A nine-digit budget gap is staring down Seattle Public Schools, and the district is talking about major cuts including possible “school consolidation” (closures) as soon as the 2024-2025 school year. No specific local schools have been mentioned yet, but SPS is now getting to the “community engagement” phase, so plans and proposals might emerge soon. Here’s the district FAQ on where things stand, noting a $131 million “structural deficit” in the budget, with enrollment decreasing yet staff increasing.
Some background, if you’re new to the area, West Seattle has been through school closures before: Fairmount Park Elementary was closed in 2007, then expanded and reopened in 2014. The former Genesee Hill Elementary had hosted Pathfinder K-8, which was moved to the Pigeon Point site of what had been Cooper Elementary until the district closed Cooper’s “program” in 2009; the old GHES was torn down in 2014 and replaced by a bigger new school into which the former Schmitz Park Elementary was moved. Currently the former Schmitz Park campus is used as an interim site for schools during construction projects – West Seattle Elementary is in its second year there right now, and Alki Elementary is scheduled to move there during its rebuild, starting this fall. (Despite the talk of cuts and closures, there’s been no talk so far of cancelling projects like Alki, which will expand that school’s capacity.)
The School Board is required to pass a balanced budget by early July. They held a work session on the budget situation this past Tuesday; you can see the background information here, and watch the meeting video here:
The district promises a “community budget information session” March 20th. But before then, you have a chance this Saturday to talk with and hear from our area’s representative on the School Board, Leslie Harris – regarding the budget and/or any other SPS issues of interest. She’ll be at Delridge Library (5423 Delridge Way SW) starting at 2 pm Saturday (March 4th).