roots in alternative education, hands-on learning, an involved parent community, and education opportunities beyond the walls of our classrooms.

School History

Salmon Bay School is a choice/option school in the Seattle Public Schools district. It was created when Cooperative Holistic Elementary (Coho) and New Options Middle School (NOMS) were merged into one K-8 school.

Coho and NOMS were both founded in the early 1990s as part of a wave of alternative public education programs that resulted from decades of activism from Seattle parents and teachers who wanted a broader range of choices and teaching philosophies in their public schools. The hands-on teaching style at Coho was based on Native education approaches (in service of the many Native students and staff at the school), while NOMS focused on project-based learning and an experiential classroom style. Versions of these approaches are still in use at Salmon Bay today.

In 1999, Coho and NOMS were brought together from separate locations in North Seattle to our current campus, the James Monroe building in Ballard, creating an alternative public school serving students from kindergarten through eighth grade. This new school existed for three years under the name Coho/NOMS to honor each school’s history. In the spring of 2002, through a process involving the school community, the school was renamed Salmon Bay as a land acknowledgement rather than naming it after a historical figure, as was the typical practice at the time. Many teachers from Coho and NOMS continued their careers at Salmon Bay until retirement, and a few are still at our school today!

The original Salmon Bay School, 1930s (Courtesy MOHAI)

The name Salmon Bay School goes even further back than 2002. It was first used in 1901 for a school opened by the Ballard School District #50 at the current site of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club, at the corner of 20th Ave NW and NW 63rd St. After Ballard was annexed into the city of Seattle in 1907, the school became part of the Seattle School District. The original Salmon Bay School was closed in 1932 after most of its students were moved to the newly opened James Monroe Intermediate School — which later became our Salmon Bay School!

FOSB History

Our school’s parent teacher organization, Friends of Salmon Bay (FOSB), was created in 2008 through the merger of the two separate parent groups from Coho/NOMS: one focusing on families of students in grades K-5, and one focusing on families of students in grades 6-8. The merger was intended to:

  • Allow the entire parent community to act with a unified voice
  • Promote greater efficiency of operations
  • Better serve the greater school community
  • Capture the best benefits of the two separate parent groups and the families they served

For elementary families, FOSB aimed to continue fostering a close relationship between parents/guardians and elementary educators, and supporting the educators’ desire to provide the supplementary art, music, physical education, and core-subject instruction that enrich and deepen the elementary education experience.

At the middle school level, FOSB aimed to continue supporting and fostering the greater independence that students need both socially and educationally as they enter the transitional middle school years, and to support the desire of the middle school educators to supplement these students’ classroom-based learning with service learning, winter enrichment, and environmental education.

The two parent groups opted to form FOSB as a a parent teacher organization (PTO) rather than a parent teacher association (PTA) — the main difference being that only dues-paying members are typically part of a PTA. As a result, every parent, guardian, and teacher in our school community is automatically a FOSB member. There are no dues to pay, no applications to fill out, and everyone is welcome to participate with a full voice and vote. As a PTO, we all belong. 

Building Timeline

James Monroe School, 1940
(Courtesy SPS)

1931: James Monroe Intermediate School opened with 759 students in grades 7-8; later referred to as James Monroe Junior High (go Vikings!)

1955-1956: Seven portables added following post-war population explosion (visible in the aerial photo at right); school enrollment peaked at 1,620 students

1959: Remodel created counseling offices, space for Boys’ Club and Girls’ Club advisors, and a reception room for students

Aerial view, 1960 (Courtesy SPS)

1974: Major remodel included an expanded playground, modern library, lunchroom, and auditorium

1981: With enrollment down to 537, James Monroe closed and students were assigned to other schools; part of the building was later leased as a community center

1987: Building became a temporary site for Seattle Public Schools during construction on other schools

1999: Cooperative Holistic Elementary (Coho) and New Options Middle School (NOMS) merged into an alternative public school in the James Monroe building, with 566 students across kindergarten through 8th grade; enrollment was via lottery

Salmon Bay, 2012

2002: School renamed Salmon Bay School (go Panthers!)

2009: Salmon Bay School became an option school within Seattle Public Schools for families seeking alternatives to their neighborhood attendance area school; enrollment is via application and three tiebreakers (1: sibling, 2: geographic zone, 3: lottery)

20th anniversary invitation, 2019

2019: Salmon Bay School celebrated its 20th anniversary as an alternative K-8 school, focusing on a whole child approach to education that balances the academic, physical, and social/emotional needs of students

Attendees at Salmon Bay’s 20th anniversary celebration, school lobby, Oct. 24, 2019

Salmon Bay staff
Salmon Bay School website and archive
Salmon Bay School Facebook page
FOSB bylaws