Parents sound off on Seattle Public Schools consolidation plan

SEATTLE — Many parents and teachers are speaking out against Seattle Public Schools’ plan to cut 20 elementary schools.

More than 100 people showed up to Thursday night’s community meeting about Superintendent Brent Jones’ ‘Well-Resourced Schools’ plan could close more than a quarter of the district’s 73 elementary schools.

SPS says 29 of those schools serve less than 300 students. They’re buildings the district calls under-enrolled.

“If you put buildings at capacity, that leads to less flexibility to students that might need more support or need a quiet space,” said teacher Dustin Cole.

Cole teaches at Graham Hill Elementary, which is one of the schools that could be affected.

He says the significant change would take a toll on years of hard work.

“It takes years to build these relationships with families, with other teachers, with our students. Getting to know other Gen Ed students. And if that school closes, or any of those schools close, it just dismantles and disseminates all of that work towards inclusion,” Cole said.

Superintendent Brent Jones says only about 65% of the smaller elementary schools are being utilized to their full capacity. By consolidating students into less schools, Jones says the campus buildings could go up to 85%.

Jones believes there will be better school staffing, teacher-student ratios and a balanced budget.

“Maybe a more staggered approach would make more sense. I think the longer you put it off it’s probably going to cost more,” said parent Jay Johnson.

Johnson thinks the shuffle is necessary, but should be happen at a slower rate.

“Closing a school will save a ton of money but it’s still going to take a lot, a quarter ton to keep it open and not falling apart,” he added.

A major concern from parents and teachers are the impacts it will have on the lives of students.

“When people get settled into a community, shifting that it does a lot. People work, they have their set schedules, they have childcare in certain areas,” said parent Michelle Reese.

Reese hopes that if the district keeps these widespread impacts in mind.

“Just make sure that they’re able to support the emotional support and the aftermath of what that’s going to look like,” she said.

If the plan were to move forward, it would impact the 2025 - 2026 school year.

Superintendent Jones is expected to present preliminary recommendations to the school board in June.

Click here to find future SPS meetings about ‘Well Resourced Schools.’

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