Seattle Public Schools

Safety Planning Update and Progress for a System of Well-Resourced Schools

Summary: Superintendent Jones provides an important update on SPS safety plans and on the System of Well-Resourced Schools Plan.

June 26 School Board Meeting Update for Well-Resourced Schools

Board Meeting Presentation

Letter to Community June 25

Dear SPS families and staff,

I hope this message finds you enjoying the start of a restful summer. I am writing to provide an important update on our safety plans and on the System of Well-Resourced Schools Plan.

The last several weeks of the school year were challenging. We lost Garfield High School Junior Amarr Murphy-Paine to gun violence.

Considering this, our School Board rescheduled the June 10 board meeting to allow time to reset and reprioritize our efforts. Business as usual in the wake of such a tragedy is unfathomable.

This violence has deeply affected us and re-injured our already grieving community still grappling with the impact of similar acts of gun violence. We are committed to taking concrete steps to enhance the safety of our school environments.

Commitment to Safety and Security

Safety is our top priority. Next school year, we are expanding our plans to include gun violence prevention in high schools and increased mental health support for all grades. I have allocated over $2 million for staff to improve school building exteriors and campus security.

Upcoming Safety Changes

I am working on several safety changes for next school year in our high schools to ensure the well-being of our students and staff. Throughout the summer, I will be in conversations with our regional and building leaders about the needs of their school communities. The safety changes being considered may include:

  • Increasing SPS security and neighborhood safety organization patrols around our buildings.
  • Wearing identification badges on campus.
  • Requiring clear backpacks.
  • Closing campuses for lunch.

Our campus safety improves when our community reports safety concerns. I urge all students and families to install our district app on your cellphone to report safety concerns.

And please remember—the SPS Safe Schools Hotline 206-252-0510 can be used 24/7 to report any threats to our schools.

Well-Resourced Schools Planning Initiative

The System of Well-Resourced Schools initiative aims to stabilize and improve our schools. This plan begins with our schools that serve our preschool through 5th grade students.

Our primary goal is to provide sustainable and equitable access to services and programs for all our students. This would mean consolidating 70 schools that serve elementary grade students into about 50 well-resourced ones.

I know this plan will require some large-scale system changes. However, it is crucial to focus on the end goal: creating a school system where every student has access to consistent academic and extracurricular programs, safer school layouts, consistent staffing, and increased support services.

Board Meeting Update

While the rescheduled meeting will occur on June 26, this Regular School Board Meeting will not include a proposed “school closure list.”

Instead, the presentation will focus on the criteria guiding our decisions, such as budget and enrollment data, building condition assessments, program considerations, and community input.

We’ve heard from our community. Families and staff want to understand our planning process and react to proposals. The end of the school year and summer is not an ideal time for community engagement. Over the summer, my team will work hard to evaluate and consider the feedback we have heard and refine the plan that will be presented to our board.

Reports will resume with our School Board and community in September. Our board will be voting on the well-resourced schools plan before winter break in December 2024.

Community Input

We have received strong participation and valuable feedback during our community meetings. Our community cares deeply about our schools.

It is crucial to ensure any steps we take are in the best interest of our students and families. Therefore, we will take more time this summer to thoroughly consider your input before announcing school consolidations.

Budget Considerations

We are working to stabilize our district amid declining enrollment. As SPS does every year, we are proposing a balanced budget to our board for approval for the next school year.

The 2024-25 Budget includes forecasting for school consolidations to begin in the 2025-26 school year.

This recommendation will help us achieve savings over time rather than immediately. It is essential to start to align our resources to our values. We will also continue to strongly advocate with the legislature to fully fund education.

Please know, however, there will be no vote on school consolidations during the June 26 Regular School Board Meeting.

Commitment to Thoughtful Decision-Making

We recognize that the process of rightsizing our school buildings with our student enrollment is complex. Our focus is on creating stable, vibrant, and well-resourced schools that reflect the diversity and needs of our community.

We will involve external experts to review our work and suggest improvements and innovations. This will help ensure our plans are solid and will improve outcomes for students.

This timeline will enable detailed discussions about our school system, incorporating community input and expertise. We endeavor to build trust and create schools that reflect our shared values and vision.

Thank you for your understanding, patience, and ongoing support. Together, we will overcome these challenges and strive for a brighter future for all Seattle Public Schools students.

With sincere gratitude,

Superintendent Jones
Seattle Public Schools

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