The link to the resolution being offered at Wednesday's Special Board meeting is now posted. It is sobering reading. From the resolution:
"This projected shortfall and the negative information from the state is coupled with a number of audits that have advised that we have significant excess capacity vis a vis our student enrollment. For example, the recent State Auditor’s Report on the ten largest districts in Washington State reported that Seattle Public Schools has 18% excess capacity, compared to other districts in the state. In addition, both the Curriculum Audit commissioned by Phi Delta Kappa and the Capital Department review commissioned by the Council of Great City Schools indicated that our capacity exceeds our enrollment and recommended closing buildings. And as far back as 1990, the Washington State House of Representatives evaluation of Seattle Public Schools recommended reducing the per pupil maintenance cost of the district by reducing the number of facilities in operation.
The Board does not take the action of building closures lightly. We recognize the hard work teachers, principals, administrators, and families put in to build communities that support students. But the negative impact to all schools and programs we face if the Board does not take this kind of action will be far more painful to our students and families than the closing of facilities.
The case to do this work is compelling: the combination of a large projected budget shortfall and the number of outside voices calling for geographically balancing our capacity to our enrollment means this issue can be postponed no longer. The real savings of closure are long-term and structural. It is incumbent upon the School Board to lead a multi-year staged process that will move us toward educating all children with the most effective use of resources."
There is no good news in this effort. It is going to be painful but yes, it has to be done.
Plain and simple - the district needs to be operating buildings in proportion to the number of students in the district.
Plain and simple - the district cannot keeping transporting students all over the city. In the case of programs that are offered only in one location, they need to find central locations for those programs to minimize transportation time and costs.
I do want to note that in this resolution and the Options for Capacity Planning document (also to be discussed at the meeting), both mention the State Auditor's report saying the district has excess capacity. However, neither document mentions that the State Auditor's report also says the district has too many administrators.
That's troubling for two reasons. One, it's a bit of cherry-picking to use State Auditor's report when it works for what the district wants to do. But on the subject of too many administrators, they are strangely silent. Two, why is there no mention at all of other efforts to find other ways to cut back other than closure and consolidation?