The school board is slated to consider closing Southern Heights Elementary at the end of this school year due to low enrollment. Enrollment has declined by 114 students since 2013-14, and significant growth is not projected in the coming years. Current enrollment is 216 students.
At the heart of the closure recommendation is the belief that students who attend Southern Heights deserve the same advantages and supports as all other Highline students. Southern Heights faces two significant challenges:
- As enrollment declines, resources devoted to Southern Heights continue to shrink. Because state funding is based on enrollment, schools with fewer students receive fewer staff positions. For example, Southern Heights has no assistant principal, and it has fewer support positions such as nurse and counselor.
- The building is aging and cannot offer the safe and modern learning environment that our newer schools provide. It is not slated to be replaced for many years, based on our capital facilities plan.
Additionally, it is our district's responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars efficiently. The cost of keeping Southern Heights open is about $1 million a year. There is room in neighboring schools for Southern Heights students. The $1 million savings could be channeled into other student supports and services.
There is a school board process for closing a school. Staff and community members will be invited to comment at a public hearing on November 18, 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Zoom. People can also make comments at school board meetings on December 1 and 15. The school board will vote on the closure on December 15.
If closure is approved, the school would close at the end of June.
Closing a school is difficult for everyone who is affected: students, families and staff. District leaders are committed to supporting the Southern Heights community through this process. If the school board approves the closure, we will ensure that all students are placed in a school that provides the best possible education and resources for them.
Click here for the Zoom link and more information about the November 18 hearing.