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Dear Seattle Schools: So THIS Is Why People Throw Chairs at Board Meetings

October 7, 2009

*rubs temples*

THIS is another clear cut example of why parents, educators, unions, advocates and students are fed up with the Seattle School Board.

The District has had a few rounds of school closures these past few years- a process which often divides communities and creates tension and a helluva lot of resentment.

But the District has always maintained that due to slumping enrollment and severe budget woes, closures- though painful- have all been necessary.

To successfully implement its new enrollment plan, however, 5 schools will be re-opened.

After having it beat into our skulls that the District doesn’t have the financial resources it needs, bla, bla, bla, they’re going to open FIVE buildings- only after substantial renovations are made- to the tune of more than 30 million dollars.

Who pays for this?  Why, the voters of course.  Funds for work on the buildings are to come from next year’s levy.


We haven’t even discussed the assignment plan yet.  Read about it here.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2009 12:03 am

    I can’t…

    I have nothing…

  2. Kate Martin permalink
    October 8, 2009 9:33 am

    They just got onto demography in the last year and I’m not joking. I pleaded with them that closing schools was short-sighted in light of the number of kids born in Seattle over the previous years who were going to be coming of school age.

    And even opening 5 closed schools will not meet capacity for long if at all. Selling the schools for community centers was short sighted as well. Now those non-profits are having money problems and perhaps they’d be interesting in leasing back to the district.

    It’s more planning hell.

    And the assignment plan is supposed to do what? Save money? Level the playing field somehow? Wouldn’t we want to equalize the quality of the schools and then force assignments? Do you ever have to force assignments if the schools are of equal quality? Is forcing assignments actually a relevant trend? Isn’t enrollment choice a voluntary way to mix it up in Seattle and address the problems that come from only being in environments with people that are the same? Forced enrollment seems like mandatory segregation. Maybe I’m missing something. I don’t think so. I hope that if there is inequality in the quality of schools, which I certainly believe there is, then those with the better schools offer their addresses for enrollment of kids until such time as the schools are of comparable quality. I’d do it. Up to 8 unrelated folks at each address according to the land use code. We better come up with some kind of tools like this to force the district to measure up if they’re going to force enrollment.

    Even if all the schools were good, which is hard to imagine, would we really want education to demand segregation by neighborhood? My kids have benefited immensely from moving around to schools outside the neighborhood as we’ve navigated the district over the years.


  3. The Spook Who Sat By The Door permalink
    October 8, 2009 10:15 am

    It boggles the mind. They want to open five schools (Viewlands, McDonald, Sand Point, Old Hay, Rainier View), three of which they closed within the last two years?

    Furthermore, they’re too scared to stand up and say that because of capacity issues they need to open schools in the north at the same time they close schools in the south, but figure that if they close southend schools one year and open northend schools the next (buried in the SAP), few will notice and they can avoid cries of racism or classism?

    Bold leadership, financial stewardship, and careful planning, my ass.

    From the Seattle PI 30 Jan 2009:

    “But reopening a closed school building is costly and time-consuming.

    Last year, parents urged the district to reopen the Sand Point Elementary building to ease overcrowding in Northeast Seattle schools. What seemed like a simple enough solution, though, was impossible, district officials said; it would cost an estimated $6.8 million and take two to three years to renovate the building and bring it up to current code.

    Parent and education blogger Charlie Mas doesn’t buy it. “It didn’t take them three years to rebuild Garfield (High School), and it’s not even going to take them three years to build a new Denny (Middle School), from the ground up,” he said.

    “If you’re never going to reopen a school … why keep them?”

    Sand Point is leased out to North Seattle Community College through June 2009, English said, and money also is a major factor.

    Sand Point, which is more than 50 years old, would need significant repairs and updates, and a certificate of occupancy.

    “You wouldn’t want to put the kids in the building just to get them into the building, you’d want to make it the right building, with the right features that a modern elementary school has,” he said.

    There’s no extra money lying around to devote to spur-of-the-moment renovation projects, he said.

    The $490 million Building Excellence III bond measure voters approved in 2007 already has been doled out for major construction and renovation projects, so work would have to stop on one or more of those projects to divert funds to renovate Sand Point, he said.

    If money is to be redirected from the BEX III bond, there are plenty of projects to spend it on — the backlog of maintenance and repair costs for the shuttered buildings alone is estimated at a staggering $90 million.”

    I think there’s a real risk of the upcoming Levy not passing.

  4. SPS Parent permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:12 pm

    The number is $48 million and growing to RE-open these schools. This will create capacity for 1700 students.

    We are being asked to spend $50 million for 1700 students, while the rest of the buildings crumble, and the SBOC population STILL without their funding from the LAST levy and and and…..

    All that aside, the question that nobody is asking:

    What happens to the SAP if the levy fails?

    Where do they plop those 1700 students?

  5. SolvayGirl permalink
    October 8, 2009 6:25 pm

    A chunk of the readers of the Save Seattle Public Schools blog are all discussing voting down the levy as a means to demand accountability from the District. The biggest sticking point is how top-heavy Central Administration is, including numerous highly-paid “consultants.” The talk there is that the price tag to reopen the 5 buildings has already risen to $48 million! Yikes! That’s 48-mil that won’t get spent replacing lead water pipes, eradicating unhealthy mold and removing asbestos from buildings that are long overdue for repairs.
    Check out the blog here:

  6. The Spook Who Sat By The Door permalink
    October 8, 2009 8:05 pm

    This is something anyone who cares about Seattle schools or where their tax dollars are going needs to see:

    An Analysis of Central Administration Efficiency in Seattle Public Schools

    Spread the word. (hoping I got the link right)

  7. Kate Martin permalink
    October 14, 2009 9:58 pm

    There is not a single case of school closures and consolidation nationwide that has shown anything but the trend detailed by @6. Always the result is bureaucratic obesity. The data was presented by many folks during closures. There’s no data that they save money, much data that they cost money and always data that the bureaucracy becomes more expensive and less efficient. Additionally, the data indicates that closures and consolidations increase the achievement gap. This also was presented.

    When they said closures were painful, but necessary, many said bullshit and of course they went lockstep into approving them.

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