Save Seattle Schools
Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors
Educators Students & Parents for a Better Vision of Seattle Schools
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SAVE SEATTLE SCHOOLS
We Deserve a Better Plan
We, the parents, teachers, students and concerned members of the Seattle Public Schools community, oppose the capacity management proposal put forth by School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, which would close as many as seven school buildings and discontinue (or dramatically alter) as many as 14 programs, directly impacting over 4,000 children citywide and negatively affecting many more through class-size increases and other unintended consequences.
The proposal is rushed and ill-conceived. It lacks clear explanations of its choices and hard data to justify them. In many places, it contradicts the district's goals, guiding principles, and codified policies. It will further erode trust in our schools and drive even more of our families out of the district or to private schools (Seattle already has one of the highest private-school enrollment rates in the nation). The proposal also lacks critical information from the district's Functional Capacity Analysis (which will not be released until Jan. 13, 2009), and the new school assignment plan (which will not be completed until 2010).
We acknowledge that the district is facing budget challenges. We also affirm that it is the right and responsibility of the superintendent to be a good steward of our public funds, and to manage capacity in our schools. However, this proposal is fundamentally flawed.
Therefore, we urge the school board to vote NO on Jan. 29, 2009 to a proposal that:
Was drafted without the necessary data to make informed decisions and will not achieve stated objectives.
Is not a budget solution. It fails to demonstrate how it will realize an estimated savings of only $3.6 million (to offset an estimated $24 million budget shortfall).
Does not account for expenditures associated with closures or program duplications/changes. In 2006, following the closure of five elementary schools, the per-student moving cost was estimated at $2,700-3,700.
Fails to account for potential revenue losses from declines in enrollment. The 2006 closures triggered a 20.7\% enrollment decline among affected students; using 2007-08 per-student funding estimates of $4,600, revenue loss may total upwards of $38 million.
Requires additional investments, such as "design teams, that are neither detailed nor funded.
We demand a better plan in which school closures are strictly a last resort, and instead urge the district to take the following steps:
Tap the districts rainy day fund (estimated at $60 million by the districts financial officer)
Demand compliance with the Basic Education Act of 1977 which mandates state funding of K-12 education. Current funding levels have declined since the acts passage. Washington State currently ranks 42nd in the nation in per-pupil spending.
Look to curb or cut expenses elsewhere, including in the central office, which has seen the highest percent increase in spending of any area in the school district.
Seattles children deserve a better deal.