I've read the Superintendent's Preliminary Recommendation for Phase II of the school closures, but don't feel like I know enough to respond to the specifics yet. I would like to hear from parents at all the involved schools with their perspectives to help shape my views.
Of course, part of the reason I don't know how the other schools feel about these issues is because the Phase II process was closed, with a limited group of people involved by invitation only, and little or no communicaton to the wider public about what was being discussed.
The Phase I process was similar in that public involvement really only began after initial recommendations by the CAC. But that process then allowed over three months for public reaction and involvement as it moved on to Raj's preliminary recommendations, his final recommendations, and then the Board vote. Phase II, by contrast, is on very short timeline. with just over 6 weeks from today's announcement to final vote.
I protested loudly that the Phase I school closure process was overly ambitous and poorly designed. But as an advocate for openness and accountability, I have concerns about the Phase II process as well. I admit to feeling conflicted on this issue. Solutions to difficult, emotional issues cannot always be mediated successfully in public.
Below are others' thoughts on the Phase II process:
Coolpapa comment on PI editorial in August - "What amazes me is that on Saturday the 12th, the District announces community meetings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. They put ads in newspapers inviting people to come. Then, on Thursday the 17th, they cancel the meetings.The meetings were supposed to be to solicit ideas from the community regarding Phase II of the closures and consolidations...Of course, by the time they get around to discussing those ideas with the public the timeline will have grown so short that they will not be able to alter their plans.This is how Seattle Public Schools creates the illusion of community engagement without actually having to do any.
And these quotes from today's Seattle Times article More schools facing closure:
Brita Butler-Wall, Board President - And Manhas' process? "It's not open or transparent, so how can it be fair?"
Michael DeBell, Board member - "only time will tell" whether the superintedent's strategy is a good one.
Melissa Westbrook, CAC member - "said Manhas' process is the most efficient way."