News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


McDonald School's reopening in "Seattle's Child"

February 11th, 2011 · No Comments

In Fall 2009, the Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reopen five shuttered public elementary schools to alleviate overcrowding in some schools. Among the schools selected to reopen was McDonald Elementary (N. 54th and Latona), which was closed in 1981 because of falling enrollment.

This month’s Seattle’s Child magazine checks in on the three schools — McDonald, Queen Anne and Sand Point — that reopened this year, and find “it’s been a bumpy start.” The enrollment numbers for all three were significantly lower than expected.

Lisa Stiffler writes in Seattle’s Child:

Some families were so frustrated by the reopening process that they opted for private school instead. Parents complained that the district didn’t provide them with enough answers and information about the new schools in a timely fashion. So many unknowns proved too disconcerting.

But other parents stuck it out. They decided that the opportunity to help shape the curriculum and focus of a new school, in a building outfitted with new supplies in what – at least for now – is a small school setting, with a new cast of teachers and administrators, was worth a bit of uncertainty. For them, all of that potential trumped their trepidation.

Sarah Koch was among those parents. She has a kindergartner and second-grader at McDonald, where she is the PTA president.

“The families who are there,” Koch said, “are more frontier-minded.”

To some degree, the low enrollment was expected because of how the school assignment policy works. This year, the district only required kindergartners and students new to the district to attend the reopening elementary schools, so that older students were not uprooted from the schools they’d already been attending.

Parents who took the plunge say that despite initial challenges, the new schools are doing well. They offer rave reviews for the principals and teachers. They’re excited to have schools they can call their own.

“It’s a very active, engaged community group that is building this school, and that’s what’s going to make it wonderful,” Koch said. “If you’ve got a strong parent community, it’s a lot harder for it to fail.”

McDonald was recently selected as Seattle’s next international school, and language immersion instruction will begin in fall 2011.

Read the entire Seattle’s Child story here.

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