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Seattle parents: Bail out schools, not bankers

SEATTLE - Just days before a final decision is expected on school closures, hundreds of people took to the streets of a Seattle neighborhood in protest.

The parents and families came out Sunday, believing they can still make a difference in the final decision - that, somehow, they might be able to persuade Seattle School Board members to save their schools.

Marchers rally against the closure of Seattle schools.
Several schools and programs have been proposed for closure as part of massive budget cuts for the Seattle School District. The school district says it needs to close a $37 million budget gap.

School District Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has released a plan to cut five programs and close five schools, including T.T. Minor - and that's where Sunday's rally began.

"You can't close our close our schools under the table and think it's going to be OK with us," said one marcher, Bonnie Wilson.

Families and neighbors chanted their message on a cold Sunday afternoon with light snow falling - they came to heat things up and fight for their area schools and education programs.

"It means apparently people think it's more important to bail out bankers, to build jails in our community rather than put money toward our children," said Amber Croyle.

The school board is expected make a final decision next Thursday on the fate of five schools and 13 programs around the city.

The battle over closures has left many families exhausted.

"The school for your children and your family is a fundamental part of your community, and that's where people find safety and comfort," said Jeanne Hoppe. "And every children needs to have both those things to have a great learning environment."

The district says the closures are necessary to save nearly $4 million a year. But that's an assertion that parents are ready to debate.

"Who told you that there isn't enough money to keep our schools open? They've been lying to you," shouted one impassioned speaker at a gathering after the protest march.

Said another parent, Ronalee Wear: "I'm not really buying into what the school district is saying. There are other options. They're supposed to be our representatives. They should be fighting for our schools and not condensing them."

They are tough decisions during tough economic times, that so many are taking so personally.

"People don't want to raise taxes. But if we're doing it to help kids, I don't see the problem with that myself," said Brad Angel.

The buildings now slated for closing are: Genesee Hill, Mann, T.T. Minor, Van Asselt and Old Hay, which may only be temporarily closed depending on enrollment. Pinehurst and Montlake are no longer on the list.

The latest list does not feature an "options" category under which Aki Kurose was previously cited for possible closure.

Eight programs are named for relocation. Half of Lowell APP would move to Thurgood Marshall, and half of Washington APP would shift to to Hamilton.

Pathfinder K-8 would move to to Cooper, T.T. Minor Montessori to Leschi, Van Asselt to AAA, NOVA to Meany, and Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Dunlap and Hawthorne.

Summit K-8 is no longer slated to move to Meany, and SBOC is to move to Meany instead of to Hawthorne.

The plan also proposes a new K-8 program at Jane Addams.

The superintendent's final recommendation effectively discontinues six programs. They are: African American, Academy, Cooper, Meany, T.T. Minor and Summit K-12.

It does not mention the Center School, which was being previously being floated under the "options" category.

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