West Seattle school-closure fight: Steve Sundquist’s coffee hour

We’re at Coffee to a Tea in The Junction, with West Seattle’s School Board rep Steve Sundquist and more than a dozen people who are listening – and talking to – him about the school-closure process that will culminate in a vote a week from tomorrow. While Sundquist opened the meeting by saying he has not made up his mind yet on the closure proposal that’s on the table now, and won’t till late next week, he also has reiterated, he believes “we need to close schools.” He also says, “We are in a financial situation where we have not yet found the bottom.” More to come.

9:28 AM UPDATE: So far, Sundquist has been asked multiple questions about the proposed breakup of APP – the district’s top-level accelerated program – no questions yet about the proposed program closure at Cooper Elementary.

9:51 AM UPDATE: Sundquist has just finished the first discussion about Cooper. He acknowledges district staff and board members are struggling with the fact that closing its program would disperse a program that appears to be doing a good job serving children of color (and those facing economic challenges). He says Boren would not work as a home for Pathfinder K-8 because, for one, it’s not available next year – and the district’s financial challenges are immediate, so they have to have a solution they could implement NOW.

10:57 AM UPDATE: The event wrapped up just after 10:30 am as planned. We’ll add more to this shortly – including a video clip of Sundquist laying out where he believes the “West Seattle situation” stands — one thing to pass around now: Sundquist said he expects the district to do an audit on alternative education soon, like the ones that have been done for APP and other district-wide programs.

ADDED 11:52 AM: Video of Sundquist giving an overview summarizing the “West Seattle situation” — why Cooper is a candidate for closure, why Pathfinder needs a new home, and why the district/board are (as mentioned above) concerned about breaking up a good program at Cooper, plus his view on where the district assignment plan is going, all in about eight unedited minutes:

Tonight is the final regular School Board meeting before next week’s closure vote, 6 pm, district HQ in Sodo, with at least three people scheduled to speak to the board about Cooper; we will be there to cover it (and you can watch live on cable).

7 Replies to "West Seattle school-closure fight: Steve Sundquist's coffee hour"

  • westside January 21, 2009 (9:58 am)

    will he hold another coffee hour that is more accessible to people who work outside the home?

  • WSB January 21, 2009 (10:17 am)

    Yes, in fact, and it’s been on our events calendar for a while (we update the calendar daily with events that stretch out well into the year): 1-2:30 pm this Saturday, Delridge Library. (This one’s still under way BTW) – TR

  • brittany January 21, 2009 (10:21 am)

    hey guess what? our students academic challenges are also immediate. if it’s a matter or academics vs economics, shouldn’t the school board stand firmly on the side of ACADEMICS?

  • WSparent January 21, 2009 (12:01 pm)

    if we don’t have money we can’t run schools.. do we want to have to pay for everything? we already pay for thingsi wouldn’t have imagined paying for when i was in school.
    we have to face it, we need fewer schools.. how we do it is the problem.

    we need to walk quietly and carefully….
    it’s just a MESS

  • V January 21, 2009 (1:09 pm)

    WSB – thanks again for your great coverage!

  • AnotherWSparent January 23, 2009 (10:24 am)

    WSB – There are many APP parents and children from West Seattle, so specifics regarding that shift should definately be included in your coverage of school closures. It is important to West Seattle (particularly the south end) because there is a real lack of any accessible advanced learning opportunities here, so our options are extremely limited if they force the West Seattle kids out of the funtional APP program and into a yet to be defined, we promise it will be great, if we build it, they will come, sort of scenario.

  • WSB January 23, 2009 (10:40 am)

    I know – I apologize for inconsistency on that aspect of coverage – we’ve been including it as much as we can along the way – but when push comes to shove, we have had to focus on West Seattle-specific proposals that are not going to get covered in detail anywhere else.
    Now that we’re down to the home stretch, we will be working along with everyone else to find out what (if any) changes are proposed – in fact, I will be checking with the district today to see what arrangements will be made for media to find out about those proposals without having to wait for them to be posted on the district website as promised a day later.
    For coverage gaps, I’m hoping you are already aware of this site, but if not, I highly recommend, for the citywide aspects, the coverage at the SPS Community Blog, which has now filed its report on last night’s meeting here.

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