SeaTac high school recommended for closure

SEATAC, Wash. -- A SeaTac high school has been earmarked for closure, but students are doing their best to fight it.

Odyssey High School, a small, 'innovative' school with just 82 students, will close at the end of the year, if the school board approves a recommendation from the district superintendent.

"The hardest decision a superintendent makes is the decision to close a school, and it's not one we make lightly," said Highline Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield. "We just felt that we could not justify the continued investment that was being made. I have a responsibility to serve students and families but also be a responsible steward of the public dollar, and this really came down to that."

Enfield said the district spends about twice the amount of money per student at Odyssey than it does at any other school because the school is so small. Students and staff, however, say the school's smaller size means students get the attention they would miss out on at a traditional high school.

"We serve students who have not always been successful in other schools, and it's our mission to get them ready for success," said principal Joan Ferrigno. "(The recommendation for closure) is not easy. It's challenging. We put our heart and soul into this school. All of us have."

Sophomore Krissa Garcia says she was bullied at her previous high school which contributed to failing grades and that Odyssey's smaller size has allowed her to excel.

"It's just like a big family," said sophomore Krissa Garcia. "Coming here has impacted my life a lot. We don't want (the closure) to happen because Odyssey's our home."

Garcia said she and others have been making phone calls and posters to stop the school from being shuttered.

The district will hold two public meetings on Oct. 23 and Dec. 11 before voting on the school's possible closure in January of next year.

"Couldn't there be more innovative, creative ways to think about ways to make our school financially feasible instead of closing a school that has been acknowledged to be working?" asked algebra teacher Renee Gallagher. "Engaging students use their mind well every day. It makes a giant difference. Our size has supported our students."