Staff, parents and community members affiliated with the African American Academy last Tuesday voted to support a proposal by former Microsoftie Trish Millines Dziko to create a high-tech school-within-a-school at the Beacon Hill site. "We were gung ho and happy to have it," says Gayle Johnson, a founding member of the Friends of the African American Academy, which took the vote on the planned "TAF Academy," named after the non-profit Technology Access Foundation that Dziko runs. The positive feedback is noteworthy, because the last time Dziko went to a school with a plan to site the academy there--that school being Rainier Beach High School--she faced a notoriously less welcome response from school and community members. (See Schooling the District.) "They flat out ran us out of town," she says. Eventually, some TAF critics had second thoughts. Dziko says she met with the head of Rainier Beach's PTA and a longtime staffer there, both of whom became interested in TAF. But she says the school as a whole never came back to her with open arms, and she moved on.
Despite the contrasting support at the African American Academy, it's by no means certain that Dziko will site her school there. She's told the Seattle Public School District, with whom she would partner, that the now K-8 school would have to become a K-12, with TAF Academy becoming the school's middle and high school. She has yet to hear back. Meanwhile, tired of waiting for the district to act on Dziko's offer to partner somewhere, in January she extended the same offer to the school districts of Renton and Federal Way. "We've been talking for a year and two months. Either they want to do it or not," she says of Seattle school officials. Dziko intends to open one school in 2008 and to eventually launch four more throughout the state.