Tag Archives: schools

Williams appointed as Aki Kurose principal

Mia Williams has been appointed by Seattle Public Schools as principal of Aki Kurose Middle School for the 2009-2010 school year. Williams is the current interim principal at Aki Kurose, and served as assistant principal at Denny Middle School for four years and assistant principal at Salmon Bay K-8 School for three years. She received the Distinguished Assistant Principal of the Year Award for 2002-2003.
Aki Kurose is located near Beacon Hill in the Rainier Valley, at 3928 South Graham.

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.)

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.

Guest Editorial: Schools and the cost of consensus

by George Robertson

(Editor’s note: this is a guest editorial, and as such, reflects only the opinions of its author, which may or may not coincide with the opinions of the editors. Would you like to write an editorial for the Beacon Hill Blog too? Email us.)

School closures in Seattle are simply a necessity caused by our unwillingness to pay more taxes and the absolutely irreducible minimum costs of operation. In Seattle now, the closures are far from an unreasonable action. Unlike so many tax revolt-driven consequences of democracy, this one makes lots of sense. Seattle has 80% of the buildings in operation today, that we did with double the enrollment in a time more than thirty years gone by.

Nobody has rectified this waste, because no neighborhood faction can accept that their pet school is going to be one of the goners. I am getting pretty old, and my mother, who was full of advice too, died in her mid-nineties about 15 years ago. I was struggling with my daughter’s school district over facilities issues back then. Her advice then, was to accept that no action of government, or even of a school board, would ever be right. That is, she meant, really right. No decision would stand up to close scrutiny as logically impeccable and wise in all ways. She suggested then, that it is important to just try to precipitate some action that improves as much as you can, in the time available, on no action. And then when it comes time to decide, just make sure that you do decide, and then proceed to make it become a prompt reality.

The money we have pissed away not deciding this question for a decade would build you a very nice school to replace that dilapidated junk pile next to Jefferson Park. Had we done it when we were still prosperous, it could have paid for at least some new teachers to reduce the student/teacher ratio in the classrooms of the remaining schools during that last decade. But we could not agree, so we bickered and delayed. We ran the district inefficiently for another ten years with a budget that was perpetually on empty. Now with no reserves and a huge district budget disaster looming, we have no choice; the money saved will merely reduce an impossible budget shortfall, and prevent perhaps some of the layoffs and class size increases we will suffer in balancing the costs of public education with the money we’ve given the district to pay for it. We are doing this now, at a time when bailing out ourselves with unemployment compensation is competing with the schools for our tax money.

That was smart. I should have listened better to my Mom, when I had the chance.

George Robertson is a long-time Beacon Hill resident. His website is http://www.georgerobertson.com/.

Maple school kids sending care packages to troops today

Kids in Marcia Ventura’s fifth grade class at Maple Elementary School have been working on a project that culminates today with the shipping of about 50 care packages to the First Platoon, Charlie Company, 1-4 Infantry, stationed in Mizan, Afghanistan.

According to Ventura, this is the second year that Maple’s fifth graders have sent treats and morale to troops overseas. Last year, the class “adopted” a Marine, Corporal Paul Craddick, who served in Ramadi, Iraq. The students exchanged letters and phone calls, sent him monthly care packages, and hosted a welcome home party when he returned to the US. Along with students at neighboring Kimball Elementary, Maple’s fifth graders participated in a successful drive for gifts, to be sent to all 175 Marines in Craddick’s unit.

This year’s drive is slightly different, says Ventura, as “the students lack a personal connection
to any of the soldiers in the platoon. However, as the students were studying about the election all fall the issues in which the two presidential candidates differed, students became interested in the two wars in which the United States is engaged.” Locals may have already seen evidence of the class’s interest in politics; earlier this fall, the kids made “VOTE” signs and went out on Election Day to wave their signs and encourage Beacon Hillers to vote.

The students have carefully organized and labeled items which are now in the classroom, ready to be packed up this morning. Five parents, as well as Karen Craddick (Corporal Craddick’s wife) will volunteer their time to help the kids pack, fill out shipping forms, and send a little bit of Beacon Hill to Afghanistan.

More on the proposed school closures and other changes

Now that the school closure/relocation proposals are public, some parents are gearing up to fight, while others are resigned. (And some are probably thrilled, because programs are actually moving closer to them, or to better facilities.) We expect that there will be a big hubbub on this in coming days, though perhaps the Thanksgiving holiday will slow that momentum a bit.

The P-I‘s article about the proposals includes a map showing the movement of the various programs, generally southward.

Seattle Public Schools have posted a lengthy document that goes into detail on all the proposals, with statistics, maps, and reasons for the proposed actions.

Blogger and columnist (for the South Seattle Beacon) Sable Verity has a few things to say about the proposals, and particularly the proposal to kill the African-American Academy, starting with:

“I would like nothing more than to be able to stand up and say that the choice is wrong, that AAA is a fantastic school for our children and needs to be preserved. NOPE. I speak from experience as a former parent and employee. Shut. it. down.”