Looking at school closures — what would it mean for neighborhoods?

Queen Anne Elementary School's principal and some parents hosted an informational table at the Queen Anne Farmers Market.

Queen Anne Elementary School's principal and some parents hosted an informational table at the Queen Anne Farmers Market.
Laura Marie Rivera

Seattle Public Schools has a $131 million budget deficit on the horizon and is looking for ways to close the gap. Since SPS is also struggling with a large decline in enrollment, they seem to be considering closing some of the neighborhood schools to help save money. Many families are concerned about what that means for their students.

According to the district website, Madison Park’s McGilvra Elementary School has less than 300 students enrolled. As one of the smaller schools in the district, some parents worry that their school may be one of the first to be closed. After last fall’s Well-Resourced School meetings and being frustrated by the lack of true engagement, the PTA made the decision to be more proactive in promoting the school and encouraging enrollment.

Alice Appleton is the parent of a McGilvra student and attended the district’s virtual meeting regarding well-resourced schools. During the breakout discussion, she and other parents discussed what role they could play in marketing the schools. They felt it was important to promote the idea of choosing SPS over moving to other districts, private school, or homeschooling.

“It was remarkable to me that we were a diverse group of community members (multiple races, neighborhoods, kids ages represented) and this idea resonated with everyone in the group,” Appleton said.

Meg Bartley is the president of McGilvra PTA. She says that in addition to a beautiful building, green space and clean air, McGilvra represents the community.

“We also have a strong community history and presence, and it’s critical that we maintain that for our current and future students. We truly believe that neighborhood schools are a vital part of a strong community,” she said.

The principal and parents of Queen Anne Elementary brought a similar concern to the last Queen Anne Farmers Market. They are an option school which means that they do not have an attendance boundary and are open to students from all over the city. QAE uses a creative school approach that stresses project-based learning and social emotional learning. Their guiding question is, “How are we making a difference in the world?”

Students will have the opportunity to request to attend QAE when open enrollment starts in February. There are other SPS option schools that focus on technology, dual-language, and advanced learning. Since some school board members have suggested closing the option schools first, these schools are also committed to connecting with the communities to share the information about their unique learning environments. 

McGilvra students can find more information at mcgilvraelementarypta.wordpress.com/

Queen Anne Elementary School also has tours coming up. Info at qaeptsa.org

The priority session for Open Enrollment School Choice is from Feb. 1-29 and there is more information on the district website at seattleschools.org/enroll