Letter: Mega Schools are wrong for West Seattle

Dear Editor,

As a parent with children in Seattle Public Schools, I've seen firsthand how deeply teachers care about students. My son’s teacher starts each day working at 5:30 a.m., the doors for school do not open until 9 a.m.! Yet, like most public school parents, what we experience is top-heavy district system that doesn't care about the students, expects the PTA to fund basics, doesn't value or pay our teachers well- and the latest, forcing elementary children in to "Mega" school. Only 59 cents of every education dollar reaches the classroom, and during layoffs the youngest teachers are fired first.

Every school parent knows "The List," the lengthy catalog of items you must buy each year for your local school. These are only examples. The district's problems go far beyond simple oversight. The news of mismanagement of pubic funds at Seattle Public School is so achingly familiar it doesn’t even make headlines. It recalls 2011 when school officials couldn't account for $35 million, and an earlier superintendent resigned in disgrace.

The fact that Seattle Public Schools had no idea population would swell in the last 2 years, and thus shut many schools, lost the lease on the space, and is now spending millions to reopen the very schools the District shut! Seattle Public Schools bloated top-heavy administration attracts “climbers.” Our school in West Seattle was unlucky enough to hire one. The principal began in 2012 promising all sorts of things. She was promoted in November and left the school mid-year. This year she, now as head of curriculum and making six figures, hired one of our greatest teachers for a district position. Seattle residents pass every levy put before us! Why? We want all children to have a chance to succeed. I want this for my children, but also for those in my community. I expect the District to value our children not as numbers, test-taking statistics, but as people! We’ve voted time after time to raise our taxes, yet spending on our kids is going down, elementary schools are growing larger and the district just keeps hiring more experts.

I don’t need an expert to tell me “Mega” elementary schools, school over 600 students, are NOT okay. The boundaries for 2014-2020 came out for West Seattle and that is just what the district is planning. They are building 2 news schools in West Seattle, each with a capacity of 650 and closing the doors of our smaller schools, Schmitz Park and Westside.

The boundaries map forces all of our children in to larger and larger schools. Why? Because our PTA’s balance their budgets. The PTA at my son’s school pays for a nurse, librarian, counselor, lunch room assistants (other wise the kids buying lunch wouldn’t even get food in the allotted time) tutors, and some of the basics we had as kids: music, art, science and P.E. Some of the other local PTAs have additionally spent thousands to buy a more current math curriculum.

We need an honest conversation about how we educate children in Seattle. Our schools need proven reforms, like reducing class sizes and smaller local schools. The district should not rely PTAs to pay for basis; while promoting and adding district positions to an already over-paid administration! Lay off some administrative staff, cut overhead, and STOP planning for “Mega” schools in West Seattle!

Sincerely,
West Seattle Mom

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