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.