I have grave concerns about the closing of three schools in the Central District and Capitol Hill areas. According to demographic studies, there will be an influx of families into these areas within the next few years. There is a projected population growth between 2007 and 2012 of 31%-100% for school aged children in our central Seattle neighborhoods. Our community will need more schools, not less.
Another concern is abandoned property. If Nova is moved, for example, there will be an abandoned building taking up an entire block that will stand vacant until the School Board determines its’ fate. If it is decided that the property is to be sold, with the economy the way it is now, it will take two or three years to negotiate and sell. That could be 2-4 years with yet another abandoned, fenced-in building in the Central District and across the street from Garfield High School. Not a good solution for the neighborhood or the Nova school.
It is also obvious that no one has taken the time to work out the cost of taking an existing school that was designed to hold one school and remodel it to accommodate two schools equitably as the School Board is planning to do to Meany and other schools. There would need to be two main offices, two sets of teachers’ lounges and teachers’ offices. The cost of remodeling a school so that it functions properly for two completely different programs can be significant and probably as much as the cost to either renovate an existing school such as Nova or construct another building. If the school board decides that it is too costly to remodel a school to accommodate two school programs, then no one would benefit from the move.
Looking at the proposal for the central, southeast and Montlake areas, it is obvious that much was not taken into consideration. The school boards’ plan to close schools is a knee jerk reaction and not an appropriate long term solution to this financial situation. We need to calmly and logically come up with a plan that meets the needs of our students now and in the future.