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Seattle superintendent opts against closing schools — for now

Seattle Public Schools will find other ways to close its deficit in the 2024-25 academic year.

The front of Chief Sealth high school in Seattle, WA with the school's color and logo on the facade.

Chief Sealth International High School in West Seattle is one of 104 schools in the city’s district.

Photo via Seattle Public Schools

Whew. Those who feared that Seattle schools would soon be on the chopping block can breathe a sigh of relief — for the moment, at least.

On Wednesday, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones presented a fiscal plan to the board for the 2024-25 academic year that did not include any school consolidations or closures. The district is still facing a big deficit, though, and consolidation may still be on the table for 2025-26 and beyond.

Got those hands up? Let’s try to answer a few lingering questions.

Why were closures discussed in the first place?

SPS has a projected $105 million budget gap to fill, complicated by declining enrollment. Here are the numbers getting crunched:

Earlier this year, Bellevue school officials confronted a similar situation and decided to consolidate two elementary schools and are considering doing the same to a middle school.

How will SPS save money?

Dr. Jones’ plan included the following possibilities for cost-cutting measures:

  • Central office + school staffing reductions
  • Expense trimming
  • Program adjustments and restructuring
  • Changes to transportation
  • Leasing or selling non-school properties
  • Thinning out “rainy day” funds

What happens now?

The school board will vote on the general plan on Dec. 13. Afterwards, Dr. Jones will prepare a more detailed 2030 strategic vision for a “system of well-resourced schools” by April 3, 2024.

School consolidations could still make its way into those longer term decisions. But that may be impacted on when the state decides on potential new funding. So stay tuned — this topic will be much-discussed in the next year.