Will your school be there next year?

A Montlake mom tries to follow the school district's bouncing balls.
A Montlake mom tries to follow the school district's bouncing balls.

Sometimes I think we are following the Dr. Seuss approach to running a school district:

We say we want them, yes we do. Great schools for all, we all are due.

Do we want them near our home? Or do we want them where we must roam?

Will your school be there next year? Let's spin the wheel and lend an ear.

Where did it land? Let's look and see. Hmm. Bad for you and bad for me.

Wait! See this list? It's right and true (except for you and you and you).

Next year will be great we'll save a buck. Then come back in two and try your luck.

It seems a little counterintuitive to try to do any of the Seattle Public School District's proposed changes without knowing what the status of the schools will be after another major overhaul potentially scheduled for 2010. At least we've heard there will be one. Is that true? So many resources (and emotions) will have been wasted on this current round of closures and moves if indeed there's another big shake up coming in 2010 when the referral areas for Seattle Public Schools are redrawn. From what I've been reading on the Seattle Public Schools community blog and Director Harium Martin-Moriss's blog, a lot of citizens feel the district is putting the cart before the horse. I speak as a mother of two children in Montlake Elementary.

We read that about 20 to 25 percent of Seattle's school-age children have enrolled in private schools for the last 20 years. Enrollment in Seattle schools peaked at 99,000 students in 1962, and is now down to around 45,000. About a year ago, the board was supposed to work on a new student-assignment plan, designed to guarantee students a space in a school near their home. That would improve predictability.

A year has passed. So which is it Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson? Seattle School Board Directors? Are we going to be making stronger neighborhood schools or not? Is this latest capacity plan going to save money and help create more funding for the schools by pulloing more kids into Seattle Public Schools?

Montlake Elementary building is slated to be closed. It's the end of our neighborhood school that we walk to every day. We will now leapfrog two closer school buildings to send our kids to the neighborhood school two miles away. I worry that Montlake Elementary will move to Capitol Hill for 2009 and then we will get dispersed in 2010 when they redraw the reference areas and we'll have to attend one of the two schools closer to our home. How much busing will have to be added? I'd be happier if they keep Montlake put one more year and then really assess capacity needs after the supposed big reassignment plan in 2010.

In our neighborhood's case, Seattle Public Schools has let the Montlake building fall into disrepair, and now they are going to close a fine neighborhood program just as they are ramping up the rhetoric on focusing on better neighborhood schools. I hear the building condition itself makes it inevitable, but it still makes me sad and embarrassed that it has gotten to this point in this progressive pro-education city.


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