A story about Arbor Heights recently aired on KUOW radio. Unfortunately the KUOW story contains a number of inaccuracies and did not accurately reflect the subject matter of our conversation with the reporter. As saveseattleschools.com, West Seattle Blog and Seattle Times have reported earlier, Seattle School Board members (Sundquist and Maier) directed the District to consider Cooper Elementary as a location for Pathfinder at the November 25th School Board meeting when closures were first announced – prior to any testimony, letters from parents or calls to Board members. Also at that meeting, Board members questioned Dr. Goodloe-Johnson about why she wasn’t proposing to close a high school when the District had excess capacity of 3,000 seats, with 800 more by 2011.
During public testimony at the December 3rd School Board meeting Arbor Heights parents presented School District data supporting three potential alternatives to closing Arbor Heights. That data was in no way based on poverty. It was based on building capacity, percentage of attendance drawn from reference area and rate of first choice attendance.
Three schools in West Seattle rank high (2nd, 4th & 5th respectively) for first choice and neighborhood attendance despite high levels of students in poverty – Concord (81% free lunch), Sanislo (50% free lunch), and Highland Park (73% free lunch).
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s Superintendent’s report at the December 3rd School Board meeting proposed Cooper as the location for Pathfinder and closure of Rainier Beach. Delivered immediately following public testimony, the report was clearly prepared in advance. These facts are easily verifiable through media reports of the meetings and by the Superintendent’s Reports on the School District’s website.
Seattle School District has said schools will close. This is nothing to celebrate and we at Arbor Heights, along with the rest of West Seattle, do not celebrate ANY West Seattle School closing. Our efforts have always been, and will continue to be, focused on two things only: making sure that the district stays true to its stated priorities of neighborhood schools and equitable access to quality education for all students.
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