Seattle Courant

School Board Members Release Last Minute Recommendations on Closure Plan

By Keith Vance
January 28, 2009 11:01PM

Mary Bass, who represents the central region including the Central District and Capitol Hill, offered the most dramatic changes to Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's plan.

Bass wants T. T. Minor, Mann and Old Hay taken off the closure list. She wants Nova High School to stay where it is. And she would like to see the students currently at Lowell left alone.

These are significant changes to the plan Goodloe-Johnson is proposing. The superintendent is calling for the closure of five buildings, eight programs relocated, one new program and another five programs eliminated. The buildings marked for closure are T. T. Minor, Old Hay, Van Asselt, Mann and Genessee Hill.

Since Goodloe-Johnson released her "capacity management" plan on Jan. 6, there's been an outcry of disapproval, particularly in the areas most impacted - the Central District and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

The problem, according to the superintendent, is that there are too many schools with empty seats, others that require more, and now, there's a $25 million budget deficit.

"We have more buildings open than we have students to fill them," district spokesman David Tucker said.

While that may be true, parents and teachers who rely on schools like T. T. Minor Elementary aren't letting go quietly. Last Sunday, a couple hundred of them held a rally at Garfield Community Center and their zeal and disappointment were evident.

"They say closures! We say no! Goodloe-Johnson has got to go!" the crowd chanted.

And now there are last minute recommendations by School Board member Bass and several of her colleagues.

Board Director Harium Martin-Morris, representing the University District and Roosevelt, wants to "co-locate the K-8 portion of Summit K-12 at Aki Kurose and merge the 9-12 portion of Summit with Nova."

West Seattle's Steve Sundquist recommends splitting up the students at Cooper and reassigning them to three schools: Gatewood, Highland Park and Arbor Heights.

According to his plan, students in the autism program, as well as students within walking distance to the school, would remain at Cooper to be incorporated into Pathfinder.

Peter Maier represents North Seattle. He's recommending that students who are reassigned to different schools receive priority assignment next year.

Representing Green Lake, Greenwood and Whittier, Sherry Carr wants to allow A.P.P. students within walking distance to remain at Lowell.

The Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the school closure plan tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (2445 3rd Ave. S.).