Parents and residents in a northern swatch of the Central District, from Madison Avenue to Cherry Street and from 14th to 23rd Avenues (called Areas 42 and 43) are hoping to influence the school district to reopen TT Minor as the area’s elementary school.
The group’s impetus for forming is a recent projection that Stevens Elementary School will surpass its current capacity for students in the next several years. As a result, Seattle Public Schools has proposed boundary changes that will reassign students near Stevens’ southern boundary to either Madrona K-8 or Lowell Elementary. The group would prefer the district reopen TT Minor.
The school district is fielding feedback on its proposed boundary changes at several upcoming meetings, including one on Monday at Meany Middle School from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The neighborhood group will be present at the Monday meeting to express their thoughts on TT Minor.
The group outlined its goals in a recent media release sent to Central District News:
Our short-term request is to maintain the current boundaries in order to provide stability to the families of Area 42 and 43 that have been shuffled around time and time again in the years since the closing of TT Minor Elementary. Our long-term goal is to reopen TT Minor as a neighborhood elementary school as soon as funding and administrative processes allow.
Utilizing the Seattle Public Schools Guiding Principles as a template, our opinions concerning the matter are as follows:
- Since the closure of TT Minor Elementary in 2009, there has not been adequate data capturing the current density and growth projections for Area 42 and 43. We are asking SPS to collect growth and density data for this neighborhood. Based on our own knowledge of data from 2011 American community survey, Area 42 and 43 encompass two census tracts that together serve nearly 600 families. Even if every family had only one elementary aged child and then, only two-thirds of families sent their child to a neighborhood elementary school, at least 400 students could be served. This is more than the current or projected enrollments for Stevens, Montlake, Madrona, or McGilvra.
- Area 42 and 43 census tracts represent some of the most diverse in Seattle, yet it is one of the only neighborhoods that lacks a walkable neighborhood elementary school. This is not an equitable application of public resources from a racial, cultural, or socioeconomic perspective.
- TT Minor provides a safe, walkable elementary school for all of the children of Area 42 and 43. Travel to Madrona, Lowell, and Stevens requires busing and/or the crossing of multiple large and dangerous intersections. A walkable elementary school is also a key piece of the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic plaguing this country, especially minority children.
- The principle of minimizing disruptions by aligning new boundaries with old is totally ignored in the case of Area 42 and 43. There is a long history of boundary changes in this neighborhood that do not allow for any sort of consistency with school assignments among neighbors and sometimes, even within families. There are cases where on a single block there are 4 families being served by 4 different schools, all of which were assigned, not chosen. We feel the introduction of a stable neighborhood school would rectify this issue in the long term. We are located such that we are bound to be moved time and time again as density more near to neighborhood schools like Stevens, Madrona, and Lowell increases.
- By reopening TT Minor as a neighborhood school, the district will save transportation costs as well as the cost of repurposing a building currently suitable for elementary students for any other proposed use.
We are asking Seattle Public Schools to deeply consider our request based on the needs of Area 42 and 43 as outlined above. We are devoted parents asking for equitable access to a neighborhood school. Reopening TT Minor Elementary is a sensible and sustainable long-term strategy. The current proposed growth boundary changes are yet another Band-Aid, short-term fix, ignoring the SPS’s own data and guiding principles.
Central District News plans to further cover the boundary changes as the story evolves.
What isn’t in here is that the district already has plans for TT Minor – it is to become the new home of the World School (the 6-12 school for recent immigrant students). Their program has been kicked around and short-shifted for years and this is a home – centrally located – to house them.
Lowell is not full nor is Madrona.
So there are options but the district seems settled on TT Minor for the World School.
It’s a tough call.
Consider how much the District would save in transportation for those 400 or so students who could walk to TT Minor and will have to be bused until TT Minor is online again. Consider the guiding principals of walkable, and neighborhoods, and transportation savings etc. Who and how many students can actually walk to Lowell? Why should these families be especially singled out not to fall under the guiding principals.
Just squat the building until you get what you want. Maybe it can be shared with the World School.
We are fully aware that TT is slated to go to World School in 2016. This is, however, not going to stop the request to the district that it reconsider and open TT Minor as a neighborhood elementary. We will be bringing to light that Area 42 and 43 have been “kicked around” just as much as any group. To be precise, 4 different schools in 4 years, since TT Minor closed in 2009 (that’s TT Minor, then Lowell, then Stevens, now Madrona or Lowell which, by the way is determined based on being East or West of 19th, a dividing line right down the middle of our residential neighborhood). The district, by promising the World School to TT before delivering it’s growth boundary changes plan has forced the Area 42 and 43 parents to be the bleeding hearts of the Seattle Public School system. Although we are very sensitive to the needs of the Stevens, the World School, Madrona, and Lowell, sometimes you just have to put your kids first. It is not fair that we have to solve these big problems. Not to mention, once Madrona and Lowell are at capacity, guess who gets the boot?! Those on the fringe, which we will always be until we have a neighborhood school.
Just want to chime in to support Ryan and ensure everyone that we are thinking of the World School in regards to TT Minor. We know that the kids and families at the World School are the most disenfranchised in the district, and that they have very few people advocating for them. Our group reached out both personally and professionally to the World School staff and have let them know of our arguments. It breaks my heart personally to even think about advocating against a permanent home for the World School. Nonetheless our CD neighborhood kids do deserve to be at neighborhood school and not shifted from one to another as the winds change because we are ‘bus-able’ (read non-walkable, though my kids ride their bikes to Stevens, which they could not do to Madrona where we are slated to move).
The district is proposing bussing our neighborhood middle school kids down to Old Van Asselt during the Meany roll-up. If they are considering doing this, and can find funds for renovations, I think Old Van Asselt might be a better solution for the World School and allow TT Minor to be used as a community school. OVA has a much larger capacity (which the World School needs) and is closer to where many of the immigrant and refugee families live, as the demographic shift has taken much of our diverse populations further and further south. The problem is that the World School has very little money (relatively) from the BEX levy and TT needs much less renovation than OVA. Once again, however, if the district can consider this for Meany why not for the World School?
Short-term / long-term expenses, right? Short-term perhaps you pay a little more for the work at Old Van Asselt, long-term your transportation costs should be less there *and* at a TT Minor neighborhood elementary.
Please sign the petitions and write your public officials, not just the school board, to support this effort.
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