Seattle terminates lease of school for children with special needs

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 NEWS

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 7:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 7:26 PM

Seattle Public Schools’ growing pains are pushing out a small private school that serves a vulnerable population.

The Northwest Center School has been in the same location on Queen Anne for 28 years. Now, the school district that owns the building, wants it back.

Walk the halls at Northwest Center Kids and you might run into three-year-old Katie. The bounce in her step topped only by the bounce in those blonde curls.

Katie just learned to walk on her own about a month ago. And she has no intention of slowing down. And when it comes to fighting for her daycare and preschool, neither does Katie’s mom.
Anouk Courtade is the mother of two children with special needs. They’re one of more than a 100 families who rely on this special place.

“My son, he flops his arms like crazy and he doesn’t look at kids but they come in here and the grab him and they say, ‘Hi Zach!’ and you know that wouldn’t happen in any other place,” said Courtade.

Northwest Center Kids serves children of all abilities from age 6 months to 12 years. But the school is living on borrowed time. Seattle Public Schools owns the building. Last month, Dr. Flip Herndon, the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Capitol Projects, informed them their lease would be terminated in six months.

Seattle Public Schools is in the midst of an enrollment boom. Closed schools are reopening, new schools are being built, and the district says it needs the space housing Northwest Center Kids for its home schooling program.

“In order to get the work done, to be ready for the K-12 students to be served in that building, we have to start the work in July otherwise, it won’t be ready,” said Herndon.

Northwest Center’s President and CEO, Tom Everill sees the need, but says six months notice isn’t enough time.

“I feel like they’ve dropped a bomb on us,” said Everill. “To do the build-out of lease improvements, obtain licensing and move the whole community in six months, it’s just not feasible.”

The school district is trying to provide other options. But time is running out. Parents fear their kids will end up paying the price.
 
 

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