MAKEUP DAYS: Just in case you haven’t heard this yet: According to the School Beat e-newsletter e-mailed Friday by Seattle Public Schools, three days have been tacked onto the end of the school year to make up for time lost in Snowstorm ’08 – June 17, 18, and 19.
COOPER CLOSURE FIGHT: As we mentioned yesterday, the Cooper Elementary meeting originally set for mid-December, canceled because of the weather, is now happening next Tuesday (7 pm, Cooper Library) — and certainly packs even more urgency now that the Cooper “program closure” is on the official list of “final recommendations.” The Cooper School Works anti-closure website has published more details about the meeting, noting that in addition to School Board rep Steve Sundquist‘s planned participation (along with district official Patrick Johnson), they have invited the rest of the board. A Cooper PTA rep has shared with us a letter detailing key points they’re making to fight the closure recommendation:
Hello, my name is Molly Gras-Usry and I am a Cooper Elementary Parent. I want to bring to your attention a very fiscally, socially and educationally irresponsible recommendation the School Board has made. The Seattle School Board recommends that the Cooper Elementary students be kicked out of their building so that the West Seattle Pathfinder K-8 Program can occupy the building come fall 2009.
This recommendation doesn’t add up. First of all we have been told all along that Pathfinder needs at least 391 seats. Cooper won’t give that many seats. The Autism Programs that have been invited to stay occupy 4 classrooms for 24 kids therefore taking away 75 of the planning capacity seats. Also, they have invited 8 of the Cooper students to stay at Cooper in the Pathfinder Program which brings the number of seats available to the Pathfinder program 378. Thirteen fewer seats than what Pathfinder needs. Also, bringing a K-8 program into a K-5 building requires the District to retrofit the school with lockers and labs costing the District more money rather than saving money.
Furthermore, Cooper doesn’t meet the criteria established by Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson for closing a program. A program must be tanking on the WASL and enrollment needs to be declining. Cooper Elementary has the strongest WASL scores compared to other schools with similar demographics and enrollment has steadily grown the past several years.
Cooper staff and students also don’t appreciate being told by a Seattle School Board member that Cooper students are “making a waste of a nice, new building”. I’m not sure what he means by that but I see the Cooper family making great use of their space. Due to Cooper’s 80% free and reduced lunch population, we don’t have extra funding for off site field trips. Cooper students enjoy on site field trips through the green belt land they occupy and incorporate their environmental exploration with art.
This isn’t excellence for all, this is excellence for SOME.
Thank you for your time.
Molly Gras-Usry, Cooper PTA
About halfway through her live online Q/A session at the Seattle Times website yesterday (see the transcript here), Superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson answered a question asking how the district could expect students to succeed if a thriving program like Cooper is closed and the students dispersed to other schools: “Successful teachers that implemented the successful programs will follow students. We will duplicate successful programs in the new schools, and strengthen all academic programs. The success that students have experienced will continue.” District information on the closure process can be found here; WSB archives, newest to oldest, are here.