Tag Archives: school closures

Final school closure/relocation recommendations posted

The Seattle School superintendent’s final recommendations for school closure and relocation have just been posted at the District’s website. There have been some slight modifications, but the effects on Southeast Seattle are fairly similar to what’s been proposed all along.

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):

Building closures:

  • Van Asselt

Relocated programs:

  • 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

Discontinued Programs:

  • 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 hearing@seattleschools.org or call 206-252-0042 to do this.

You can also express your opinion by emailing comments to capacity@seattleschools.org or schoolboard@seattleschools.org, calling the School Board at 206-252-0040, or mailing comments to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165.

(Edited to add: the District has posted a FAQ about the proposals, as well.)

Educators, Students and Parents group posts online petition against school closures

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.

No comprehensive high schools to close this year

Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson stated at a school board meeting last night that closure of Seattle’s comprehensive high schools is now off the table for this year, as are mergers such as the previously suggested options to merge Aki Kurose Middle School and the Center School with Rainier Beach High School.

The even earlier proposal to merge Cleveland High School with Rainier Beach had already been rejected.

Goodloe-Johnson did say that closure of one of the traditional high schools might need to happen sometime in the next few years, given the budget woes of the District.

Some high-school-aged students still face closure or relocation of their programs, however; Summit K-12 is currently on the superintendent’s “preferred” list for closure, while NOVA and SBOC are on the list for relocation.

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.

Beacon Bits: graffiti, crime prevention, and school closures (again)

Seattle graffiti. Photo by Philo Nordlund.
Seattle graffiti. Photo by Philo Nordlund.

High-poverty schools “sacrificial lambs” in school closures?

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.”

On a related topic, Dick Lilly at Crosscut has another in a series of editorials about the current school closure fiasco that touches on some of the very things that have bothered me most about the current process. Here are some examples:

“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.)

Beacon Bits: Condo market goes flat, streetcars go to Broadway (eventually)

Seattle streetcar, soon to link the ID to Broadway. Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives.
Seattle streetcar, soon to link the ID to Broadway. Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives.

African-American Academy community meeting among several tonight

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).

Keep tabs on this school district page to see if any new meetings or hearings are scheduled. Things seem to be changing rapidly in this process.

School closure plan changes yet again: Rainier Beach/Cleveland merger off the table, for now

Photo by Claudia Snell.
Photo by Claudia Snell.
Seattle school superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has announced another revised slate of recommendations for school closures and program relocations.

The recently proposed merger between Rainier Beach and Cleveland high schools is apparently off the table again. (Amber Campbell at the Rainier Valley Post posts 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.

Continue reading School closure plan changes yet again: Rainier Beach/Cleveland merger off the table, for now

School closures and unintended consequences

The P-I has a follow-up article on the proposed Rainier Beach/Cleveland high school merger and the response of the community:

“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.”

The Times has additional background on Rainier Beach, and a comparison chart between the two schools. The article mentions that “District staff members say they continue to evaluate the feasibility of combining the two schools, and haven’t ruled out moving Cleveland to Rainier Beach instead of the other way around.” Cleveland’s building was completely remodeled last year for $68 million.

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.

School closure plans revised: Rainier Beach may merge with Cleveland

Just one week after Seattle Public Schools’ controversial proposals to close buildings and relocate programs, the plans have been changed. At a School Board meeting last night, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson announced new proposals for consideration, including merging Rainier Beach High School into Beacon Hill’s Cleveland High School, eliminating Summit K-12 entirely, or moving students from several programs into the RBHS building, including Aki Kurose Middle School and displaced middle school-aged kids from three other programs on the chopping block: Meany Middle School, the African-American Academy, and Summit. (Here is the superintendent’s slide show of the recommendations, and this blog post discusses School Board reactions to the presentation.)

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.

Blogger Sable Verity suggests that the RBHS closure was always a given:

“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.

“Can’t say that I blame them.”

Community workshops to discuss the proposals are scheduled for tonight 6:30 – 8:30 pm at District headquarters in Sodo, 2445 Third Avenue South, and this Saturday, December 6, 9:30 – 11:30 am, at the Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. A hearing about the previously announced Van Asselt building closure proposal is December 15, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Van Asselt Elementary, 7201 Beacon Avenue South. Stay tuned to this SPD page for updates on added hearings and forums.

Comments may also be emailed to capacity@seattleschools.org or snail-mailed to: School Board, P.O. Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA 98124-1165.