Seattle Education

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The School Closure Debacle

From our original blog, published in 2009:

Nova High School students and staff relocated to the Meaney building. That middle school program was terminated leaving no middle school in the Capitol Hill/Central District neighborhood.

Nova High School students and staff relocated to the Meaney building. That middle school program was terminated leaving no middle school in the Capitol Hill/Central District neighborhood. The Nova building was closed.

All of the schools and programs that will be shown on this page were closed or split in 2009 for an alleged total savings of $3M for the year. A drop in the bucket considering the $34M budget shortfall claimed by School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson.

Enrollment for the fall of 2009 is 1,200 students more than the district anticipated. With schools closed based on capacity and financial management issues per our superintendent’s statements, where will these students be seated?

The Cooper building program was discontinued and the school closed.

The Cooper building program was discontinued and the school closed.

Meg Diaz, a parent, did a brilliant presentation to the school board in January regarding the school closures, the demographics of Seattle and why it didn’t make sense to close the schools. See: http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/meg-diaz-analysis

Unfortunately, the school board paid no attention to Ms. Diaz or their own reports and instead chose to believe the numbers presented by the superintendent’s CFO, Don Kennedy who previously worked with our superintendent in Charleston, and Brad Bernatek our Broad graduate and Director of REA, Research, Evaluation and Assessment who also handles the demographic data for SPS.

The African American Academy closed.

The African American Academy closed.

Two schools were closed that, per their own report, would see an increase in school aged children of anywhere between 31%-100% between 2008 and 2012. See page 11 of the DeJong report titled “Seattle Public Schools: Enrollment Projections Report”. Those two schools were TT Minor Elementary School and Meany Middle School.

After the closures, Ms. Diaz decided to investigate the administrative cost within the Stanford Center and came up with surprising results. While the superintendent was firing teaches and staff and closing schools, staff was growing within the Stanford Center and particularly in our superintendent’s office where yet another Broad graduate was hired as one of the superintendent’s administrative assistants.

The Summit progressive option K-12 school closed.

The Summit progressive option K-12 school closed.

Posted on October 6, 2009: The new assignment plan just came out and the proposal is to re-open five school buildings. Between closing five school buildings, shuffling students to different schools and now proposing the re-opening of five buildings within a year’s time speaks volumes about the lack of competency of our superintendent and her chosen staff.

We have now wasted money closing five schools, moving students, equipment and materials around just to re-open five school buildings.

The cost of re-opening five of these buildings is as follows:

Sand Point: $7M
Viewlands: $11M
Old Hay: $7.5M
Mc Donald$: $14.9M
Rainier View: $7.4M
Total so far: $47.8

The superintendent, along with the school board, plan to take the next capital levy money, BEX III, to be voted on in 2010 that was to go to the maintenance and seismic upgrades of our school buildings, which would make them safer, and instead use the money to re-open these previously closed buildings.

The decision to close schools last year and close or relocate programs came down from our superintendent’s office quickly and there was little time for debate or understanding of what the ramifications would be. It is my opinion that again, we need to have time to evaluate what cost can wait and how these cost can be phased so that we can not only make our existing buildings safer but also provide adequate space for all of our students.

There is also stimulus money that other school districts have been able to acquire to upgrade their school buildings through FEMA grants. These grants, part of a Disaster Mitigation Fund, are being used to make school buildings safer. I had presented this information to the school board and superintendent but no action was taken at the time.

Lowell APP program split between two schools with teachers at the receiving school not prepared to provide instruction on the APP level.

Lowell APP program split between two schools with teachers at the receiving school not prepared to provide instruction on the APP level.

Update: January 16, 2010

No action was ever taken to pursue funding by the Disaster Mitigation Fund even though several schools in Seattle are not up to state seismic codes or even Accessibility Codes.

Dora Taylor

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