Council weighs in on School Board move to close pre/after school care

This morning Council member Rob Johnson circulated a letter to his fellow Council members asking the Seattle School Board to delay its decision on closing on-site before and after school care programs next year.

The letter, co-authored by Council member Tim Burgess, is driven by reports that the School Board might vote as soon as tomorrow to close the programs as of next September. The issue: the school district needs 60 additional classrooms and 19 additional home rooms in order to have the needed capacity for the expected number of enrolled students. In order to get that space, they need to take it back from the care programs.

As Burgess pointed out in the Council meeting, this is a real dilemma for the School Board, as both are extremely important needs, and it’s unfortunate that they are forced to prioritize one over the other. Burgess and Johnson rallied their fellow Council members to get involved in encouraging the City to look for additional space so that both things could happen, including reviving an old idea of using nearby community center space.  One of the issues with the before- and after-school programs is that co-locating allows children to move between the care programs and school without their parents picking them up at one location and transporting them (during work hours) to another.

The request for the School Board to delay its vote would allow the city to try to find the additional space required.

Council member O’Brien suggested that in addition to the letter to the School Board, the Council should send a letter to city departments asking them to help solve the problem. Other Council members agreed, so expect that letter to be forthcoming as well.