When the last school closure debacle happened two years ago, the one where the superintendent  was to save the school district $3M the first year by closing schools and programs just to have to re-open five schools the next year for $48M because Bernatek‘s people were working off of an old census report, as they told the school board recently, and  the rest of us were trying to show the school board the real numbers, well, during that school closure, many of us said that the one good thing about our superintendent was it brought many of us together. (Below is a re-post regarding the school closure debacle.)

Parents, teachers, students and staff from the North end to the South end, from Central Seattle to West Seattle,  families involved in APP programs, special ed programs and SBOC, from alternative schools to  the more “traditional”  programs, we all came together and got to know each other and our programs. Out of that struggle friendships have developed. I have met people who I would otherwise not have known  and these friendships and relationships have enriched my life immeasurably.

We all have one thing in common, we know what good schools look like, we know a good teacher when we see one and we want the best for all of our children in Seattle. We also know that our Broad-trained superintendent is doing more harm than good by destroying the very programs that have been the most successful in Seattle, losing Title 1 money to schools who need it the most as with Thurgood Marshall Elementary,  breaking up the APP program so now there is not critical mass to provide the APP classes in certain basic subjects at the schools that these students were re-assigned to, losing grant money for the Native American students which should have been a slam dunk if only someone had filled out the paperwork on time. There is a Broadie, by the way, in charge of grants who our Broad-trained superintendent hired but we think that the only grants they look for are the ones from Gates and Broad.

In this struggle, I have also met people throughout the country who are in similar circumstances, teachers and parents, as well as educators in our universities, writers, bloggers and people who are simply concerned with where we are going in this rush toward “ed reform”.

Getting to know all of these people has enriched my life.

Waving signs this summer with teachers from Detroit and Chicago, sharing the good news and the bad with bloggers around the country, planning rallies and special events with people who I would have otherwise not met, hearing from people everyday who send an e-mail telling me and Sue that they are grateful to find that they are not alone in their confusion and exasperation over what is going on in their own school districts; these are the experiences that I treasure.

Thank you for that.

Now on to making the cranberry sauce and turkey!

Dora

From a post on our old blog regarding the school closures:

All of the schools and programs that will be shown on this page were closed or split in 2009 for an alleged total savings of $3M for the year. A drop in the bucket considering the $34M budget shortfall claimed by School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. Was it worth it? Let us know what you think. Enrollment for the fall of 2009 is 1,200 students more than the district anticipated. With schools closed based on capacity and financial management issues per our superintendent’s statements, where will these students be seated?

Meg Diaz, a parent, did a brilliant presentation to the school board in January regarding the school closures, the demographics of Seattle and why it didn’t make sense to close the schools.
See: http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/meg-diaz-analysis

Unfortunately, the school board paid no attention to Ms. Diaz or their own reports and instead chose to believe the numbers presented by the superintendent’s CFO, Don Kennedy who previously worked with our superintendent in Charleston, and Brad Bernatek our Broad graduate and Director of REA, Research, Evaluation and Assessment who also handles the demographic data for SPS.

Two schools were closed that, per their own report, would see an increase in school aged children of anywhere between 31%-100% between 2008 and 2012. See page 11 of the DeJong report titled “Seattle Public Schools: Enrollment Projections Report”. Those two schools were TT Minor Elementary School and Meany Middle School.

After the closures, Ms. Diaz decided to investigate the administrative cost within the Stanford Center and came up with surprising results. While the superintendet was rifing teaches and staff and closing schools, staff was growing within the Stanford Center and particularly in our superintendent’s office where yet another Broad graduate was hired as one of the superintendent’s administrative assistants.

Posted on October 6, 2009: The new assignment plan just came out and the proposal is to re-open five school buildings. Between closing five school buildings, shuffling students to different schools and now proposing the re-opening of five buildings within a year’s time speaks volumns about the lack of competency of our superintendent and her chosen staff.

We have now wasted money closing five schools, moving students, equipment and materials around just to re-open five school buildings.

The cost of re-opening five of these buildings is as follows:

Sand Point: $7M
Viewlands: $11M
Old Hay: $7.5M
Mc Donald$: $14.9M
Rainier View: $7.4M
Total so far: $47.8

The superintendent, along with the school board, plan to take the next capitol levy money, BEX III, to be voted on in 2010 that was to go to the maintenance and seismic upgrades of our school buildings, which would make them safer, and instead use the money to re-open these previously closed buildings.

The decision to close schools last year and close or relocate programs came down from our superintendent’s office quickly and there was little time for debate or understanding of what the ramifications would be. It is my opinion that again, we need to have time to evaluate what cost can wait and how these cost can be phased so that we can not only make our existing buildings safer but also provide adequate space for all of our students.

There is also stimulus money that other school dristricts have been able to acquire to upgrade their school buildings through FEMA grants. These grants, part of a Disaster Mitigation Fund, are being used to make school buildings safer. I had presented this information to the school board and superintendent but no action was taken at the time.

DT