Seattle School District to Close from 3 to 9 More Schools?

Does it sound to you like the Seattle School District really has this figured out? That’s quite a range – closing 3 schools up to triple that at 9 schools. It doesn’t inspire me to visualize that they are on top of this. One would think the numbers would be a little more precise. Of course a projected $24 million shortfall in their budget doesn’t help to calm anyone’s nerves and maybe they’re having trouble figuring out the numbers. Numbers have something to do with math.

As the Seattle PI notes:

“…the district’s longtime enrollment imbalances — largely a result of the district’s school-choice policy — have led to overcrowded schools in North Seattle and some underenrolled South End schools.
Even with the School Board’s 2006 decision to close seven school buildings, the district has 18 percent more classroom space than it needs for its students, according to a recent audit of the state’s 10 largest school districts.
District officials were already considering whether to close more schools when they learned that the district faces at least a $24 million shortfall in the 2009-10 budget. That deficit could grow to more than $44 million if the state withholds Initiative 728 money or cost-of-living increases because of the economic downturn. The initiative, aimed at reducing class size, was passed in 2000.
As a result, the School Board unanimously voted two weeks ago to authorize Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson to immediately begin the process of closing schools.”

On Tuesday night, November 25, 2008 , the Seattle School District is going to announce their plans. As noted on the Seattle Public Schools website for Tuesday night:

Preliminary recommendations presented by the Superintendent, and discussed by the Board at a School Board workshop at 6:00 p.m., John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, 2445 3rd Avenue South. This workshop will be videotaped for later streaming on our Web site.”

The Seattle School District will then hold two public workshops on the preliminary sites chosen for closure and also will hold public hearings at the schools to be closed.

Thursday, December 4th, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, Auditorium 2445 – 3rd Avenue South, Seattle, Washington

Saturday, December 6th, 9:30 – 11:30 AM Filipino Community Center, Main Ballroom 5740 Martin Luther King Way, Seattle, Washington

Public hearings will be held at buildings proposed for closure on Monday, December 15, Tuesday, December 16 and Thursday, December 18. Times and locations will be advertised and posted on the Seattle School district website. This link also has other dates and meetings that are relevant to the proposed school closures and is the best place to follow the process.

The school district site also notes that “Feedback related to capacity management and building closure is welcome. Comments may be emailed to, to or mailed to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165. The School Board office phone number is 206 252 0040.”

There is at least one excellent community source to help track public reaction to the proposed closures and voicie your opinion. that is the Seattle Public Schools community blog

Excellent recent commentary includes “The Calm Before the Storm or Not?” by Melissa Westbrook and “Where is the Conversation?” by Charlie Maas.

Another blog that posted information on the proposed school closures is the West Seattle Blog.
As they note “…South and West Seattle have the most likelihood of finding schools on this list, since the north end has been dealing with overcrowding,”

And then there’s this illuminating comment by westello on the West Seattle Blog post that rightly points out:

“…if you look at this schedule, the initial announcements are two days before Thanksgiving. The public hearings for each site are the days before the Winter Break right about the time most elementaries have their holiday concerts.
And the final list is to be announced right after the Winter Break. This is a lot to absorb and carry during Thanksgiving and the holidays. I know the district
didn’t mean to be cruel but the timing is harsh.
I appreciate the West Seattle blog keeping up with this but I think between the timing of the meetings and the economic realities overwhelming many, that this will not be on many people’s radar.”

Why is it again and again that the public seems to be at the tail end of each current crisis in the Seattle School District’s process? Doing all of this during the holiday season seems the least likely time to engage the public. But maybe that’s part of their plan.

2 responses to “Seattle School District to Close from 3 to 9 More Schools?