Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Enrollment at the Big High Schools and RBHS


In her recap on the Community Meeting Melissa wrote:

He mentioned dropping the enrollment slightly (I think by something like 20 kids) from this year as they overenrolled last year. (This is true; we have 1700 kids in a 1600 seat school, lockers are not available to all who want them and they just can't keep squeezing kids in.)

I teach at Rainier Beach where we are seriously under enrolled. We could use those 100 extra students that Roosevelt has, that Ballard has and that Garfield has. If the district would show some leadership and cap the big schools, then the smaller schools that struggle to have a wide variety of classes would have more students, could hire more teachers and have a much broader and richer course offering. We are being starved to death. We will barely be a comprehensive high school next year. We offer very few electives (for example in math, which I teach, the only electives we have are MESA, Pre Calculus and AP Calculus and very few students get this far) and have very few art or music courses. It is a crime that this is happening to these students. We have a committed, hard working faculty and students that want to learn and do learn.

I saw a report not too long ago that shows that RB does that best job in the district in bringing up students who are low 1's on the WASL and seriously below grade level when they enter high school to grade level and having a chance to pass the WASL. For those of you who think RB is all about football, basketball and track, this is evidence that students who come to RB learn. All we want to do is provide a richer and deeper experience to these students and to do that we need more teachers and the only way we are going to get more teachers is to have more students. Please don't over enroll Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard. It is making it very difficult for us at Rainier Beach.


Anonymous said...

So where do the students who are overenrolling at Roosevelt live? If I understand correctly, VERY few Laurelhurst families got into Roosevelt or Nathan Hale. I know of some who got Garfield and some who got Franklin. Is it because the North End lacks capacity or are people attending Roosevelt who live closer to Rainier Beach. If that is the case, then I would like to know why Laurelhurst families couldn't get in high schools in NE Seattle.

I understand wanting to spread the kids around, but I don't think kids should be bused all over town to balance out the schools - I'd be curious of the demographics. What schools do the people who live near Rainier Beach attend?

Charlie Mas said...


As I'm sure you know, there were a number of students who did not gain entry to Roosevelt this year - students from Northeast Seattle for whom Roosevelt is the closest high school. Ballard also has a waiting list of students who have no closer public comprehensive high school.

This tells me that there aren't any students who live anywhere near Rainier Beach who are at Roosevelt or Ballard instead. It may be that there are some students enrolled at Garfield who could make a reasonable commute to Beach, but on the whole, I don't think that Roosevelt or Ballard or even Garfield are your competition for students. They are not taking any students away from Beach because their students would not consider Beach - based exclusively on location without regard to academic or extra-curricular opportunities. There is no need to ask anyone to choose Beach over Roosevelt or Ballard - no one is making that choice.

So who really are the students who are choosing not to come to Beach? It's the students in southeast Seattle - your neighborhood students. And where are they going instead? I don't think they are going to Cleveland - their enrollment isn't much more than Rainier Beach's. It's hard to say for sure, but it seems to me that either they are going to Franklin or it could be that there just aren't that many high school students in your neighborhood.

If the 440-500 students at Rainier Beach would really benefit from a larger school, that would seem to be an argument for consolidating Beach and Cleveland. Is that what you meant to suggest? Be careful what you wish for.

As for a marketing effort, I don't think that advertising the school's prowess at bringing students from low 1's on the WASL to passing will be much of a draw except for students who are scoring low 1's on the WASL. If that's your expertise, then why should students who want advanced courses enroll at Beach?

I recognize that you have a tough chicken-and-egg problem. You don't offer art or music classes, so students who want art and music classes enroll elsewhere, so you don't have students who want art and music classes, so, in the absence of any demand, you don't offer art and music classes and the downward spiral repeats itself.

The solution, of course, is to promise the classes to actively recruit students for them, and to provide the classes whether the students show up or not. It's expensive, it's risky, and it is not the way that the school district works.

classof75 said...

from what I hear- from principals at least one of the schools, the district is sending more kids, than the school is set for.
I don't know why--

I also hear- from Don, that new parents are told at the PIC center that RBHS is full

Charlie Mas said...

I don't know why anyone believes anything they are told at the Enrollment Centers. If you read the blogs you would know that they tell the most outrageous lies. Is there no accountability? Does no one ever report the things they say to the District?

Anonymous said...

I live in the NE. The NE is severely lacking in capacity. Almost all of the elementary schools have waitlists, as does Eckstein, Roosevelt and Hale. We live a mile from Eckstein, and didn't get in.

OK, what if the district said, you missed out on Roosevelt, so we are going to send you to Rainier Beach. No offence Michael, but we would send out children to private schools. It would be hard for us, we are a middle class family who really can't afford it. We would have to sacrifice a lot.

I don't want my children in a school full of students performing in the low 1's on the WASL. My children are high achievers and I want them at a top performing schools, in my neighborhood. Please don't read race or socio-economics into this. My children are bi-racial. I am not racist. For now Rainier Beach's market share are neighborhood kids, who are not performing up to standards. I hope that changes. When and if change comes it be a very very slow course.It will take years, possibly decades.

As it stands now, top performing students will not be served well at Rainier Beach, as stated by you (lack of AP classes, electives etc). You have to be a top performing school with competetive programs, to attract top performing students. I'm proud of what Rainier Beach is doing. I think they are doing a fabulous job with the students that they serve. But, would fail miserably (at this poing) in serving the families with high achieving students.

Anonymous said...

My child didn't get into Eckstein either. He is a motivated, A+ student. We can not afford private school, even with a lot of sacrifices.

A) Apply to private school, hope for scholorship. Unfortunately by the time you find out you didn't get into your public school of choice, private schools have finished their enrollment process and are full. Note for future transitions: Be much more pro-active, assume you may not get in and have a back up plan.
B) Suck it up, and send your child to an under performing middle school where there is space. Not an option for us.
C) Send you child out of district if you can find a good school that has space. Just know you have to drive, but heck, you would have to drive if you chose private school anyway. We took this option. Found that Kellogg MS in Shoreline, not only had space, but was an excellent school.

What I'm saying is that most parents are not just going to choose to sent their child to an under performing, under enrolled, school in a neighborhood across town. What motivation would they have to do so???? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Could Rainier Beach be full?? Even with ony 450 or so kids?? Surely they are not staffed to teach the 1100 kids the building can hold. Maybe they are only staffed for 450 students, and thus are full??? It's absurd, but wouldn't surprise me, it's how this district works.

Anonymous said...

What's happening at RBHS is called lack of leadership--on all levels, but particularly at the school itself.

Unfortunately RBHS got itself in a position where they now have to totally reinvent itself to draw in students. It has a reputation for serving athletes and low performing students. It wasn't always that way, but it has morphed into that. It's misguided to think that just adding a few more high level courses will do the trick.

I agree with one of the other anonymous when s/he said "When and if change comes it be a very very slow course.It will take years, possibly decades." The only other possible solution would be to shut the school down, send the remaining students to Cleveland, and bring it back from the ashes like a phoenix and make it a better program. And since we're closing buildings, it might be better just to sell it and be done.

Melissa Westbrook said...

In answer to who got into Roosevelt, the answer lies in the tiebreakers. First is always siblings so yes, there could be kids from the south end coming who have sibs already at Roosevelt. The other is distance. We live in a geographically challenged district/city and Laurelhurst happens to be one specific area for this problem. RHS is already going to give special bus service for Special Ed and Laurelhurst students (instead of going Metro) for next year. But there are other areas (QA/Magnolia come to mind) with geographic challenges as well.

The District had opportunities to help Rainier Beach and didn't. They built what is arguably the best performing arts hall in the district at RBHS and then gave them no arts program. Many in the arts community were willing to help when it was first built but the district ignored them. I believe RBHS now has a performing arts program but it may be too little too late. (There is going to be a staging of Dream Girls by Broadway Bound and they are specifically casting only southend kids. It is likely to be held at the RBHS performing arts hall.)

TAF (Technology Access Foundation) had wanted to come into Rainier Beach with their Academy which might have been a good idea. Unfortunately it was handled badly by the Foundation and the district and, of course, the RBHS community and RB community were suspicious and worried. I have no idea where it stands now but the feeling at the time was that the Academy intended to take over RBHS instead of co-housing. A good opportunity to rebuild from within the community might have been lost.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One last point; my experience from when Eckstein was overenrolled when my older son entered there is that the district listens to parents who want to get in versus those who want to hold the line. There were 90 extra kids packed into Eckstein and the families who got in received a nice letter from the principal and superintendent saying sorry and the parents of the other students weren't even notified. This was 7 years ago so I don't know if the district is better at holding the line (looking at Roosevelt, apparently not).

Michael said...


Thanks for all of the comments. A few things:

1. We have many high achieving students. We do not do a good job of serving them. Having more classes that challenge (I would like to teach AP Statistics, for example) them would be a good start to getting more high achieving students to come here.

2. The New Holly development is 1.8 miles away from Rainier Beach HS. Because it is less than 2 miles the district will not offer transportation to those students who live there to RB. Instead, those students ride the bus to Ingraham. That makes very little sense to me.

3. What I wish for is for the district to live up to the promises made to the faculty and staff at RB. Stop saying you will do one thing (more FTE to increase course offerings) and then do another (cut the budget because of lower enrollment).

4. The PIC Center has been telling people for years that RB is full and I have heard, though have not met, that some parents are putting a lawsuit together because of it. I don't have any details on this, so I can't say any more than what I have heard.

5. Every school has students who come to their school with low WASL scores. For whatever reason, we have done the best job in the district in raising those kids up. That does not mean that is all we do, far from it, but it is something we do well. Given that the motto of the district is: Academic Achievement for Every Student in Every School, I think what we do with these students needs to be recognized.

I am at school right now and I don't have time to continue. Thank you for all of the comments.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, spoke with the enrollment center today. Found out Roosevelt has a waitlist of 364 kids for 9th grade. Students who lived within 1.81 miles of the school got in, students who lived more than 1.81 miles away were put on the waitlist (This doesn't include sib's, they got in with the tie breaker no matter how far away they lived). Was told this was the highest number of students on any waitlist for any school, ever, in Seattle. More proof that the NE needs more capacity. Almost every elementary school in the NE has a waitlist, Eckstein has a huge waitlist for 6th grade and so does Roosevelt and Hale. Our neighbor (we are in the NE cluster) listed 4 traditional schools in our cluster on her enrollment form. She wasn't assigned to any of them, she was assigned a school she didn't even apply for.

Anonymous said...

"Just FYI, spoke with the enrollment center today. Found out Roosevelt has a waitlist of 364 kids for 9th grade. Students who lived within 1.81 miles of the school got in, students who lived more than 1.81 miles away were put on the waitlist"

That is interesting. I just plugged our address in View Ridge into mapquest and we are 2.16 miles from Roosevelt (and we are on the non view side, so closer than a lot of View Ridge) - so does this mean a lot of people from View Ridge got denied as well? I think the majority of high schoolers I know in our neighborhood go to Roosevelt (some to Nathan Hale), I thought it was a given here. At least I don't need to concern myself about this for several years (my oldest is only in Kindergarten) but when we did move here, we did so for the schools View Ridge, Eckstein and Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

"Our neighbor (we are in the NE cluster) listed 4 traditional schools in our cluster on her enrollment form. She wasn't assigned to any of them, she was assigned a school she didn't even apply for."

Just out of curiosity, does your friend live in the Matthews Beach area and get into John Rogers despite putting Laurelhurst, VIew Ridge, Bryant and Wedgwood on her form? The only reason I ask is I've heard that story many times in the last few years - if you live near John Rogers, you get John Rogers.

Anonymous said...

We live behind the Meadowbrook Community Center. Rogers is our reference school, and the only school in the NE cluster that doesn't get a waitlist. My neighbor listed in this order....Bryant, View Ridge, Wedgewood and Laurelhurst. All of these schools have waitlists along with Sacajewea and AEII. Rogers is the only school that has space, and it's because (in my opinion) it is not a great school. Definately not competetive with the schools my neighbor tried to get into. Rogers tends to draws from the Lake City, Cedar Park area, and doesn't have the fundraising that the other schools have, which of course, puts it at a disadvantage.

Anonymous said...

Years past, if you lived 2.16 miles from Roosevelt you were sure to get a spot. But this year, according to the enrollment center, was unusual. They think they had a lot more requests for Roosevelt than ever before due to the remodel. We live in Meadowbrook, 2.18 miles from Roosevelt. The enrollment center said we wouldn't have had a shot at getting in this year, but also said that they think the hype will die down in a year or two after the "newness" of the remodel wears off. Who knows???

Anonymous said...

How does Hale compare to Roosevelt academically? Seems like their test scores are fairly competetive, I know Roosevelt has some AP classes and a great music program. How does Hale stand up to Roosevelt. We will be looking at HS next year and now fear we won't get into Roosevelt. Should we be looking at private schools or is Hale a good option?? Does anybody know??

Anonymous said...

Hale did not have a waitlist last year. Why the increased interest? Realization that without sibs or a sight line to Roosevelt that it was not an option?

Charlie Mas said...

Hale and Roosevelt are on separate paths academically.

Roosevelt offers a large number of AP classes. Hale is trying to eliminate AP classes.

Charlie Mas said...

If the District has to make mandatory assignments to a school, that is the sign that the District needs to intervene.

I don't know what the District has to do at Rogers, but this is the sign that they have to do something.

Deidre said...

I'm not sure what the district can do at Rogers??? I have some ideas and I will list them below, but let me say that it is not a "bad" school. It is not an under performing or under enrolled school. It is fair. Typical. The problem is that it shares the cluster with above average, very affluent, over performing schools such as Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Bryant and Wedgewood. And the very passionate and highly sought after AEII alt. school. Though this school is not very competetive academically, it draws a large waitlist every year for every grade. The last school in the cluster is Sacajewea, and though it is not competetive academically either, it is a very highly sought after school and always gets a waitlist. It is a tiny, neighborhood school, that is very warm and welcoming with a great community, and one of the strongest (Free) after school programs that I have ever seen. So that leaves John Rogers. It is a larger school, doesn't have a great sense of community, no unique curriculum, no affluent families. Just pretty average. Ho Hum. In a district with choice, Ho Hum just doesn't cut it. You have to be competetive. Not sure what the district could do?? Perhaps something unique, like give it a great music program, or a strong focus on the visual or performing arts?? Add Spectrum?? There is certainly a need for more Spectrum seats in the NE cluster, the families at View Ridge can't get into the Spectrum program at View Ridge its in such high demand. They have to settle for regular ed seats while they wait for a Spectrum opening. But my favorite idea for Rogers, would be a language emersion program similar to the John Stanford School. Talk about a waitlist....

Anyway, what Charlie says is absolutely right. There are reasons that one school gets a huge waitlist, and it's neighbor school gets mandatory assignments. The district should step in and work with the community and school to identify the issue, and improve the school. The only other school in the NE cluster that doesn't draw a waitlist is our only all city draw school, Summit. But that's another can of worms.

Anonymous said...

I know a few families at Rogers. They say it gets a bad rap and nobody wants to go there, but once you are there, it is a great community with some very dedicated parents. I've heard their music teacher is AMAZING, they have some great clubs, etc. etc.

I also know a few families who live in that reference area who wanted the View Ridge, Laurelhurst, Bryant, Wedgewood schools and when they got John Rogers they went private. The couple families I do know who got one of the four schools who live in John Rogers reference area are at Laurelhurst. I say that if that is what you are trying (to not get John Rogers) you put Laurelhurst as the school to get on the wait list.

So is there talk of extending capacity at middle and high school in the NE area? I think I read here that Nathan Hale will be adding seats against their wishes, but m/b remodeled they will draw some people away from Roosevelt?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster...."John Rogers is not a bad school". In fact, if you compared John Rogers to the majority of the schools in the Central, South and SE clusters, it would be a shining star. Decent test scores, decent family involvement, fair enrollment,etc. But, when compared to Bryant, Wedgewood, Larelhurst, View Ridge (some of the top performing schools in the entire district) it pales in comparison. Why would a family choose John Roges over Bryant etc. Any John Rogers families out there that care to comment. Did you receive a mandatory assignment, or, did you choose it? And, if you choose it, can you share what drew you to it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Where does Ingraham fit in to this discussion? Do they have a waitlist as well? I keep waiting to hear if the IB program is really getting off the ground there. It would be awfully nice if it did.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have a friend whose son is in the IB program at Ingraham. They are pretty happy overall. Their son does have a lot of homework but it's managable. He says some of the kids in class aren't working hard and it slows down the class interactions but it is open to anyone who applies.

The downside is that the district just took away the $50,000 it gives to Ingraham's IB program to sustain it (nope, I have no details exactly what it is used for) and turned it over to Sealth's program. Ingraham has no idea if they will ever get some of that money again or will have to rearrange the budget to sustain the program.

Anonymous said...

So if all of the High Schools in Seattle are so unique and different (some have AP, some have IB, some are Academy small schools, etc), then why do they have geographic boundaries. I know there are no reference schools at HS, but they still go by geography. IE Roosevelt took families that lived within 1.81 miles of the building, leaving those of us who live 2 miles away from the school with no other options for a comprehensive HS with AP courses. What is a family like us supposed to do?? Do we have no options? Do we HAVE to go private?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here are your options (some of which got some discussion during the superintendent interviews):

-one is something I have advocated for a long time. Have a baseline of what every Seattle public high school has. That way every parent can say, "I know there is Special Ed, tutoring, AP/Honors, etc. at every school. I don't have to be a detective. " Not to the same degree (not every high school can have the AP offerings that Garfield has) but a baseline.

-Hale has room to be a 1400-1500 seat high school. The staff do NOT want this because it will change their program or make it very difficult to maintain. I see their point (my son graduated from Hale last year). Mentorship would be harder with more kids. However, the fact remains they have the room, there is demand in the north end and Roosevelt is already overenrolled. Demand a change. Get your friends and neighbors and go to the Board (you'll get zero traction at Hale) and tell them they are forcing people to private schools. (Hale is on BEX III and is going to be built to be a larger capacity school - they will have to change at some point. We cannot spend close to $95m on a 1,000-1100 seat high school.)
-Really consider another school like Franklin. It was a much more premier high school several years back but still has good programs and a great debate program.

I know some people on Magnolia/QA are very unhappy that Center School was not created as a comprehensive high school and are advocating it become one. (But I also know many Center School parents love its small size and programming.)
It may be that we will never get past having 4-5 high schools that are very popular and will always have waitlists.

I think parents, overall, like comprehensive high schools for the depth of what they are able to offer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa, for sharing these options. I totally agree with leveling the field and having all schools offer all services, even if to different degrees. And I like the idea of advocating for increase capacity at Hale, assuming that would relieve some of the over crowding at Roosevelt. As for sending my child to Franklin, I'm just not a fan of sending my kid across town to a mediocre school. Or to any mediocre school for that matter. My son doesn't go to HS for two more years, but if at that point, Roosevelt does not appear to be an option for us, we will (sadly) move to Shoreline. While Shoreline does not have choice, they do offer predictability and Shorecrest is competetive with Roosevelt in every way. Education is very important to us, and we are not about to settle, especially for High School.

Anonymous said...

In the Magnolia area of town approximately 75%(district will not provide me with the actual percentage) of the 9th grade community (excluding sibling and special program placements) was assigned to Ingraham HS. Ingraham averages 8 miles away from Magnolia versus Magnolia's "neighborhood" or closest high school, Ballard that averages 2.5 miles away. Kids will literally pass Ballard on the way to school every day. The high school assignment plan and hypotheitcal assignment plan revisions have been posed to the board, by the board and from Manhas himself for years and NOTHING has changed in regard to making sure there is reliability in final high school assignments throughout the district. There is no choice at the high school level, the choice belongs to the District not to the communties it serves. The way the current student assignment plan works, several factors can impact a students final high school assignment. For example, unbeknownst to the general public a local high school decided to reduce overall enrollment for the 2007-2008 school year. This decision was school based and made in late February, the information was not made public and not available by enrollment services. The average family making high school choices never knew about it. Had they known, many families would have chosen school order and wait list school differently. A highly requested high school decides to reduce enrollment (which of course is probably a very well meaning decision) this will impact the outcome of all high school assignments. Another factor impacting assignment is if the total number of incoming 9th grade students is highly concentrated in one neighborhood vs. another, that particular high school will fill up quicker even though the total number of district high school applicants is relatively stable from year to year. So really, you can never know all the variables and think you are making an informed choice for your family when it comes to 9th grade enrollment. The illusion of high school choice is expensive, a gamble for families from year to year. 2 years ago the distance of the draw area for a local high school was 5.85 miles, this year the draw area for that high school was 1.99 miles, no data available for last year from the district. Be prepared, it's a crap shoot every year until some predictability gets built in to the assignment plan process...but of course that would come at the expense of high school choice. Signed, revolution is too tame

Anonymous said...

I would go with the unpredictability in lieu of choice if all schools were created equal, or at least close to equal. But Ingraham pales in comparison to Ballard. Hale is a totally different model than Roosevelt, Nova and Center School are not comprehensive high schools and both are unique. Rainier Beach and cleveland are under enrolled and struggling, etc etc etc. So, unpredictibilty and choice are actually detrimental when the playing field is inconsistent and not level. If you have one type of program that you are drawn to, say a comprehensive high school, you choice is narrow. And if you want a comprehensive high school in your neighborhood then your choice is even narrower. The stakes are high. If you don't get your comprehensive high school, are you going to settle for an entirely different type program? If you really want your child to have AP courses, are you willing to settle for a school that doesn't offer them? If you really want an award winning music program, will you settle for a school that doesn't even have a band?

Anonymous said...

In regard to a post Melissa Westbrook wrote about Ingraham and the IB program, I was concerned about the funding of it at Ingraham. My son has been mandatorily assigned to Ingraham for the 2007-2008 s/y. The district has said to our family and to other families mandatorily assigned to Ingraham that Ingraham has the highly desirable IB program in place and this really feels more like 'buck up and stop your complainin'. When I read Ms. Westbrook's post, I thought uh-oh. I emailed Laura Robb,on the Advanced Learning web page, her name appears as IB Coordinator to ask what is up. She emailed me back, I copied and pasted below for your information "Hello, I do not know Ingraham's plans regarding their IB program. I occasionally talk with their IB coordinator, Guy Thomas, but that would be the extent of my knowledge of their future. I do know that the district has said from the outset of both Sealth's and Ingraham's programs that the $50,000 per year assistance would last only five years. After that time, the program is supposed to be self-sustaining. We are completing the second year of our program, and Ingraham its fifth year. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Laura Robb"

I also emailed Guy Thomas, Ingraham's IB coordinator. I am sure after Spring Break I will hear from him. Thanks very much Ms. Westbrook for passing this information on in this blog, had I not read it I would never had known district funding was at its end and I am guessing/hoping Ingraham has solid plans to self-sustain. I appreciate the information. anon