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West Seattle parents rally, raise about $90,000 to keep beloved first-grade teacher

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SEATTLE — Some parents in West Seattle have pulled off nothing short of a miracle to keep a popular first-grade teacher from being transferred.

Wednesday was the deadline to raise around $90,000 to pay for a new teacher at a nearby school and keep their first-grade teacher at Gatewood Elementary.

The Seattle School District wanted to move the teacher to Fairmount Park Elementary to ease classroom overcrowding.

The district conducted a student count and found Gatewood had fewer students this year, but parents like Kati Pedegana say taking the teacher will simply shift the problem, making Gatewood’s class sizes too large.

“Being able to keep those class sizes small, especially in first grade, is huge,” said Pedegana.

The district gave parents one option to keep that first-grade teacher: Raise around $90,000 in five days to pay for a new teacher at Fairmount Park.

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So parents rallied, throwing what they called the biggest bake sale imaginable.

Over the weekend, parents peddled cupcakes and cookies outside a grocery store. At night, they led a pub crawl. Some huge, anonymous donations also came in, and after five days they’ve done the unthinkable -- reaching their goal to pay for a new teacher and keep theirs in the classroom.

“It’s really overwhelming,” said parent Laura Kincaide. “To be part of this community, it’s just amazing.”

Nicole Sipila, who helped organize the fundraisers, said, “I’m overwhelmed, this is unbelievable.

“Never underestimate a small group of determined people that want to change the world because sometimes they do.”

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