The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

School Closures

SPS announces plan to close 20 elementary schools in 2025.

Due to a slew of monetary issues, Seattle Public Schools is projecting a budget deficit of at least $104 million dollars for the 2024-2025 school year. To prevent further hemorrhaging of money, the district plans to close twenty elementary schools in the 25-26 school year. The other 54 elementary and K-8 schools will have larger student bodies. However, even that won’t be enough; the budget cuts middle and high schools will face have not been made clear by the district. A district meeting was held at Garfield on May 30 to inform the community and take questions. 

SPS have not yet released a list of the elementary schools to be cut through their Well-Resourced Schools Program. Hence there is only a rough estimate for how much money the plan will save, about $750,000 to $2 million per school. There will be some job losses as a result of the closures. The goal of SPS for the program is that the new consolidated elementary schools will all have more than 300 students along with a full-time nurse, physical education teacher, and art teacher. The majority of elementary school boundaries will be redrawn, which will also affect many students whose schools are not being closed.

It was a tense meeting. Some parents stood holding signs, including one that said, “Tax big business, no school closures,” which summed up the sentiments of the most vocal community members. Though there were clearly some community members in attendance who did not agree that schools shouldn’t be closed, they were less vocal, with most keeping their thoughts to their table.

Some have blamed district mismanagement or money spent on teacher raises for the budget deficit. SPS Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones countered that “our budget is not fully funded… and we’re witnessing a reduction in [the amount of children] right here in Seattle… our projections are saying that’s going to continue happening for quite a while.” 

One concern shared among many community members was possible overcrowding as a result of school closures. “None of our sister districts [in King County] have any schools that are under 300 students. It’s hard, it’s inefficient for us to run schools that are at 300 students or less,” Jones said. The district made it clear that when the schools are closed, the schools that have to absorb students will still be under-capacity. 

Several at the meeting mentioned that SPS’ budget issues come from the state level. Public school funding is controlled by the Washington state legislature, which has limited school districts’ local fundraising capabilities. Several school districts across Washington are facing similar funding issues.

“There’s no reason why a state that has as many billionaires as we’ve got, that has as many wealthy corporations as we’ve got, should be in a position where we’re closing schools to save money,” said Sean Scott, a candidate for the Washington State House, who was at the Garfield meeting said. Scott is running to represent the 43rd legislative district, which covers Montlake, Capitol Hill, and Downtown, where many Garfield families live. He has made access to education a large part of his platform “from pre-K all the way to college.” He blamed the current lack of funding on corporate-backed state politicians who are aware of the issue but don’t want to tax the rich in order to fund education.

SPS’ current funding crisis goes back to 2012, when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the legislature was not fully funding basic education – in violation of the state constitution – in what became known as the McCleary Decision. The legislature passed the McCleary Fix in 2017, making K-12 education 52.4% of the state budget for the 2018-19 school year, but also limiting the ability of districts to raise funds locally. Since then, however, K-12 education has dropped to 43% of the state budget.

Schools with less than 300 students are more likely to be on the chopping block. Teachers speculate that international schools will also be at risk, seeing as more and more ESL students are being sent to regular high schools. Within the catchment area of Garfield, the school that is most likely to be cut is Madrona elementary, with only 229 students. Whether or not the schools will truly be well resourced after these cuts is hard to say. Unless the state drastically changes school funding, the district is completely set on this plan, since they have no alternate plan.’ The future for SPS seems to be one of class cuts and uncertainty. 

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Seán Kelleher (He/Him)
Seán is in 11th grade, and this is his first year on The Messenger.  When he isn’t referring to himself in the 3rd person, he is busy practicing Viola and digging through a pile of homework. He hopes he can improve his photoshop skills this year.

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