While Program Placement has not indicated how many APP students will be placed at Hamilton, the number cannot be less than 180 and may be as high as 250 or more. If Hamilton's total enrollment is about 1,000 students, that's 18% to 25% of the student body who are there for APP, not for the international-themed curriculum.
When APP is at Hamilton you can expect Hamilton's Spectrum program to become a whole lot more popular. Right now, about 75% of the Spectrum-eligible students in the Northeast Region enroll at Eckstein, but that is likely to change. Of the 300 now at Eckstein, I would guess that somewhere from 90 to 180 will choose Hamilton with APP instead.
Hamilton has a current enrollment of about 730. Add to that the 200 or so APP students and the school fills up to the building's stated capacity (with portables) of 928. So there is no room for growth of the Spectrum program. That means that for every new Spectrum student who comes into the school, a general education student is squeezed out. If 180 new Spectrum students came in, that would translate to 180 general education students squeezed out.
I don't think the Spectrum students will be coming to Hamilton for the international-themed curriculum anymore than the APP students. I could be wrong about that, but there's a strong possibility of 200 students there for APP and another 200 students there for Spectrum. That's about 40% of the school population who are new to the school and not necessarily very interested in what you have built there. They are likely to be a bit miffed when they learn that they can't gain entry to the Spanish Immersion program or the Japanese Immersion program. Hamilton has to reserve space for both of these programs as well as APP and Spectrum. The Japanese program is new, so every new Japanese immersion student who comes into the building will be pushing out a general education student as well.
APP will make Hamilton more attractive to students other than Spectrum students. A number of general education students will want to enroll at Hamilton as well. Again, each new one who comes in will push out one who would otherwise be there.
If BEX III passes, Hamilton will move into Lincoln for a couple years and then, in 2010, move into a totally renovated building. That is sure to attract some new students. Ballard's enrollment went up 50% when it was renovated. If Hamilton becomes even 20% more popular, that's another 150 students coming to the school, pushing out 150 students who might otherwise be there.
The new building will have 1,000 seats. 100 are for special education students. There are 12 other sections (classes) in each grade. Two or three of the sections will be for APP - probably three. Two or three of the sections will be for Spectrum - probably three. Three sections will be for the language immersion program students coming out of John Stanford. That only leaves three sections, room for 90 students per grade, for general education.
The students pushed out won't be APP students - they will be guaranteed their seats. They won't be Spectrum students - the school might cap the program, but not lower than two or three sections per grade. They won't be Spanish or Japanese immersion students; they are guaranteed their seats as well. It won't be ELL or Special Education students; the school will continue to have their share of them. The students denied access to the new Hamilton will be general education students.
And who are these general education students who won't be able to get into Hamilton in the future? Following the district's current tie-breakers they will be the students without siblings at the school who live farthest away. In short, they will first be the students who come to Hamilton from the Southeast Region. After that, they will be other students from outside the Region - those who come long distances for the international-themed curriculum. Finally, they will be students from the north edge of the Region.
How will the loss of the students from the Southeast Region affect Hamilton's diversity? I can't say with any accuracy, but some things are clear. The students in APP and Spectrum are predominantly White - these programs are 70% White in a district that is only 40% White in a city that is 70% White. Very few of the APP and Spectrum students qualify for free or reduced price lunches. The students in the Southeast Region, on the other hand, are predominantly minority and they qualify for free or reduced price lunches at a higher rate than the Distirct as a whole. There will be some who will suggest that White, affluent students are displacing minority and poor students. This change will occur just as Hamilton moves into a totally renovated building. There will be charges of racism and Hamilton will be on the sharp end of the pointed fingers.
Are you ready for this, Hamilton? Are you ready to see 40% (or more) of your students in APP or Spectrum, not coming to Hamilton for the international-themed curriculum? Are you ready to see as few as 90 seats a year available for general education students?
Did the District come and explain this to you? Did anyone from the District come to Hamilton and discuss the possible impacts on the school as a result of adding APP to your building? Has your principal given you any assurances of any kind? Can your principal - who won't be there in 2007 - give you any assurances of any kind? Did you know that the District believes that the proposal has the support of the Hamilton community? How is that possible when most of the Hamilton community just learned about the idea last week? Did you know that this proposal includes assurances that the Hamilton community will welcome APP and support the program with the necessary resources?
Let's presume for a moment that my words are intended to frighten and alarm you. Is anything I wrote unreasonable? Are you frightened or alarmed? Should you be? What details do you have to counter this projection? Do you know how many APP students are coming? Do you know how big the Spectrum program at Hamilton may grow? Do you know how the increase in APP and Spectrum students will impact Hamilton's demographics? A lot of other projections are possible, but I can't imagine any projection in which students from Southeast Seattle - other than those with siblings at the school - continue to gain access to Hamilton. If you think it will go differently, I'd love to hear about it.