Committee recommends closing schools

  • Sarah Koenig<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:52am

Sunset and North City elementary schools will close this fall if the Shoreline School Board adopts a recommendation made this week by an advisory committee. The committee met for months to find ways to pull the district out of its fiscal crisis.

Every elementary student is potentially affected, since school boundaries will be redrawn if schools close. The recommendation, which aims to save $2.4 million, was finalized Wednesday, Jan. 3 and will be presented to the board Monday, Jan. 8. The board can change or adopt it after 90 days.

In addition to closures, the committee recommends slimming the middle school day to six periods and moving Room Nine Community School and Home Education Exchange to other buildings.

District officials Marcia Harris and Brian Schultz delivered the news, with committee members behind them, to a packed board room Wednesday night where parents, teachers and others had watched the committee’s last meeting on video feed.

The last part of the discussion on school closures was not broadcast, but the documents used are on the district’s Web site. Criteria included number of students affected, transportation costs, building efficiencies, classroom capacity, east-west balance and other factors.

Staff were told of the decision in closed rooms and called at home before the announcement was made public.

Some cried or stood with pained faces when Harris and Schultz finally spoke in the board room.

“When will our children know where they’re going to school in 2007?” one mother asked, her voice choked.

They won’t know until April, since the board must wait 90 days to vote, per district policy.

A new school boundary committee will convene soon, since those decisions can’t wait that long, Schultz said.

In the meantime, separate public hearings will be held for each school.

“We’re not going to go away quietly,” said a Sunset parent who expressed frustration with the decision.

Others asked what would happen to the buildings and tearfully described a memorial garden at Sunset created for two students, murdered a few years ago.

That decision is part of a longer-term process, said Harris.

She and other committee members looked grave as the audience asked questions.

“It’s been a gift working with this committee,” Harris said to the crowd. “But it was not an unemotional process.”

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