The letter below was approved for distribution at the Squire Park Community Council General Meeting on Saturday, January 10, 2009:
As you know schools are an integral part of the fabric of any
neighborhood and the loss of a school leaves a hole in the identity
and character of a community. The Squire Park community in the
Central District is one Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods with a rich
past interwoven many of the histories of Seattle’s ethnic groups.
Since the mid 1990s and especially beginning in 2000 this area has
been experiencing fast paced revitalization. Periods of community
transformation are exciting and stimulating but are also periods
during which many delicate balances must be respected. The new must
be embraced while at the same time the character, history , and
people of the area must appreciated and honored. When done well the
two work well together to create a new and exciting vitality within
TT Minor Elementary School reflects this history, transformation, and growing
diversity of the neighborhood and is now uniquely situated to serve
and embrace the diverse groups of families who live here.
Census tracts cited in media indicate that number of children under
age 5 has risen by more than 15 % from 2000 to 2007, double the average increase
citywide. Some have estimated the increase to be greatest within the
TT Minor area. Demographic reference area data being used by the
School District is current for the year 2006. Even those figures
show that TT Minor has the highest rate of growth in the number of
births of any reference area in the Central District and has
continually been in first or second place in the total number of
births for all Central Cluster reference areas since 1997. The 2007 data has not
yet been considered. Current data is especially important for a
thorough and accurate analysis of communities in transition and those
communities are at the greatest disadvantage when the data is not
current. District projections do not include the 5,000 new units
planned to replace the 348 apartments that currently exist at Yesler
Terrace. While the project is slated to begin in 2011 and will take
some time to complete, it will have a dramatic affect on Central
Cluster school enrollment as the new units become available. It does
not make sense to close TT Minor with its record of increased
academic achievement and parent and community support. Its location
in the heart of a neighborhood with a growing number of children make
it ideally suited to serve as a neighborhood school with a Montessori
Program for the cluster.
Closing TT Minor School will not only disrupt the school during an
important stage of development but will also disrupt a community in an
important stage of transformation. The school is one of the pieces
key to building a strong sense of neighborhood and community here.
Without an identity and sense of community any area is subject to
deterioration during even the slightest hint of an economic crisis.
The Central District is a very walkable area with many new families.
The current proposal divides the neighborhood and disrupts the growing
parent group. This community and the Seattle School District have
much to lose by closing TT Minor and much to gain by continuing to
support the growth and success of a naturally diverse school. We are
asking you to please reconsider the Superintendent’s current proposal
and ensure that the TT Minor school will be here for our families.
Squire Park Community Council
(approved January 10, 2009)