Seattle Schools hits pause on timeline to close several schools
No Seattle schools are on the chopping block for the coming school year, but they might be in the fall of 2025.
A leaked draft of Seattle Public Schools leaders’ plans to fill a $105 million budget shortfall does not include school closures for next school year, as many expected.
Board member Vivian Song Maritz confirmed this is the proposal Superintendent Brent Jones will bring the board on Wednesday. She said she doesn't know how this internal document got shared, but that it had been provided to board members for review to prepare before the meeting.
“While the superintendent is not recommending closing any schools for the 2024-25 school year, we will be making hard choices and necessary changes to balance our budget in a fiscally responsible manner that ensures educational excellence across the district,” the drafted proposal says.
Seattle administrators have previously said they were considering closing several schools due to declining enrollment, which has hit some schools harder than others. Families and educators have been bracing to see if their school would be affected.
Instead of school consolidations, Jones proposes the district consider “limited program adjustments” next year — such as the co-location of non-comprehensive high schools, cuts in central office staffing and expenses, changes to transportation, class size increases at the secondary level, and reductions to school staffing, among others.
Jones also suggests the district explore short-term borrowing programs, as well as delaying the repayment of the district’s rainy day fund the board voted to drain to close last year’s $131 million deficit.
But, Jones says school consolidation remains “a necessary step towards a sustainable financial future.”
Starting in 2025-26, the district would begin closing school buildings, according to the proposal. Before that, Jones says the district will work closely with community and staff members to prepare for potential school closures and provide the district with feedback.
“Through community conversations moving forward, we will together develop a path with the right number and type of well-resourced schools to ensure every student succeeds,” Jones says in the proposal.
Jones also suggested the district could use proceeds from the sale or lease of a property to address one-time financial needs, like replenishing the rainy day fund.
The document was originally leaked on an episode of the Seattle Hall Pass Podcast. According to the podcast, the plan was "sent to us by an anonymous source." KUOW independently confirmed the leaked document with two Seattle School Board members.
Seattle Public Schools has not responded to KUOW’s request for comment.
Jones will present the plan to the board at a meeting Wednesday. The board is scheduled to vote on it next month.