Seattle Public Schools’ budget in disarray, could close 20 elementary schools

May 9, 2024, 8:13 AM

seattle schools...

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is facing several grim decisions now that the district’s budget deficit has reached more than $100 million.

The first step for SPS to get ahead of this fiscal challenge: Starting a school closure plan. SPS’ board of directors voted in agreement Wednesday to sign off and move forward with Superintendent Brent Jones’ Well-Resourced Schools plan that could close as many as 20 of the district’s 73 elementary schools.

More on school closures: Bellevue School Board voted in favor of closing two schools

Parents have expressed their disdain for this pending decision.

“It’s not 20 schools, it’s 20 communities,” Ben Gitenstein, a parent of a student in the SPS district, told KIRO 7. “All the kids who thought they knew who their next year’s teacher would be. All the local mom-and-pop stores that sell ice cream to the kids after school, they’re all going to be seriously impacted.

“Closing neighborhood schools is really bad for neighborhoods and it’s really bad for all of us because, at the end of the day, the real problem here is enrollment,” Gitenstein continued.

According to KIRO 7, 29 elementary schools serve less than 300 students, and 20 schools have enrollment below 65%. The district has previously called these schools “under-enrolled.”

“We’re trying to make sure we’re focused on the students’ experience and not just a building,” Superintendent Jones told KIRO 7.

Rantz on SPS: School district takes next step in ditching Seattle gifted program

Jones talked about his time within SPS as a child and how he changed elementary schools four times. Each time he changed schools, according to Jones, he claimed it was a good experience.

Any school closures wouldn’t happen until at least the 2025-2026 school year. Jones is expected to present a preliminary recommendation at a school board meeting set for June 10.

Contributing: KIRO 7

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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