Foss High supporters to hold rally to save school from closure

Feb 3, 2011

Foss High School students, parents and community supporters will line the streets around the school today in an effort to save it from temporary closure.

The superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools has proposed mothballing Foss and some small elementary schools for at least three years to reduce the district’s budget deficit. He says closing the high school could save $2 Million next year. 

Luan Nguyen-Tran, Foss student body president, will kick off the "Save Foss" rally.  He says the school is a tight-knit community that's become even more united in the face of possible closure.

"What Henry Foss has cannot be created anywhere else," says Nguyen-Tran. "Foss is located in the center of Tacoma, which means we have kids from north, south, east and west Tacoma attending our school. Our school is a diverse family that has learned to accept each other and everyone around us."

Rally schedule:
Thurs., Feb. 3
2:15 p.m. - participants meet at Foss High School parking lot, then march to S. 19th St. and S. Tyler St.
3:00 p.m. - event ends

The rally comes hours before the final meeting in a series of budget discussions between the community and Tacoma Public Schools. The meetings center on the options proposed by Superintendent Art Jarvis:

  • Temporary closures of low-enrollment schools: Foss (projected 2011-2012 enrollment of 1,088) and one or more elementary schools – Franklin, Lyon, Roosevelt, Stanley, McKinley, Wainwright (enrollments below 300).
  • Increasing class sizes in grades K-5 (eliminates 25 teaching jobs).
  • Elimination of 75 to 100 positions throughout the district due to loss of federal stimulus funds.
  • Drawing down the district’s reserve funds by $10 million each year for the next three years to avoid additional budget cuts.
  • Continue pursuing administrative and operational efficiencies, deferred hiring, leaving positions vacant and reallocating resources.

The superintendent recently said he hates his budget in an editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune, echoing a similar statement by the governor. Jarvis says he needs to cut $26 million from the district’s budget over the next three years and small cuts aren't the solution: 

We must consider major reductions and efficiencies. I do not want to nickel-and-dime programs throughout the district and dilute their effectiveness. I do not want to pit music against arts against athletics against highly capable programs. I believe we must offer all those programs and many others to keep students in school with many ways to learn. 

As KPLU has reported, the community has decried the closure of Foss and pointed out several issues with the plan. One major concern is protecting the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program, the only one offered at a public school in Tacoma.

The school's PTSA has proposed alternative solutions for addressing the district's budget shortfalls, including:

  • Reduce or eliminate half days.
  • Negotiate with OSPI a temporary reduction in the number of calendar school days.
  • Small increases in class sizes throughout the district (e.g., the addition of one to two students per classroom K-12 instead of TPSD’s proposal of one additional student K-5).
  • Reduce Central Administration Building spending back to 2009/2010 level ($1 million savings).
  • Reduce professional development days temporarily.
  • Temporarily suspend all but essential out-of-state travel.
  • Negotiate with the Unions for a 5/3/1 % temporary reduction in payroll: 5% for administrators; 3% for principals and 1% for teaching staff.