Community Post

Saving Our Schools

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.

0 thoughts on “Saving Our Schools

  1. Not only do demographic trends in the CD point to higher enrollment, but economic trends across the city do as well. The number of people who are willing and able to plunk down $15,000 per kid for private school tuition is going to shrink significantly.

  2. The Central District is not being respected as a neighborhood but as a south arm of Capitol Hill, leaving a major hole at TT Minor in any reasonable type of reference areas. Current demographics are not being presented.

    I encourage all to continue meeting with Board members to make your case. Board members were elected to represent us.

  3. It seems to me that the arguments for keeping these schools open is either historical or a future demographic projection, not the actual needs these neighborhoods have now or the budget realities. I am particularly not surprised to see TT Minor closing, sad as it may be and as much there ought to be small schools kids can just walk to. But come on.. everything west of TT Minor is already or on it’s way to being a townhome or high-end loft development. Seattle has one of the highest levels of single people in the country, and it seems that those single people are living right there all around that school. What families that are buying houses on the back side of Capitol Hill really want to send their kids to dysfunctional Meany? Sure, in theory, everyone supports public education, but when it comes time to send your kid to Meany, I am guessing that most families are trying to figure out how to get into APP at Washington (which is a throughly depressing building) or anywhere but.

    Our neighborhood is in flux and so why is it a surprise that our schools are too?

  4. Why not close TT Minor? Because as you said, the neighborhood is changing. There are more families with young children now than there have been in over a decade. This area is experiencing a rapid growth of households with children- about twice the growth rate of the city average. There is an active PTA, a still young Montessori program and TT Minor is better served by public transit other elementary schools in the cluster.

    Plus- The district does not have a good track record of caring for its closed buildings. The district is using outdated and flawed data to predict capacity. The over-due new assignment plan will impact school enrollment numbers. Viable co-housing options have not been explored. The state does not meet it’s legally mandated funding requirements.

    The reasons we in the central district should work to stop the closure of TT Minor are many. There are as many arguments against closure, some overlapping, for the Mann building and the Meany program.

  5. There should be federal funds to rehab the schools. It’s on the list. Can Seattle ‘get’ with the program? Seems like the only things Seattle has on the list are those items the State of Washington added. Jeez!

    And I think they’d save a ton more money by not schlepping so many kids around town..

    ‘In his weekly radio and video address on Saturday, Obama offered a broad stroke sketch his proposal, which he called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. In addition to a tax cut for workers, he said he would propose to:

    double renewable energy production and make public buildings more energy efficient;
    rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and schools;
    computerize the health care system;
    and modernize classrooms, labs and libraries.’

  6. City should turn the NOVA building into a community center like the the one in U-Dist/Roosevelt. The Commuity Center we have is good for sports, not as good for meetings of various non-athletic organizations.

  7. I’m pretty invested in NOVA being kept for NOVA, or at least for SPS- and that’s where I’m putting my energy.

    That said, I do not want to see that property sit vacant and hope that neighbors will start addressing the school board and the city re: keeping the Mann building open and in the service of the public. The time to organize is now.

  8. I am an advocate of keeping TT Minor open for many of the reasons stated by Nora. There is a need for a school in the area. Really, it is much better located regarding reasonable reference areas than some of the other buildings being projected to remain open. With any intentionality this would be clear. Some singles may live in Townhouses, but they also accommodate families with one or two children.

    TT Minor is experiencing revitalization along with the neighborhood. Almost all desirable, walkable neighborhoods are also family friendly with good schools. Closing TT Minor will disrupt the neighborhood and the sense of community. TT Minor and the area both are in a delicate stage of revitalization. The school is one of the pieces key to building a strong sense of neighborhood and community here. Any neighborhood that does not build on a sense of community is subject to deterioration with the slightest downturn in economics. Building a sense of community requires many different places of common interests and a school is one of the most important.

    Believe me, TT Minor as a school has much broader parent and community support now than it did just a few years ago.

    The current proposal divides the neighborhood and disrupts the parent group.

    However, I am not a proponent of having many small under enrolled schools open. Lowell is a logical location for APP and the parent group there has many legitimate concerns regarding the plan to divide it. TT Minor should be a successful neighborhood school with even just decent District and building leadership.

  9. I live three blocks from Nova and have never seen a soul go in or out of the building. I thought it WAS abandonned. The school seems to have a minimal impact on the quality of life in the neighborhood. If it appears that its closin is inevitable, we should definately look and working agressively with the city to convert it to something meaningful to the neigborhood. One possiility would be something aong the lines of the Oddfellows hall just off broadway. The tenants of that building are all losing their leases. It was a lower rent building that had office space, artists space, and hosted several community programs (dance, arts, soial clubs.) Something like that would be a fantastic addition.

  10. I’m neither a parent nor student, but I do live across the street from Nova and can report that there are students coming and going daily. There are groups of students who play music in the outlying buildings weekly and there are school social events held on the front lawn several times a year.

    I also caucused at Nova in the last presidential election. The interior walls are covered with student’s schoolwork and art projects. The room that our precinct voted in was comfortable and nontraditional and there were signs of academia everywhere. I was struck by the environment; especially considering my high school’s alternative program consisted of a diminutive, unadorned building at the edge of the campus.

  11. First year NOVA parent here. There are 300+ kids at NOVA. They use the front, back and side doors daily. ;) You can read a bit about their program and the history of the Mann building online-

    The NOVA project is a democratically run alternative HS with a focus on social-justice. I am incredibly impressed with the class offering, content, teaching staff, administration and most of all- the engaged, articulate, thoughtful students. This is a fantastic program that costs the district less per/student than any other HS and NOVA kids have the highest SAT scores in the district. NOVA students LIKE their school- and they excel in it. I know it’s a program, not just a building- but environment does influence education. At the public hearing re: the closure of their building, NOVA kids cheered their principal and teachers. That never happened at my HS. NOVA is a fantastic program and move or not, could use some support from its neighbors.

  12. NOVA is always bustling when I drive by it in the daytime. I call it (strictly in my head, mind you) “Goth High”, because that seems to be the look most of the kids like :-)

    (Before any overly sensitive people get bristly, let me state that there’s nothing wrong with Goth)

    Let’s now turn our attention to TT Minor. A successful neighborhood school, in a growing neighborhood, with a fairly modern building that has great views – at least compared to some other schools – why would anyone want to close it?

    Oh yes! The view!

    My Gosh, if that building were vacated, and sold at a loss to a developer, the land could finally achieve its highest purpose: Upscale, World-Class, and otherwise hyperbole-prone Luxury Housing!!!!

    We certainly have precedent for that: Schell assured that that pesky poor person hospital on Beacon became Amazon’s headquarters (leased to Wright-Rumstead for a buck a year for a hundred years) The Dexter-Horton, Alaska and City Light buildings basically given away to corporations by Rice. That loser of a Key Tower taken off poor Key Bank’s hands by Rice, and used to house city bureaucrats. We have to help the corporations and developers out!

  13. KG said “What families that are buying houses on the back side of Capitol Hill really want to send their kids to dysfunctional Meany?”

    Have you ever been in the school? I have a 7th grader there and was just wondering if you know of the wonderful programs that are going on there or bothered to come to our arts festival last year that brought in hundreds of local people? Or were you just looking at the color of the kids faces that were walking into the school to make your judgement?

  14. Thanks. I checked out the programs at the website. What a great school. Apparently the final vote is later this week. Does anyone know how much Nova costs the school district? There could be the possiblity of finding 3rd party resources to keep the school running.