We’re at school district HQ in Sodo, with a standing-room-only crowd here to speak out about the school-closure/changes plan at tonight’s School Board meeting – and half the room (photo above, taken moments ago) is dominated by Arbor Heights Elementary School families, fighting to keep their school “program” from being eliminated, because district management is proposing to move Pathfinder K-8 there. No decision will be made tonight, but this is the first official board meeting since the closure/change plan was announced eight nights ago. We’ll add updates as things develop – in addition to scheduled public comment (six AH reps are on the list, which is compiled from people who called and e-mailed starting first thing Monday morning), Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is scheduled to present an update on the closure/change plan; you can watch the meeting live on cable channel 26. Side note: District HQ is formally named the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence; a few days ago, Nov. 28, marked 10 years since the passing of the legendary superintendent (taken by leukemia at age 60) after whom this facility is named.
6:36 PM UPDATE: The first four Arbor Heights parents to speak have just taken their turns. They are focusing on four alternative proposals: Wait for Denny Middle School to be vacated when it moves to a new building on the Chief Sealth campus; close Roxhill and move its students to Arbor Heights, Highland Park, and Gatewood; move Pathfinder to Cooper Elementary or West Seattle Elementary. Two more Arbor Heights parents are still on the speaking list, along with people speaking on behalf of other controversial closure/change proposals elsewhere in the city.
6:50 PM UPDATE: Eric Iwamoto, co-president of the Arbor Heights PTSA, spoke, focusing on “why isn’t a high school being closed?” – he says Franklin, Cleveland, or Rainier Beach (which has 1300 seats but barely a third of them filled) all have aspects that could qualify them for potential closure, and he says closing a high school would save the cost equivalent of closing two elementaries.
7:20 PM UPDATE: The public comment period of the meeting is over; the board is taking a brief break so the superintendent’s “update” on the school closure/change proposal can be technically set up for display on the big screen.
7:54 PM UPDATE: Before the school-closure briefing, a budget briefing from district financial boss Don Kennedy – district may be $37 million short next year, not just the $24 million already anticipated. Thanks to the SPS Community Blog at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com for noting that the superintendent’s presentation, including the closure update, is already posted online here. From that presentation, in a section that addresses some of the questions board members asked when the recommendations were presented last week:
Questions about locating Pathfinder at Arbor Heights or at Cooper
○ Response: At the work session on November 25 the School Board indicated that the option of altering the Student Assignment Plan to permit the location of Pathfinder at Cooper should be evaluated. Staff are evaluating this option.
The superintendent also is proposing another workshop (next Tuesday, apparently, will update when time/day/place is finalized) about the closure/change proposal, with these goals (from the presentation linked above):
□ Review of functional capacity numbers
□ Review of comments heard at December 4th and 6th
□ Review of questions/concerns raised after November 25
□ Review of potential final recommendations
“Functional capacity” is being evaluated now with walkthroughs at schools (it was mentioned last night that Arbor Heights had just gotten such a visit).
8:30 PM UPDATE: Board members have been asking more questions about the superintendent’s presentation. They’re saying they’re glad it’s obviously an “iterative” process.” Next events, a reminder – tomorrow night, a public “workshop” here at Stanford Center 6:30-8:30 pm; another one Saturday morning, Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Way, 9:30-11:30 am (map); that day, Saturday afternoon, Steve Sundquist will have another informal community gathering to discuss this (and other school issues) – 3-5 pm, Delridge Library.
8:50 PM UPDATE: The aforementioned work session, with lots of data etc., will be 4 pm next Tuesday here at district HQ “and we’ll go till we’re done,” says Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. She says feedback at any time can and should be sent to:
but mail also welcome at
firstname.lastname@example.org She just also mentioned an Arbor Heights-specific meeting for next Tuesday as well – checking on that.
9:24 PM NOTE: We have all of tonight’s Arbor Heights speakers on video and will upload those clips later tonight when we’re back at HQ – more pix too, like this:
ADDED 11:40 PM: Still working on the next report but in the meantime, here’s the info on the Tuesday meeting at Arbor Heights: 6 pm, per this district webpage. Concurrent with part of the aforementioned board workshop.