School-closure fight: Arbor Heights meeting tonight

That’s Arbor Heights Elementary PTSA president Suzette Riley, telling WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand that they’re not taking anything for granted, even though AH is off the closure list – for now.

We first posted that news here just after 5 pm tonight, when Seattle Public Schools released the revised list online, even before Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson formally announced it during a 4 1/2-hour School Board “work session” at district HQ. This new list, described as “potential final recommendations” — as opposed to “preliminary recommendations” in the preceding list — proposes “discontinuing” the Cooper Elementary program, rather than the Arbor Heights Elementary program, to create a new home for Pathfinder K-8, which has been in the subpar Genesee Hill Elementary building for 15 years — starting five years after the district “closed” that building the first time.

The new list came out less than an hour before Arbor Heights’ scheduled meeting tonight with a district official. School parents and staffers went ahead during that meeting to make their cases for why AH shouldn’t be a closure target:

As Suzette Riley mentioned in our first video clip, those on hand for tonight’s meeting didn’t get all the information they were hoping for; the district official who was there, Patrick Johnson, wouldn’t answer questions about the newly unveiled list, even though it had gone public almost an hour before the meeting started. As we mentioned in our earlier coverage, Johnson also asked WSB not to take video of the meeting, a request which we declined, a stance supported by AH’s acting principal.

We spoke with SPS communications staff at district HQ after the meeting there; they apologized and explained that some of these meetings are intended to be school-community-only sessions, if the principal so chooses, but shouldn’t be treated that way if they’ve been publicly advertised, as this one was, so we shouldn’t have had to deal with that “request.” (As it was, we rolled video on Johnson’s presentation, but it contained nothing newsworthy, just a district overview powerpoint that’s been used at the last several meetings, recapping the budget woes, etc.)

Next scheduled meetings: Cooper has one Thursday night; next Tuesday, you can expect to hear from Cooper, Pathfinder, and likely Arbor Heights parents at the public hearing at Genesee Hill; the night after that, it’ll be the next official School Board meeting, which also will start with public comment. Here’s the official district chart, screencapped from tonight’s news release:

From right below that part of the news release:

To sign up to testify at a public hearing on Dec. 15, 16, or 18, call the public hearing phone line at (206) 252-0042 or e-mail Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker, and should focus on the school building about which the hearing is being held. Note: To sign-up to testify at School Board meetings on Dec. 17, Jan. 7, 21 or 29; call (206) 252-0040 or e-mail beginning at 8 a.m. on the Monday prior to the meeting.

Additional information is available at Comments or questions on the recommendation can be emailed to or to, or mailed to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165. School Board office: (206) 252-0040.

3 Replies to "School-closure fight: Arbor Heights meeting tonight"

  • celeste17 December 9, 2008 (11:54 pm)

    WTG Arbor Heights on keeping your school safe from closure.

  • seattle December 10, 2008 (5:52 pm)

    Who will speak up for the immigrant families at cooper? Who will speak up for the autistic. Children being educated at cooper?

  • Cryptical December 10, 2008 (9:15 pm)

    Take heart seattle. Read other posts. Cooper is standing its ground. The Cooper leadership has posted a strong fact sheet to get their messages out and it sounds like they are going to have a meeting tomorrow to continue to work on an action plan.

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