Contrary to what I expected prior to the announcement of preliminary recommendations, only one school building (Genesee Hill) and one program (Cooper) are proposed for closure.
I am grateful that the importance of having a K-8 alternative school option in West Seattle is being recognized by both the district staff and the School Board. I'm not happy that Pathfinder's continued existence is proposed to come at the cost of another school program (originally Arbor Heights and now Cooper).
My hope is that, if the Cooper program closes, many neighborhood Cooper students will choose to try an alternative school experience and enroll at Pathfinder K-8. I would like to see Cooper students given priority for enrollment at Pathfinder for 2009-2010, if they wish. And I hope that neighborhood Cooper students who do not want an alternative school experience will be given priority for enrollment for next year in other West Seattle North schools.
One of the things that Rebecca, a Cooper teacher, wrote about in her FAQ sheet (see Cooper Elementary Fights Closure Proposal) I agree with very strongly and passionately. Being in a school with a high concentration of kids in poverty is strongly linked with low achievement levels for individual students, even with all other factors being equal. The research Rebecca cites (and other research) makes this clear. If we want to reduce the achivement gap, we need to make sure our policies (program placement, transportation, reference area lines, assignment plan tie breakers, etc.) push our district away from having schools with high percentages of kids living in poverty.