West Seattle school closure 89 results

Happening now: School-closure opponents’ march, rally

Taken a short time ago just after hundreds of anti-school-closure marchers left TT Minor, with full police escort (since they’re marching in the street), headed for Garfield. (We have video in the other direction, to add a bit later [5:28 pm, here it is])

There’s a Cooper contingent in the crowd too – we spotted at least one “Save Cooper” sign. ADDED 3:01 PM: The marchers have just arrived at Garfield – here’s the sign-bearing Cooper reps including Jonah Von Spreecken and Brittany Abbott, who has twin sons at the school:

(added 4:33 pm – closer look at the Cooper reps in this video clip – note the fast-n-furious snow)

(added 11:59 pm – Brittany shared this photo of her sons at the pre-march rally)

(back to 3:01 pm update) And on the right side of this next photo, with the pink sign, is West Seattle-based district watchdog Chris Jackins, who has repeatedly asked the school board to cancel all closure plans:

All the while, snow continued to fall – there’s a little bit sticking on the ground here in the Central District. We’re heading back to HQ to add video. The marchers’ chants included, “School closures/No thanks/Bail out schools/Not the banks.” They’ll be rallying inside the Garfield Community Center for the next few hours. Ongoing coverage at CentralDistrictNews.com. ADDED 8:42 PM: Thanks to Scott at CDNews for sharing his video of Cooper parent/employee Shelly Williams‘s emotional speech at the rally that preceded the march:

School-closure vote countdown: “This is tough”

In the middle of a rare sunny winter afternoon, a dozen people came to Delridge Library today for one last pre-closure-vote round of Q/A with West Seattle’s school board member Steve Sundquist. And while the phrase in the headline – “This is tough” — came from him, it could have come from anyone in the room, or from any of the thousands of people at the schools around the city that have been mentioned at one point or another in the closure proceedings that started last fall. The timetable has been tough too – with the “preliminary recommendations” announced just before Thanksgiving, hearings and meetings peppered throughout the holiday season, then the “final recommendations” coming out right after school resumed post-winter break. Now, the vote is less than a week away, and no more formal hearings or meetings remain before that vote, so gatherings like this one are the last opportunities for a glimpse into which way board members might go:Read More

Will Cooper Elementary be closed? Final weekend before the vote

January 24, 2009 6:07 am
|    Comments Off on Will Cooper Elementary be closed? Final weekend before the vote
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

Next Thursday, in a special meeting at 6 pm at district HQ in Sodo, Seattle School Board members will vote on proposed closures and changes. Right now, West Seattle’s Cooper Elementary is proposed for “program closure,” as part of a chain reaction starting with closing the Genesee Hill building that’s been home to Pathfinder K-8 for more than a decade, and ending with Pathfinder moving into the Cooper building. Cooper supporters (whose site is here) have continued to relentlessly press the point that their school should be “a model, not a target” because the academic achievement of its children outpaces area schools with comparably diverse demographics (as detailed on this page).

DISTRICT SUMMARY OF COMMENTS FROM HEARINGS: Posted on a new page at the district Capacity Management (the umbrella term for changes including the closure process) website. (If you want to compare the summaries to the official transcripts, you can find those on this page.)

ANOTHER Q/A/LISTENING SESSION WITH WEST SEATTLE’S SCHOOL BOARD REP: Steve Sundquist will be at Delridge Library (map) 1-2:30 pm this afternoon; it’ll be a session similar to the one he held at Coffee to a Tea in The Junction this past Wednesday morning (WSB coverage here).

CITYWIDE PROTEST MARCH ON SUNDAY: As we reported before the January 7th school board meeting, closure opponents from around the city plan a protest rally and march Sunday afternoon, 2 pm, starting at TT Minor (map). Here’s the official site for march organizers.

NOT TOO LATE TO HAVE A SAY: Though Thursday was the last public hearing on the closure proposals, school-board members have till Tuesday at noon to propose changes to the plan (technically they could propose changes up till the last minute before the vote next Thursday, but board president Michael DeBell requested the Tuesday deadline). So you can still e-mail them with your opinion at schoolboard@seattleschools.gov (or find individual board members’ addresses here).

West Seattle school-closure fight: Last chance to speak out

January 22, 2009 10:13 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle school-closure fight: Last chance to speak out
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle video

Jason Gruenwald (assisted by son Idaya) was one of the speakers advocating for West Seattle’s Cooper Elementary School during tonight’s final public hearing on proposed Seattle Public Schools closures, to be voted on by board members one week from tonight. (Clip added 11:04 pm) Said Shekuna spoke on behalf of the Somali immigrants whose children attend Cooper, saying the school is providing them some of what they could not get in that country, so why would the district want to take that away?

Note the signs displayed as he spoke, declaring Cooper (for its academic success) should be a “model, not a target.” Also speaking tonight, Cooper teacher Ruth Solnit, describing Cooper as “a school on an upswing”:

(Clip added 12:37 am) Cooper parent Steve Ball said the school would be fuller if its “reference area” were redrawn – especially given the growth in High Point and along Delridge:

And the board heard from Cooper parent Brittany Abbott (who spoke at the board’s regular meeting the night before, too):

Though there was talk of lawsuits and “no” votes at re-election time, overall, tonight, there were no headlines and no announcements, just a last chance for people to have their say about schools all over the city facing closures and changes. If board members want to propose changes to the current plan (linked from the SPS “Capacity Management” page), president Michael DeBell told them last night that those changes should be submitted to Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson by noon next Tuesday; the vote is scheduled for a special board meeting next Thursday night. West Seattle’s board rep Steve Sundquist told concerned parents at his monthly coffee gathering yesterday morning (WSB coverage here) that he won’t make up his mind till next week; if you would like to speak with him about the closure plan (or any other education concern), he is having another informal gathering this Saturday, 1 pm, at the Delridge Library. All seven board members’ e-mail addresses are here.

Happening tonight: Schools, safety, development, more

January 22, 2009 10:57 am
|    Comments Off on Happening tonight: Schools, safety, development, more
 |   Development | Fun stuff to do | Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | WS culture/arts

From the WSB West Seattle Events calendar: 6 pm tonight, it’s the first South Delridge/White Center Community Safety Coalition meeting of the year, St. James Place, 9421 18th SW (map). 6:30 pm, it’s the Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 2743 California SW (medical/dental-office building going in just north of PCC), West Seattle (Admiral) Library branch. Also at 6:30, at Seattle Public Schools HQ in Sodo, the final public hearing for the citywide closure proposal that involves three West Seattle schools/buildings (archived WSB coverage here). At 7 pm, at the new Duwamish Longhouse, the world premiere of “Angeline,” a documentary film on the life of Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle. Also at 7 pm, the Seattle Parks Board gets an updated briefing on beach fires, park HQ downtown (as reported here yesterday – looks like status quo for this year).

ADDED 12:58 PM: Also just got word that the West Seattle High School music department’s winter concert is tonight, 7:30 pm, WSHS Theater, all welcome – and it’s free!

West Seattle school-closure fight: At the board meeting

(added 10:35 pm, Cooper parent Raymond Williams and daughter facing the board)
We’re at district HQ in Sodo, where the School Board is about to start its last regular meeting before next week’s scheduled closure vote (agenda here). No action is scheduled tonight, but at least three of the 20 public speakers in the first hour are listed as speaking on behalf of Cooper Elementary, so we will post quick notes about their speeches and any other major developments regarding the West Seattle closure proposal (or the other programs, such as the citywide APP top-level-gifted program, affecting WS families). For the first time in a while, it’s NOT a standing-room-only crowd (so far). 6:04 PM UPDATE: Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is sharing a few reminiscences from her (personal, board member Cheryl Chow points out) trip to DC for the inauguration – she just returned this afternoon. She also mentioned her phone chats yesterday afternoon (WSB video coverage here) with Highland Park Elementary and Gatewood Elementary students. After that, following the Pledge of Allegiance, board president Michael DeBell – who’d noted it was the first one under the new administration – said, “That feels good.” 6:12 PM UPDATE: The presentation that will be made by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson after public comment (which has just begun) is online; it includes answers to questions raised by board members as part of the closure discussions – one is “Where would Cooper students be reassigned?” See page 12 of the presentation for the full list; highlights: the largest group, 104, would be expected to go to Gatewood, with the second largest, 65, to West Seattle Elementary. The presentation also answers a question about Cooper capacity and whether Pathfinder would fit:

Cooper has 26 homerooms and 1 PCP. After additional PCPs, Special Ed Self-Contained and Resource Room, Cooper has 21 homerooms. Pathfinder requires 2 homerooms per grade for K-8 which is 18 homerooms. This leaves 3 homerooms to expand the special program to middle school as well as provide an additional PCP for middle school and accommodates some of the
Cooper students from the Cooper reference area.

6:55 PM UPDATE: Three Cooper advocates have just spoken – Raymond Williams (video atop this post), and Molly Usry (first clip below) and Brittany Abbott (second clip below).

They reiterate the point: “Cooper does not meet the criteria for closure.” It is the main theme we have heard in meetings at and about Cooper, and on the CooperSchoolWorks.com website: Cooper is doing well academically, compared to schools with similar demographics, and shouldn’t be broken up, they say. They were preceded by a speaker who got a standing ovation, a Summit K-12 student named Jacob Looke, who testified against the proposal to close his school, struggling to get through tears, after explaining that he had been a social outcast most of his life, until he started attending that alternative school. 7:18 PM UPDATE: The superintendent is now running through her presentation, which starts with a list of actions to close “education gaps.”

8:35 PM UPDATE: The closure discussion is almost done for the night; board president DeBell says that if any board member has a change to propose to the superintendent’s final recommendations, they should get it to her in writing by noon next Tuesday, then it will be posted to the district website by noon next Wednesday. (The board vote is a week from tomorrow, during a meeting at which there will be no public testimony, since the last public hearing – with 40 speakers signed up, and the list now full – is tomorrow night, as DeBell reminds all.)

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).

West Seattle school-closure fight: 2 major events this week

January 19, 2009 2:00 am
|    Comments Off on West Seattle school-closure fight: 2 major events this week
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

This morning at 8 am, sign-ups open for the 20 always-coveted public-comment spots at the start of Wednesday’s Seattle School Board meeting (e-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org or call 206-252-0040). It’s the last regular meeting for board members before they vote a week from Thursday on school-closure recommendations that currently call for Cooper Elementary (photo left) on Pigeon Point to be disbanded so that its building can become the new home of Pathfinder K-8, which operates in the former Genesee Hill Elementary building that the district’s been trying to close for years. As even Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson (who by the way is in D.C. for the presidential inauguration) has said, the proposal — which includes several other changes around the city — could change before the final vote. The School Board meeting at 6 pm Wednesday isn’t the last chance to have a say, though; this Thursday, 6:30 pm at district HQ, it’s the final formal public hearing on the proposal; the 40 public-comment spots at this meeting already are spoken for (see the list here – three people are identified as speaking about Cooper, and we recognize at least one more Cooper-linked name elsewhere on the list). P.S. Before these two meetings, West Seattle School Board rep Steve Sundquist has another one of his coffee chats – 9 am Wednesday, Coffee to a Tea in The Junction. And the Cooper community continues to add to the information available on its anti-closure website, CooperSchoolWorks.com.

West Seattle school-closure fight: Cooper makes a stand

By Charla Mustard-Foote
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The long-awaited meeting between the Cooper Elementary School community and Seattle Public Schools representatives took place Tuesday night. Approximately 140 people filled the school cafeteria (moved from the library to accommodate an overflow crowd).

Read More

One more reminder: 5 major West Seattle meetings tonight

On Sunday night, we previewed the week ahead – and tonight’s the big one, with five major meetings: The “scoping meeting” for the proposed West Seattle jail site, Brockey Center bumperstix.jpgat SSCC, 6:30 pm; the community meeting re: Cooper Elementary “program closure,” Cooper Library, 7 pm; Junction Neighborhood Organization meets with transit and parking updates on the agenda, Ginomai, 6:30 pm; the Fauntleroy Community Association meets at The Hall at Fauntleroy at 7 pm; also at 7, the Admiral Neighborhood Association meets at Admiral Church.

Looking ahead: Major West Seattle issues on the agenda all week

January 11, 2009 11:46 pm
|    Comments Off on Looking ahead: Major West Seattle issues on the agenda all week
 |   Elliott Bay Water Taxi | Neighborhoods | West Seattle jail sites | West Seattle school closure

Lots going on this week. This is all on the WSB West Seattle Events calendar too, in case you lose track:

MONDAY
City Council briefing on snowstorm response, next steps: 9:30 am, City Hall (live online or on TV)
County Council briefing on snowstorm response, 9:30 am, County Courthouse (live online or on TV)
Denny Middle School Site Redevelopment Design Team, 7 pm, Denny Library

TUESDAY
“Scoping meeting” for proposed West Seattle jail site, Brockey Center at SSCC, 6:30 pm
-Community meeting re: Cooper Elementary “program closure,” Cooper Library, 7 pm
Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting with transit and parking updates, 6:30 pm, Ginomai
Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, 7 pm, The Hall at Fauntleroy
Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, 7 pm, Admiral Church

WEDNESDAY
2nd Delridge Skatepark meeting, 6 pm, Youngstown Arts Center
34th District Democrats meeting and reorganization election, 7 pm, The Hall at Fauntleroy

THURSDAY
Mayor’s “open house” promising one-on-one chats with citizens about snowstorm response, 6:30 pm, Southwest Community Center
City/county-led public meeting about Seacrest dock changes to facilitate year-round Elliott Bay Water Taxi, 7 pm, Alki Community Center

Again, this is not EVERYTHING that’s happening, but those are the biggest events on the radar, so far. (Know of something major we somehow missed? Please let us know — thanks!)

2 school updates: Seattle makeup days; Cooper closure fight

MAKEUP DAYS: Just in case you haven’t heard this yet: According to the School Beat e-newsletter e-mailed Friday by Seattle Public Schools, three days have been tacked onto the end of the school year to make up for time lost in Snowstorm ’08 – June 17, 18, and 19.

COOPER CLOSURE FIGHT: As we mentioned yesterday, the Cooper Elementary meeting originally set for mid-December, canceled because of the weather, is now happening next Tuesday (7 pm, Cooper Library) — and certainly packs even more urgency now that the Cooper “program closure” is on the official list of “final recommendations.” The Cooper School Works anti-closure website has published more details about the meeting, noting that in addition to School Board rep Steve Sundquist‘s planned participation (along with district official Patrick Johnson), they have invited the rest of the board. A Cooper PTA rep has shared with us a letter detailing key points they’re making to fight the closure recommendation:

Hello, my name is Molly Gras-Usry and I am a Cooper Elementary Parent. I want to bring to your attention a very fiscally, socially and educationally irresponsible recommendation the School Board has made. The Seattle School Board recommends that the Cooper Elementary students be kicked out of their building so that the West Seattle Pathfinder K-8 Program can occupy the building come fall 2009.

This recommendation doesn’t add up. First of all we have been told all along that Pathfinder needs at least 391 seats. Cooper won’t give that many seats. The Autism Programs that have been invited to stay occupy 4 classrooms for 24 kids therefore taking away 75 of the planning capacity seats. Also, they have invited 8 of the Cooper students to stay at Cooper in the Pathfinder Program which brings the number of seats available to the Pathfinder program 378. Thirteen fewer seats than what Pathfinder needs. Also, bringing a K-8 program into a K-5 building requires the District to retrofit the school with lockers and labs costing the District more money rather than saving money.

Furthermore, Cooper doesn’t meet the criteria established by Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson for closing a program. A program must be tanking on the WASL and enrollment needs to be declining. Cooper Elementary has the strongest WASL scores compared to other schools with similar demographics and enrollment has steadily grown the past several years.

Cooper staff and students also don’t appreciate being told by a Seattle School Board member that Cooper students are “making a waste of a nice, new building”. I’m not sure what he means by that but I see the Cooper family making great use of their space. Due to Cooper’s 80% free and reduced lunch population, we don’t have extra funding for off site field trips. Cooper students enjoy on site field trips through the green belt land they occupy and incorporate their environmental exploration with art.

This isn’t excellence for all, this is excellence for SOME.

Thank you for your time.
Molly Gras-Usry, Cooper PTA

About halfway through her live online Q/A session at the Seattle Times website yesterday (see the transcript here), Superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson answered a question asking how the district could expect students to succeed if a thriving program like Cooper is closed and the students dispersed to other schools: “Successful teachers that implemented the successful programs will follow students. We will duplicate successful programs in the new schools, and strengthen all academic programs. The success that students have experienced will continue.” District information on the closure process can be found here; WSB archives, newest to oldest, are here.

School-board meeting followup: Video; signups; online Q/A

January 8, 2009 6:21 am
|    Comments Off on School-board meeting followup: Video; signups; online Q/A
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools | West Seattle video

Three things this morning, following up on the school-closure-plan discussion at last night’s four-hour Seattle School Board meeting (see our running updates here). First, our video of the one Cooper Elementary advocate who spoke, Shelly Williams:

Members of the Cooper community held a meeting yesterday afternoon to plan next steps in their fight against the proposed closure. The Cooper School Works anti-closure website says the big nighttime meeting for the school community, postponed last month because of the snow, is rescheduled to next Tuesday, Jan. 13, 7 pm.

Second – If you want a chance to speak at the final public hearing on the citywide closure recommendations, you need to start calling/e-mailing at 8 am TODAY. The hearing is 6:30 pm January 22 at district HQ in Sodo; the number to call today starting at 6 am is 206-252-0042; or e-mail hearing@seattleschools.org

Third – Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is participating in an online Q/A session today via the Times website, 11 am-noon; you can send in a question now by going here.

School-closure fight: Board meeting updates, as they happen

6:06 PM: The meeting has just begun. Looks like not much “conventional media” here – no TV in evidence so far, anyway – likely because crews are out covering the flooding emergencies around other areas of Western Washington. Board president Michael DeBell opened the meeting by mentioning that Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson and her husband will be attending the inauguration in Washington, D.C., week after next. We’ll add more notes here as the closure-plan-related news (or anything else major) happens. 6:24 PM UPDATE: So far the public comments have focused on opposition to the proposed African American Academy closure and the proposed split of the APP top-level-gifted program (currently at one elementary for the whole city, one middle for the whole city, but the new proposal calls for two each). Several opponents of the proposed Summit K-12 closure are speaking too. No one has spoken yet regarding the West Seattle section of the closure proposal, but Cooper teacher Cori Jaeger is on the list of speakers coming up. While we are just updating West Seattle-related highlights, you can read in-progress updates on the entire meeting at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com (or watch the meeting live on cable TV). 6:58 PM UPDATE: Jaeger yielded her time to Shelly Williams, who asked, among other things, why the district was willing to change the assignment plan so that the Cooper program could be discontinued, but not “to support us” (by expanding the “reference area” so there are more potential students from which Cooper could draw).

7:19 PM UPDATE: The public-comment period has ended, and chief academic officer Carla Santorno (a West Seattleite) is going to update effects/components of the closure plan regarding special education, bilingual, and advanced learning.

8:04 PM UPDATE: No new WS information in that presentation; district budget boss Don Kennedy is presenting an update now, and says the money picture is still bad – $25 million shortfall projected, up one million from the projection as of last fall – but not as bad as it could have been (at one point before the governor’s budget was unveiled recently, there was concern the district deficit could have wound up as high as $37 million).

8:45 PM UPDATE: Meeting has resumed after a 15-minute break. The three motions that comprise the “final recommendations” for closures/changes are being officially introduced now (again, the final vote is not scheduled till a special meeting on 1/29).

9:07 PM UPDATE: Board members are asking questions and voicing comments. West Seattle’s rep Steve Sundquist said that while he has heard a lot of concerns about the process and how the recommendations have changed along the way, he feels the “open” process that’s ensued over the past month is “transparent” and better than “the alternative.” He also asked for data about the West Seattle elementary schools to which Cooper students would be reassigned if their program closure does happen — that would relate to concerns voiced about members of the Cooper community, that the students will be reassigned to schools with worse educational performance (such as West Seattle and Roxhill elementaries).

9:30 PM UPDATE: Board president DeBell also voiced concern about the fact that ending the Cooper “program” would break up a school that is making enrollment and academic progress, as the Cooper community has been pointing out. By the way, the second and third of the three items being “introduced,” together comprising the “final recommendations,” also include components of the Cooper-discontinuance proposal – one would change the Student Assignment Plan so that current Cooper students can get transportation to their “newly assigned” schools even if they’re “out of cluster”; the other would merge the Cooper and Sanislo “reference areas.”

West Seattle school-closure fight: Protest tonight; future plans

January 7, 2009 5:38 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle school-closure fight: Protest tonight; future plans
 |   West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

That’s part of a citywide group of about a dozen protesters is keeping vigil outside district HQ right now, half an hour before the start of the first School Board meeting since Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson announced yesterday her final recommendations for which schools/programs to close. As we reported yesterday, those recommendations include ending the Cooper Elementary “program” and reassigning its students to other West Seattle schools, in order to move Pathfinder K-8 into Cooper’s building, before closing the Genesee Hill building that Pathfinder’s been at for more than a decade. The citywide closure-opposition group (Educators, Students, Parents, Alumni, Community Members Unite for a better Vision of Seattle Public Schools) has announced an anti-closure rally and march for 2 pm January 25 (starting at TT Minor at 1700 E. Union), four days before board members are scheduled to take a final vote. A different group calling itself Students Against School Closure is also distributing flyers here this evening, calling for a student walkout on the day of the final vote, January 29th, with its supporters asked to gather at Westlake Center at 3 pm for a march to district HQ followed by a 5 pm rally before the 6 pm board meeting. Back to tonight’s board meeting: The “final recommendations” are to be officially introduced, and as always the meeting will begin with a public-comment period; the list of speakers includes at least one person we know is affiliated with Cooper.

School-closure plan: Why Cooper; what’s next; other effects

Tonight (Wednesday), the Seattle School Board will formally receive Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson‘s “final recommendations” for the next round of school closures.

As we first reported when she unveiled the plan Tuesday afternoon, the West Seattle components of the proposal haven’t changed from her previous update a month ago – the Cooper Elementary School “program” is slated for closure, so that Pathfinder K-8 can be moved into the Cooper building (left) once the Genesee Hill campus – which had been closed for years before Pathfinder was placed there 15 years ago — is shut down.

You’ll probably recall that Cooper wasn’t on the “preliminary” list, first announced back in November – Arbor Heights Elementary was instead recommended for program closure and Pathfinder relocation. The superintendent was asked at the Tuesday afternoon media briefing to elaborate on why Arbor Heights is now “off the list”:

That’s not the only recommendation that has changed along the way.Read More

Update: Cooper on list of school-closure “final recommendations”

(photo added 3:12 pm)
ORIGINAL 2:04 PM POST: Just a small note – we’re off to Seattle Public Schools HQ, where the “final recommendations” in the latest school-closure process are to be released within the hour. You’ll see them here as soon as we have them.

2:52 PM UPDATE: Just handed out. Cooper is still recommended for discontinuance. Genesee Hill building still recommended for closure, with Pathfinder K-8 moving to the Cooper building on Pigeon Point.

2:56 PM UPDATE: Full list: Building closures, Genesee Hill, Mann, TT Minor, Van Asselt, Old Hay (with subtext “may be temporary depending on enrollment.” Relocated programs: Half of Lowell APP to Thurgood Marshall. Half of Washington APP to Hamilton. NOVA to Meany. Pathfinder K-8 to Cooper (as mentioned). SBOC to Meany. TT Minor Montessori to Leschi. Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Dunlap and Hawthorne. Van Asselt to AAA. Also: New programs, New K-8 at Jane Addams. Discontinued programs: African American Academy, Cooper, Meany, TT Minor, Summit K-12. Again, the Cooper program closure/Genesee Hill building closure/Pathfinder move is the only West Seattle component of the list. This will now be introduced at the School Board meeting tomorrow night; final vote scheduled for January 29, and certainly the plan could change before then.

3:03 PM NOTE: Just FYI, we are in the board room at district HQ, where Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno, and other district officials will brief the media shortly and answer questions. We will add anything West Seattle-specific, and a full report later. A few more details about Cooper programs: The two autism self-contained and one inclusion program, as the district describes them, would “REMAIN at Cooper to become part of Pathfinder K-8,” according to the documents we’ve been given. The plan for other Cooper students is described in the summary as “reassign … to other schools in West Seattle.” District PR says this will be on the district’s website shortly – we’ll add the link when we see it.

3:13 PM UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter who found the link first: Here it is. One detail we omitted: West Seattle APP elementary students would go to the Thurgood Marshall half of the split program.

3:19 PM UPDATE: In case this part is not on the website yet, we are reading the detailed briefing book about the final recommendations. Here’s what it says about Cooper students:

Students who attend Cooper Elementary and live in the Cooper reference area are assigned to Pathfinder, Gatewood, Sanislo, or West Seattle Elementary depending on where in the reference area they live. Students who live within the walk zone for Cooper as well as some additional students who live near the Cooper building would be reassigned to Pathfinder where they could continue in the same building and become part of Pathfinder. The other reassignments (listed in the book) contemplate that the Cooper reference area would be merged with the Sanislo reference area, putting it in the West Seattle South Cluster.. Transportation would therefore be provided to students in the Cooper reference area who attend a school in the WS South Cluster. Transportation is also provided to WS Eleentary from both the West Seattle North and West Seattle South Clusters. Cooper studnets whose reference area is in the West Seattle North Cluster and who live close enough to walk would be reassigned to their reference area school. If not, they would be reassigned to West Seattle Elementary.

3:31 PM UPDATE: We just asked the superintendent about the fact that this would mean two buildings closed in the past few years in the West Seattle North cluster, which has had far less excess capacity than the south. She says a process is under development that will keep the district from getting to this kind of capacity imbalance in the future – no specifics yet, but it’s in the works.

3:38 PM UPDATE: The superintendent says there WILL be a “design team” process for Cooper if the final recommendation for program closure does get final approval – in which a group will be assembled to work through the transition of its students to other schools. As for what happens to its teachers – she says “the teachers go with the students” in general since enrollment isn’t declining, students are just moving; as for how it will be determined where teachers, like those at Cooper, go, she says that will be determined “by existing labor contract” terms.

3:44 PM UPDATE: The briefing has just ended. More links with long and short versions of the recommendations, as well as an updated FAQ and the official news release, are all now linked to the “Capacity Management” page that the district has used as a central repository for information on the ongoing process. Here’s that link. We’ll be writing a more detailed update a bit later; the superintendent had some comments about why the final list, citywide, was so dramatically different from the original “preliminary recommendations,” and also the role advocacy played or did not play in the final determination of what’s on this list.

5:16 PM NOTE: Before we get to that update – leafing through the full report, we see the “why the preliminary recommendation changed from Arbor Heights to Cooper” explanation is in it – if you want to read that, follow this link and click ahead to page 20. In part, it says:

In general, the Cooper building is a more logical choice for the relocation of the Pathfinder program. The building is nearly 30,000 square feet larger than Arbor Heights, and the building layout is more suitable for a K-8. Typically, K-8 programs prefer to physically separate the elementary and middle school students and the Cooper building allows for this. Cooper also has a full size field suitable for middle school PE. Cooper is also located on a large site that has a natural area that can be used by the Pathfinder program in support of their environmental education focus.

6:43 PM NOTE: One more link’s been added to the SPS website – the final report with appendices added – click ahead to page G-9, which is actually about 50 pages in, in order to get the specifics on where current Cooper students would be reassigned, depending on what “reference area” they’re in now.

Eve of school-closure “final recommendations”: Cooper, still?

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

By mid-afternoon tomorrow, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson will announce her “final recommendations” for which school buildings and “programs” to close, in hopes of saving the district millions of dollars. Her announcement won’t be the last word — the proposal will be formally introduced at the following night’s School Board meeting, and then a final round of hearings/meetings (and no doubt protests) will follow, till board members’ scheduled vote on January 29th.

When the process began, the timing was considered difficult at best.Read More

West Seattle school-closure fight: Online petition drive

Next Tuesday, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is scheduled to announce her “final recommendations” for which school programs and buildings should be closed in the current closure process; a final round of meetings and hearings will ensue, with a final School Board vote projected on Jan. 29. As previously reported, the current form of the proposal calls for closing the Genesee Hill Elementary building (shown at left) that’s housed Pathfinder K-8 for more than a decade, and closing the Cooper Elementary School “program” — dispersing its students to other West Seattle elementaries — so Pathfinder can move into that building (shown at right). This morning, we’ve received word of a new online petition drive opposing all proposed closures citywide (latest full list here). To see the petition (with a “signature” option for anyone interested), go here. To send your thoughts on the proposed closures/changes (or any other SPS-related topic) directly to the School Board, which has the final say, e-mail schoolboard@seattleschools.org (individual members’ info is here). The district’s official info page for the closure process is here; archived WSB coverage (newest to oldest) is here. ADDED 11:29 AM: Thanks to Forest for reminding us of something we should have added: The school district computer system is going down for major maintenance/power-supply upgrade starting at 5 pm tonight. The full notice is published at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com; it says the closure-info pages will be available elsewhere via a redirect, but e-mail to district addresses will not be delivered between Friday night and Monday morning.

West Seattle school-closure fight: Citywide meeting tonight

In the middle of Snowstorm ’08, we published an update on the school-closure process, which is proceeding AS SCHEDULED, the district reiterates, despite some changes and cancellations because of the weather. If you missed that update – read it here; it includes links to the official transcript from the 12/16 Genesee Hill school-closure hearing, and the rescheduled Lowell hearing date. And if you are opposed to school closures – specific or in general – you may want to know about a meeting tonight that just appeared on our radar (thanks to Nora!) – a citywide organizing meeting to oppose closures, by a group we hadn’t heard of before. Here are full details; it’s at 6 pm tonight, Garfield Community Center (map). Meantime, Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is still scheduled to present her “final recommendations” for closures a week from tomorrow; the most recent recommendations still call for closing the old Genesee Hill Elementary building and making Cooper Elementary in Pigeon Point (left) the new home of Pathfinder K-8, dispersing the current Cooper students elsewhere. The “Cooper School Works” closure-fight site continues to add info, by the way; we just discovered this page with some of their main points.

West Seattle school-closure fight: District updates

The winter storm slammed Seattle right in the middle of what already was a hectic, stressful process: Seattle Public Schools trying to get through a blizzard of hearings related to the plan to close half a dozen or so schools. Some got canceled because of the weather. We checked earlier today with Patti Spencer on the SPS communications team to see if updates were forthcoming – new dates for hearings/meetings, and transcript publication from the Genesee Hill public hearing that DID happen (a week ago tonight) before the storm moved in. She just sent word of:

-The Genesee Hill transcript being added to the district website (read it here)

-The official public hearing for Lowell Elementary (which is of interest to dozens of West Seattle families whose kids go there because it’s the only citywide site for the Accelerated Progress Program), canceled last Thursday, is now set for January 20th.

-Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson‘s presentation from last Wednesday’s School Board meeting also is now online

The district says the cancellations and changes will NOT change the timetable for the closure decisionmaking process — the superintendent’s proposed “final recommendations” are still scheduled to be announced Jan. 6th, the second day of district operations post-winter break. All WSB coverage on the current school-closure/change process is archived here, newest to oldest.

West Seattle snow: School-closure meetings canceled tonight

December 18, 2008 12:09 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle snow: School-closure meetings canceled tonight
 |   Pigeon Point | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools | West Seattle weather

In addition to the Design Review Board meeting cancellation we mentioned earlier, we have just received word that the Cooper Elementary school-closure meeting tonight IS ALSO CANCELED – no new date set yet. Seattle Public Schools also sent word that the Lowell Elementary hearing is canceled too; APP (top-level gifted program) families citywide would have been going to that one. We’ll be launching a new afternoon coverage post shortly and will recap closures and changes there too.

Video: Defending West Seattle schools at board meeting

That’s Molly Gras-Usry, one of two Cooper Elementary parents who spoke to the Seattle School Board Wednesday night during the public-comment period that started the board’s regular meeting. Tonight, Cooper has its own meeting with a district official (7 pm @ Cooper) – but Wednesday, it was a chance to address the board. The other parent to speak was Brittany Abbott, who hadn’t been on the speaker list but got the chance when an Arbor Heights Elementary parent yielded his spot. She too spoke about how, as the theme of the school’s anti-closure campaign goes, Cooper works:

One Arbor Heights parent did speak, April Bolding from the AH PTSA. Though AH is not currently on the list that’s being actively considered for closure, the two-plus-week scare jolted that school’s community into brainstorming ways they could help with the West Seattle South cluster’s capacity imbalance, and that’s what Bolding focused on:

In comments following our as-it-happened report on the board meeting, Paul Dieter pointed out other West Seattleites were there on behalf of another school that was under consideration as a candidate for closure or consolidation, The Center School, a nontraditional high school that leases space in the Center House at Seattle Center. One speaker said 17 percent of TCS students are from West Seattle. (That would be about 50; the school’s website says it has about 300 students.) That school, as it turned out, is involved in the only change that was revealed tonight regarding the proposed closure list — Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson said that changes involving high schools were off the table for now, for at least a year. (The Center School and Rainier Beach High School had been the only high schools mentioned in the process.) That was the only change she announced; other than that, what she announced last week (summary here) stands, including the proposal to close the Cooper “program,” disperse its students, and move Pathfinder K-8 into the Cooper building, closing the old Genesee Hill Elementary building where the alternative school’s long been housed.

Also at the meeting: District watchdog Chris Jackins of West Seattle – who speaks at almost every meeting – again implored the district not to close any schools; district financial boss Don Kennedy recapped his recent budget report, again saying the district may wind up $37 million in the red, depending on what’s in the governor’s budget for education (she announces her budget this afternoon); chief academic officer Carla Santorno explained the “design team” concept that has come up more and more often (including in the superintendent’s radio appearance Tuesday) as the plan for helping students and staffers transition to new schools once the closure plan is finalized – the jargonistic bullet points are in this PDF of her presentation

The last section of the “superintendent’s report” was a long and fine-print-laden presentation by researcher Brad Bernatek. He is crunching numbers on “functional capacity” — which means how many students a school can REALLY hold, not just how many it should THEORETICALLY be able to hold — in a study that started just last month. Some asked at the time, shouldn’t that study have been done before district leadership started declaring some schools underenrolled and some overenrolled? Meantime, Bernatek said the data will all be ready by January 13th, leading board member Harium Martin-Morris to point out – that’s a week AFTER the final recommendations are to come out, how are we supposed to make the decision without the data? Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said there would be lots of time (16 days, to be precise, before the final vote; 9 days before the final public hearing). Again, the entire presentation can be read here.

WHAT’S NEXT: The district-organized meeting at Cooper at 7 pm tonight (listed on this page along with all other remaining community hearings); the announcement of “final recommendations” on January 6; School Board meetings Jan. 7 and 21; final public hearing (for the entire plan as it stands then) January 22; special board meeting to vote on the plan, January 29. Public comment is still being accepted by e-mail at capacity@seattleschools.org and schoolboard@seattleschools.org.