West Seattle school closure 89 results

West Seattle school-closure fight: School board updates

We’re at district HQ for tonight’s school board meeting, where speakers during the public-comment period are scheduled to include people on behalf of Cooper Elementary, Pathfinder K-8, and Arbor Heights Elementary, the three West Seattle schools that have been involved in the closure proposals so far. Also, Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is scheduled to present an update on the process; that “update” at the meeting two weeks ago yielded the first official word that the possibility of closing the Cooper “program” was being studied. We’re not going to post minute-by-minute updates of this meeting, since you can watch live on TV (cable channel 23 26 per district staff), but we will post periodic notes about what happens, particularly once the superintendent presents her report.

6:02 PM UPDATE: Meeting has begun; Cheryl Chow is the only board member not here. Standing-room-only group like two weeks ago. (Added post-meeting: We took two photos of the room quickly between the Pledge of Allegiance and the public-comment period – directionally, as the board faces, we were sitting in the front row on the right, to get the seat next to the speakers’ podium for better video, and so had a straight-ahead view of that side, with an angled view of the left side of the room – first photo is right, second photo left.)

CLICK AHEAD TO READ THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE:Read More

School-closure fight: Tonight’s School Board meeting IS on

Just mentioned this in our ongoing weather-related-coverage post, but wanted to note it separately too, since hundreds of families around West Seattle are affected by the ongoing school-closure process (WSB coverage archived here): We have just reconfirmed with Seattle Public Schools that, even though schools are closed districtwide today, tonight’s School Board meeting, 6 pm at district HQ in Sodo with a closure-process update on the agenda, IS STILL HAPPENING AS SCHEDULED. But district spokesperson Patti Spencer does advise checking the district website (here’s the School Board page) IF weather conditions change significantly later (and we will of course bring you word of any changes here).

West Seattle school-closure hearing: Cooper makes its case

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

40 speakers, 3 schools, 2 school board members. Those are the numbers from last night’s school-closure public hearing at the Genesee Hill Elementary building that Pathfinder K-8 has called home for almost 15 years. And numbers were the reason the hearing had to happen at all – a $24 million-$37 million budget shortfall faced by Seattle Public Schools, with $3.6 million a year potentially to be saved by shuttering school buildings including the long-deteriorating Genesee Hill. The district’s been proposing closing it for years — without also closing the Pathfinder “program” — so the issue has been, and remains, where does Pathfinder go?

Read More

School-closure fight: District message about tonight’s hearing

From Bridgett Chandler, communications boss at Seattle Public Schools, about tonight’s big school-closure hearing at Genesee Hill Elementary/Pathfinder:

Dear community members,

We want to thank those of you who have signed up to testify at tonight’s
public hearing and those who wish to attend. The weather has created
concerns about safety, and we send this information to update you about
conditions around the Genesee Hill building where the hearing will be
held from 6:30-8:30 tonight.

Road conditions this morning lead us to recommend that those who choose
to attend the hearing carpool and look for parking along the north
shoulder (school side) of Genesee. That road was recently sanded.
While there is some remaining ice on the shoulder area, it is much
clearer than the south side of Genesee.

The sidewalks and steps into the school building were sanded this
morning by SDOT, and staff requested that Dakota and 51st be sanded as
well by SDOT since there was ice on both of these side streets. The
school playground is CLOSED for your safety because of ice, so please
look for parking along Genesee. Metro bus information is available at
http://tripplanner.metrokc.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U

We ask that people enter the building from the corner of 51st and
Genesee and follow the signs to the cafeteria where the hearing will be
conducted starting at 6:30.

We want our families and staff to be safe, and we also want to hear your
input. If you make the decision not to attend tonight, we want you to
know that we are reading the emails that come in to
capacity@seattleschools.org as we will also read the transcripts of each
public hearing held this week. Transcripts will also be posted to our
capacity management web site which you can visit from our home page at
http://www.seattleschools.org

Thank you for your participation in this engagement process as we
prepare final recommendations for further public review.

School-closure fight: Genesee Hill hearing tonight; radio talk

ORIGINAL 9:37 AM POST: If you see this before 10 am – Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson and School Board President Michael DeBell are on KUOW radio right now, talking about the closure/change process that’s under way. Tonight at 6:30, at the Genesee Hill Elementary building that’s long been home to Pathfinder K-8, it’s the only official district hearing scheduled in West Seattle during the process, and it’s likely to be a full house, with people speaking from not just Pathfinder but also from Cooper Elementary, which is currently proposed for “program discontinuance” so Pathfinder can move into that building, and from Arbor Heights Elementary, which was in that role on the “preliminary recommendation” list. There’s also word that bus transportation will be available to get Cooper parents from several spots on Delridge to tonight’s hearing; call the school for information: 206-252-8170. Meanwhile, more information has been added to the “Cooper School Works” website we first told you about early yesterday; follow the links from its main page at cooperschoolworks.com. 10 AM UPDATE: We caught the second half of the radio show – took notes and will add them here shortly, hoping to catch the first half when it’s posted online later. 10:30 AM UPDATE: Click ahead for those notes, including what the superintendent says public hearings like the one tonight are REALLY for:Read More

School-closure fight: Cooper Elementary community’s new website

Just got word of this and wanted to share the link: Cooper Elementary‘s community has put up a website to get the information out about their fight to keep the school “program” from being closed, as is now listed as a “potential final recommendation” as Seattle Public Schools tries to find a new home for Pathfinder K-8. The site is at cooperschoolworks.com, and among other info, it lists the next round of meetings this week – district public hearing at Genesee Hill tomorrow night, School Board meeting Wednesday, and a meeting at Cooper on Thursday, with more content promised. It also links to the Cooper “fact sheet” we told you about last Wednesday. (On the “closure info” page at the official Cooper Elementary website, by the way, you can now read a handwritten letter by a student in Cooper’s autism program.)

School-closure fight: Cooper Elementary table @ Delridge bazaar

December 13, 2008 11:11 am
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Cooper Elementary table @ Delridge bazaar
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

(photo added 12:15 pm; Cooper parent Brittany Abbott at the info display)
Just got word that Cooper Elementary is getting the “Save Cooper” word out today with a table at the Delridge Community Center bazaar that’s continuing till 3 pm. Otherwise, next official meetings in the process are Tuesday’s 6:30 pm hearing at Genesee Hill, with speaker signups already under way, and Wednesday’s 6 pm School Board meeting at district HQ in Sodo (speaker signups start Monday morning).

School-closure fight: Cooper Elementary strategy session

You’ve certainly seen that bumper sticker before. But there was something plaintive about seeing it on the side of a car door parked outside a school where parents are about to plot strategy to try to save their kids from getting moved out of their school because of district budget troubles. Two nights after Cooper Elementary officially materialized on Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson‘s list of “potential final recommendations” – with the “potential” proposal being, close the Cooper program and move Pathfinder K-8 into the Cooper building – dozens of members of the school community gathered in the library, as heralded by the whiteboard near the school’s front doors:

Key points of what they said and what they’re strategizing, ahead:Read More

School-closure fight: Cooper Elementary’s “fact sheet” out

Days after Arbor Heights Elementary was proposed for “program closure” in the “preliminary recommendations” from Seattle Public Schools leadership two weeks ago, its community prepared and released a “fact sheet” (WSB report here). Now, the morning after its official appearance on the potential closure list – its program, not its building – Cooper Elementary has created a “fact sheet” as well, so we wanted to share that with you. Read it here (7-page PDF) in its entirety. Among many other points, the document showcases some of Cooper’s programs, like these two:

*Cooper’s Bilingual Program serves a culturally diverse group of English language learners. Two bilingual teachers and three instructional assistants provide instruction and support to students and parents who speak Spanish, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Somali.

*Cooper’s Autism Program continuum serves 24 students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Eight students are served in Cooper’s general education classrooms with additional support and instruction provided by one special education teacher and 2 instructional assistants. Sixteen students are served in rooms 209 and 107, Cooper’s self-contained Autism K-2 and 3-5 classrooms. They are supported by two special education teachers and six instructional assistants. Additionally, Cooper’s resource room supports students with learning disabilities and developmental delays through both pull-put and push-in support.

The document also says closing Cooper’s program would eliminate the Earth Project (here’s its link on the Cooper site), which we’ve mentioned previously. Again, here’s where you can read the Cooper document in its entirety; the school is having a meeting tomorrow night – we covered the first Cooper meeting last Friday. Also, if you missed it last night, the latest “potential final recommendations” for school closures and changes citywide are summarized on the district website here.

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:Read More

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights meeting tonight

That’s Arbor Heights Elementary PTSA president Suzette Riley, telling WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand that they’re not taking anything for granted, even though AH is off the closure list – for now.

We first posted that news here just after 5 pm tonight, when Seattle Public Schools released the revised list online, even before Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson formally announced it during a 4 1/2-hour School Board “work session” at district HQ. This new list, described as “potential final recommendations” — as opposed to “preliminary recommendations” in the preceding list — proposes “discontinuing” the Cooper Elementary program, rather than the Arbor Heights Elementary program, to create a new home for Pathfinder K-8, which has been in the subpar Genesee Hill Elementary building for 15 years — starting five years after the district “closed” that building the first time.

The new list came out less than an hour before Arbor Heights’ scheduled meeting tonight with a district official. School parents and staffers went ahead during that meeting to make their cases for why AH shouldn’t be a closure target:

As Suzette Riley mentioned in our first video clip, those on hand for tonight’s meeting didn’t get all the information they were hoping for; the district official who was there, Patrick Johnson, wouldn’t answer questions about the newly unveiled list, even though it had gone public almost an hour before the meeting started. As we mentioned in our earlier coverage, Johnson also asked WSB not to take video of the meeting, a request which we declined, a stance supported by AH’s acting principal.

We spoke with SPS communications staff at district HQ after the meeting there; they apologized and explained that some of these meetings are intended to be school-community-only sessions, if the principal so chooses, but shouldn’t be treated that way if they’ve been publicly advertised, as this one was, so we shouldn’t have had to deal with that “request.” (As it was, we rolled video on Johnson’s presentation, but it contained nothing newsworthy, just a district overview powerpoint that’s been used at the last several meetings, recapping the budget woes, etc.)

Next scheduled meetings: Cooper has one Thursday night; next Tuesday, you can expect to hear from Cooper, Pathfinder, and likely Arbor Heights parents at the public hearing at Genesee Hill; the night after that, it’ll be the next official School Board meeting, which also will start with public comment. Here’s the official district chart, screencapped from tonight’s news release:

From right below that part of the news release:

To sign up to testify at a public hearing on Dec. 15, 16, or 18, call the public hearing phone line at (206) 252-0042 or e-mail hearing@seattleschools.org. Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker, and should focus on the school building about which the hearing is being held. Note: To sign-up to testify at School Board meetings on Dec. 17, Jan. 7, 21 or 29; call (206) 252-0040 or e-mail hearing@seattleschools.org. beginning at 8 a.m. on the Monday prior to the meeting.

Additional information is available at www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity. Comments or questions on the recommendation can be emailed to capacity@seattleschools.org or to schoolboard@seattleschools.org, or mailed to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165. School Board office: (206) 252-0040.

Live updates: School Board workshop on school closures/changes

(meeting ended 8:40 pm – below, our updates as it happened, newest to oldest)

8:49 PM UPDATE: The superintendent is giving TV interviews inches from where we’re sitting. She acknowledged “the list could change again.” (As it has in previous closure processes; the last proposal involving Pathfinder and Cooper evolved in fall 2006 to what was to be a “merger” of the two programs in the Cooper building, a “merger” that both school communities opposed, as you can see in this transcript from the October 2006 public hearing at the Genesee Hill building; not long after that, the proposal was indefinitely tabled.)

8:27 PM UPDATE: Still discussing the dilemma over how to save some money in the high-school category. So let’s take this moment to look at some of what’s unique about Cooper, which is now proposed for program “discontinuance”; school-community members held a hastily called meeting last Friday night (WSB coverage here), shortly after finding out the district was seriously considering this possibility, and in addition to voicing anger and concern, they also pointed out many of their school’s unique aspects: The Earth Project at Cooper, for one, on which we have reported here previously – it’s a unique environmental-education program (here’s its website). That’s not all; more later – this meeting is wrapping up (8:37 pm) – final recommendations still due out January 6th, final public hearing here at district HQ on January 22, vote on final recommendations January 29. Cheryl Chow says she wants to thank “the staff” for their work and responding to clear direction from the superintendent regarding listening, taking notes, coming back with information, answering questions. She’s also thanking “the audience and the participants” for coming to these meetings, acknowledging there are so many meeting. Looks like others are joining in the chorus of thanks, starting with new board president DeBell, and he says any ideas can still be sent in. (Reminder, the e-mail address for that is capacity@seattleschools.org)

8:10 PM UPDATE: Just too complicated to close any “comprehensive high school,” says another district manager. Meeting in fifth hour now. Back to the reaction to the latest West Seattle proposals — checking the Cooper Elementary website, the home page is a big red link, “SAVE COOPER FROM CLOSING INFORMATION,” which points to this page that simply lists three dates: There is a meeting listed at Cooper at 6:30 Thursday night, and the page also lists the Genesee Hill district public hearing next Tuesday, as well as the School Board’s regular meeting a week from tomorrow (12/17). Back to the high-school discussion: board president DeBell says the district has a “structural challenge” re: “full and rich” academic offerings – and has also been grappling with the need for high schools to grow to get more money – he says the underfunding of education in this state is a big problem with all this.

7:31 PM UPDATE: The new list of “potential final recommendations” is still being presented here at district HQ. Once the list has been presented, “next steps” are promised. We know one of them is the Genesee Hill public hearing at 6:30 pm next Tuesday (12/16), since that building is still proposed for closure. Background on previous Pathfinder-to-Cooper proposals (dating back to spring 2005), by the way, can be read in the online Pathfinder history recently posted here. A recap is coming up in a bit; from the superintendent’s presentation PPT, Cooper is not described as a “program” closure or discontinuance, but rather:

*Cooper (students) reassigned based on home address & transportation standards

Currently (7:55) they are discussing high-school proposals to deal with too many empty seats, particularly in south/center – either move the Center School (which is located upstairs at the Center House at Seattle Center) and repurpose its building, or move Aki Kurose in with Rainier Beach to create a performing-arts-focused 6-12 (board member Cheryl Chow just asked, “Wouldn’t that work like Denny-Sealth … as a combined campus, 6-12?” The superintendent said, “No, they’re going to be co-located … this (Aki/Rainier) would be a combined 6 through 12.” Sundquist asks about suggestions to close Rainier Beach; superintendent says it’s very “complicated” to close a “comprehensive high school” and combining two (as was suggested for RB and Franklin) would not be an easy issue and there is “not time to do it right” — she says there would be an issue of “safety and security,” gang activity, violence in the community, which might create problems if that happened.

7:15 PM UPDATE: WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand is at the Arbor Heights building meeting and sends this report: District manager Patrick Johnson, who is there to meet with the school community, asked WSB not to videotape the meeting. We refused – it’s a public meeting on public property, publicized by the district. Arbor Heights leadership “and crowd” supported the meeting being recorded. Johnson is declining to answer parents’ questions about the new “potential recommendations” which have been unveiled here at Stanford Center (where we will be asking district communications staff to clear up this issue of not videotaping), apparently taking Arbor Heights “program” closure OUT of the mix of possibilities (that was a “preliminary recommendation”; Cooper program “discontinuance” is now listed, in its place, as a “potential final recommendation” and nobody challenged it in board discussion so far tonight).

COVERAGE CONTINUES WITH EARLIER UPDATES AFTER THE JUMP:Read More

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.

School-closure fight: How about a bailout for … education?

This was sent to us by a parent at one of the schools currently caught up in the Seattle Public Schools closure/changes process, AKA “capacity management” (all WSB coverage archived here; we are working on a mammoth recap of “where it stands/what’s next” since today is a rare meetingless day after 2 weeks of nonstop events and discussions related to all this). It’s written by West Seattle-area teacher Jesse Hagopian: “I’m Changing the School’s Name to Chrysler.” Follow that link to read the whole thing; in part, he writes:

… if “letting GM go is a terrible idea”—as General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner recently warned Congress in his plea for a bailout of his failing company—then letting our schools fail in the wake of free-falling state budgets would be catastrophic.

There’s a lot more we could say, but you have said it better, in so many comments on our reports during this school-closure round alone. By the way, we wanted to mention again – many have been saying, can’t we all just work together on a plan for West Seattle schools, rather than sniping at each other – and there is a citizens’ group meeting later this week with exactly that goal in mind: 6:30 Thursday at West Seattle Elementary in High Point – read about it here. ADDED 1:54 PM: The transcription of Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson‘s Seattle Times online Q/A from this morning is available online now – she answers several questions regarding the West Seattle schools now being discussed in this process (Arbor Heights, Cooper, Pathfinder) but no new revelations – here’s the transcript.

More money, fewer closures: Another view of school fight

We didn’t make it to this morning’s district-organized “community workshop” on the school-closure plan — same format as the one we covered Thursday night — but a report is up on the P-I site. It mentions Arbor Heights Elementary parent Gerard Denommee getting applause for suggesting taking the issue to state lawmakers and fighting for better public-school funding, rather than continuing to pit neighborhood against neighborhood to fight for shares of a shrinking pie. The Arbor Heights PTSA Yahoo! group also has an account of the meeting, and a more vivid description of the ovation received by Denommee, as well as a mention of Cooper Elementary parents’ presence (as they’d planned at the meeting we covered last night). Next meetings: Tuesday night, the School Board is scheduled to get new data and discuss the next phase of recommendations at a board workshop starting at 4 pm at district HQ; that same night, a district-organized meeting is planned at Arbor Heights, 6 pm. In the meantime, feedback can be sent to the school district any time at capacity@seattleschools.org. (All WSB coverage of this round of school-closure proposals is archived here.)

West Seattle school-closure fight: “Save Cooper … Again”

That’s one of the slogans half-jokingly suggested toward the end of a small but spirited meeting at Cooper Elementary School tonight in Pigeon Point (map) – its first group meeting since Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson announced at Wednesday night’s School Board meeting that her staff — as requested by board members last week — was looking into possibly moving Pathfinder K-8 to Cooper instead of to Arbor Heights Elementary. The “Save Cooper … Again” refers to previous proposals to close or change the Cooper program, and some of tonight’s participants were veterans of those battles — read on for our report on the talking points Cooper is rushing to prepare as a late entry into the school-closure battle:Read More

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights families @ Westwood tonight

The school-closure fight isn’t taking the weekend off: We stopped by Westwood Village on the way to the Cooper Elementary school-closure meeting (where we are now) – as promised, Arbor Heights Elementary parents are sign-waving outside Barnes and Noble, where students are at a “pajama party” tonight (and where a book fair all weekend is raising $ for Arbor Heights programs, as mentioned earlier) – we also saw at least one TV station (KIRO) there with a live truck, so you may have seen them on TV tonight. No other media here at Cooper, just us. More on their story later; the meeting has just begun (to recap – the district is now looking into possibly moving Pathfinder to Cooper instead of the original proposal last week to move it to Arbor Heights – more findings about that should come out at the board’s work session starting at 4 pm next Tuesday at district HQ).

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights at Westwood Village tonight

December 5, 2008 1:59 pm
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Arbor Heights at Westwood Village tonight
 |   Arbor Heights | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools | Westwood

Like last night’s Holiday Bazaar (WSB coverage here), Arbor Heights Elementary had long been planning a book-fair event tonight at Westwood Village Barnes and Noble – but now it’s taken on an added dimension. First, the book fair: 10 percent of B/N purchases made today through Sunday, with the voucher number 413831, will benefit various programs at AH, such as kindergarten assistant teachers and books for the school library. Meantime, Arbor Heights families will be there tonight for a kids’ pajama party starting at 5 pm, with kindergarten teachers presenting story time at 5:30, and in the meantime, the “Save Arbor Heights” campaign will be active outside, with signs and petition-signature-gathering. Tomorrow, they’re planning to be at the next “community workshop” (9:30 am) as well as School Board rep Steve Sundquist‘s Delridge Library gathering (3-5 pm) – more info on the Save Arbor Heights website.

School-closure fight: Meeting tonight at Cooper Elementary

December 5, 2008 11:05 am
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Meeting tonight at Cooper Elementary
 |   Pigeon Point | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure

Just out of the WSB inbox from “a concerned Cooper parent” – to recap, one week after proposing that the Arbor Heights Elementary program be closed so that Pathfinder K-8 could be relocated into the AH building, the district is now also studying the possibility of Cooper Elementary as a Pathfinder home (which has been proposed and dismissed before):

Just wanted to get some information out about the possible closure of Cooper Elementary as a new location for Pathfinder. I understand that Arbor Heights has had a very vocal presence, fighting to keep their school alive. They have done a fabulous job. Unfortunately, their success puts Cooper Elementary on the chopping block.

The Cooper school family faces many challenges in organizing their efforts, including economic circumstances and language barriers. This makes us no less of a family, and no less deserving of community support. None of our kids deserve to be displaced.

We are holding a meeting at 6:30 pm (tonight) in room 107 at Cooper Elementary to organize ourselves and our message. Please attend if you can. If we don’t let our thoughts be known to the District and the public we may well lose the Cooper building to the Pathfinder program. Please come and contribute your thoughts and your voice.

Thanks for helping us get our message out. Hopefully the Delridge community can rally the same way Arbor Heights has and save Cooper Elementary!!

Arbor Heights also plans a protest and petition drive tonight at Barnes and Noble-Westwood Village during an already-scheduled school-related event; more on that separately, a bit later. WSB will of course cover both events.

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights parents at district “workshop”

December 4, 2008 10:50 pm
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Arbor Heights parents at district “workshop”
 |   Arbor Heights | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

It’s a long series of meetings between the first announcement last week of proposed Seattle Public Schools closures and changes and the final vote scheduled for January 29th. But you never know when one of those meetings will yield some news — so we’ll be covering as many as we can. Tonight — a public “workshop” at district headquarters, first of two in this particular format. It began with Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson presenting the closure criteria and the latest on the district budget shortfall (last night, finance boss Don Kennedy presented grim new numbers to the board). She said she was presenting that information to create context for the budget problems the district faces, noting that closing buildings is just one way to make up for the financial shortfall and deal with the district’s excess capacity.Read More

Happening now: Arbor Heights Elementary holiday bazaar

That’s Kelsey, who’s selling her glass ornaments at the holiday bazaar that’s under way till 8 pm tonight at Arbor Heights Elementary – and modeling the new fashion statement that you’ve seen in our photos from meetings in the past few weeks, with AH fighting a district proposal to close its “program” and relocate Pathfinder K-8 to the AH building. But this bazaar has been in the works a long time, long before the closure proposal started drawing on the community’s time and energy, and it’s a biggie – this is just one of two jampacked rooms full of merchandise, activities, and treats:

Some of the merchandise is kid-made, like Kelsey’s very professional painted-glass ornaments, but there are adult vendors here too – we were especially enchanted by these “presents” that are really crystal-clear sculpted plastic with lights inside:

Some whimsy, too – at this table, the “fish soap” looks from a distance like those little plastic bags of goldfish in water that we all brought home from carnivals a hundred years ago:

Again, the bazaar’s on till 8 o’clock tonight; if you live in north West Seattle, you may not even have been to Arbor Heights before (we lived on Beach Drive our first 2 years in WS and hadn’t ventured south of California/Fauntleroy till we were house-shopping!), but it’s worth the trip (here’s a map) – check the view we got after parking our car before walking to the bazaar pre-sunset:

Other schools’ holiday events are on our Holiday Happenings calendar (tomorrow night, for example, Lafayette Elementary has a craft fair, and everyone’s invited!).

Video: Arbor Heights parents make their case to the school board

(photo by Arbor Heights parent Craig Harrold)
We reported toplines from Wednesday night’s Seattle School Board meeting as they happened – now, we have video of all six Arbor Heights parents who spoke (after a concerted campaign to get onto the list when bookings opened Monday) about district staff’s recommendation to close their school “program” so the school “building” can become home to Pathfinder K-8, whose deteriorating Genesee Hill building would then be shut down. First, Arbor Heights PTSA co-president Suzette Riley laid out the four alternatives they are proposing:

“This proposal would close a popular, successful neighborhood school, and would also cost the district money,” Riley said (among other points). We also have video of each of the five other Arbor Heights speakers from the meeting, each uploaded in its entirety – click ahead to see any or all of them, and also to see what happens next:Read More

Arbor Heights’ fight: School Board meeting begins

We’re at school district HQ in Sodo, with a standing-room-only crowd here to speak out about the school-closure/changes plan at tonight’s School Board meeting – and half the room (photo above, taken moments ago) is dominated by Arbor Heights Elementary School families, fighting to keep their school “program” from being eliminated, because district management is proposing to move Pathfinder K-8 there. No decision will be made tonight, but this is the first official board meeting since the closure/change plan was announced eight nights ago. We’ll add updates as things develop – in addition to scheduled public comment (six AH reps are on the list, which is compiled from people who called and e-mailed starting first thing Monday morning), Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is scheduled to present an update on the closure/change plan; you can watch the meeting live on cable channel 26. Side note: District HQ is formally named the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence; a few days ago, Nov. 28, marked 10 years since the passing of the legendary superintendent (taken by leukemia at age 60) after whom this facility is named.

6:36 PM UPDATE: The first four Arbor Heights parents to speak have just taken their turns. They are focusing on four alternative proposals: Wait for Denny Middle School to be vacated when it moves to a new building on the Chief Sealth campus; close Roxhill and move its students to Arbor Heights, Highland Park, and Gatewood; move Pathfinder to Cooper Elementary or West Seattle Elementary. Two more Arbor Heights parents are still on the speaking list, along with people speaking on behalf of other controversial closure/change proposals elsewhere in the city.

6:50 PM UPDATE: Eric Iwamoto, co-president of the Arbor Heights PTSA, spoke, focusing on “why isn’t a high school being closed?” – he says Franklin, Cleveland, or Rainier Beach (which has 1300 seats but barely a third of them filled) all have aspects that could qualify them for potential closure, and he says closing a high school would save the cost equivalent of closing two elementaries.

7:20 PM UPDATE:
The public comment period of the meeting is over; the board is taking a brief break so the superintendent’s “update” on the school closure/change proposal can be technically set up for display on the big screen.

7:54 PM UPDATE: Before the school-closure briefing, a budget briefing from district financial boss Don Kennedy – district may be $37 million short next year, not just the $24 million already anticipated. Thanks to the SPS Community Blog at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com for noting that the superintendent’s presentation, including the closure update, is already posted online here. From that presentation, in a section that addresses some of the questions board members asked when the recommendations were presented last week:

Questions about locating Pathfinder at Arbor Heights or at Cooper
○ Response: 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.

The superintendent also is proposing another workshop (next Tuesday, apparently, will update when time/day/place is finalized) about the closure/change proposal, with these goals (from the presentation linked above):

□ Review of functional capacity numbers
□ Review of comments heard at December 4th and 6th
community meetings
□ Review of questions/concerns raised after November 25
work session
□ Review of potential final recommendations

“Functional capacity” is being evaluated now with walkthroughs at schools (it was mentioned last night that Arbor Heights had just gotten such a visit).

8:30 PM UPDATE: Board members have been asking more questions about the superintendent’s presentation. They’re saying they’re glad it’s obviously an “iterative” process.” Next events, a reminder – tomorrow night, a public “workshop” here at Stanford Center 6:30-8:30 pm; another one Saturday morning, Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Way, 9:30-11:30 am (map); that day, Saturday afternoon, Steve Sundquist will have another informal community gathering to discuss this (and other school issues) – 3-5 pm, Delridge Library.

8:50 PM UPDATE: The aforementioned work session, with lots of data etc., will be 4 pm next Tuesday here at district HQ “and we’ll go till we’re done,” says Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. She says feedback at any time can and should be sent to:
capacity@seattleschools.org
but mail also welcome at
schoolboard@seattleschools.org She just also mentioned an Arbor Heights-specific meeting for next Tuesday as well – checking on that.

9:24 PM NOTE: We have all of tonight’s Arbor Heights speakers on video and will upload those clips later tonight when we’re back at HQ – more pix too, like this:

ADDED 11:40 PM: Still working on the next report but in the meantime, here’s the info on the Tuesday meeting at Arbor Heights: 6 pm, per this district webpage. Concurrent with part of the aforementioned board workshop.