School-closure fight: Pathfinder K-8 meeting

December 10, 2008 9:27 am
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Pathfinder K-8 meeting
 |   Genesee Hill | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

As we have mentioned in previous coverage, we learned from the district last night that schools have the option to have “closed” (school community only) meetings if they are not widely advertised – one such meeting was held last night at Pathfinder K-8. We asked Pathfinder parent Eric Baer if he could provide us with some notes about what happened at that meeting, to share with you, since their school too is involved in the closure/change process that has rocked hundreds of West Seattle families (we also have new information this morning from Cooper Elementary – now facing the possibility of “program” closure — which we will publish shortly) – read on for a summary:

Eric reports that the meeting began with Pathfinder principal David Dockendorf going through the new proposal unveiled last night (as reported earlier, that proposal is for the school to get a “new” building by Cooper Elementary being discontinued as a “potential final recommendation” rather than Arbor Heights as in the “preliminary recommendation”).

From there, he says:

*Everyone put sticky notes with either questions or comments about various parts of the proposal on sheets around the room. The topics were:
1) Questions, Concerns, and Comments about the Genesee Hill Building;

2) Q,C, and C regarding the recommendation to move to Cooper;

3) Q, C and C about the capacity management process

4) Brainstorming and better ideas. process going forward (how will decisions be made, etc.).

After 10 minutes of writing sticky notes, the responses were grouped and Jen (Giomi, Pathfinder PTSA president) read the questions and statements out to the entire group … they ran the gamut from very basic factual questions (i.e. When will the decision be made?) to impossible to answer questions (i.e. What if the proposal is changed again to disband Pathfinder) and included a wide variety of proposals for advocacy tracks similar to what we have heard from other schools.

There were a wide variety of emotional responses as well – hope for a facility that helped out program live up to its potential, sadness at the possibility of losing our Genesee Hill home, turmoil about our own role in the closure of a school community, and excitement at the possibility of finding a suitable home for our program and not having to go through this again.

In the end, it was more a way for people to get questions answered (as they could) and express their thoughts, than gathering an action plan. No advocacy plan was decided on, although it seemed that most agreed to continue what the Pathfinder community has done – monitor and participate in District meetings and events, inform others where needed, and work with others in a non-confrontational way to do what is best for our children.

The next meeting at Pathfinder is the public hearing that the district, by law, had to plan, because the building is proposed for closure; it’s 6:30 pm next Tuesday (12/16) at the Genesee Hill building. During the 2006 closure process, there were two hearings there, and both transcripts are available online if you are interested in reading them: This one is from June 2006, when it was proposed that Pathfinder move to Boren (the old junior-high building on Delridge that the district now uses as temporary homes for schools, currently Chief Sealth High School) – read that transcript here; then in October 2006, the proposal on the table was for Pathfinder and Cooper to both be located in the Cooper building but – per a letter from then-Superintendent Raj Manhas – to create some sort of hybrid new program together; read that transcript here.

Both proposals, obviously, were eventually scrapped; the only school closure/change in West Seattle that went forward that year was to close the Fairmount Park Elementary building and merge its “program” with what was then High Point Elementary; the merged school in the High Point building is now known as West Seattle Elementary. Its enrollment this fall is listed as 302 students.

All WSB coverage of this year’s round of school closure/change proposals is archived here.

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