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BREADCRUMB

Background

Last update: December 15, 2023

Read an important message from the Superintendent regarding a pause in the consideration of a middle school consolidation.

2022-2023 Elementary Consolidation Overview

recommendation to consolidate three elementary schools was presented to the Bellevue School District Board of Directors on February 9, 2023. Prior to the recommendation, community open house forums and staff meetings were held at seven elementary schools under consideration for consolidation. The Board held formal hearings for each of the three schools recommended for consolidation, and in addition, specific and personal outreach was conducted with families with students experiencing homelessness, receiving multilingual learner services, preschool, and/or special education services. As a result of this outreach, the recommendation to consolidate Wilburton, Eastgate and Ardmore Elementary schools was modified, and Ardmore was removed from consideration. Eastgate and Wilburton were recommended for consolidation on March 9, 2023. The recommendation included consolidating Wilburton with Clyde Hill and Enatai, Eastgate with Spiritridge, and moving the Advanced Learning program from Spiritridge to Woodridge. On March 16, 2023, the School Board voted to approve the recommendation to consolidate Wilburton and Eastgate Elementary schools.


Recommitment to Engagement, Accountability to Equitable Decision Making

Although there was considerable community engagement leading up to School Board action on March 9, there were some families, staff members, and students who were critical of the process — in addition to those who were disappointed and/or disagreed with the decision that was made. On June 1, 2023, the Board and Dr. Aramaki, our then incoming superintendent, passed a Recommitment Resolution to Deeper Student, Family, Community and Educator Engagement and Accountability to Equitable Decision Making that called for more inclusive student, family, community and staff engagement and an engagement process that effectively integrates the Critical Criteria identified in Procedure 0130P (Equity and Accountability) in policy development, district plans, budgets, curriculum materials and important processes that have a significant impact such as the Middle School Consolidation Study.

The resolution stated that the district has not yet achieved the level of application of the critical criteria to decision making and community engagement processes needed for equitable participation in decision making and engagement of all students and families. Community engagement not only includes the seeking of information from the community, but also the sharing back with the community what was heard and the ways in which community voices were incorporated in the decisions made. Therefore, in April 2023, Incoming Superintendent Aramaki requested that the Equity Advisory and Advocacy Collaborative (EAAC) reimagine the critical criteria as a framework to ensure equity-driven decision making through community engagement. A working group of the EAAC that included parents, educators, equity specialists, and district leaders, developed a process that calls for teams to collaborate to ensure that they have:

  • Reflected on their own institutional positionality and biases
  • Set clear expectations for the scope of the work
  • Engaged key stakeholders and students
  • Aligned to district values
  • Ensured accountability to the process during implementation
  • Made space for reflection and review throughout the process

The Superintendent Community Advisory Council (SCAC) spent the 2022-2023 school year engaged in discussion and study of successful and effective community engagement. It was evident to SCAC that one of the most important elements of a school district’s relationship with its community is how it engages its stakeholders. So, the SCAC focused on how the district can fully leverage community resources on behalf of the student experience. The recommendations of the SCAC to the Superintendent included centering on equity in decision making and the creation of a community roadmap on major decisions that defines how decisions are made and who will inform them.


Implementing Lessons Learned for Middle School Consolidation Study

As we begin the Middle School Consolidation Study, the district is committed to a process that is driven by equity, ensures deep community engagement, and results in a decision where the rationale is discussed with, and understood by the community. Even if community members do not agree with the decision, the goal is to include all voices and honor their feedback.