School-closure fight: Where it stands (before tonight’s meetings)

We’re now hours away from the next significant release of school closure/change-related information from Seattle Public Schools, during a School Board work session this afternoon/evening (we will be there to post live updates; it’s not expected to be televised and it starts too early — 4 pm — for everyone who’s interested to be there from the beginning). Here’s a quick recap on where things stand:

*The official proposal on the table remains the one announced by Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson on November 25th (original coverage here): Close the Arbor Heights Elementary “program,” move Pathfinder K-8 into the Arbor Heights building, close the Genesee Hill Elementary building where Pathfinder’s been located since 1994 (five years after GH Elementary was closed as a school of its own), in addition to recommendations involving other schools around the city (full proposal here).

*That same night, after hearing the proposals, School Board members made various requests to district staff for additional research. One such request: Look into whether Cooper could become Pathfinder’s new home instead of Arbor Heights. As a result of those requests, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson presented an “update” at last Wednesday’s board meeting (see the full presentation here), and that update included this:

At the work session on November 25 the School Board indicated that the option of altering the Student Assignment Plan to permit the location of Pathfinder at Cooper should be evaluated. Staff are evaluating this option.

*As part of that 12/3 presentation, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson proposed tonight’s work session to discuss new data (for example, district staffers have been touring schools to determine “functional capacity” – how many students can really be served under current conditions, as opposed to the “planning capacity” – optimal theoretical conditions – that’s been discussed in district documents) and “potential final recommendations.” This, although the superintendent’s “final recommendation” is still not supposed to be announced until January 6th.

*Many schools caught up in this have already had meetings of their own to discuss strategy and status; the district has had two official “public workshops” in the past week (here’s our coverage of the first one Thursday night); and many more meetings are coming up, including an official meeting tonight at Arbor Heights (6 pm) with a district rep and an official public hearing 12/16 at the Genesee Hill building (6:30 pm – the full School Board won’t be there as there are other hearings that same night elsewhere in the city; West Seattle rep Steve Sundquist said at his 11/26 coffee gathering that he and fellow board members were working to decide who would go to which hearing).

Needless to say – more later! Meanwhile, WSB coverage of this round of school closure/change talk is all archived here; all the official district info related to what SPS calls “capacity management” is linked here.

7 Replies to "School-closure fight: Where it stands (before tonight's meetings)"

  • Cryptical December 9, 2008 (10:06 am)

    Thanks WSB for keeping us informed. SAVE ARBOR HEIGHTS!

  • westello December 9, 2008 (10:23 am)

    Yes, Tracy, I noted that phrase “potential final recommendations”. Odd given the final recommendations don’t come until January. I think staff and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson may have been taken aback by the pushback from the Board on several recommendations. (Staff, because the district seems to have determined the criteria and the choices may have assumed the Board was being more hands off on this round of closures.) To her credit, Dr. G-J seems to have rolled with their suggestions (taking Summit out of RBHS but you can see, they didn’t give it any other home but just said close it).

    I think this phrasing of “potential final recommendations” is a bit of Dr. G-J and staff digging in their heels and trying to say that the Board can’t keep changing things. Well, yes the Board can because this is a process that takes consideration, not a rubberstamp decision.

  • Sasha December 9, 2008 (11:07 am)

    Melissa, I think “Potential Final Recommendations” it is simply a reflection of the terminology of School Board Policy H.01.00. If they changed the “Preliminary Recomendations,” the timelines would restart. No need to assume evil at ever turn!

  • Cryptical December 9, 2008 (11:15 am)

    Both the district and board have been repeatedly using the term “iterative process” to discribe this debacle, so in that light any recommendation is “potential final recommendatiton”.

  • add December 9, 2008 (12:46 pm)

    I just wanted to appreciate all the West Seattle community members who have dedicated so many hours of meetings, research, and conversations to participate in this process. Yes, it is very iterative & fluid, and can radically change at any time, so it’s really important to be as involved as possible, even though it’s definitely a hardship during the holiday season. Not to mention trying to also focus on and enjoy all the wonderful things happening in the schools this time of year!

  • Cryptical December 9, 2008 (1:05 pm)

    I’d also like to add that I commend everyone for keeping the discussions positive and the focus of our struggle/disagreements with the district and board and not other school communities.

  • WSM December 9, 2008 (1:26 pm)

    cryptical- you’re right. that is the best part of all this. the west seattle blog bloggers have been amazing at keeping it open and positive.

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