School Board agenda: Fauntleroy vote, school-closure notice

We reported Friday night on the plan for this Wednesday’s Seattle School Board meeting to include a vote on the proposal for changing the public-notice requirements when school closures are to be proposed; the district says it needs the changes because it must move quickly on the next round of closure proposals (the list is due out 11/25). Among other things, they’re cutting community newspapers out of the formal (paid) advance-notice-publication process and just including them on the “outreach” list (we can’t help but notice even the “revised” policy seems outdated because it has no mention of online-only local-news operations like WSB, and in fact doesn’t mention ANY websites aside from the SPS site; at least we are on the SPS media list so we get and publish these notices anyway). If you have anything to say about the changes, you should read the entire policy and send your thoughts to the board, or show up on Wednesday night. Meantime, the posted agenda for that same meeting (6 pm Wednesday, district HQ in Sodo) also includes a vote on the $1.8 million deal to sell the Fauntleroy schoolhouse to the Fauntleroy Community Service Agency (first reported here a month ago).

3 Replies to "School Board agenda: Fauntleroy vote, school-closure notice"

  • THANK YOU November 10, 2008 (10:40 pm)

    Thanks so much for keeping us informed – Please know that the comment about 3 WS Schools closures that only WS Blog reported has picked up quite a bit of attention at the John Stanford Center where communication is getting better but has a long long ways to go.

    With all the new housing starts out here, aren’t some of these new residences going to include children? Are we really truly a graying community or are the demographics a bit off? Will we in WS be looking at terribly crowded schools in five years like NE Seattle is now and was the subject of much reactionary crisis ‘planning’ less than a month ago? What are these decisions based on? How much is saved initially from closing schools vs. what price? And, from which budget, operations or capital?

    I get that the SPS is looking at a $24M shortfall next year and that we spent reserves last year – but is Seattle/WS truly becoming a becoming a ‘kid-less’ city/community or is the demography off? Is the state of the SPS a driver in folks moving to the suburbs and to other school districts or private schools? Do we know, have we asked? Have we polled or asked the folks who have put their kids in private schools – WHY? Shouldn’t we?

    The State Auditor suggested cuts in the administrative staff in the same report that is used as the basis for school closures, but we’ve not heard about that yet, have we? Compared to other school districts of like size and status the Auditor suggests we are double staffed. How does that assist the kids?

    What is the CRITERIA for closing schools – class size? Program achievment? Type of program(s)? Free Reduced Lunches (FRE)? WASL Scores? Distance to walk? Transportation costs?

    Seattle Process will not be used in this round – the notes distributed by Seattle PTSA President Rogers suggest this round will be merely a function of status of a school’s physical plant’s suitability and maintenance (or terribly deferred maintenance) that will drive the decisions – profound decisions that will be made soon and that school communities have no oversight or responsibility for? – – If I read the previous post from SPS, the First list of closures will be distributed the day before Thanksgiving – 4 hearings – 1 general hearing, 3 building closure hearings required by statute and the updated list will be issued the day after Christmas/New Year’s break ends – – –

    How are school communities supposed to plan for marketing, enrollment and the process for school choice that starts mid-Feb 09 for Sept 2010, if they don’t know they’ll be in existence until end of January (board vote)…. . . .

    Makes me think there is a list on someone’s wall downtown and that the mushroom school of management is alive and well, piecemeal the information via press release on Friday night, after the news is on, make sure it is in the Saturday paper, slowest newsday; and then after a while, jigger the SPS website occasionally and call it good communication. . .

    Truly hope transparency rears its head in this process – so far, dense its as peanut butter. . . . .

  • westello November 11, 2008 (9:56 am)

    As a former member of the Closure and Consolidation Committee who worked on the last round of closures for the Board, I am saddened by how the district is carrying out the closures.

    They knew a year ago that they would be in financial trouble. They could have started the process then so as to not muck up enrollment AND give communities time to face what is coming. Maybe they are taking the bandaid approach – just rip it off fast and it’ll hurt less. I doubt it.

    The State Auditor found three major things about Seattle Public schools. One, too many buildings for too few students. This is true, it’s a problem and it’s costing us money. (However, as Thank You above points out, has the district ever really given a big effort to attract back students or find out why we lose students? Not really.) Two, the district does NOT keep up on basic maintenance. The district is drowning in backlogged maintenance and this is likely the reason that building condition/site is the main criteria and not program success. Three, the Auditor also said that, proportionally, SPS has far more administrators at the headquarters than do most other districts. You haven’t heard a peep about this from the district.

    I do believe we need to, for the good of all in the district, close some more buildings. However, this “gotta get it done” breakneck schedule looks callous and cold. The announcement of the first list? The day before Thanksgiving? The 3 nights of public hearings for the schools on the initial list for closure? The 3 nights before the Winter Holiday break when schools are likely to be having winter concerts.

    You have to wonder why the district is this tone deaf especially when they just told staff that Don Kennedy, COO, wrote in a letter to staff:

    “We reviewed the financial results of last fiscal year, which ended August 31, 2008.

    “SPS ended with a surplus of approximately $5 million more than earlier forecasted.”

    They are planning brown-bag lunches for staff to talk about cuts. I wonder if anyone would have to courage to ask why they aren’t even discussing cutting administrators per the State Auditor’s findings?

  • Charlie Mas November 17, 2008 (10:17 am)

    In the last round of proposed closures the district wanted to close Roxhill (although it was later removed from the list) and they had an absurd plan to consolidate Cooper and Pathfinder into a school that was neither of them.

    When the district has identified areas of excess capacity, West Seattle has been on that list and there is every reason to believe that West Seattle will be on that list again.

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