As expected, the ax has fallen. Last night the Seattle School Board approved Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s proposed school and program closures, amid an angry and rowdy crowd of parents and students. The direct effects to Beacon Hill are that the African American Academy program and the Van Asselt building will close at the end of this school year, and the Van Asselt program will move to the Academy’s building, about a mile south on Beacon Avenue. Other buildings to close at the end of the year are Genesee Hill, Mann, T.T. Minor, and “Old Hay,” and programs to be discontinued are Meany, Cooper, Summit K-12, and T.T. Minor.
There are a lot of strong opinions about the closures, and it seems that very few are happy (except, perhaps, the Arbor Heights and Alternative School #1 communities, who dodged the closure bullet earlier in this process). The heavy impact of the closure plan on Central and Southeast Seattle, as well as the impact on minority and low-income children, is fairly obvious; and the expulsion of James Bible, president of the local branch of the NAACP, from last night’s School Board meeting certainly doesn’t contribute to any sense of fairness in the way the District has dealt with the situation. If a lot of South Seattle families feel betrayed by the District today, it’s hardly a surprise.
A couple of opinions from the local blogs: Dick Lilly concludes on Crosscut that “the experience may all add up to distrust of the superintendent, and that would be a slide downhill from the hopes with which she was welcomed two years ago”; Scott at the Central District News suggests “maybe some day we’ll get some school leaders who put education first and fight to fund it right, and shut down schools in other people’s neighborhoods only as a very last resort.”