6:06 PM: The meeting has just begun. Looks like not much “conventional media” here – no TV in evidence so far, anyway – likely because crews are out covering the flooding emergencies around other areas of Western Washington. Board president Michael DeBell opened the meeting by mentioning that Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson and her husband will be attending the inauguration in Washington, D.C., week after next. We’ll add more notes here as the closure-plan-related news (or anything else major) happens. 6:24 PM UPDATE: So far the public comments have focused on opposition to the proposed African American Academy closure and the proposed split of the APP top-level-gifted program (currently at one elementary for the whole city, one middle for the whole city, but the new proposal calls for two each). Several opponents of the proposed Summit K-12 closure are speaking too. No one has spoken yet regarding the West Seattle section of the closure proposal, but Cooper teacher Cori Jaeger is on the list of speakers coming up. While we are just updating West Seattle-related highlights, you can read in-progress updates on the entire meeting at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com (or watch the meeting live on cable TV). 6:58 PM UPDATE: Jaeger yielded her time to Shelly Williams, who asked, among other things, why the district was willing to change the assignment plan so that the Cooper program could be discontinued, but not “to support us” (by expanding the “reference area” so there are more potential students from which Cooper could draw).
7:19 PM UPDATE: The public-comment period has ended, and chief academic officer Carla Santorno (a West Seattleite) is going to update effects/components of the closure plan regarding special education, bilingual, and advanced learning.
8:04 PM UPDATE: No new WS information in that presentation; district budget boss Don Kennedy is presenting an update now, and says the money picture is still bad – $25 million shortfall projected, up one million from the projection as of last fall – but not as bad as it could have been (at one point before the governor’s budget was unveiled recently, there was concern the district deficit could have wound up as high as $37 million).
8:45 PM UPDATE: Meeting has resumed after a 15-minute break. The three motions that comprise the “final recommendations” for closures/changes are being officially introduced now (again, the final vote is not scheduled till a special meeting on 1/29).
9:07 PM UPDATE: Board members are asking questions and voicing comments. West Seattle’s rep Steve Sundquist said that while he has heard a lot of concerns about the process and how the recommendations have changed along the way, he feels the “open” process that’s ensued over the past month is “transparent” and better than “the alternative.” He also asked for data about the West Seattle elementary schools to which Cooper students would be reassigned if their program closure does happen — that would relate to concerns voiced about members of the Cooper community, that the students will be reassigned to schools with worse educational performance (such as West Seattle and Roxhill elementaries).
9:30 PM UPDATE: Board president DeBell also voiced concern about the fact that ending the Cooper “program” would break up a school that is making enrollment and academic progress, as the Cooper community has been pointing out. By the way, the second and third of the three items being “introduced,” together comprising the “final recommendations,” also include components of the Cooper-discontinuance proposal – one would change the Student Assignment Plan so that current Cooper students can get transportation to their “newly assigned” schools even if they’re “out of cluster”; the other would merge the Cooper and Sanislo “reference areas.”