(added 10:35 pm, Cooper parent Raymond Williams and daughter facing the board)
We’re at district HQ in Sodo, where the School Board is about to start its last regular meeting before next week’s scheduled closure vote (agenda here). No action is scheduled tonight, but at least three of the 20 public speakers in the first hour are listed as speaking on behalf of Cooper Elementary, so we will post quick notes about their speeches and any other major developments regarding the West Seattle closure proposal (or the other programs, such as the citywide APP top-level-gifted program, affecting WS families). For the first time in a while, it’s NOT a standing-room-only crowd (so far). 6:04 PM UPDATE: Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is sharing a few reminiscences from her (personal, board member Cheryl Chow points out) trip to DC for the inauguration – she just returned this afternoon. She also mentioned her phone chats yesterday afternoon (WSB video coverage here) with Highland Park Elementary and Gatewood Elementary students. After that, following the Pledge of Allegiance, board president Michael DeBell – who’d noted it was the first one under the new administration – said, “That feels good.” 6:12 PM UPDATE: The presentation that will be made by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson after public comment (which has just begun) is online; it includes answers to questions raised by board members as part of the closure discussions – one is “Where would Cooper students be reassigned?” See page 12 of the presentation for the full list; highlights: the largest group, 104, would be expected to go to Gatewood, with the second largest, 65, to West Seattle Elementary. The presentation also answers a question about Cooper capacity and whether Pathfinder would fit:
Cooper has 26 homerooms and 1 PCP. After additional PCPs, Special Ed Self-Contained and Resource Room, Cooper has 21 homerooms. Pathfinder requires 2 homerooms per grade for K-8 which is 18 homerooms. This leaves 3 homerooms to expand the special program to middle school as well as provide an additional PCP for middle school and accommodates some of the
Cooper students from the Cooper reference area.
6:55 PM UPDATE: Three Cooper advocates have just spoken – Raymond Williams (video atop this post), and Molly Usry (first clip below) and Brittany Abbott (second clip below).
They reiterate the point: “Cooper does not meet the criteria for closure.” It is the main theme we have heard in meetings at and about Cooper, and on the CooperSchoolWorks.com website: Cooper is doing well academically, compared to schools with similar demographics, and shouldn’t be broken up, they say. They were preceded by a speaker who got a standing ovation, a Summit K-12 student named Jacob Looke, who testified against the proposal to close his school, struggling to get through tears, after explaining that he had been a social outcast most of his life, until he started attending that alternative school. 7:18 PM UPDATE: The superintendent is now running through her presentation, which starts with a list of actions to close “education gaps.”
8:35 PM UPDATE: The closure discussion is almost done for the night; board president DeBell says that if any board member has a change to propose to the superintendent’s final recommendations, they should get it to her in writing by noon next Tuesday, then it will be posted to the district website by noon next Wednesday. (The board vote is a week from tomorrow, during a meeting at which there will be no public testimony, since the last public hearing – with 40 speakers signed up, and the list now full – is tomorrow night, as DeBell reminds all.)