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Superintendent recommends closing Bellevue alternative school

The Bellevue School District superintendent has recommended closing Robinswood Middle and High School, pictured here on May 19, 2010. - Chad Coleman / Bellevue Reporter
The Bellevue School District superintendent has recommended closing Robinswood Middle and High School, pictured here on May 19, 2010.
— image credit: Chad Coleman / Bellevue Reporter

The Bellevue schools superintendent this week recommended closing Robinswood Middle and High School following the school's ranking as one of the lowest-performing in the state and its recent failure to qualify for federal funding.

The alternative school is an anomaly in the highly successful district, whose schools consistently rank among the best in the nation.

Robinswood, which enrolls 164 students in grades 6 through 12, fell among the lowest five percent of Washington schools during the past three years in terms of standardized testing for reading and mathematics.

That distinction qualified the school for $50,000 to $2 million in federal funding so long as the district developed a plan to fix the school through one of three means: closure, replacing the principal and half the staff, or removing the principal and rewarding teachers who improved student outcomes.

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction rejected the district's application for federal funding, but awarded around $19 million to 18 other schools in nine districts.

Neither of the two agencies responsible for accrediting schools in the state could assure the district that Robinswood would be accredited for the next school year.

District superintendent Amalia Cudeiro list that as one of her primary reasons for recommending a closure.

Attending an unaccredited school can jeopardize a student's ability to transfer credits to outside districts, graduate from high school, and qualify for college admissions and scholarships.

Robinswood had a graduation rate of only 24 percent during the past three years.

Thirty percent of students at the school do not speak English as a first language, and 55 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches – the highest number in the district.

Cudiero recommended closing Robinswood High for at least one year to attempt a restructuring of the school. She suggested closing the middle school permanently.

A public hearing to discuss the fate of Robinswood is scheduled for June 1, 7 p.m. at the Wilburton Instructional Service Center (12241 Main Street, Bellevue).

The Bellevue School Board will make a final decision about whether to close the school within 90 days of that hearing.

The district has said it will do its best to find new placements for faculty and staff if Robinswood closes. Students would go to Tyee Middle school or their home high schools.

Special-education students would go to Sammamish High.

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