Update: Cooper on list of school-closure “final recommendations”

January 6, 2009 at 2:04 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle school closure | 16 Comments

(photo added 3:12 pm)
ORIGINAL 2:04 PM POST: Just a small note – we’re off to Seattle Public Schools HQ, where the “final recommendations” in the latest school-closure process are to be released within the hour. You’ll see them here as soon as we have them.

2:52 PM UPDATE: Just handed out. Cooper is still recommended for discontinuance. Genesee Hill building still recommended for closure, with Pathfinder K-8 moving to the Cooper building on Pigeon Point.

2:56 PM UPDATE: Full list: Building closures, Genesee Hill, Mann, TT Minor, Van Asselt, Old Hay (with subtext “may be temporary depending on enrollment.” Relocated programs: Half of Lowell APP to Thurgood Marshall. Half of Washington APP to Hamilton. NOVA to Meany. Pathfinder K-8 to Cooper (as mentioned). SBOC to Meany. TT Minor Montessori to Leschi. Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Dunlap and Hawthorne. Van Asselt to AAA. Also: New programs, New K-8 at Jane Addams. Discontinued programs: African American Academy, Cooper, Meany, TT Minor, Summit K-12. Again, the Cooper program closure/Genesee Hill building closure/Pathfinder move is the only West Seattle component of the list. This will now be introduced at the School Board meeting tomorrow night; final vote scheduled for January 29, and certainly the plan could change before then.

3:03 PM NOTE: Just FYI, we are in the board room at district HQ, where Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno, and other district officials will brief the media shortly and answer questions. We will add anything West Seattle-specific, and a full report later. A few more details about Cooper programs: The two autism self-contained and one inclusion program, as the district describes them, would “REMAIN at Cooper to become part of Pathfinder K-8,” according to the documents we’ve been given. The plan for other Cooper students is described in the summary as “reassign … to other schools in West Seattle.” District PR says this will be on the district’s website shortly – we’ll add the link when we see it.

3:13 PM UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter who found the link first: Here it is. One detail we omitted: West Seattle APP elementary students would go to the Thurgood Marshall half of the split program.

3:19 PM UPDATE: In case this part is not on the website yet, we are reading the detailed briefing book about the final recommendations. Here’s what it says about Cooper students:

Students who attend Cooper Elementary and live in the Cooper reference area are assigned to Pathfinder, Gatewood, Sanislo, or West Seattle Elementary depending on where in the reference area they live. Students who live within the walk zone for Cooper as well as some additional students who live near the Cooper building would be reassigned to Pathfinder where they could continue in the same building and become part of Pathfinder. The other reassignments (listed in the book) contemplate that the Cooper reference area would be merged with the Sanislo reference area, putting it in the West Seattle South Cluster.. Transportation would therefore be provided to students in the Cooper reference area who attend a school in the WS South Cluster. Transportation is also provided to WS Eleentary from both the West Seattle North and West Seattle South Clusters. Cooper studnets whose reference area is in the West Seattle North Cluster and who live close enough to walk would be reassigned to their reference area school. If not, they would be reassigned to West Seattle Elementary.

3:31 PM UPDATE: We just asked the superintendent about the fact that this would mean two buildings closed in the past few years in the West Seattle North cluster, which has had far less excess capacity than the south. She says a process is under development that will keep the district from getting to this kind of capacity imbalance in the future – no specifics yet, but it’s in the works.

3:38 PM UPDATE: The superintendent says there WILL be a “design team” process for Cooper if the final recommendation for program closure does get final approval – in which a group will be assembled to work through the transition of its students to other schools. As for what happens to its teachers – she says “the teachers go with the students” in general since enrollment isn’t declining, students are just moving; as for how it will be determined where teachers, like those at Cooper, go, she says that will be determined “by existing labor contract” terms.

3:44 PM UPDATE: The briefing has just ended. More links with long and short versions of the recommendations, as well as an updated FAQ and the official news release, are all now linked to the “Capacity Management” page that the district has used as a central repository for information on the ongoing process. Here’s that link. We’ll be writing a more detailed update a bit later; the superintendent had some comments about why the final list, citywide, was so dramatically different from the original “preliminary recommendations,” and also the role advocacy played or did not play in the final determination of what’s on this list.

5:16 PM NOTE: Before we get to that update – leafing through the full report, we see the “why the preliminary recommendation changed from Arbor Heights to Cooper” explanation is in it – if you want to read that, follow this link and click ahead to page 20. In part, it says:

In general, the Cooper building is a more logical choice for the relocation of the Pathfinder program. The building is nearly 30,000 square feet larger than Arbor Heights, and the building layout is more suitable for a K-8. Typically, K-8 programs prefer to physically separate the elementary and middle school students and the Cooper building allows for this. Cooper also has a full size field suitable for middle school PE. Cooper is also located on a large site that has a natural area that can be used by the Pathfinder program in support of their environmental education focus.

6:43 PM NOTE: One more link’s been added to the SPS website – the final report with appendices added – click ahead to page G-9, which is actually about 50 pages in, in order to get the specifics on where current Cooper students would be reassigned, depending on what “reference area” they’re in now.

16 Comments

  1. Within the hour? I thought it was scheduled for 4pm? Are they having a press conference or just handing out documents? Thanks TR, we can always count on you to be there at the ready. It’s especially appreciated when I am out of town – as long as I can get online I can know what’s going on real-time!!

    Comment by add — 2:08 pm January 6, 2009 #

  2. media briefing

    Comment by WSB — 2:10 pm January 6, 2009 #

  3. bummer. multiple bummers.

    Comment by brittany — 2:59 pm January 6, 2009 #

  4. HEY ALL, I just wanted to share this event with you for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7TH. I don’t think this is the time to be closing schools, and if you agree, we might be able to do something about it.

    ========================================

    Save Our Seattle Schools!
    Don’t miss this important rally!

    Date/Time:
    January 7 (Wednesday), 5 pm
    Location:
    John Standford Center
    Sponsored by:
    Educators, Students, and Parents for a Better Vision of Seattle Schools (ESP Vision)

    We are uniting against the proposed Seattle Public School closures.

    Come join us!

    Educators,

    Students, & Parents

    for a Better Vision of the Seattle Schools
    (ESP Vision)

    Educators, Students and Parents for a better VISION of the Seattle Schools (ESP VISION) is a newly formed Seattle city-wide organization that is working to unit all the effected schools and supportive communities in opposition to the Seattle School District’s plan to close and consolidate schools across the district.

    With the State refusing to fund a 21st century definition of basic education, the Seattle School District, along with teachers, parents, and students, should stand united to demand the funding it is owed—rather than bow to budget shortfalls by closing schools and disrupting communities.

    The reasons we are against school closures are:
    * The closures are disruptive to families and communities.
    * The closures are not a budget solution: the district will only save $3.6 million, which is not even close to the projected $24 million shortfall.
    * The last round of school closures resulted in 20% of the students from closed schools to leave the district. This means we lost money from the state for each student. This current round of school closures will affect almost 4,000 students. If we see another 20% dropout, SPS will lose approximately 746 students who will take with them $5,311/student from state funding and $485/student from I-782. The total reduction in yearly revenue will be $4,327,002 (which is more than saving the proposed $3.6 million!).

    Website for more info:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/ espvsn/petition.html

    Contact Person:
    Vicky Jambor
    Contact Email:
    vjambor@msn.com
    Contact Ph. Number:
    206-851-4862

    Comment by Iris Chamberlain — 3:11 pm January 6, 2009 #

  5. Sorry, I hope it was ok to post that!

    Comment by Iris Chamberlain — 3:12 pm January 6, 2009 #

  6. http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/FinalRec_Summary.pdf

    Comment by Recommendation posting — 3:12 pm January 6, 2009 #

  7. I don’t know all of the details as far as pros and/or cons of these closures, but I have to vent and say how sad I am at the thought of Cooper closing or being “discontinued.” I am a Cooper kid from years back and all my friends went their as well as all my neighbors. Cooper has been a part of this community for so long. I went to the “old old” building near the WS bridge for kindergarten and first grade and finished out elementary school at the Boren/Cooper building. Having been a Cooper kid myself, it was so great to go and visit when the current “new” building opened. What a beautiful place for these kids to learn. How lucky they all where. And how sad to take that away from all those teachers (many of whom were there back in my day and long before), students and parents who waited for so long. Pathfinder is a great program as well and they will be very lucky to have such a wonderful building to move to if this all goes down. Coming from a crappy building themselves, much like Cooper did many years ago, they will hopefully appreciate what a gift a building like Cooper is. I only hope it isn’t taken away from them 5-10 years down the road too :(

    Comment by MB — 3:59 pm January 6, 2009 #

  8. I’m curious about the rationale for discontinuing Summit K-12, and I don’t see one listed in the summary. Can anyone enlighten me?

    Comment by Julie — 5:08 pm January 6, 2009 #

  9. Page 9 of the report link
    http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/FinalRec_Report.pdf
    is the only allusion I find to Summit so far. Am still going thru the entire report.

    Comment by WSB — 5:16 pm January 6, 2009 #

  10. Hmm. Discontinuing Summit K-12, “restructuring” AS#1: This looks like writing on the wall; Pathfinder should prepare to face requirements to conform more to the cookie cutter in future–new building or no. This superintendent does not appear friendly to coloring outside the lines.

    Comment by Julie — 5:40 pm January 6, 2009 #

  11. MB-
    These are not final (the Board still needs to vote), but if it happens, the building would still be called Cooper. The program is “Pathfinder K-8″, but that doesn’t change the name of the building. For example, the building that Pathfinder is currently in is still called Genesee Hill. (Indeed, the recommendation recommends closing “Genesee Hill”).
    Of course, I realize that it is not the same as having a program called “Cooper” in that building – so your sadness is still appropriate. I just thought it might be helpful to know that the Cooper name will remain on/with the building.

    Comment by Eric B — 5:59 pm January 6, 2009 #

  12. At least one place in the report issued today, it refers to “Pathfinder at Cooper,” consistent with what Eric says.

    Comment by WSB — 6:06 pm January 6, 2009 #

  13. Well, it’s disappointing that the district doesn’t think first about educating children, but perhaps it’s my education that’s lacking. I thought I was pretty good at math, but with my quick read of the Final Recommendations I must have gotten confused. The Superintendent is recommending maintaining the four classroom spaces for the Cooper Autism program; that’s equivalent to about 75 students using the districts capacity planning formula. Then there’s the 92 Cooper students she says she’s going to ‘assign’ to Pathfinder (all other policies seem to be up for grabs, so why not that one!), and finally there’s the 391 current Pathfinder students. Let’s see 75 + 92 + 391, that seems like 558 students for a building that is listed as capacity for 460. So they are going to do what, lay on portables? Why not find a building that actually has room for Pathfinder instead??

    Comment by ProudLion — 10:07 pm January 6, 2009 #

  14. ProudLion, where do you get the 92 students assigned to Pathfinder? I read the final rec to say “We will also be assigning the Cooper students who can walk to Cooper to the Pathfinder program” That is 8 students, not 92. (P 23) Am I missing something?

    Also, assuming that all 391 current students will move with the Pathfinder program is not a good assumption. Each year all schools, including Pathfinder, experience some turn-over. At Pathfinder, because it is a K-8, there is a higher rate than at many schools since many students leave and enter between 5th and 6th grades. Normally those that leave would be replaced by others from all over the district. In this case, I suspect that it will be mostly Cooper students who opt to join the program.

    One final note – I too thought policy prohibited the assigning of students to an alternative program like Pathfinder K-8. However, after this recommendation was published I re-read the policy (C54.00) and it turns out there is no such limitation. The policy says that families having to choose alternative programs is an “indication” of an alternative program. However it does not seem to be a requirement.

    Several points you make are spot-on. There are indeed several policies which the board will have suspended or changed to make this happen proposal happen. You are also right that the Cooper building will be quite full. I suspect that is viewed by the District as a good thing – full utilization of the Districts facilities is the primary goal of this process, not, as you point out, educating children.

    Comment by Eric B — 1:38 am January 7, 2009 #

  15. Eric B, the 92 students assigned to Pathfinder came from a fast read of the page you sited and G-9 first sentence “Students who attend Cooper Elementary School and live in the Cooper reference area are assigned to Pathfinder…” but I only got that far.
    I recognize that school numbers change every year. Pathfinder’s numbers have bounced around, just like everybody else’s. The highest I remember seeing was 399. But with a nice new building, why would you expect them to fall? Throughout this process the magic number of 391 was used – any school considered for Pathfinder had to have at least 391 available seats, so I continued to use that number. It’s the only one anybody has (as far as I know.) If you’ll grant me the 391 (for lack of a better number) and the 75 for the four classrooms for the Autism program regardless of number of participants, and the 8 walkers from Pigeon Point, that still overfills the building. Even without letting the neighborhood’s 8 kids in, you’ll need Pathfinder to bring at least one of their portables with them. Why does the district thing this is such a good fit? Alki doesn’t have enough in it’s reference area to fill the building either. Let’s put Pathfinder at Alki! Just as valid an argument based on the as yet unannounced priorities of the new student assignment plan. And please before I get stormed by Alki parents I only mention them because like Cooper there aren’t enough students in the whole reference area to fill their school.

    Comment by ProudLion — 5:12 am January 7, 2009 #

  16. My son has already faced one school closure when he attended Fairmount Park. The transition to West Seattle (High Point) Elementary was disappointing to say the least. I chose to put him in Cooper Elementary this year and he has been doing so great. Now, we face the possibility of that school closing as well! I am frustrated and infurated with this!!!! Please DO NOT close Cooper! Attend the closure meeting on January 13th at 7 pm and speak up! – Cari Jones

    Comment by Cari Jones — 6:40 pm January 9, 2009 #

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