Affluent Kids Come at a Cost: Thurgood Marshall Elementary in the CD finds that an influx of highly gifted students will cost it federal funds

When the Seattle School District last fall moved some 200 students in its “highly gifted” program at Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary into Thurgood Marshall Elementary, which was populated largely by poor and minority children, everybody knew officials risked creating another divided school, rife with resentment between haves and have-nots.

Now there’s a new twist to deepen the resentment: The Central District school is losing more than $200,000 in annual federal funding because of the demographic change brought by students in the “Accelerated Progress Program.”

The district distributes federal Title I funding, earmarked for poor kids, to schools in which more than 55 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches. The money is given each year based on the school’s demographics the preceding year. Thurgood Marshall easily qualified in 2009–10, as poor kids represented 83 percent of its student body the year before.

With the arrival of the APP kids, however, only 42 percent of students qualify for free or discounted lunches this year—and the district in recent weeks has told parents and staff that they would receive no Title I funding at all next year. (The school also went from 6 percent to 37 percent white.)

“For the children in the regular education program, they’re going to slip through the cracks again,” says Rose Wallace-Croone, who has two children in that program and sits on the board of the school’s PTSA. She notes that the federal money has been used for tutoring and after-school programs, related to both academics and the arts.

APP parents have been upset too. “You feel like these kids are being hurt because we’re here,” says parent and PTSA board member Meg Diaz. Parents like Diaz did bring money with them. The PTSA at Lowell split its budget when half its students left. Those going to Thurgood Marshall brought nearly $100,000 with them—still less than half, though, of what the school received in federal funding.

The loss adds to already heightened tensions between the two communities at the school. “The APP parents are the primary focus [of the school’s attention],” Wallace-Croone complains, adding that the two programs constitute “segregation in the truest form.”

Diaz says that parents from both communities have been trying hard to work together, but acknowledges that “it’s been a rough year.”

The district did not respond to a request for comment. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson recently increased the percentage of poor kids a school must have to receive Title I funds. If not for that change, Thurgood Marshall would have still qualified.

More in News & Comment

AR-15 rifle seized by Seattle police. File photo
King County examines gun violence trends

Nearly 77 percent of shooting victims this so far year in county have been people of color.

In this file photo, marchers make their way from Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett on Feb. 26, 2017. Muslim refugees’ admissions into the U.S. have declined by 85 percent since the Trump administration came into power in 2017, according to the International Rescue Committee. Sound Publishing file photo
Report: Fewer refugees settling in U.S. and Washington state

Admissions are on pace to only reach around one-fifth of their limit in 2019.

A homeless encampment in Bellevue. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Police Department
Why is Bellevue taking so long to finish its shelter?

Bellevue made a commitment in 2012, but its shelter won’t have a permanent site until 2022.

Prosecutors plan to rest case in 1987 cold case murder trial

Soon a jury will decide the fate of William Talbott, in the nation’s first trial involving genetic genealogy.

Second trial in killing of Redmond woman ends with not-guilty verdict

After 11 years, no resolution for family of 24-year-old Arpana Jinaga.

Photo Provided by Naomi Parkman Sansome Facebook Page
Buckle up for another smoky summer

Wildfires in Washington will likely roar back this year and into the future.

Photos from the viral video of two Renton women surprising their stepfather with changing their last names to his on Father’s Day, Sunday June 16.
They wanted to honor their step-dad, then it went viral

Video of a Renton family on Father’s Day has been seen by over 10 million viewers

A high tide at Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Grays Harbor County, Washington. Sound Publishing file photo
On the West Coast, Washington is most prone to sea level rise damage

Report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows multibillion-dollar cost of battling back the sea.

“So-called science” debated in Snohomish County murder trial

Suspect William Talbott II of SeaTac says he did not kill a young Canadian couple in 1987.

Most Read