Here are current recommendations for this part of the city (the South and Southeast clusters of the Seattle Public School system, plus Thurgood Marshall which is just north of I-90):
Half of Lowell APP to Thurgood Marshall (Half of the Lowell APP program will remain at Lowell)
Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Dunlap and Hawthorne
Van Asselt to African-American Academy
African-American Academy (K-5 students will be reassigned to Van Asselt, and 6-8 students will be reassigned based on where they live.)
NOVA and SBOC will be moving to Meany, and Summit K-12 is still recommended for closure.
A motion on these recommendations will be introduced to the school board at their meeting tomorrow, January 7. The board will then vote on the plan on January 29. In the meantime, there are two public hearings planned, one at Lowell, 1058 E. Mercer Street, at 6:30–8:30 pm on January 20, and one at the school district headquarters in Sodo, the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, 2445 3rd Avenue South, at 6:30–8:30 pm on January 22. To testify, you must be added to the list in advance. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-252-0042 to do this.
A new group, Educators, Students and Parents For a Better Vision of Seattle Schools (ESP) has posted a “Save Seattle Schools” online petition against the current closure/relocation proposal. Group representative Nora Wheat tells us that they are “hoping to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the district while generating support and solutions that will not negatively impact families and communities to the degree that the district’s current proposal does.”
An excerpt from the petition:
“The proposal is rushed and ill-conceived. It lacks clear explanations of its choices and hard data to justify them. In many places, it contradicts the district’s goals, guiding principles, and codified policies. It will further erode trust in our schools and drive even more of our families out of the district or to private schools… The proposal also lacks critical information from the district’s Functional Capacity Analysis (which will not be released until Jan. 13, 2009), and the new school assignment plan (which will not be completed until 2010).”
While we are quite skeptical (to say the least) about the value of online petitions, we don’t mind spreading the word so you can make your own decision whether to sign. Over 1,000 people have signed so far.
Seattle Schools superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson will announce the final school closure and relocation plan this afternoon.
The superintendent’s final recommendations will be announced January 6, and on January 7 there will be a school board meeting at which a motion to close/move schools is planned to be introduced. The District posts news about this process at their Capacity Management website, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/index.dxml.
And speaking of KUOW and school closures, they mentioned in our comments the other day that Weekday is featuring the school closure debate today from 9:00-10:00 am with Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and School Board member Michael DeBell among the panelists. KUOW is at 94.9 FM. You can call the show at (800) 289-KUOW or email email@example.com.
Sable Verity has a post up alleging some fairly unsavory behavior involving a School Board member and Arbor Heights PTSA members in West Seattle, in which they are working to target high-poverty schools in order to save the more affluent Arbor Heights. She quotes an AHPTSA co-president, in an email to the group, as saying: “…If we want to keep Arbor Heights open, we need to give them a sacrificial lamb…” This is relevant to Southeast Seattle because one of the schools targeted was allegedly Rainier Beach High School, which was targeted specifically because its closure would apparently free up enough money for the District to save Arbor Heights. I’m not sure what to make of all of this cloak-and-dagger, but I am certain that no child and no school in Seattle Schools should have to be someone’s “sacrificial lamb.”
“School performance should not be a criterion for closure, because the success of a program is the responsibility of the superintendent who appoints the principal and district policies on how much is spent on what…
“Building condition should not be a criterion because, again, the order in which schools receive funding from the Building Excellence and other capital levies for major maintenance, renovation, or complete reconstruction is a decision made by the superintendent and board.”
Some schools and programs are being selected for closure because of perceived failure, when that “failure” often seems to be a direct result of District choices to neglect a particular building or program. Unfortunately, children and families are having to bear the brunt of this neglect. (Though, not in North Seattle, unless they go to an alternative school.)
Among all the school closure craziness going on, we missed that there is a community meeting scheduled tonight (“to hear questions and concerns from our school community”) at the African-American Academy, 8311 Beacon Avenue South, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Tonight there are also meetings for Madrona K-8 (4:30 – 5:30 pm), Summit K-12 @ Jane Addams (6:00 – 8:00 pm), and Thurgood Marshall Elementary (6:00 – 7:00 pm).
The recently proposed merger between Rainier Beach and Cleveland high schools is apparently off the table again. (Amber Campbell at the Rainier Valley Postposts a possible reason why: the potential gang violence, according to several unnamed Seattle Police Department South Precinct sources, would have been significant.) Instead, one potential option is to close Aki Kurose Middle School, moving those students to Rainier Beach, which would then have a 6-12 comprehensive performing arts program. Another involves discontinuing the Center School program and moving its students from Seattle Center to Rainier Beach.
The African-American Academy is still scheduled for closure, with students from Van Asselt to move into that building.
“The possible merger is troubling for some South Seattle parents, who say their schools are disproportionately targeted in the plan, and that disputes between rival gangs at the high schools could escalate with the change. They also wonder about class size at Cleveland and the fate of Rainier Beach’s powerhouse athletics.”
Also on the school closure topic, former School Board member and Seattle Times reporter Dick Lilly suggests in a Crosscut editorial that closing schools such as Van Asselt that serve low-income families may drive those low-income families — in many cases, renters who are more easily able to pack up and move — out of the city.
These changes would save the district an estimated $3.6 million, but with the district’s expected budget gap up to $37.1 million — $13 million higher than previously estimated — it seems there will be a long way to go.
“This is all a part of the ORIGINAL, mostly UNDOCUMENTED South East Initiative. That planned called for RBHS to merge with Aki, to become a performing arts academy. Problem is, the district didn’t want to front the money and actually invest, they wanted someone else to come in and set up shop. Problem is, after the TAF debacle, folks were leery (’cept the brave and righteous souls at Broadway Bound) of doing business with SPS.