Parents fight plans to move Cedar Program

Coupeville School District Superintendent Patty Page talks with Cedar Program parents about possible budget cuts.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Coupeville School District Superintendent Patty Page talks with Cedar Program parents about possible budget cuts.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Students attending the Cedar Program could find themselves taking classes at the Coupeville High School campus next year.

As part of making budget cuts, Coupeville School District officials are considering moving the “parent partnership program” and its 80 students from its current home at the Casey Conference Center to the Annex Building located near the Performing Arts Center.

The possible move has parents involved with the Cedar Program upset and they shared their concerns with Superintendent Patty Page during a meeting Wednesday morning.

Those attending the meeting worried that the move would put students back in an environment they didn’t like and it could be traumatic.

“Cedar would not be the same somewhere else,” said Amber Wolfkill, who has twins attending the Cedar Program. She said she would withdraw her kids from the program if it moved onto the high school and middle school campus.

People attending the meeting estimated approximately one-third of the students participating at the Cedar Program would leave if forced to move from their present home. They argued the revenue lost by the enrollment decline would be more than any money saved by moving the program onto school district property.

The school district leases space from the Casey Conference Center. In all the district pays $43,000 annually for the space.

Page said approximately $500,000 is expected to be cut from the school district’s budget. The district is bracing for a shortfall because of the multi-billion dollar deficit in the state budget, plus enrollment continues to decline.

“There are no-win situations in our budget,” Page said during the meeting.

She argued that having the Cedar Program on the high school campus would provide access to facilities such as a science classroom, computer, music and art rooms along with the library.

That didn’t seem to sway any of the parents attending the meeting, who don’t want their children around a public school environment.

“I don’t want my child to suffer what I had to suffer,” said Ame Seelow, who prefers the hands-on education her daughter gets in the Cedar Program’s current location.

Page said a decision hasn’t been made yet whether to move the program, and she stressed the fact that the Cedar Program isn’t being considered for elimination.

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